Caffeine for Skin Tightening: Does it Work?

Did you know that caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug?

I have to admit that I’m a bit of a caffeine addict; you don’t want to mess with me before I’ve had my morning cup of coffee!

In addition to being a caffeine addict, I am, of course, a skin care fanatic, which is why I am definitely interested in skin care products that contain caffeine. While caffeine is purported to provide numerous skin benefits, it is most often used for skin tightening in products such as eye creams and anti-cellulite products.

So can caffeine really help to tighten the skin? Keep reading below to find out!

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is well known for its presence in coffee and tea. Additionally, caffeine is known to be present in approximately 60 different plant species. The most common sources of caffeine are the beans of the two cultivated coffee plants, Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora, cocoa beans, tea leaves, and guarana (Paullinia cupana). When consumed, caffeine reversibly blocks the action of adenosine on its receptor, which prevents the onset of drowsiness induced by adenosine.

In addition to the energy-boosting effects gained from consuming caffeine, there are also benefits of applying caffeine topically. Caffeine penetrates the skin barrier and is absorbed by the surrounding blood vessels, which is why it provides several benefits to the skin. The use of caffeine in skin care products is becoming more and more popular. According to 2018 survey data from the FDA’s Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP), caffeine is reported to be used in 1033 formulations, 882 of which are leave-on products and 151 are rinse-off.

Caffeine for Skin Tightening

After topical application, caffeine has the ability to tighten and firm the skin through multiple mechanisms, which include:

Antioxidant properties

Caffeine functions as an antioxidant, which means that it helps to protect the skin from free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can attack important cellular components, such as DNA, cell membranes, proteins, etc., causing damage. This damage is known as “oxidative stress” and over time this stress can lead to signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

Specifically, the main mechanism involved in the direct reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging activity of caffeine is known as radical adduct formation (RAF). This means that caffeine can effectively scavenge the hydroxyl radical (-OH) and the -OCH3 free radical. It is thought that caffeine can help maintain tight, firm skin due to its antioxidant activity.

Additionally, dermatologist  Dr. Judith Hellman told Organic Authority, “Caffeine's properties enhance other antioxidant ingredients such as green tea, white tea and resveratrol, providing a boost to those ingredients which neutralize free radicals and improve the texture of the skin”.

Natural stimulant

As a natural stimulant, caffeine causes vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels) and stimulates blood flow when applied to the skin. Vasoconstriction can tighten and firm the skin due to the removal of excess fluids and possible stimulation of the lymphatic drainage system. This function also aids in reducing the amount of blood that accumulates under the eyes (a major factor that contributes to dark circles). Due to these effects, skin care companies often use caffeine for skin tightening in anti-aging eye creams.

Dehydrates Fat Cells

Companies frequently use caffeine for skin tightening in anti-cellulite products because it prevents excessive accumulation of fat in cells. According to a publication in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, caffeine stimulates the degradation of fats during lipolysis through inhibition of the phosphodiesterase activity.

Furthermore, dermatologist Julie Russak, M.D., explains to Women’s Health, “Caffeine dehydrates the fat cells and stimulates circulation, therefore making the skin appear tighter and smoother, says Russak. However, she notes that these effects are temporary and shouldn't be relied on as long-term solutions.

Other Caffeine Benefits for Skin & Hair

In addition to using caffeine for skin tightening, this natural stimulant can be used in both skin and hair products to provide many other benefits.

UV protection

Clinical studies have found the caffeine can help to protect cells against damage caused by UV radiation and slow down the process of photoaging of the skin. Studies on mice exposed to radiation examined the effects of topical caffeine application. Results from these studies revealed that caffeine has a sunscreen effect on the skin of mice and also inhibited UVB-induced skin carcinogens. Other studies have shown that caffeine helps block the protein ATR (ataxia telangiectasia), therefore protecting skin against UV damage and, ultimately, reducing the risk of skin cancer.

Helps with rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes chronic red flushing, primarily on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead. Skin care products that contain caffeine are thought to help improve the symptoms of rosacea. This is because caffeine constricts small blood vessels and improves circulation, helping to reduce redness.


Caffeine has natural soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and redness. These properties are particularly helpful for those with acne, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Stimulate hair growth

Caffeine has the ability to stimulate hair growth through inhibition of the 5-α-reductase activity. 5-α-reductase is an enzyme in the body that converts testosterone into DHT, which then goes on to cause hair loss. By inhibiting this enzyme, caffeine is thought to prevent hair loss. Additionally, caffeine acts as a vehicle to penetrate into the cells and therefore can help to deliver active ingredients into the hair follicle.

