holiday travel essentials for clear skin


airplane travel and acne


airport and road trip food is often filled with dairy, soy and lots of salt. this article from BBC says that airplane food is heavily salted because lack of humidity and low pressure in the cabin decreases our ability to taste salt + sweet by 30%. not only can this heightened salt intake increase water retention making your body feel puffy, it can also irritate acne. forego the airport food and bring these snacks with you instead:

  • justin’s single serving almond butter with apple chips (i’ve found these at most metropolitan airports lately)
  • fresh fruit
  • a sandwich

keep leftover snacks from the trip with you in case you’re in a situation where you didn’t get much to eat at a meal that was dairy or soy heavy.


moskvitch also writes in her article, why does food taste different on planes? that, “at about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts.” this can wreck havoc on your body and skin causing intense dehydration. add a cocktail in the mix and you’re guaranteed to wake up from your in-plane snooze with a headache. this article from the atlantic recommends that you drink one liter of water for every 5 hours of air travel.

topically, i like to add an extra layer of hydrating gel under my regular daytime moisturizer and bring a small bottle of rose water with me to regularly spritz my face during the trip.

hydration and acne

if you’re traveling to a warm climate

  • your regimen! you may want to opt for a lighter moisturizer like hydrating gel instead of hydrating cream if you’re traveling to a hot + humid climate. also, lay off of harsh exfoliants like vitamin a on days that you’re spending in the sun to reduce your chance of hyper-pigmentation.

if you’re traveling to a cold climate


it’s essential to bring your own washcloths and pillowcases with you so that you don’t have to use host’s or hotel’s that are washed in cloggy laundry detergent and fabric softener. in addition, it can be embarrassing to bleach a host’s linens with benzoyl peroxide!

bring one washcloth per day of travel. you can use the same one morning and night, but not into the next day. bring 1 pillow case for every 3-5 days of travel. use one side of the pillowcase only to avoid the transfer of cloggy detergent or fabric softener from the sheets to your face or benzoyl peroxide residue from your face to their sheets.

acne-safe pillowcase

to prevent travel induced inflammation

  • ice! bring your ice pop maker if you’ll be at a host’s house or in a hotel with a freezer. if you don’t have access to a freezer, you can ask the hotel bar or concierge to bring you a glass of ice or get a few cubes from the ice machine.
  • take zyflamend each night to help reduce and prevent inflammation.
  • stick to the acne-safe diet by avoiding dairy, soy and coffee completely and limiting your sugar and alcohol intake.
  • keep your sleep consistent. try to go to bed at the same time as you would if you were at home and be sure to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • if you take a birth control pill, take it every 24 hours. that may a different time of day than at home because of a time change.
  • have fun, breathe deeply, relax your mind an body, enjoy time spent with loved ones or for yourself.

is your cold weather clothing making you breakout?

mark twain may have said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in san francisco but locals know that the season is changing by a new crispness in the air. november through july often call for a few extra layers in the bay area (to those of you in the rest of the world, it sounds like i’m bragging about our moderate weather but it really does get cold here). check out this list of winter clothing that can cause breakouts and acne-safe solutions to each of them.

city in the winter

hats: beanies, toques, berets, fedoras – whatever hat suits your style, chances are that you’ve never washed it. think of all of the seasons that you’ve worn it during cold and sweaty activities alike (snowboarding anyone?), now think of all of the times that you’ve washed it. the buildup of sweat, dirt, makeup and bacteria can cause breakouts on the forehead and hairline.

hipster in hat

solution: wash knit and fabric hats in cold water using acne-safe laundry detergent (kim’s fav is soap nuts). be sure not to scrub too hard causing friction that will make wool become felt, and rinse until the water runs clear of soap and dirt. lay flat to dry.

wash the brim of wool hats that same way or spray with 100% pure alcohol and wipe dry until no debris is coming off of the hat and onto the washcloth.

how often: every 2-3 times that you wear a hat and more often if you are prone to breakouts on the forehead. to avoid spending time everyday washing hats, find a few that you like and rotate them in your wardrobe.

ear muffs: can cause breakouts around the ears and hairline from sweat, dirt, makeup and friction.

solution: spray with 100% pure alcohol and wipe clean with a cloth until no more debris is coming off of the muffs. you can also purchase these washable ear muffs which have minimal contact with the skin around your ears. be sure to get your cleanser, toner and serums all the way into your hairline, around and behind your ears to prevent breakouts.

how often: every few times that you wear them and at the beginning of the season.

scarves: can cause irritation and sweat around the chest, neck and jawline. in addition, they often contain cloggy detergents and manufacturing chemicals when you purchase them which can lead to breakouts.


solution: wash scarves by hand using your acne-safe laundry detergent. rinse with cool water and lay flat to dry.

