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Why Most Topicals are Ineffective and Damaging to Your Skin

It took thousands of years of evolution to create the cells and organs that make up our bodies today. Every organ in your body was created for a reason and every cell that constitutes the organs, blood, etc. play a very specific role. The cells that constitute your skin have a specific role, too.

Your skin is a protective barrier to both release and absorb. It releases sebum to keep your skin supple and moist. It releases heat (in the form of sweat) to keep your body cool.  It absorbs sunlight to produce Vitamin D , a very important hormone with a multitude of it’s own functions. [1]

Simply put, your skin is there for a reason, and it is able to do it’s job effectively with the necessary means to do so. So why interfere with this natural process by putting unnatural topicals on your skin?

Companies like Neutrogena, L’oreal(see L’Oreal accused of using banned chemicals) and pharmaceutical companies create and market these topicals for two reasons.  To treat a specific symptom which may be one cause of your acne and to make as much money while doing so.

Inneffective – topicals don’t treat the true cause

One example of a prescription topical pharmaceutical companies have created in a lab is Benzamycin. Let’s take a look at the active ingredients in Benzamycin:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide, hydrous, equivalent to benzoyl peroxide 5%
  • Erythromycin 3%

Erythromycin inhibits lipase production whilst benzoyl peroxide reduces the comedone count and has antibacterial action.[2]

In theory, this should stop acne from forming, thus curing your acne. WRONG. If you’ve read, ‘The Ladder of Causes‘ you’ll know that this effort is futile. Benzamycin may help curbing your acne initially, but what happens when you stop? Your acne comes back.  Acne sufferers are lead to believe that if their symptoms are temporary alleviated, then it is an effective treatment. WRONG. Effective means your acne is gone and will never come back. There is only one effective treatment of acne, and topicals aren’t it. The true cause of acne deals specifically with your diet and nutrition and healing comes within.

Damaging – Active and inactive ingredients are absorbed into our bloodstream and change homeostasis

We partially absorb everything we put on our skin. That foundation with a million different chemicals is absorbed by our skin. Those chemicals in that commercial shampoo you are using is absorbed by the skin, too. The same goes with Benzamycin and any other topical to treat acne.

In vivo, the higher the concentration of benzoyl peroxide applied, the greater the amount absorbed, as indicated by the urinary excretion of 14C-benzoic acid. [3]

Absorption is not specific to active ingredients. Inactive ingredients are absorbed as well. Let’s take a look at the inactive ingredients in Benzamycin.

  • Carbomer 980
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • SD Alcohol
  • Lemon Fragrance Oil
  • Methyl Salicylate
  • Docusate Sodium 75% Solution
  • Purified Water
  • Ethanol 70 HSE*

* Added by the pharmacist during reconstitution.

Pharmaceutical and OTC Companies don’t take into account the accumulative harmful effects of absorbing these ingredients into our bloodstream. They are probably aware of said effects, but don’t bring it to attention with their greed and money on their minds. Check out just a few chemicals in common topicals that are harmful to our body when you apply them topically. If you are really interested in this concept, I suggest you read ‘Dying To Look Good‘ by Christine Hoza Farlow, D.C.

Absorption of these ingredients has a two prong effect[4]:

  1. Localized accumulation of toxic residues with the need for homeostasis.
  2. Accumulation of toxic residues circulated through the blood stream with the need for excretion

It is very common for acne sufferers to incur new or increased skin symptoms after using strong topicals. This is due to the concept of homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the property of a system, either open or closed, that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition. – Walter Bradford Cannon

Many will find that once applying a topical, their skin will become red and inflamed right after application. They may also find that it causes their skin to become dry. This is an acute reaction from toxic ingredients that is damaging, no matter what other people might believe. After consistent application, toxic residues build up localized to the skins layers, and the body naturally will find a way to get rid of these toxins back out through the skin. Your body will effectively find a new level of homeostasis where an acute reaction doesn’t occur every application. This produces the symptoms classified as chronic, such as rosacea, consistent dryness, poor healing, etc. Every time you use these topicals with harmful ingredients, you are taking one more step to making your problems chronically worse. Here are a few excerpts from sufferers with these experiences.