Using Products with Caffeine for Skin Tightening

If you want to start using caffeine for skin tightening, I would recommend trying the following products:

B-TIGHT Lift & Firm Booty Mask (AMAZON, $54)

B-Tight Mask is an anti-cellulite mask that is said to reduce the appearance of cellulite, restore and tighten skin, and increase skin firmness and elasticity. One of the key ingredients in B-Tight Mask is pink pepperslim, an oil obtained from Schinus terebinthifolius berries. After topical application, pink pepperslim improves microcirculation and reduces the protection on fat reserves to make them more available to lipases. Ultimately, this provides a slimming effect. Another key ingredient in the B-Tight Mask is Ecoslim, a green coffee extract that is formulated to allow caffeine to be included in a higher quantity in a formula (up to 3.5%) without adding alcohol. Ecoslim is a lipolytic agent used for slimming and removing toxins.

Red grapefruit oil, another key ingredient in the B-Tight Mask, contains large amounts of the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, which helps break down cellulite. Red grapefruit oil also helps reduce fat accumulation and enhance circulation to reduce the appearance of cellulite, creating a firmer, fuller look. The final key ingredient in B-Tight Mask is guarana, a plant native to Brazil that contains 4 to 6 times more caffeine than a coffee bean. Guarana contains an impressive range of stimulants and antioxidants that contribute to the fat burning process.

100% PURE Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (Amazon, $26)

In addition to caffeine, this eye cream contains numerous all natural ingredients that are very beneficial to the skin, such as green tea, aloe, rose water, and rosehip seed oil.

HERBAVANA Exfoliating Body Scrub - Coconut Hemp Coffee Scrub (Amazon, $14.95)

What I really love about this product is the simplicity of the ingredient list, which includes:

Dead Sea Salt, Organic Kona Coffee, Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Organic Avocado Oil, Coffee Arabica Seed Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Argan Oil, Coconut Extract

Have you ever tried using products with caffeine for skin tightening? If so, have they worked for you? Leave me a comment below!

Do You Know The Skin Care Benefits of Ghee?

Did you know that ghee is not only a highly nutritious food, but also an excellent skin care ingredient? In this post, you’ll learn all of the skin care benefits of ghee!

What is Ghee?

Ghee is a type of clarified butter.

Butter is composed of three main components:

  • Fat

  • Water

  • Milk solids

Heating butter until it melts cause the water to evaporate, and the solids, having nowhere else to go, break down and float to the surface where they can be skimmed off.

The process of creating traditional clarified butter is complete once the water is evaporated and the fat (clarified butter) is separated from the milk solids. However, the production of ghee includes simmering the butter, which makes it nutty-tasting and aromatic. According to Healthline, ghee was originally created to prevent butter from spoiling during warm weather.

Since ghee does not contain water, it has a very long shelf life and does not need to be refrigerated. In fact, according to ayurvedic teaching its quality and healing properties improve with age. Ayurveda recognizes ghee as an essential part of a balanced diet and is considered to be the very best oil one can eat. It has been used for centuries as a digestive and elimination aid, as well as for energy, sexual vitality, skin and eye health, as a lubricant for the joints and for alkalizing the blood. 

Ghee is completely free of the milk sugar lactose and the milk protein casein, whereas butter contains small amounts of each. Therefore, ghee is considered to be safe to use for those who have allergies or sensitivities to these dairy components.

Ghee composition

Ghee is composed almost entirely of fat, 62% of which is saturated fat. Palmitic acid and oleic acid are two of the main fatty acids in ghee. Palmitic acid is the most common saturated fatty acid found in animals, plants, and microorganisms. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that occurs naturally in various animal and vegetable fats and oils, for instance, olive oil.

Another type of fatty acid in ghee is butyric acid. Butyric acid is a saturated short-chain fatty acid. In addition to ghee, butyric acid can be found in butter, milk, animal fat, and plant oils. It’s also formed in the human colon through the bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates like dietary fiber. Butyric acid supports digestion and promotes healing of cells in the small and large intestine. Butyric acid also provides benefits to the skin, which I will discuss in detail below.

Yet another beneficial fatty acid that can be found in ghee is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Linoleic acid is the most common omega-6 fatty acid. According to Healthline, the “conjugated” prefix has to do with the arrangement of the double bonds in the fatty acid molecule. There are 28 different forms of CLA. While the majority of research on CLA is on the ability of this fatty acid to support weight loss, there is emerging research that suggests CLA can benefit aging skin when applied topically.

Ghee also contains a significant amount of cholesterol (approximately 250 mg per 100 grams of ghee). Cholesterol can be classified as a sterol, a type of lipid molecule. It is an essential structural component of all animal cell membranes, functioning to maintain both membrane structural integrity and fluidity. Cholesterol is also naturally found in the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin).