how often: wash asap when you purchase (before you wear it for the first time) and again every few times that you wear it. be sure to wash all of your scarves together at the beginning of the season so that you have an assortment of options clean in your closet.


jacket collars: are cozy and cute but can lead to breakouts on the chest, neck and jawline if left unwashed.

fur collar

solution: wash collars by hand using a spray mix of one part water and one part pure alcohol. apply the solution and dry using a clean washcloth. repeat until no debris is coming off of the washcloth.

how often: once per week and at the beginning of the season.

turtle neck + shawl collared sweaters: are in full fashion right now but can cause irritation and breakouts on the chest, neck and jawline.

knit turtle neck solution: wash by hand using your acne-safe detergent. rinse with cold water and lay flat to dry. wear a silk or cotton tee underneath if you are experiencing irritation on your chest from itchy materials.

how often: after 1-2 wears.

remember to always wash new clothing and accessories before wearing to remove any chemicals that may have been added during manufacturing. check out this blog for acne-safe laundry detergents. 

how to say, “no thank you” to dairy at thanksgiving dinner


check out this quick guide to your thanksgiving meal that will keep you on track and fresh faced. remember that it takes 1-3 months for an acne lesion to form and show up on the surface of your skin. that means that the pumpkin pie that you eat on thanksgiving may not show up as acne until new years eve. to ensure clear skin when the calendar turns to 2017, make these substitutions on turkey day.




pies contain butter in their crust and can contain sweetened condensed milk + heavy cream in their fillings (especially in pumpkin and pecan pies).


instead ask if you can bring desert as your contribution to the meal! check out these paleo pumpkin pie and clean eating pecan pie recipes.

mashed potatoes are traditionally made with lots of butter and heavy cream.

dairy free mashed potatoes

instead ask your host ahead of time to take some of the boiled potatoes out of the pan before adding butter and cream. add a little salt and pepper and mash your own bowl sans dairy!

green bean casserole can be made with butter, cream, and sometimes canned soups (like cream of mushroom) that contain dairy and soy.

green beans

instead skip the cassarole or ask your host to set aside some cooked green beans before they casserole them. you can also offer to bring a delicious paleo version that will be sure to please all of the foodies at the table.

gravy can contain cream, butter and white flour.

instead skip it or ask your host to set aside some turkey drippings for you before they add the thickeners. this recipe uses coconut milk and potato starch to make the worlds best paleo gravy.

bread usually contains dairy when made from scratch and can also contain soy if store bought.

dairy-free and soy-free bread

instead offer to bake the dinner rolls using this amazing dairy free recipe, this paleo recipe, or pick up a loaf at a local bakery where they can tell you which varieties are dairy free.

salad dressing can contain dairy in the form of cream and cheese or soy as soy bean oil or soy lecithin.

make your own salad dressing

instead enjoy your salad without the dressing or make a simple vinaigrette like any of these.


what are some of your favorite thanksgiving recipes? share them with us on instagram @skinsalvationacneclinic

treats without the tricks!

halloween is just around the corner and with it comes a plethora of tempting candy! to help you navigate the aisles of hauntingly delicious treats, we have compiled a list of mouth watering acne-safe candies for you to indulge in, while still staying on track. note that the treats listed below are free of dairy and soy but still contain a lot of sugar which can cause new acne to form and inflame existing acne. proceed with caution and be sure to all read labels!

airheads (V)
atomic fireball (V)
brach’s candy corn classic, brach’s candy corn mini
blow pops (V)
dots (V)
dum dum lollipops (V)
jujy fruits
jelly belly (except jelly bean chocolate dips, cold stone chocolate devotion®, cold stone mint mint chocolate chocolate chip®, chocolate pudding, and dark chocolate)
jolly ranchers (V)
now and later (original flavor is vegan)
pez (V)
pixy Stix (V)
skittles (V)
smarties (V)
sour patch kids (V)
sour patch watermelon (V)
starburst, starburst fruity slushies, favereds
starburst fruit flavored candy corn
swedish fish (V)
sweeTARTS (V)
tootsie charms blow pops, charms pops, charms mini-pops, charms candy corn pops
trolli gummy bears
trolli sour brite frite crawlers
trolli sour brite eggs
trolli extreme sour bites
twizzlers (V)

***(V) signals all vegan treats

acne-safe halloween candy inforgraphic

although prepackaged candy can be enticing, the best way to stay on the road to clarity while going about halloween festivities is to make your own! a classic treat that we suggest is rice krispies! you can even make your own marshmallows!

rice krispies
6 cups rice krispies cereal
3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) marshmallows
4 cups miniature marshmallows (you can use store bought ones that are dairy and soy free or make your own!)

