What is the cause of acne?
For most people, acne is an inherited condition of the pores. When someone is prone to acne, their pores clog with dead skin cells much faster than normal. Healthy pores shed about one layer of dead skin cells per day inside the pore, but acne-prone pores shed up to five layers of dead skin cells per day. The body just can’t keep up with keeping the pore clear. Technically, this is called “retention hyperkeratosis” — dead skin cells shedding more quickly than the pore can expel them. As the dead skin cells begin to accumulate inside the pore, the cells become sticky and get stuck inside the pore and form a plug. Medically, this is called a “microcomedone” – essentially the precursor to all acne. As you can see in this picture, there are more dead skin cells shedding inside the pore.

Hormonal fluctuations trigger more oil production inside the pore. Normally, this isn’t a problem because the dead skin cells don’t get trapped. But with acne prone-skin, when the dead skin cells shed more quickly and form a blockage, the perfect environment for the P. Acnes bacteria is created. The oil is a nutrient for the bacteria, so the bacteria proliferates. So bacteria is not the “cause” of acne, it is the effect of too many dead skin cells. This is an important distinction to remember.

Some people don’t get inflamed lesions — inflammation is also an inherited tendency which causes the tender red acne bumps and even deep cystic acne. If the dead skin cells and the oil that form the plug don’t become inflamed, the plug becomes a whitehead; that is, a non-inflamed lesion or bump under the skin, also called a “closed comedone”. It can also take the form of blackheads, where the pore remains open the tip of the plug darkens as it is exposed to oxygen in the environment. As the oil in the pore builds up, inflammation can develop in the cells surrounding the pore. Blackheads can be infected or not depending on whether the P. acnes bacteria have affected the cells around the pore.

Most acne, no matter what form it takes, starts with microcomedones. This means the solution lies in products that penetrate the pore and prevent dead skin cells from building up. That’s why your home care routine is so crucial — it’s all about preventing the microcomedones (the beginning of acne) from forming at all.  Paired with in-office treatments to remove the build up of debris from the pores, this is the best way to clear acne.

How does the program work?
Our system works by taking into account the type of acne you have, the type of skin you have and how fast your skin adapts to products. We keep pushing the skin to clear with products that penetrate the pore where acne starts. We don’t push it past its tolerance however, because we don’t want your skin to become dry and irritated. The products prevent the new acne lesions from forming; we extract the existing acne lesions and impactions at the in-office treatment visits, and in about three to four months (for most types of acne) your skin is on it’s way to being under control.
What is the cost?
If you come in for a consultation only, the cost is $60. If you come in for a treatment and consultation on the same visit, which is what most people do, the cost is $90. Each treatment appointment following that is $75. It typically takes about six to eight treatments over a 3 to 4 month period of time to see results (if you are compliant and follow the program). We have a package deal of $200 for three treatments at the beginning of treatment with us. The typical cost is $150-160 for the set of home care products you initially take home. Most of the products last you quite a long time. The very active products are purposefully put in smaller containers as these will be strengthened at different points in your treatment plan. All products are reasonably priced for the budget conscious.
How long will the appointment take?
The first consultation and treatment appointment is scheduled for about 90 minutes and subsequent appointments for an hour. When your skin starts to clear up and there are less extractions to do, the treatments will take less time.
What happens in the Consultation appointment?
At your consultation, we take these steps:

