Combining botanical ingredients along with anti-bacterial prescription ingredients, Clearogen (PR sample) is a three-step regimen developed to treat acne by preventing the androgen hormone DHT from doing its nasty work. More about DHT in a minute.
Scroll down for more on the Clearogen Three-Step Acne Treatment regimen and how it worked.
Clearogen 3-Step Acne Treatment was developed by Dr Alex Khadavi, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Dermatology at the University of Southern California. Having worked as researcher on the Human Genome Project, he has been a practising dermatologist since his graduation in 1998 and has extensive experience in treating acne.
Most acne treatments kill off the bacteria without addressing the underlying hormonal cause. Which is why effects are temporary. "Accutane produces long-lasting results," says Dr Khadavi. "It is the final-ditch solution. It shrinks the sebaceous glands, but it has some serious side-effects and is therefore not prescribed commonly."
What if you have cystic acne?
"The first thing is to avoid irritating the cyst by trying to pop it," says Khadavi. "If slight pressure doesn’t cause the pustule to rupture, then any further pressure can enlarge the cyst and cause scarring."
Since the predominant cause of acne is hormonal, Dr Khadavi (pictured, left) found that addressing DHT overproduction could reduce acne. "DHT causes acne in teenagers as well as adults, regardless of gender," he says. "Acne treatment should start by addressing DHT rather than just killing the bacteria."
What exactly is DHT?
Dihydro-testosterone. A hormone. The enzyme 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone to DHT.
"Both men and women produce testosterone," says Dr Khadavi. "When the levels of it rise - such as during puberty or menstrual cycle - it gets converted to DHT. The same thing happens when other hormones become imbalanced and testosterone increases in comparison."
How does DHT cause acne?
DHT attaches itself to androgen receptors in the sebaceous glands on the face, thereby stimulating their activity, which in turn leads to clogged pores, growth of P. acnes bacteria, and voila - a pimple is born.
How does Clearogen work?
1. The botanical ingredients in Clearogen block the androgen receptors mentioned above. So DHT cannot attach itself, stimulate the sebaceous glands and so on and so forth. The products also reduce the inflammation. BECAUSE it only blocks the androgen receptors topically - where it is applied, i.e on the face - it does not affect hormonal levels in the body.
2. The benzoyl peroxide, sulphur and salicylic acid in the Clearogen products kill the P. acnes bacteria.
3. Fatty acids (linolenic and linoleic acids) in the treatment lotions inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.
The Clearogen 3-step regimen includes three products:1. A salicylic acid-based cleanser
2. A salicylic acid-based clarifying toner
3. An acne lotion for spot treatment - both benzoyl peroxide 2.5% and sulphur 3% formulations are available.
Although I received both to try out, I preferred the sulphur spot treatment as BP has stopped working for me last year. Apparently the former is more suitable for sensitive skin.
Clearogen Foaming CleanserThis cleanser is sulphate-free. The foaming action is caused by the pump - the product itself is a clear liquid. It contains 2% salicylic acid, aloe vera, rosemary extract and lavender oil.
You don't have to rub or massage this cleanser; you only need to pat it over the face, keep it on for a few seconds and then rinse off. This works well when you have painful acne and lathering up hurts.
Clearogen Clarifying TonerBHA-based toner containing salicylic acid and extracts of comfrey, Indian plantain, chamomile and rosemary. It reminds me of Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA.
Clearogen Acne LotionAs I said, I am going to talk about the 3% sulphur treatment. In addition to the active, it contains alpha and gamma linolenic acids, linoleic acid (these are fatty acids that inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha reductase), extracts of saw palmetto (androgen receptor-blocker), camellia, lemon balm, English Lavender, Lady's Mantle, peppermint, mallow, yarrow, Japanese blood grass and chamomile, the alpha-amino acids glutamine, serine, proline and leucine (used in protein synthesis), sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) and extracts of the following herbs/plants: Symphytum Officinale, Plantago Ovata (psyllium), Primula Veris and Veronica Officinalis. That is quite a cocktail of botanicals.
My only gripe is, the pump mechanism does not work too well and you have to pump at least 20 times to get the product out. Even so, you get a sudden burst of product and then nothing for subsequent pumps. The best way is to unscrew the lid and dab on the product.
Results with Clearogen 3-Step Acne TreatmentSince I had been under treatment for an infection for the major part of this year, the antibiotics had helped control breakouts to a large extent, though I managed to get the mandatory four zits around Auntie Flo's visit. See how they are always placed together?
The before- photo on the left was taken after one day's treatment with the 3-step programme - hence the rupture you see. The after- photo on the right was after 10 days' treatment.
Within the first couple of applications of the sulphur lotion, I found that the acne came to a head and ruptured. After that, I applied a hydrocolloidal plaster once to soak up the "gunk" and continued to apply the topical until it flattened and left behind hyperpigmentation alone.
Dr Khadavi advocates following the cleansing and toning regimen even after the acne clears up, and regular spot treatment as the need arises, at least a few times a week. Moisturiser may be used as required, he says. "But if the treatment is used every other day or a few times a week, it will help to keep the skin clear."
Verdict and where to buyThis kit contains all the essential steps required to treat acne - non-harsh cleanser, BHA toner and spot treatment. The latter in particular contains botanical ingredients to specifically prevent the androgen hormone DHT from adhering to the receptors in the sebaceous glands, thereby halting the breakout cycle. I got very good results - it cleared up my spots nicely, as you can see - and will continue to use the regimen. Nitpicking: As I said, a better pump mechanism would help dispense the product more effectively.
The cleanser and toner are $28 each and the lotion is $32. The basic pack costs $39. You can buy from Clearogen directly - they ship worldwide. Clearogen is also available on Sephora US here!
For those in the UK (and rest of the world), Beauty Bay offers free delivery: go here to buy.