a good, acne-safe body lotion is hard to find!

sS’ers –

since derma-e discontinued our beloved, acne-safe body lotion, we’ve been trying to find an acne-safe substitute until the one we are formulating passes the development and stability testing stages.


it’s surprisingly difficult to find body lotions that don’t have any clogging ingredients.  i spent 45 minutes in the body lotion aisle at whole foods one day, and found only 2 or 3 lotions that seemed ok – but they still had fragrances in them that needed to be researched and tested.  (if i can find those pics, ill update this post and upload them).  all lotions i looked at at places like walgreen’s or target were heavy on these ingredients too.

the problematic ingredients i kept running into included:

  • coconut oil
  • cocoa butter
  • high concentrations of olive oil, grapeseed oil or argan oil
  • cetearyl alcohol AND ceteareth-20
  • ethylhexyl palmitate
  • glyceryl stearate SE

THEN, if the formula didn’t include any of the above, our old tricky friend fragrance was the questionable ingredient remaining.  (read here about fragrance, if you don’t already know). if a fragrance is derived from an essential oil it should be acne-safe.  BUT, if the fragrance is synthetic, the odds are that that fragrance is going to cause some trouble.  then, to make things even more complicated, many manufacturers will combine both essential oil and synthetic fragrances.  so, we can ask the companies what exactly is IN the fragrance.  and, if they are willing to disclose that info (most aren’t) and the ingredients seem safe, then we’d put that product through the live-body-testing: finding acne-safe-lifestyle compliant clients who happen to be acne-prone on their body but are now clear, and have them test the lotion for at least 3-6 months.  it’s imperative that they meet these criteria, so that we can isolate any new breakouts to the product in question.

quick tip: synthetic vs essential oil fragrance

a fragrance is more likely to be essential oil derived if: 1. the manufacturer is a ‘natural, hippy’ brand and 2. the scent comes from an actual flower or plant, like lavender, rose or peppermint.

but, if the product you’re checking out is fragranced from things that don’t readily come abundantly fragrant from nature, like ‘marshmallow pumpkin latte’, ‘strawberries and champagne’, it’s very VERY likely that the fragrance is synthetic, and can break you out or cause skin irritation.


shea butter seems to be the most abundantly and easily found moisturizer to date.  it’s not the best at moisturizing, takes a long time for the skin to absorb (so you’re left greasy for a little while until then) and some may not like the inherent shea butter scent.  but, we found that this combined with safflower and/or sunflower oil, if extra moisture is needed, is the best bet.

alaffia shea butter moisturizing lotion

this feels a little watery at first, but then it absorbs and it does ok. and we mean, just ok – it didn’t do much for dryness in the desert.

alaffia’s ‘shea moisturizing body lotion’ in the 8oz, clear plastic bottle pump bottle is the one that we’ve been using in clinic.  you can find it on amazon prime for $12.50!

the ingredients for this one should be:
camelia sinensis (green tea) aqueous extract, rubus idaeus (raspberry) aqueous extract, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter*, emulsifying wax, glycerin stearic acid, potassium sorbate, ascorbic acid, d-limonene.

everyday shea fair trade body lotion

this one has red palm oil in it, which we haven’t tested. try at your own risk!

BE AWARE that whole foods carries another alaffia shea butter body lotion called ‘everyday shea fair trade shea butter body lotion’ but it has red palm oil in it, which we have not tested so we don’t know if it’s safe, and dr. fulton’s team doesn’t have a definitive word on it either.  we would rather you stick with the unscented version, and of course, avoid the coconut oil scented one at all costs.  you can find this in lavender, vanilla and unscented on amazon for $14.50.

the ingredients for this one are:
lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus) extract (aqueous), shea leaf (butyrospermum parkii) extract (aqueous), handcrafted shea butter (butyrospermum parkii) certified fair trade, vegetable emulsifying wax, palm stearic acid, red palm oil (elaeis guineensis), essential oils (scented versions only), phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, limonene, ascorbic acid.

it’s a much larger 32oz bottle and its also much cheaper – if you do end up trying it out, please let us know how it works and if you stay clear with it!  TRY AT YOUR OWN RISK!

sS body lotion update

new sS body lotion in the works!

new sS body lotion in the works!

so we’ve finally gotten a formula we like, and doesn’t seem to clog (we are still testing this).  we are now testing it’s healing abilities, as we’ve added some ingredients to help with itching and redness, as we are intending it for use post-body peel.  we know it absorbs well, smells neutral.. we just need to see how it does with itching and healing.  once we approve the formula, it will undergo 3 months of stability testing (to make sure it’s shelf stable and bacteria, etc don’t grow).  we hope to have it ready to launch in spring 2016!