“oil-free” is not the way to be

May 1, 2013

How many oily, acneic patients do you have that say they want “oil-free” products? Even if they notice the word “oil” in the product ingredients, they won’t use it. It is very important to understand the difference between beneficial oils and potentially pore-clogging oils to be able to educate your patient on exactly how they can improve their skin.

The majority of breakout-prone consumers use products that are ethyl alcohol-based; this type of alcohol strips the skin, creating a tight feeling and making them believe they are stopping their glands from producing oil. Yet, by stripping the skin of its natural oils, they are actually creating an environment that causes increased sebum production to make up for the loss, therefore creating even oilier skin. It is not necessary to avoid all types of alcohol, though. Cetyl alcohol is actually a gentle moisturizer.

Studies have shown that the skin of those with acne are deficient in some essential fatty acids (EFAs). Although necessary to skin health, the body cannot produce EFAs, so adding oils that are rich in EFA to the regimens of those with acne is typically beneficial. In the absence of these EFA the skin will instead produce sebum, which irritates the skin and makes breakouts worse. EFA-rich oils to look for on ingredients lists are: borage, evening primrose, flaxseed, soybean and rose hip seed.

Some oils are beneficial for the treatment of overactive sebaceous glands, like jojoba seed oil, grape seed oil, marigold oil, orange peel oil and grapefruit peel oil. Reducing oil production is not often what people think about as a function of a topical oil.

By using these oils, we trick the skin into thinking it has enough sebum, therefore causing it to produce less.

  • Jojoba seed oil is one of the most important oils in controlling sebum production. It is composed of liquid wax esters and closely resembles our natural sebum. As a result, topical use helps to control sebum production. It also has the ability to dissolve and remove excess sebum.
  • Grape seed oil has a high concentration of polyphenols, as well as the essential fatty acid (EFA) linoleic acid. It is used frequently as a light occlusive agent. This oil is beneficial for acne patients because of its EFA content.
  • Marigold oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  • Orange peel oil helps to increase circulation and decrease breakouts by assisting in the release of toxins through perspiration.
  • Grapefruit peel oil is an astringent, antiseptic and detoxifying agent that is very effective in fighting bacteria.

These are only a few natural oils that can help patients with oily, breakout-prone skin. Call a member of the PCA SKIN Practice Development Consultants at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] today to learn about more.


the new clearskin

April 3, 2013

In the spirit of continuous improvement, PCA SKIN® is proud to launch the newly reformulated Clearskin, now with 4% niacinamide.

PCA SKIN's Clearskin

PCA SKIN’s Clearskin

Those with oily or breakout-prone skin can fall into the habit of using harsh, abrasive products in an attempt to gain control over excess sebum production. This often leads to irritated skin, stripped of its natural oils, causing the sebaceous glands to overcompensate by producing even more sebum. This habitual cycle can result in an increase in breakouts. A consistent skin care regimen, including a skin-type appropriate moisturizer, is vital to maintain overall skin health.

One of the most exciting additions to the new Clearskin is niacinamide. This multifunctional ingredient, also referred to as nicotinamide, has similar benefits as niacin, but does not cause the flushing response commonly associated with vitamin B3. Instead, niacinamide provides calming and antioxidant benefits.

Niacinamide plays many important roles in the skin:

  • Provides potent antioxidant protection
  • Decreases redness and irritation
  • Decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Evens skin tone
  • Calming effect in breakout-prone and sensitive skin

Questions about the newly reformulated Clearskin? Call the Practice Development Group at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] from 7am-6pm Arizona time, Monday-Friday; or reach out to us via Facebook. Certified Professionals can also place their orders online now at www.pcaskin.com.

the new facial wash oily/problem

March 11, 2013

PCA SKIN® Certified Professionals and their patients now have an even better formulation of Facial Wash Oily/Problem, tailored toward oily skin types.

Facial Wash Oily/Problem from PCA SKIN

Facial Wash Oily/Problem from PCA SKIN

The addition of gluconolactone is a valuable component that helps clear problem skin without dryness or irritation. Gluconolactone is an antioxidant polyhydroxy acid (PHA) that acts as a gentle replacement for alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). PHAs are much larger molecules than the traditional AHAs, which allows them to be much gentler on the skin.

There are many ways PHAs can improve the skin:

  • They promote cell turnover by sloughing the dead cells from the surface of the skin, unblocking any follicles that can become infected.
  • They are natural humectants, drawing in and retaining the skin’s own moisture. Oily/breakout-prone skin can be stripped of its natural moisture barrier with the use of harsh products and ingredients, causing dehydration and possibly leading to infection.
  • They strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, keeping out irritants and bacteria to prevent infections.
  • They fight free radicals, protecting the skin from environmental harm.
  • They can help even skin tone, prevents the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne lesions.
  • They help to control aggravating conditions, which can help prevent any acne lesions from developing.