Ghee contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K. All three of these vitamins have potent antioxidant activity, which I will discuss in detail below.

Ghee Skin Benefits - Moisturizing

Ghee functions as an excellent moisturizer for all skin types, especially those with dry skin. It works by replenishing the skin’s natural barrier. The skin barrier is composed of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids combined with corneocytes (dead skin cells). A strong, intact barrier is important to keep moisture in, as well as keep things like allergens, bacteria, and irritants out.

When the barrier is weakened, these intruders can pass through the top layer of skin, causing damage that ultimately leads to common skin conditions such as acne, rashes, sensitive skin, and even signs of aging. A weak barrier also allows moisture to escape from the skin’s surface, leading to dry, flaky skin.

Topical application of ghee provides fatty acids and cholesterol, which both work to replenish the skin’s barrier. Additionally, the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in ghee helps skin retain moisture by boosting ceramide synthesis. Overall, ghee fortifies the skin barrier, resulting in hydrated, soft, smooth skin that is better protected from harmful environmental factors.

Ghee Skin Benefits - Anti-Aging

According to StyleCraze, “Ghee is considered as one of the best natural anti-aging solutions.”

I’d have to agree with them.  

Since I have been applying ghee to my skin I’ve noticed that my complexion is brighter and that my skin looks (and feels) softer and more plump.

The anti-aging skin benefits of ghee are thanks to several different components. First, the fatty acids, cholesterol, and CLA help to keep the skin moisturized (as mentioned above), which is crucial since the skin loses moisture with age.

Additionally, ghee contains that antioxidant vitamins A, E, and K. Antioxidants work by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are the unstable molecule that can react with our important cellular components, such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, or the cell membrane. When this happens, the cells become dysfunctional or undergo apoptosis (cell death). Collectively, the damage to cells in our body is referred to as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in skin cells leads to premature signs of aging, such as lines, wrinkles, and age spots. Antioxidants help to prevent signs of aging because they break the chain of reactions caused by free radicals.

Ghee Skin Benefits - Calms Inflammation

Have you ever heard the term “inflammaging”?

I hadn’t until I started to research the skin benefits of ghee.

“Inflammaging” is a term used to describe chronic, low-grade inflammation that is associated with age-related changes in the body. Inflammaging has been linked to numerous age-related diseases, one being skin aging.  

One way to combat inflammaging as it relates to skin aging is to incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients in your skin care routine. There are several anti-inflammatory compounds found in ghee, such as butyrate and conjugated linoleic acid.

Research performed on cell cultures has demonstrated that butyrate does reduce inflammation. According to, butyrate suppresses the activity of cells and proteins driving inflammation. It also strengthens barriers between the cells, thus preventing invasion of microbes.

The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in ghee also helps to calm inflammation. It is believed that CLA isomers have the ability to inhibit the transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines by the upregulation of PPARγ expression. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are signaling molecules that promote inflammation. By reducing the transcription of these molecules, inflammation is reduced.

The ability of ghee to help calm skin inflammation not only helps reduce signs of aging, but can also alleviate the symptoms of other inflammatory skin disorders. Examples include acne, eczema, rosacea, etc.

Personally, I have noticed that if I apply ghee on a blemish, the redness and inflammation surrounding the blemish is diminished.

In conclusion

Overall, I think the skin care benefits of ghee are pretty impressive. If you are looking for a natural moisturizer, I’d pick up a jar of organic ghee (I purchased mine on Amazon for $11.95) and try making a DIY moisturizer.

There are several how-to videos on YouTube, such as this one:

Try the Ketogenic Diet for Healthy Skin

I’ve been following the ketogenic diet for the past several months and I must say that my skin is looking better than I’ve ever seen it!

I haven’t had any acne breakouts (besides the one or two blemishes that I get during PMS) and I’ve noticed a glow to my complexion that I’ve never been able to achieve before. At first, I didn’t even realize that my new style of eating was contributing to my healthy, vibrant skin. Since I haven’t changed anything with my skincare routine, however, I knew the ketogenic diet was the reason behind my improved complexion.

If you want to learn more about how to try the ketogenic diet for healthy skin, keep reading below.

ketogenic diet healthy skin pin.jpg


What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet involves following a low carb, high fat diet in order to shift the body from a sugar burning state to a fat burning state. According to Diet Doctor, the “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that this style of eating leads the body to produce ketones as its fuel source, which will put the body into a state of ketosis.