On Ziana Gel, a prescription topical medication used to treat acne.

Pros      Helps clear up already existing pimples quickly and is easy to use.
Cons     It is expensive, it didn’t prevent my acne from forming and caused me to have break outs worse then before. [5]

Cortisone Gel, a prescription topical steroid that has been cited to cause permanent redness on the face, whether it helps acne minimally or not.

I think you’ll be okay if you’ve just started using it – I’m really just saying not to use cortisone on your face long term, no matter how tempting it is. I did a) because it’s what my dermatologist prescribed, so I thought it would be safe, and b) it really was the ONLY thing that seemed to control my sebderm. I kind of got used to the fact that the skin on my face always looked pink, because that was such a vast improvement from when my face was covered in nasty sebderm blotches – lesser of two evils if you like. People always used to say “do you have sunburn on your face?” – in winter [6]

Many will feel the desperation to use topical acne medications even if it were to cause other symptoms, simply because they want their acne gone under whatever circumstances. There is a much better, healthier, and effective way to curing your acne. That is through diet and nutrition and it will help anyone and everyone. This is a concept that is promoted in the book Focus: Your Ultimate Guide to Clear Skin Simple rule, don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t want to eat!

Have any experience with using harsh topicals on your skin? Please share them in the comments sections below.

  1. Borradale D, Kimlin M, Australian Sun and Health Research Laboratory, Vitamin D in health and disease: an insight into traditional functions and new roles for the ‘sunshine vitamin’, 2009
  2. EMC Medicines, Benzamycin Gel – Summary of Product Characteristics, 2007
  3. David Yeung M.S., Vick Toiletry Research Division, Richardson-VicksInc., Shelton, CT, and the Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, Benzoyl peroxide: Percutaneous penetration and metabolic disposition. II. Effect of concentration, 2008
  4. Ottmar Stubler, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology How Do Drugs Absorb Into The Skin (Percutaneous Absorption)
  5., Ziana Gel Reviews, 2010
  6., Cortisone Lotion Getting Rid of Redness, 2010

About the Author: George is a former acne sufferer who has cured his acne through dietary means. He is the author of, in the Focus: Your Ultimate Guide to Clear Skin. He, along with it’s strong growing community have helped several people cure their acne through diet.

FOCUS! Your Ultimate Guide to Clear Skin

FOCUS! Your Ultimate Guide to Clear Skin

Are you ready to throw away those nasty chemical lotions and creams… never pay for another expensive, worthless prescription ever again… and discover the “hushed up” truth about so-called acne cures and the 100% natural secret that’s WAY MORE POWERFUL?



I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this?

I decided to rewrite the article to make emphasis on some really important points i’m trying to get across. I’m glad you were intrigued by the topic on hand.

I was using Murad and it cleared some of my pimples, but i seem to be
getting them back. Yesterday I bought a neutrogena makeup remover and
the oil-free acne wash also neutrogena, and for moisturizer i bought
an aveeno moisturizer with an spf 15. I use to use the clean and clear
dual action moisturizer, but it dried up my face even more especially
when murad has already salicylic acid. what do you think of the
products I just bought? There are so many options of everything and i
dont know which to use!

I do think Benzoyl Peroxide has its place. I don’t use it often. Maybe every 3 months for 1 week and it’s really effective. I’m on a quite healthy diet. Paleo – wild game, beef, minmal pork, organic veggies and some fruit, but i still have some blocked pores especially on the forehead and BPO helps to keep it in check.

I have been using a type of an acne treatment and now that it’s done, i stopped using it. but then pimples started to come on my face?. I wash my face everyday at night with a type of soap that will help me… but i’m wondering if i should get another acne cream to treat my acne or should i not?.

I am 40 years old and still have acne. The author of this article does not actually understand what causes acne, and whilst I fully accept that diet plays its part, it is not the solution for all cases, as with many people such as myself, acne is as a result of a hormone imbalance, which cannot be remedied simply by eating lots of greens. The use of topical creams is the only way in which one might achieve clearer skin. Despite the damage which we know it can cause, we have no choice. In forcing drug companies to cease the manufacture of certain treatments such as Benzoyle Peroxide, we are being deprived of the few treatments which actually provide some benefit.

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