With a lexicon dominated by words like “combat”, “battle”, “fight” and “kill”, the way in which we approach acne has long meant taking a war-like stance in which each of us, an Army of one, strap up to obliterate offending pimples— and anything in their path. You’d think such resolve would produce victorious results, but it often just creates angry, inflamed skin and ever-resolute breakouts. Murad’s new Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel aims to rectify this vicious cycle, not with brute force, but a technology that mimics social distancing (truly a lifesaver) for acne bacteria.
Around 85 percent of 12 to 24 years olds and 15 percent of adult women suffer from acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Thanks to emerging microbiome research, the way in which we address acne is finally starting to change. By acknowledging the importance of bacteria diversity on the skin—and the need to foster it—researchers are finding the path to clear complexions may not require a battleground mentality and arsenal of harsh prescriptions, but ingredients that protect the skin’s natural flora and sneakily dissuade acne-causing bacteria from forming zits.
Stopping pimples before they form is a dreamy idea that’s occasionally trotted out by beauty marketers, but has yet to manifest for the masses. That’s because it’s been tough for researchers to disrupt the communication between and proliferation of acne-causing bacteria while leaving the rest of the healthy microbiome at peace. The result—as you and me and everyone who’s ever “battled” a zit knows—is skin that becomes dry, irritated and otherwise thrown out of whack. But Murad Skincare thinks it has just the thing to change that, compliments of a scientific breakthrough that combines two efficacious, yet gentle skincare ingredients in a summer-ready product.
On July 14, the brand launches Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel, an ultra-light gel cream that sinks right into skin without leaving it greasy, or glassy, or whatever Instagram is calling slick-looking skin these days. It’s a wisp of a formula that doesn’t tingle, despite a dose of salicylic acid, and hydrates like a thicker cream would. Feel goods aside, it packs two core ingredients—Korean red pine bark extract and the probiotic ferment Lactobacillus—that work to create a kind of social distancing for p-acnes bacteria, which stops it from allowing acne to take root.
“Bacteria communicate with one another to manage their proliferation and develop communities, which disrupt the diversity to create an imbalance,” explains Kristen Robinson, Murad’s senior director of new product development. These communities of p-acnes bacteria can manifest as a thin film on the skin that causes inflammation and irritation, often resulting in a breakout. But if communication between p-acnes bacteria is cut, Robinson says, then it can’t grow in size and colonize.
Since nothing is worse than a community of acne colonizing on your face, that’s exactly what the formula is designed to obviate. “Two core ingredients, Korean red pine bark extract and lactobacillus ferment, [work to] interrupt these communication signals and effectively eliminate the possibility of colonization [by minimizing] bacteria growth,” she says.
The ability to shut down our skin’s p-acnes bacteria party without stripping the skin’s own protective barrier or moisture level is what the brand founder Dr. Howard Murad says is so revolutionary. While the scientific community has long been aware of bacteria’s ability to communicate, develop communities, and grow, Dr. Murad notes this observation,“has not been applied to skin populations until recently. The skin care industry is just beginning to understand the skin’s microbiota and the importance of having a healthy one.”
Ultimately, Dr. Murad says his brand’s latest innovation is about more than moisturization. “It’s all about balancing the skin and keeping your microbiome healthy.” What’s more, it’s one of many products to come in which acne is addressed in a more meaningful way. “We will be considering the microbiota in pretty much every future innovation,” Dr. Murad notes.
In other words: it’s time to lay down our weapons. By balancing the microbiota, and with the help of a few bacteria whisperers, clear, at-peace skin may finally emerge on its own.
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