When people follow the standard American diet (high carb, low fat), the body depends on glucose (blood sugar) for fuel. The problem with this style of eating, however, is that excess amounts of glucose in the blood signal to the pancreas to release insulin. Subsequently, insulin signals for the body to store glucose in the form of fat. Yes, that’s right, carbs and sugar are what cause you to get fat! 


Therefore, one of the many benefits of the ketogenic diet is fat reduction and weight loss. Additional benefits of the ketogenic diet include:

  • Decreased brain fog

  • Higher energy level

  • Improved hormone balance

  • May decrease risk of cancer

  • And many more!


Now that you know the basics of the ketogenic diet, let’s dive into one of my favorite benefits of this style of eating: healthy skin!


The benefits of cutting out carbs and sugar

The ketogenic diet can give you healthy skin by helping with acne symptoms.

There are several factors that contribute to the formation of acne, one being consumption of high glycemic index foods (bread, soda, cake, pasta, rice, etc.) These types of foods have a negative impact on your skin because they cause major spikes in blood glucose levels, which leads to insulin secretion. Studies have found that insulin can increase sebum production as well as lead to the colonization of the stratum corneum by Propionibacterium acnes (the bacteria that causes acne). Both of these insulin-mediated actions lead to inflammation and blemishes.


According to a review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, evidence from several studies reports that the prevalence of acne varies significantly between different populations and is substantially lower in non-Westernized populations that follow traditional diets, a common factor among these traditional diets being a low glycemic load.


While the evidence is not yet conclusive, cutting out sugar and carbs by following the ketogenic diet could improve your acne symptoms.


The benefits of including healthy fats

Healthy skin needs healthy fats. Period.

Specifically, the skin needs essential fatty acids (EFAs) like omega-3 fatty acids. These are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes and also help produce the skin's natural oil barrier, which is critical in keeping skin hydrated, plumper, and younger looking. According to WebMD, if you're not getting enough EFAs in your diet, your skin may be dry, inflamed, and prone to whiteheads and blackheads.

The good news is that the ketogenic diet encourages eating a lot of fat. Examples of foods that are full of healthy fats include the following:

  • Avocados

  • Fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring)

  • Nuts

  • Olive oil

  • Coconut oil

  • Animal fats (butter, eggs, meat, etc.)

If you want to add even more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet you could also take a fish oil or krill oil supplement. According to the Bulletproof blog, krill oil is superior to fish oil because because the polyunsaturated fats are packaged as phospholipids, which can be used immediately by your body. The healthy fats in fish oil, on the other hand, are typically packaged as triglycerides and have to undergo additional processing in order to make them bioavailable.

I take this krill oil supplement to ensure that I'm getting enough omega-3 fatty acids! (Amazon, $16.98)

Increasing your intake of healthy fats can help to give your skin a more youthful look!

The benefits of eating your veggies

Low carb vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, etc., are permitted while following the ketogenic diet. The bonus to eating these types of veggies is healthy skin!



Specifically, deeply colored vegetables and low fructose citrus fruits can help to give you glowing skin due to their vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, the protein that keeps your skin looking firm and young. Additionally, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from free radicals that your skin is exposed to during the day, such as too much sun exposure, environmental toxins, etc.

The benefits of drinking Bulletproof coffee

Bulletproof coffee is a staple of my ketogenic diet. I drink a cup (or two!) every single morning. If you’re not familiar with Bulletproof coffee, it’s coffee with grass-fed butter + Brain Octane Oil blended together to make a delicious drink that gives you a boost of energy and staves off hunger for hours.

Image via  Bulletproof

Image via Bulletproof


So how does including Bulletproof coffee in my ketogenic diet improve my complexion? In addition to the healthy fats that are found in grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil, the caffeine in coffee improves skin health by reducing inflammation, boosting circulation to the skin, repairing DNA, soothing sun damage, and reducing redness from irritation.


Try the Ketogenic Diet for Healthy Skin

Trying the ketogenic diet has honestly been the best thing I’ve ever done for my health. As I said, the stable energy all day long is what really got me hooked, but seeing improvements in my complexion is an exciting bonus! In my opinion as a skincare addict and pharmacist, I would definitely recommend trying the ketogenic diet for healthy skin!




Retinoids vs. Retinol

Hi friends!

So as I was writing this post, I realized that a more suitable title may have been retinoid vs. retinol vs. retinoic acid vs. all-trans-retinoic acid vs. retinyl palmitate vs. OMG WTF?!

As you can see, all of these terms look and sound the same, but they are all slightly different.

Since retinoids are the gold standard for giving your skin a youthful, glowing appearance I’m going to help you to understand the difference between retinoids vs. retinol (and all of those other names, too!)