Blended with AHAs, surfactants, skin conditioning agents and humectants, this product is the best choice to help control oil production and breakouts while keeping the skin healthy and hydrated.

If you have any questions about the new Facial Wash Oily/Problem, please call our Practice Development Group at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email info@pcaskin.com.

myths/truths about chemical peels

March 7, 2013

When patients hear the words “chemical peel” they have many different thoughts as to what the actual outcome will be. Due to a lot of misinformation readily available on the internet and in the general media, chemical peeling can make people nervous. It is the clinician’s responsibility to explain treatment outcomes and why they may vary. Discussing patient expectations during the initial consultation to clear up any misconceptions surrounding chemical peels ensures a positive experience for both the patient and the clinician. Our philosophy incorporates a progressive, rather than aggressive, approach. This way, patients will experience little or no downtime following a peel, yet still achieve outstanding results.

PCA SKIN's peels are self-neutralizing, leaving patients with little to no downtime following treatment.

PCA SKIN’s peels are self-neutralizing, leaving patients with little to no downtime following treatment.

myths and truths

  1. Skin should “peel” after having a peel treatment – As clinicians, many of us have had the experience of treating a patient with a chemical peel, after which they come back to you and say, “Your treatment didn’t work because I didn’t peel.” Visible exfoliation doesn’t determine the efficacy of treatment. Generally, healthy skin has less visible exfoliation. Exfoliation often takes place at the cellular level and is not always apparent to the naked eye. Conversely, some patients’ skin is so impacted that it can take a few peels to loosen dead cells enough to allow them to shed. Typically, these patients will see little or no peeling initially, and then see sloughing after a few treatments. Using analogies that a patient can relate to can be an incredibly useful tool when explaining to a patient why they may not peel. For example, feeling drowsy after taking pain medication is a side effect, just as peeling is a side effect to a chemical peel; some people may feel drowsy when taking the medication and some may not, just as some may experience exfoliation from a peel and some may not – either way, the efficacy of the medication or peel is not contingent on the side effect.
  2. My skin is too sensitive for a chemical peel – Sensitive skin is defined as a heightened intolerance to topical products or external factors. Sensitive Skin presents itself as red, irritated or scaly. PCA SKIN utilizes ingredient blends to combat sensitive skin presentations. Our philosophy follows the low-dose approach; meaning, inducing the least amount of trauma to the skin to achieve optimal results. Sensi Peel® is formulated primarily for extremely sensitive skin types. This multi-faceted treatment also provides calming and soothing properties and helps to clear follicle debris, making it an excellent choice for helping sensitive skin types. Hydrate: Therapeutic Oat Milk Mask was strategically formulated to soothe and hydrate impaired skin conditions of all kinds. Oat milk is also a potent antioxidant that effectively manages dry or sensitive skin conditions.
  3. All peels must be neutralized – Straight alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels, such as glycolic and lactic acid, require neutralization with either water or a weak base like sodium bicarbonate. Unfortunately, the neutralization process can free hydrogen and, therefore, reactivate the acid and increase the heat sensation and discomfort in the skin. This increases the potential for negative outcomes and side effects. However, peels such as the Jessner’s and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels, and retinol treatments do not require neutralization. The water and lipid content in the skin leads to self-neutralization of the aforementioned acids. PCA SKIN combines AHA acids with TCA or Jessner’s peels, along with ingredients like retinol, salicylic acid, antioxidants and calming and soothing agents in bases that provide excellent delivery systems. The synergy of these ingredients is such that the peels are self-neutralizing, allowing for maximum effectiveness with little or no downtime.
  4. It’s fine to hit the gym after having a peel – The epidermis is comprised of several layers and when a chemical peel is applied, even if it’s very superficial, it can cause a separation of these layers. Any activity that induces heat and sweating, either from a work out, an athletic activity or sitting in the sauna, can cause water to become trapped between the epidermal layers. This may result in blistering and, depending on the severity of the blistering, lead to an uneven skin tone. Another reason to stay cool following a peel is that internal heat can also lead to uneven skin tone. PCA SKIN recommends remaining cool for 48 hours post-peel to avoid any heat-related complications post-treatment.
  5. Acetone is best to prep skin for peels – Skin must be clean and degreased to maximize penetration of chemical peel solutions. While acetone is often used because it is a strong and biocompatible solvent, it is not ideal for pre-peel prep. Acetone not only removes excess sebum that hinders peel penetration, but it also over-strips skin of essential cholesterol and lipids. This can leave skin overly dry post-procedure and last for weeks following treatment, causing undue discomfort for patients. The lactic and citric acid base of Smoothing Toner provides an astringent that gently and effectively removes any remaining sebum and debris post-cleansing, without drying out skin.
  6. My patient can expect the same outcome each time they receive a peel – The amount of visible exfoliation depends on current skin conditions, combined with atmospheric conditions like humidity, which may cause flakes to adhere to the skin more so than in dry climates. Further, there may be a lot of visible exfoliation after the first treatment and less for the second, but this does not mean the first treatment worked better than the second. Moreover, someone who has previously had peel treatments may not have as much visible exfoliation as someone who has never or rarely gets treatments, as these patients will have more build-up. Everyone has a different tolerance for peels and that tolerance tends to grow with every treatment.
  7. Peels are not indicated for drier skin types – A well-formulated chemical peel minimizes the amount of impacted skin cells lying on the surface of the skin while delivering hydrating, firming, strengthening and brightening ingredients into the skin. Once the skin is free of the dull surface layer, any products applied topically will penetrate better, leaving skin healthy and hydrated. PCA SKIN’s elegantly blended peels offer options for all Fitzpatrick types and skin conditions.
  8. Frequency of treatments is not important – Regular in-office treatments are critical to maintaining optimal skin health. We recommend basing frequency of treatment on the condition. Uneven skin tone may be treated every three weeks and acne (all types) may be treated every two weeks. Sensitive skin may be treated every four weeks, while aging skin may be treated every three weeks.
  9. A daily care regimen and sunscreen only matter if I have problem skin or I’m out in the sun all day – Along with receiving regular treatments from a clinician; a patient’s daily care regimen is just as important to maintaining skin health. Patients must manage their own skin at least twice a day; that’s 60 times in any given month vs. a single monthly treatment from a clinician. Therefore, one professional treatment won’t be beneficial if the patient is not doing his or her own part on a daily basis to maintain the health of their skin. Further, using a broad spectrum sunscreen is especially important post-peel as the procedure sensitizes skin to the sun. Remember, peels work at the cellular level and are still working long after you’ve had the treatment. Thus, it’s important to incorporate sun protection into your daily care regimen.
  10. Peels are safe for patients with vitiligo – Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own pigment-producing cells (melanocytes), resulting in areas of depigmented skin. Because its presentation is on the skin, it makes sense that patients would think that chemical peels would help to “even out” skin tone. This, however, is untrue. Because this is an autoimmune disorder, treating it topically with a chemical peel will have little to no effect. While chemical peels are not the recommended course of action, there are other prescription medications and therapies available.

