Zen & The Art of Skincare (part 4)


In this final installment we can review the issues so far and then discuss the metabolic issues of the skin and how this single factor can have such a large impact.


  • The directions on the bottle often have nothing to do with you and a lot to do with sales (as in, use 2x per day).
  • What you see in the mirror will be usually the cumulative result of the last 30 days of both topical, dietary, medical and environmental input. The topicals applied usually will be the most significant factor.
  • Oral medications have become an increasing source of skin problems – drug side effects toward the skin are more significant now, more common and little understood..
  • Dose frequency of topical products MUST be reduced for your skin to look best.
  • The number of products you apply is inversely proportional to your skin vitality.
  • Addiction to topical products explains why 70% of consumers find their skincare is not acceptable. The awareness of skincare product addiction is likewise, little known or understood.
  • Any product applied to the skin will temporarily increase cell production and improve morphology (the look). The emphasis here is on “temporarily” because the cells are fragmented, weak and disappear quickly. Swelling up is not wrinkle removal.
  • Chronic ‘swelling’ is inflammation and more bad things will happen.
  • Many instruments/devices like radio-frequency are best done in a studio with proper feedback loops. Home-care devices are usually just not going to help, being too weak or too erratic in performance. Micro-current is an exception, the caution here is to avoid over-use that will create a thick, stiff, knotted skin.
  • Stimulate the skin, don’t drown it. Like a houseplant, overfeeding and overwatering will rapidly deplete the look of the skin.
  • Recovery from topical product addiction, or rosacea, or any inflammatory skin condition is a function of time. It takes time, usually weeks, for skin to settle down. Avoid applying products during this recovery.
  • Inflammation caused by a chemical (as in topical product) cannot be reduced by applying another chemical (as in topical product).
  • Skincare has been dominated by exfoliation since the mid 1980’s. Premature skin aging is the result. Many blame the sun for their rapid onset of skin aging and double down on using wholly disproven “sunscreens.” To no avail.
  • Exfoliation and sun exposure is toxic, age accelerating and dumb.
  • Makeup is the single most common source of skin inflammation. Mix in exfoliating acids and you are on your way to endless grief.
  • The skin is very complex in its organization and functions reasonably well until around 30 years old, on average. After that, it is in a downward spiral, sacrificing itself to protect the vital organs by transforming into an impenetrable parchment. Not even water gets through grandma skin.
  • Applying more and more products to counter this skin thinning will only accelerate the process.
  • Moisturizers have never surpassed petrolatum for efficacy. Greasy but effective. Best of all, it doesn’t penetrate.
  • Cleansers are formulated to foam, because that’s what consumers like. Your skin doesn’t like strong foaming cleansers, but hey, what does it know, right?
  • Cells in the skin talk to each other and have a lot of chat going on inside every cell. The cells swim in an ocean of gel called the Extracellular Matrix (ECM). It is the key to unlocking the aging cascade. Cell signals reflect in turn the health of the cell. Chronically poor cell signals, like an SOS, are the definition of inflammation.
  • These cell signals can induce a massive increase in cellular production, and also the reverse. If that’s all there was to it, we’d all look 16 years old. The problem is that skin has a death wish and we are in a battle to save it. Vanity can be desperate though and what might improve our looks for a few hours, can take days off the life of the skin.
  • Those days add up. Soon, you discover crinkly skin everywhere. At 45 years old. Or even younger, much younger, if you have been diligent about exfoliating.


The strangest notion in skincare today is that the skin gobbles up things that are applied to it. Seemingly, the skin has a digestive system that distributes nutrients to the cells and Great Things Happen. Feed the skin the latest discovery in beauty secrets and it will respond like a weight lifter on steroids. Bulking up the skin with cells, like collagen and elastin and fibroblasts and epidermal protein is the way to winning! You do that by pushing proteins into your skin and fusing them together with your own proteins and two + two equals twenty two!

If only.

Making cells is easy. Keeping them is not. They come and go and the population over time steadily decreases. But it is not the population that counts, it is the health of what you have that makes the difference in how it all looks.

The problem is that nutrients that can be applied topically AND that will also improve signaling can be counted on one hand. These nutrients are metabolites, by the way. After all the hundreds of years of diligent searching, the ‘beauty molecules’ come down to three: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and 302. The first two can be easily over-applied and the result is to ruin cell signaling.

302 is unique among skin metabolites. Over application results in meh. Which is better than cell weakening, but meh is meh.

These three metabolites, applied sparingly, like once or twice per week, can have amazing visible results that reflect outstanding cell signaling. Forget the cell population increases, anything can do that and lose them just as quickly, especially with continuing application. Cell signaling that is spot on will keep those cells.

By the way, this does not mean you apply Vitamin A on Monday and Tuesday, Vitamin C on Wednesday and Thursday and 302 on Friday and Saturday. Pick one per week. And give things a rest.

In the past you may have applied these metabolites and found them so-so. You probably followed directions. As in apply 2x per day. This will quickly wear out the skin, it cannot absorb a flood of metabolites. Stimulate and then stop. Keep the skin guessing. Keep it alive, don’t smother it.

Know also that we all differ in our response. Some may get lights out results with 302 and little or nothing from Vitamin C. It all depends.

You must observe and evaluate, this is the lesson. When you get a significant visible response, back off, use less frequently. This is counter intuitive but it works.

Read the directions from your skin, not the bottle.

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