Retinoid vs. Retinol vs. ETC.

In pharmacy school, we were taught that retinol is another name for vitamin A. As you know, vitamin A can be found in certain foods (kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.). Vitamin A can also be synthetically made as a dietary supplement or for use in skincare products. 


Retinyl palmitate is the ester of retinol. Throwback to o-chem (literally my favorite class in pharmacy school!): an ester is a compound that is derived from an acid in which at least one of the hydroxyl (-OH) groups is replaced by an alkyl (–O–) group.

A carboxylate ester

A carboxylate ester

When retinol is metabolized, it forms retinoic acid. Once again, retinoic acid can also be man-made and used in prescription drugs, such as brand name Retin-A (generic name = tretinoin) and brand name Accutane (generic name = isotretinoin). Since tretinoin is the all-trans isomer of retinoic acid, it is also referred to as all-trans-retinoic acid.

The term retinoid encompasses all of the aforementioned derivatives of retinol and is considered a class of chemical compounds that demonstrate vitamin A activity.

When it comes to OTC anti-aging creams and serums, skincare experts consider pure retinol to be the most effective of the retinoids.

How does retinol benefit the skin?

Retinol is one of the best anti-aging ingredients because it has so many functions:

  • Retinol can minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

  • Retinol can improve uneven skin tone

  • Retinol can increase skin firmness

  • Retinol can shrink the appearance of pores

So how does retinol provide your skin with all of these benefits? Let's look at the science. 

Retinoids have a very complex mechanism of action. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, all retinoids, not just retinol, are very effective at slowing and preventing the aging effects of UV exposure.

In the nucleus of cells there are retinoic acid (RAR) and retinoid X receptors (RXR). When retinol interacts with these nuclear receptors, the production of procollagen is increased and the release of inflammatory mediators is blocked. Thus, retinol can improve any collagen deficiency that exists in the skin when applied topically. Furthermore, since vitamin A (retinol) is an antioxidant, applying a retinol product to your skin works to combat the damaging effects of free radicals. Retinoids also act as comedolytic agents and work by unclogging blocked pores. So retinoids are not only excellent anti-aging ingredients, but they can also help with acne!

My favorite retinol products

Paula's Choice SKIN RECOVERY Super Antioxidant Serum with Retinol (Amazon, ~$36)

Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY serum combines retinol with a ton of beneficial ingredients, including vitamins C & E, green tea extract, chamomile extract, grape seed extract, evening primrose oil, and more!

SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream (Amazon, ~$59)

This SkinCeuticals product is high-concentration pure retinol cream for experienced retinol users to improve the appearance of visible signs of aging and pores while minimizing breakouts.


So do you have a better understanding of the difference between retinoids and retinol now? Is there anything that is still unclear? Please leave me a comment below or reach out to me by email - I'd love to answer any questions you have!



6 Tips to Get Rid of Acne That You Haven't Heard Before

Hi friends!

I was inspired to write this post because I'm so happy with how clear and smooth my skin has been lately! 

I hope saying that doesn't come off as bragging, I'm honestly just relieved and happy that I've finally found the right products to clear my skin! Can you believe that just 6 months ago I was dealing with cystic acne?! It was a nightmare. 

If you’ve ever had to deal with acne, you understand that it's a difficult battle. Blemishes are embarrassing and frequent breakouts can lower your self-esteem. I felt so ugly that sometimes I didn't even want to leave the house!

I tried everything that I knew to try. Pretty much every OTC cream, gel, cleanser, etc. I even went to the dermatologist to try prescription creams. Nothing worked!

Since there is so much conflicting info out there on how to treat acne that I decided to ditch what everyone else was saying and think about how to clear my acne based on my knowledge on how acne forms in the first place. 

Why do blemishes form?

The first step in the formation of a blemish occurs when the skin’s sebaceous glands produce excess amounts of sebum. Sebum is a naturally occurring oily substance that moisturizes, lubricates, and protects the skin and hair. Even though sebum production is normal, when it is produced in excess it can clog the skin’s pores. There are numerous factors that can increase the skin’s sebum production, including cosmetics, smoking, stress, foods and drinks with high sugar content, and many more.

The next step in the development of acne is follicular hyperkeratinization. While the name may sound complicated, this simply means that follicles in the skin are not exfoliating properly and are more prone to becoming clogged. When the follicle becomes clogged, a species of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes accumulate and multiply in the follicle. The follicle becomes inflamed, thus leading to pimple formation.

