June 2004

If you’ve ever found yourself flipping through the channels, you’ve most likely seen the infomercial for ProActiv – an extremely effective skin care regimen. The products were the brainchild of two dynamic young Stanford-trained doctors whose dermatology practices saw case after case of youngsters and adults alike in need of an answer to common skin problems. This talented twosome has now taken their expertise and put it in the format of a terrific skin care book titled Unblemished. Christine VanDeVelde reports.

Lotions, creams, cleansers, foundation, masks -- this one tightens pores, that one staves off wrinkles, but use them together and you’ll need another product for the breakouts! The come-ons and pretty packaging at the drugstore and cosmetics counters are so seductive, courting our fervent wish for that peaches-and-cream complexion seen on every computer-corrected magazine cover. The selling of beauty products is a multi-billion dollar industry, with acne products alone accounting for $250 million in sales annually. So… how can you know what really works?

It’s Katie Rodan and Kathie Fields to the rescue with their new book, Unblemished. The Stanford-trained dermatologists are the originators of America’s best-selling topical acne treatment ProActiv Solution, as well as Rodan & Fields Multi-Med Therapy, the skincare system recently acquired by Estee Lauder. But this book is not a sales pitch for their lines. It is a deeply knowledgeable and practical guide to achieving healthy skin with over-the-counter products, including their own.

Acne, as Rodan and Fields define it, is anything from clogged pores to cysts and scarring, and everything in between. As such, it afflicts more than 50 million people. As they discovered in their medical practices and in developing ProActiv, the key to good skin is full-face daily treatment. Unblemished decodes the science and the practice of that treatment, delineating the only non-prescription substances that really fight acne and telling us exactly how and when they should be used. Then, employing drugstore and department store brands like Noxzema and Bobbi Brown, as well as their own products, they provide a 3-step regimen for every demographic imaginable – including infants with acne, teenage boys with severe acne, girls with body acne, menopausal women with dry skin, teenage girls with mild acne, and women of color.

Unblemished also addresses the gamut of skin problems from rosacea to sun damage, the controversial prescription treatment Accutane and the psychological ramifications of acne, including impaired self-esteem and depression. Along the way, they offer a wealth of practical advice about skin care, including what ought to be obvious but isn’t, like how to wash your face, and what exactly is the right amount of sunscreen to use – "apply sparingly" means a dime-sized amount. They also bust myths and expose misinformation: chocolate cake doesn’t cause acne and sun exposure doesn’t heal it. The extensive use of lists for everything from sunscreens to foundation and blush, as well as the glossaries of products and technical terms, make this a user-friendly manual everyone should have on their bathroom shelf.

Written in a straightforward conversational style, by two self-confessed lovers of makeup and pampering, Unblemished combines the best of medical care, science and beauty, and delivers what women want and need most: straight talk and solutions.