Okay, now that we’ve gotten the TFIG excitement out of the way, let’s move on to a subject many people don’t really like… When I was a young teen, I started developing acne. At first it was a pimple or two, then it’s like they were tribbles and just started multiplying. Ugggghhhh.
I tried about everything I could find in the grocery store- from creams to cleansing pads to astringents. The creams were supposed to kill bacteria, the pads were supposed to penetrate pores to keep them clear, and astringents were supposed to keep oil at bay. Nothing seemed to work, as a matter of fact, it got worse.
I finally went to the doctor, and was put on oral tetracycline and topical erythromycin. After several months of treatment, my acne finally started clearing up. But, the long-term tetracycline use discolored my teeth, and I even ended up with dark bands on my wisdom teeth. Plus, there’s the whole concept of resistance that goes along with overuse of antibiotics. Scary!
Later on, I started using tretinoin, which worked wonders in clearing up my skin. But, it’s a prescription, and it’s expensive. If you’re a woman who is pregnant or wishes to become pregnant, this is a no-go. And it takes several months of icky peeling for skin to adjust to it.
So, I was absolutely thrilled to partner with Exposed Skin Care to try out their Expanded Acne Treatment Kit. Exposed Skin Care was founded in Seattle, with products developed through a collaborative effort by dermatologists, chemists, naturopaths, and cosmetologists. The idea is to treat all four causes of acne by killing acne-causing bacteria, unclogging pores, controlling oil, and calming redness (Exposed, 2016).
The six-piece kit includes the brand’s Facial Cleanser, Clearing Tonic, Acne Treatment Serum, Clear Pore Serum, Moisture Complex, and a Derm-X cloth. What I like most about this regimen is that it includes both natural and conventional active ingredients. I always prefer natural remedies whenever possible, but sometime they’re not enough. Exposed includes the best of both.
The Exposed Skin Care Expanded Acne Treatment Kit comes in a sleek, sturdy white box. When you open it up, you can see the products are attractively packaged, and housed in opaque bottles and tubes, protecting the ingredients from degradation caused by light or air (Kaur, Kapila & Agrawal, 2007). There is also a really handy, and helpful, Quick Start Guide that goes over exactly how and when to use the products, as well as provides tips to help keep your skin clear.
The morning regimen includes Facial Cleanser, Clearing Tonic, and Acne Treatment Serum, with the option of using the Moisture Complex if needed. In the evening, use the Facial Cleanser, Clearing Tonic, and Clear Pore Serum, followed by Moisture Complex if desired.
The Facial Cleanser is the first step in the morning and evenings. It contains salicylic acid to help clear clogged pores, Pro-Vitamin B5 to regulate oil, and sage extract to detoxify the skin (Exposed, 2016).
The cleanser is a really nice product- it lathers enough to really feel clean, but it’s sulfate-free, so it’s not overly drying. It doesn’t really have a scent, it’s a “barely there” light natural smell. I like how clean my skin felt without any tightness or irritation. I should note, though, that on days I wore a lot of makeup, I did use a separate makeup remover first, and followed my triple cleansing routine.
The Clearing Tonic is a toner that’s used as a second step both in the morning and evening, and helps balance the pH of your skin. It contains salicylic acid to clear pores, Green Tea Extract to heal and protect the skin, and Passion Flower to help reduce inflammation (Exposed, 2016).
Another nice product- not stinging or burning! The problem I had with astringents back when I was a teen was they burned and dried out my skin, which I thought were good things. Later on, I learned that wasn’t so. Drying out your skin can actually aggravate acne, and make it worse, as can irritation. Exposed Skin Care’s Clearing Tonic effectively balanced my skin and removed traces of impurities left behind after cleansing, without any tightness or irritation.
Acne Treatment Serum
This serum is the third step in the morning routine. It’s formulated with benzoyl peroxide to kill acne-causing bacteria, green tea extract to heal and protect the skin, and tea tree to promote healing (Exposed, 2016).
This serum has a thicker consistency than I expected, but strangely enough, it was still easy to apply and quickly absorbed. I also like that it has a very light, natural herbal scent from the tea tree oil. Tea tree is one of my fave essential oils, not just for the healing aspect, but also because it has antibacterial properties as well. I’m not a real fan of benzoyl peroxide as an ingredient, but I’ll address that shortly.
Clear Pore Serum
The Clear Pore Serum is the third step in the night time Exposed Skin Care routine. It’s purported to clear your pores while you sleep and help repair damaged skin. The formula contains salicylic acid to aid in clearing clogged pores, green tea extract to heal and protect the skin, and licorice root extract to reduce inflammation (Exposed, 2016).