Considering how acne develops, effective treatment options should accomplish the following:

  • Normalize the skin’s sebum levels

  • Destroy the P. acnes bacteria

  • Calm the skin and reduce inflammation

With this in mind, I finally cleared my skin by finding the products + lifetstyle habits that work for me

It’s important to understand that there is no cure for acne. However, through what I've learned as a pharmacist and my personal battle with acne, I've discovered the best tips to get rid of acne. In fact, I bet you haven't even heard of some of them before! Check them out below.

1. Try a sulfur cleanser

I have to start with this tip because sulfur cleansers have been by far the best thing to help get rid of my acne. After using a sulfur cleanser for just a couple weeks my cystic acne significantly improved!! I started with the R+F UNBLEMISH Acne Treatment Sulfur Wash & still use this today to keep my skin under control.

I also love the Mario Badescu Drying Mask, which contains sulfur as well as a ton of other ingredients that are excellent for acne prone skin! It's one of my favorite masks. 

[Related: Pharmacist Approved Face Masks for Any Skin Type]

6 Tips to Get Rid of Acne That You Haven't Heard Before

The reason I had never tried one before was from what I learned in pharmacy school! According to the American Academy of Dermatology, "There is limited evidence to support recommendations for sulfur, nicotinamide, resorcinol, sodium sulfacetamide, aluminum chloride, and zinc in the treatment of acne." Knowing this, I dismissed the thought of ever using a sulfur cleanser. I guess this goes to show that everyone's skin is different and what works for the majority of people might not work for you (& vice versa!) So while the AAD may not consider sulfur to be effective, it worked extremely well for me. 

Sulfur products get rid of acne so well because sulfur is a keratolytic agent, which means it causes the uppermost layers of skin to loosen and shed. Ultimately, this action clears out dead skin cells and other debris from pores that can cause acne. 

2. Reconsider your fabrics

With this tip, I'm suggesting that you reconsider the fabrics you use in both your bed sheets and towels. Did you know that certain fabrics are better for your skin than others? In fact, choosing the wrong type of fabric will not only lead to acne breakouts, but also causes lines and wrinkles that could become permanent!

One of the worst fabrics that you can use is cotton. 


Cotton is a soft, extremely absorbent fabric. In fact, cotton has the ability to absorb up to 27 times its weight in water! This is due to cotton's composition of mostly cellulose, a hydrophilic (water-loving) polysaccharide. So what's the problem with a highly absorbent fabric? Our bodies naturally lose moisture and oils as we sleep, which ends up being absorbed into the cotton pillowcase. This becomes a problem when our skin sticks to the fabric, causing friction that can lead to creases in facial skin. Also, the buildup of sweat and oil in the fabric can cause or worsen acne.

3. Don't be afraid of oils

Many people with oily skin avoid oils due to fear of breaking out. Skin needs oil to help maintain its hydration, especially when it is stripped of its own natural oils, such as from using too harsh of a cleanser. 

If you have oily or acne prone skin try to avoid oils that are known to clog pores, such as mineral oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. One of the best oils for these skin types is jojoba oil because its structure so closely resembles human sebum (the natural oil produced by skin). By mimicking the body’s natural oil so closely, applying jojoba oil will signal to the skin to stop overproducing sebum, which is one of the major causes of acne.   

Additionally, there’s an oil that specifically treats acne and can help reduce the size of pimples: tea-tree oil. This oil has been proven to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2007) However, tea-tree oil can irritate the skin, so keep in mind that a little goes a long way.

[Related: How to Use Face Oils for Naturally Clear, Glowing Skin]

4. Don’t skip the moisturizer

A common skin care myth is that people with acne-prone skin should not use moisturizers because they will further clog the pores and contribute to more breakouts. Quite the opposite is true! Moisturizing prevents your skin from feeling like it’s too dry, which would ultimately lead to even more oil production. As mentioned above, too much oil is part of the process of acne formation. Thus, using a moisturizer that is light, oil-free, and noncomedogenic will help to better manage your acne symptoms.


5. Be cautious of what touches your skin

Many people forget that little things, such as letting your hair rub against your face throughout the day, can trigger breakouts. Try to keep your hair clean and off your face. Also, avoid resting your hands or objects, such as your cell phone, on your face.


6. Always protect against the sun

While protecting skin from damaging UV rays is important for all skin types, it is especially important for those with acne-prone skin. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and worsen breakouts. UV rays can also cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration).

Many patients convey they are worried that sunscreen will cause them to break out. While this may be true for certain sunscreens, you can still have superior protection against the sun by knowing which ingredients to look for. Look for a sunscreen that is in a lotion form. It should be light, oil-free, noncomedogenic, and provide broad spectrum protection.


Ok friends, those are my best 6 tips to get rid of acne that you haven't heard before!