PCA SKIN originated advanced blended chemical peel formulations. Our vision is to improve people’s lives through our professional treatments for healthy, beautiful skin. PCA SKIN treatments and products are available exclusively through licensed skin health professionals that have been trained and certified by PCA SKIN.

If you have any questions about chemical peels, feel free to contact our highly trained team at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email us at info@pcaskin.com.

understanding cystic acne

March 5, 2013

Acne is a skin disorder that presents in varying degrees. Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne and presents as large nodules beneath the surface of the skin, as well as papules, pustules and comedones. These nodules often rupture in the follicle wall, leading to inflammation and tissue destruction, which all too often results in permanent scarring. Acne of this severity does not respond to over-the-counter acne treatment and can be hard to control without medical intervention. Cystic acne can affect anyone, but seems to be more common in teenage boys. There also seems to be a tie to genetics as well. For example, if both parents suffered from cystic acne, it is more likely their children will too.

Photo courtesy of homoeopathy-books.blogspot.com.

Photo courtesy of homoeopathy-books.blogspot.com.

causes and effects

  • Increased sebum production  and keratinization (excess of dead cells) within the follicle
  • Proliferation of propionibacteria acnes (p. acnes) – the bacteria that causes acne
  • Hormone imbalances and hormone-related disorders (e.g. polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • Inflammation and painful nodules that can remain for weeks or months
  • Depth and inflammation of lesion can destroy the follicle and often results in scarring
  • Usually presents as systemic, appearing on other areas of the body, including arms, chest and back
  • Sufferers of cystic acne often experience self-esteem issues along with social withdrawal

diagnosis and treatment

Only a dermatologist can diagnose and treat cystic acne. Prescription strength treatments include:

  • Retinoids, which help to increase cellular turnover
  • Topical and oral antibiotics, which decrease p. acnes bacteria proliferation and may reduce inflammation
  • Oral contraceptives (used off-label by women), which control sebum production and regulate hormonal fluctuations
  • Combination therapy of oral and topical medications
  • Surgical excision and drainage performed in-office by a dermatologist
  • Doctor administered corticosteroid injections directly into the infected nodule
  • In-office treatments delivering oxygen to the skin, which help decrease p. acnes bacteria

It may take several tries to find the treatment or combination of treatments that manage cystic acne.

treating scars and managing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

  • Regular, gentle exfoliation with superficial chemical peels
  • Laser resurfacing for deeper scars to break up scar tissue and encourage healthy collagen production
  • Radio frequency treatments to breakdown damaged tissue and allow for new collagen formation
  • Regular use of products that contain blends of effective melanogenesis inhibitors, including hydroquinone, arbutin, kojic and lactic acids, as well as resorcinol derivatives
  • Continued use of retinoids, which are proven melanogenosis inhibitors and encourage regular cellular turnover
  • Daily use of broad spectrum sun protection to decrease the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from increased sun sensitivity caused by many acne treatments

It is strongly recommended that a patient consult with his or her physician before receiving any treatments to address scarring, in order to avoid any further skin complications.