This gel-like serum is perhaps my favorite product in the Exposed Skin Care Expanded Acne Treatment kit. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble, so it actually has the ability to penetrate deeper into the pores to clear out the “gunk.” This also allows other ingredients to be more effective. It doesn’t really have a scent, and it’s not irritating, and it wears well with other products.
By the way, salicylic acid is an exfoliant (more on that shortly, too…lol), so make sure to ALWAYS wear sunscreen. But, you should be doing that anyway, right? 😉
The final step in both the morning and evening routines is the Exposed Skin Care Moisture Complex. This lightweight oil-free moisturizer is formulated to lock in moisture and rebalance the skin while promoting cell renewal and reducing inflammation. It contains pumpkin seed to calm irritated skin, green tea extract to heal and protect, and caffeine to reduce inflammation (Exposed, 2016).
This step is actually optional, and only necessary if your skin feels dry. I have combination skin that tends to lead toward oiliness in the summer. I didn’t need this step in the morning as my sunscreen is moisturizing enough, but I would probably use it both morning and night in the drier winter weather.
This is a microfiber cloth that aids in exfoliation, but it’s soft, so it’s not irritating. The cloth works really well with the cleanser, and I even use this type of cloth to address peeling and dryness, such as the type you’d get from tretinoin or benzoyl peroxide.
Ahhhhh!!! Now, we’re back to the benzoyl peroxide! I’m not big on this ingredient as it has the potential to cause much irritation. This was the active ingredient in the old-school creams I used as a teenager, and it just aggravated my skin. Benzoyl peroxide is an “oxidant,” which is the opposite of “antioxidants,” which actually do good.
In the case of oxidation with benzoyl peroxide, it’s intended to “oxidize,” or kill off the bacteria that cause acne. The problem is that it also irritates the surrounding skin and can cause a rebound effect, so to speak. I’ve actually done quite a bit of research on this ingredient due to my own experience with it.
According to research published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology, like retinoids, benzoyl peroxide can result in worsening effects of inflammatory conditions, as it worsens the barrier dysfunction of the stratum corneum, or outer layer of skin. This is a result of increasing water loss, and depleting Vitamin E levels (Jordan & Baldwin, 2016). Basically, this is why it can dry out and irritate the skin- and skin that’s dried out and irritated can lead to even more acne.
However, with proper application the same research shows that benzoyl peroxide can be effective in treating acne, with proper compliance and application (Jordan & Baldwin, 2016). This is where Exposed Skin Care has truly done their homework! They do advise caution with the Acne Treatment Serum, the step that contains this ingredient.
Exposed Skin Care recommends starting off slowly and being gentle, especially when it comes to the Acne Treatment Serum. They believe “less is more,” and to use only a very small amount, and if it’s well-tolerated, to gradually build up to applying more. Exposed also includes green tea, which is a potent ANTIoxidant to help soothe irritation.
So, what about the salicylic acid, the other common “conventional” ingredient? Love, love, love, love, LOVE!!!! Did I mention salicylic acid has the ability to penetrate into the pores? Well, this beta hydroxy acid also serves as a gentle exfoliant, and can be used as an anti-aging ingredient as well to help reduce the appearance of fine lines. As a matter of fact, I use a BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant on a regular basis, sometimes even twice a day.
This is not something I say lightly, but overall, this is perhaps one of the most, if not THE most, impressive acne treatment regimens I’ve seen to date. I love that they merge natural and conventional ingredients for a very well-rounded treatment system. I also love that they provide detailed instructions on use and application, as well as lifestyle tips that don’t even pertain to their products. How many other brands do that, or go into such detail?
There’s a common, well-known regimen that’s been marketed heavily, that I have always advised people against. If only I could get these people to switch to Exposed, I think they’d be a lot happier. I know I wish this had been around when I was a teen- I would have had a LOT less aggravation!
Overall, would I recommend the Exposed Skin Care Expanded Acne Treatment Kit? That would be a big huge YES. If you have problems with acne, you should absolutely check this out. (As always, if you’re sensitive to any of the ingredients, consult with your healthcare professional first.)
The best part? You can get the whole kit for as low as $59.95! And if you send them an empty bottle of an acne problem that didn’t work, you can get a $25 credit. So, head over to exposedskincare.com or Amazon to check it out, and enjoy your clear skin!
Exposed (2016). Exposed Skin Care. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from www.exposedskincare.com.
Jordan, L. & Baldwin, H. (2016). Stratum corneum abnormalities and disease-affected skin: Strategies for successful outcomes in inflammatory acne. Journal of Drugs and Dermatology, 15(10). Retrieved July 26, 2017, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Kaur, I., Kapila, M. & Agrawal, R. (2007). Role of novel delivery systems in developing topical antioxidants as therapeutics to combat photoageing. Ageing Research Reviews, 6(4). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.