If you know anyone who would benefit from these tips, please share this post with them! :)

The Role of Peptides in Skincare

Hi friends!

If you are any kind of skincare junkie like I am, you've definitely heard of peptides being used in various anti-aging products, claiming to solve pretty much every skin flaw imaginable. 

But what exactly are peptides? And how do they work?

The role of peptides in skincare

In pharmacy school, I only learned about peptides as they relate to the mechanism of action of various medications. So understanding the role of peptides in skincare is something fairly new to me also!

But ever since I learned that peptides are the reason why my favorite eye cream can make my crows feet disappear and why my lips look so plump after applying my nightly lip serum, I just had to learn more. So after doing my research I've written this post to teach you all about the role of peptides in skincare!


What are peptides?

In simple terms, peptides are fragments of proteins.

Peptides are formed when amino acids bond together. For example, when two amino acids are joined together by a single bond it is called a dipeptide. Three linked amino acids are a tripeptide, followed by tetrapeptides, etc.

Many people ask what the difference is between peptides and protein. While they are both made of the same building blocks (amino acids), it all comes down to size. Peptides typically contain approximately 50 or fewer amino acids. Proteins consist of 50 or more amino acids and can be made of polypeptides (a long peptide chain).

The role of peptides in skincare

The role of peptides in skincare

The reason why peptides are used in anti-aging skincare products is due to their ability to increase collagen production. Collagen is the protein that gives your skin a firm, smooth, youthful appearance. Natural and environmental factors, like sun exposure and free radicals, cause collagen to degrade over time. The result? Lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Therefore, since peptides can increase collagen production they are able to minimize these signs of aging. While many clinical studies have proven this to be true, the mechanism(s) by which peptides accomplish this is still unclear. [Related Post: What is Collagen?]

Controversy exists over whether peptides actually work in skincare products because their size breaks the 500 Dalton Rule. According to this rule, a substance can only be absorbed into the skin if its molecular weight (MW) is under 500 Daltons. So if peptides are larger than 500 Daltons, how can peptides even work if they aren't absorbed by the skin?

One theory is that peptides work through signaling. Cells have the ability to communicate with each other to coordinate certain actions, which is known as "cell-signaling". Peptides can mimic certain cell-signaling processes. Specifically, peptides that are used in skincare products mimic the same peptides that you’d find when collagen is broken down. According to research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), when collagen is degraded it produces peptides that signal skin cells to generate more collagen. Synthetic peptides have been developed that can mimic these naturally occurring peptides, thus causing your skin to “think” collagen is deteriorating. The result? New collagen production! Mimicking natural cell-signaling is one way that peptides can overcome the 500 Dalton rule; even though they don’t penetrate the skin barrier, they still work effectively. 


Peptides to look for in skincare products

Palmitoyl oligopeptide.

Palmitoyl oligopeptide can significantly stimulate collagen production in human fibroblasts, as shown in a 2007 study published in Dermatologic Therapy. Firmer skin can be seen when palmitoyl oligopeptide is used twice daily for a significant period of time (about six months).


Tripeptide-1 is a type of synthetic peptide. As the name indicates, tripeptide-1 is a three amino acid peptide with the amino sequence of glycine-histidine-lysine, or GHK. Tripeptide-1 is categorized as a messenger peptide because it works by sending messages or signals to cells.

Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3.

Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 has been extensively studied for its ability to stimulate new production of types I and II collagen as well as fibronectin, all of which are important for the firmness and elasticity of the skin. 

Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7.

According to a 2017 publication in Cosmetics, this palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 serves as an anti-inflammatory after exposure to the sun's harmful UVB rays. 

My favorite peptide skincare products

Paula's Choice BOOST Peptide Booster (Amazon, ~$49)

I love Paula Begoun because all of her products are created based on ingredients that are scientifically proven to be safe and effective. The Peptide Booster serum delivers a concentrated dose of eight highly-targeted peptides, hydrating amino acids & repairing ingredients to help skin feel firmer & more resilient, while also reducing the appearance of fine lines.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream (Amazon, ~$12)

I’m pretty impressed with this CeraVe product! In addition to Caprooyl Tetrapeptide-3 and Tripeptide-1, this night cream contains several other very beneficial ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, glycerin, niacinamide, & ceramides.

The best part is that its cheap & can be found in pretty much any drug store (or Amazon!)


What are your favorite peptide products? Leave me a comment below!


Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

On a recent trip to Ohio to visit my family, I was looking forward to nothing more than taking a few days off to relax and enjoy their company, the nice weather, and my sisters pool! 

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

I could not put down the novel I was reading [Camino Island by John Grisham, highly recommend it!], I fell asleep on a swan float, and I allowed myself to soak up a little sun [with sunscreen on, of course].