  • determine your skin type, acne type and skin tolerance
  • go over aggravating factors that make you break out – foods, medications, cosmetics and skin care products, stress, etc.
  • give you a packet of information that has everything that we discuss in the consultation
  • give you recommendations for the products and treatments you will need to get clear
  • (and, if you are getting a treatment the same visit) perform the acne treatment, which includes exfoliation and extractions
  • schedule your next treatment appointments
What are the treatments like?
We either perform a very mild chemical peel on your skin or we do a gentle enzyme with steam. Generally speaking, neither of these are uncomfortable or will make your skin visibly peel (in some cases there might be very mild peeling). We then perform extractions of the existing acne impactions.
Do the extractions hurt?
For most people, there is a slight discomfort but it’s very tolerable.
Why do the extractions?
It’s the fastest way to get clear – we extract the current lesions and impactions out and then your home care products prevent new ones from forming. It takes up to 90 days for acne to form and come to the surface, so in the three months that we are working with you, you will have some breakouts. These are just old lesions coming to the surface that we extract every two weeks.
Do I have to use your products?
Yes. There are too many brands in the marketplace that have pore-clogging ingredients in them. Acne is tricky enough to treat – we do not want to take any chances with comedogenic products.
What if I’m on other prescription products?
We require you to stop your prescription products. We have found that they make the skin much too sensitive to use our system. Therefore we generally do not recommend the use of any of them with our regimen.
Do I have to get treatments?
If you live close enough to the studio, it is in your best interest to get acne treatments from us. That is the fastest way to get clear; and also helps us to monitor your home care to get you clear in the fastest possible way.
Can I combine your regimen with another one that I have been on?
Acne is challenging enough to get under control. In order to eliminate the variables, we require that you use only our products. We don’t want to have to wonder if an outside product is causing a problem or delaying your progress.
How long does it typically take to get clear?
If you follow your home care program exactly like we tell you to and come in every two weeks for a treatment you will most likely be clear in about three to four months. Some people might take a little longer depending on the nature of their acne and how compliant they are.
Am I going to have to use these products forever?
You will need to use products to control your acne until you outgrow acne; and no one knows when that is. Many people do outgrow acne, but we are unable to predict when, so you may have to use them for a while to manage the condition.
What is the youngest age that you take clients?
We will take clients at whatever age they are breaking out. Acne does not discriminate – neither do we. However, it is important to bear in mind that many younger clients will need their parents’ help to stay on the daily home care routine and make sure they are using the products properly. Home care is the critical key to the program, and sometimes pre-teens and teens are not very compliant. We need everyone to be fully on-board with a desire to clear their skin.
Do extractions make my face red? What about if I have a special event coming up? When should I book my appointment?
Most people are a bit red from getting extractions – there’s no way around it. So, you’d need to plan ahead and make sure you do not have a special event within 24 hours of getting a treatment.
How long should I wait for a treatment if I have just gotten a peel/microderm/face waxing from another place of business?
We suggest that you wait at least a week, preferably two weeks before you come to see us. We don’t want your skin to be too irritated to use our home care system.
Are doctors and nurses on staff? How is this different from medical settings?
We do not have any physicians or nurses on staff. We are Licensed Estheticians licensed by the State of California. How we different from medical settings:

  • We have more time to spend with a client.
  • We listen carefully to their concerns.
  • We touch and feel the skin each time they come in.
  • We keep updated with the latest and greatest information in the world of acne.
  • We have the best and most effective acne products with no need for prescription drugs or products.
  • We have compassion and empathy for the client.
  • We give the client honest and straightforward answers.
  • We have a system that will work to get their skin clear!
  • We coach the client through every step of the process of getting their skin clear. They are not left to figure it out on their own.
  • We create a close communicative relationship with the acne client.
  • The client does not have to put up with irritated, dry skin while getting clear.
What if I am pregnant?
We may still be able to treat you for acne, but first you will have to get a list from your doctor as to what ingredients they want you to avoid. We can tailor a plan for you based on your Dr’s list. If you’re not able to use some the actives, the acne clearing process may be a bit slower.
Do you treat scarring?
Yes! After you are clear, if you have pitted acne scars we can greatly improve the appearance with a service called MicroNeedling (also known as Collagen Induction Therapy). Read more about it here. MicroNeedling is best done in a series of 6-12 treatments (depending on the depth and severity of the scarring).
Do you do microdermabrasion?
We offer a treatment called Dermafile, which is a much more gentle alternative to the traditional suction of the Microdermabrasion machines. This is rarely offered to Acne clients during the program as this type of exfoliation can be too irritating. We prefer to use our corrective peels that also help to lighten dark spots. We will determine the best treatments to do for your skin’s needs.
What other skin conditions do you treat?
How do I make an appointment?
Appointments are made online on the scheduling system. You can page through the calendar to see all upcoming openings and find one that works best for you. Because Tara is a solo practitioner without reception staff, online scheduling takes the back-and-forth out of it and you don’t have to wait for a call back.