Feel free to call us at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email us at info@pcaskin.com with questions about treating cystic acne.

a and c synergy serum works double-time!

February 15, 2013

Uneven skin tone and acne are two stubborn skin concerns all by themselves. More commonly than not, however, these two will present at the same time, especially in higher Fitzpatrick skin types. This is a difficult situation for the clinician, as it is not easy to decide which condition to treat first. It can also be extremely frustrating for the patient.

Ingredient knowledge is key, especially when treating more than one condition simultaneously, and this is where our A&C Synergy Serum® takes the lead!

PCA SKIN's A&C Synergy Serum

PCA SKIN’s A&C Synergy Serum

This product is a powerhouse of ingredients that provide multiple benefits for both uneven skin tone and acne:

Retinol and retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) are part of a retinol complex. This is the perfect form of retinol for those patients who may be too sensitive for a pure retinol or retinoic acid product. Vitamin A helps to increase cell turnover, evens skin tone, stimulates firming action and provide antioxidant protection.

Kojic acid is effective at clearing follicular debris and evening skin tone.

Lactic acid is a biocompatible alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin and evens skin tone. It is also a hydrating and purifying to the skin.

Licorice root extract not only suppresses sebum production, but it is also a calming and soothing ingredient that evens skin tone.

Of course, these aren’t all of the ingredients in this multi-faceted product, but they are just some that work double-time to keep your patients’ skin healthy and clear from both acne and uneven skin tone. Additionally, this is a great product to mix with our C-Strength 15% or 20% with 5% Vitamin E to boost both the skin brightening and antioxidant protection all patients need.

ethnic skin treatment considerations

February 14, 2013

In further observance of Black History Month, we’d like to provide information about the uniqueness of ethnic skin. Skin color is primarily determined by melanin, a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. While everyone has the same number of melanocytes, ethnic skin produces more melanin. There are physiological differences between lighter and darker skin, and those with Fitzpatrick types IV and above are prone to certain skin conditions. Understanding these distinctive characteristics is essential to successfully treating ethnic skin.

Patients with higher Fitzpatrick types have different treatment options than lower Fitzpatricks.

Patients with higher Fitzpatrick types have different treatment options than lower Fitzpatricks.

hyperpigmentation and scarring

Melanocytes are more active in those with darker skin, which may lead to more severe reactions from common conditions. This results in skin discolorations such as hyperpigmentation and melasma. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by skin damage from wounds or rashes that leave dark marks as the skin heals. Increased or uneven pigmentation from melasma tends to be more prevalent in ethnic skin. Higher Fitzpatrick types are also at greater risk of keloids (raised scar tissue) from skin injuries.

acne and PIH

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the result of any type of cutaneous inflammation, such as acne. Higher Fitzpatricks have larger sebaceous glands, leading to more oil production. This often presents as comedones and papules. Comedones in darker skin display significant inflammation, often resulting in PIH.


Studies show the stratum corneum in higher Fitzpatrick types contains more layers and has been shown to be thicker and more compact. The dermis of higher Fitzpatricks takes longer to break down and exhibits fewer visible signs of aging. In general, those with darker skin tend to look up to 10 years younger than other ethnicities. However, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) tends to be greater in the skin of higher Fitzpatricks, making moisturization all the more important to prevent the skin from appearing “ashy.”

skin cancer

Many people of color often don’t use sunscreen as sunburn is rare. While dark skin provides some built-in protection from ultraviolet (UV) light, even the darkest skin color cannot protect against all UV-induced DNA damage. All Fitzpatricks should use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily. Although skin cancer is less common among people of color, it is likely to be more deadly once it presents as it is usually not diagnosed until advanced stages.

sun sensitivity

Many drugs can increase sun sensitivity, which can result in skin discoloration. It’s especially important to apply sunscreen or avoid the sun altogether when taking certain medications. These include birth control pills, antibiotics and anti-acne drugs, as well medicine for high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

vitamin D deficiency

Sunlight stimulates skin to produce vitamin D. Darker skin offers better protection from UV light, but can result in vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that dark-skinned people living at relatively high latitudes have inadequate vitamin D levels. Health authorities recommend daily vitamin D supplements for people of color.

Feel free to call us at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email us at info@pcaskin.com with questions about treating ethnic skin.