The relaxing day was most certainly needed to restore my clarity and focus. My skin, on the other hand, could have done without the sun exposure + hours of swimming in chlorine. But, hey, it's all about balance, right?

I had diligently put on my R+F broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen prior to my day in the sun, so luckily I did not burn. However, my skin was still extremely dry by the end of the day, basically screaming for some type of moisture. To my delight, this was the same day I received a package containing my latest product to test: the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

I purchased the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel after finding Dr. Lin's Instagram account. My favorite products are those created by healthcare professionals because I believe they develop products with the goal of helping people to solve their skin issues (unlike some cosmetic companies who are just in it for the $$$).

Dr. Lin is a board-certified dermatologist practicing in California who has devoted his 16 years of practice to providing his patients with continuously clear skin. After reading this, I knew I had to try one of his products. Plus, the Daily Hydrating Gel is only $13.99!! You seriously cannot beat that. 

The Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel promises "to soothe and rehydrate dry, irritated skin". Exactly what I needed! Keep reading to learn how the ingredients in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel work to restore skin moisture + my results after using this product!

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel: Key Ingredients

In this review, I’m going to explain the following key ingredients found in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel:

  • Hyaluronic acid

  • Bearberry leaf extract

  • Glycerin

  • Allantoin

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is the new buzz word in the skincare industry. You’ll hear hyaluronic acid being referred to as a “hydration miracle” and called “the fountain of youth”. The Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel features sodium hyaluronate, the water-soluble sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid.

Both hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate can naturally be found throughout the human body. They are part of a class of molecules called glycosaminoglycans. In simple terms, this means they are a type of sugar molecule that can attract water. Since your skin’s dermis layer consists of about 70% water it claims nearly 50% of your body’s total hyaluronic acid. The role of hyaluronic acid in the skin is to support and hydrate the skin, resulting in a healthy, firm complexion.

Unfortunately, the amount of hyaluronic acid in the body decreases with age. In fact, adults have only 1/20th the amount of hyaluronic acid of a baby. As hyaluronic acid levels decline, your skin becomes more prone to dryness, roughness, flaking, wrinkles, lines, etc. Therefore, using a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid, such as the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel, can help to keep skin hydrated and looking youthful!


Bearberry leaf extract

Another exciting ingredient in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel is bearberry leaf extract. Specifically, this product contains arctostaphylos uva-ursi, otherwise known as the common bearberry.

The foliage of the bearberry plant is most commonly used in cosmetic and skincare products because studies have found that it is an effective free radical scavenger. Free radicals are highly reactive substances that can damage important cellular components, such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, cell membranes, etc., which can lead to signs of aging.

[Related: Free Radicals and Antioxidants: Breaking it Down]

In fact, a 2004 study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that bearberry leaf extract had even more powerful antioxidant properties than licorice extract (Glycyrrhiza lepidota), echinacea extract (Echinacea angustifolia), and horsetail extract (Equisetum spp.). Thus, the bearberry extract in the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel can help to prevent future skin damage from free radicals as well as calm and heal skin damaged by free radicals. 



Propane-1,2,3-triol, aka glycerin (also called glycerol), is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid. It is non-toxic and is used in many cosmetic products and pharmaceutical formulations as a humectant.

A humectant is a substance that is able to attract moisture from the air and retain it on or under a surface. Therefore, the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel is able to draw moisture in from the air around us and keep our skin moisturized all day long.



Allantoin is a botanical extract from the Comfrey plant and can also be chemically synthesized. When allantoin is an active ingredient in skincare products, such as the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel, it exerts a keratolytic effect, meaning it helps to loosen and shed any dead skin cells. Allantoin is an excellent ingredient for a moisturizer because it increases the water content of the extracellular matrix, leaving skin hydrated and smooth. According to a publication in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, allantoin can help to soothe irritated skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties.


Final thoughts 

Applying the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel leaves a cool, fresh sensation to my skin. I love using this gel as a moisturizer because it does not leave the skin greasy at all, which is a problem I often come across with moisturizers. Also, some moisturizers can sting and irritate my skin, but this is not the case with the Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel. Instead, my skin is left feeling smooth, refreshed, and hydrated!

Overall, I'd recommend this product if your skin is lacking hydration and you want a moisturizer that will not make you skin feel greasy. I think this product is especially perfect for those with oily or acne-prone skin, but I'd recommend it for any skin type!

Buy it > here for only $13.99!

Ingredients in Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel: Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi (Bear Berry) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Anthemis (Chamomile) Nobilis Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Allantoin, Arbutin, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer.