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Chemistry Student’s interview with Pamela

August 9, 2018

Last month, a client (who also happens to be an organic chemistry student at an amazing university) wrote a paper that included interview snippets from our beloved founder, Pamela. The original interview questions she sent were so cool, we decided to publish them here for you to see! 🙂


– How long have you been involved in the acne industry? 30 years. I opened the Acne Treatment Clinic in Walnut Creek, CA (in the SF Bay Area) in 1989. Since then, the company has rebranded twice (stress!) to LumiPlexion Skincare and now to Ninja Skincare. Same great products with just a new look and name. 


– What made you interested in working with acne initially?  I’ve suffered from acne since the age of 10. I was always the tallest girl and had a horrible complexion. I was on oral antibiotics from the ages of 10-25. I used all forms of topical medications, acupuncture and natural medicine. Nothing cleared my skin and I was desperate to have a decent complexion. This is why I really relate to new clients who express the same feelings of desperation and frustration. Anyways, back to many years of trying different products, I knew there had to be something out there to help me so I started researching about product ingredients and hidden oils that interfere with active ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, etc. With some luck and digging around in news articles, research and some esthetician connections, I found our chemist who specializes in making small batch custom formulas and that’s where it all started.

– Do you have a acne history yourself? What did you try to combat it?  see above

– During your time in the acne industry, how has treatment evolved/changed if at all?

It hasn’t really changed….just more companies selling the same ineffective products with the same interfering oils. Just to be clear, our products do contain oils, but we choose oils that will not stop the active ingredients from working. On a side note, the label, oil free doesn’t mean oil free-…the government doesn’t regulate that labeling, so don’t believe it when you read it. 

There has been some evolution with medications prescribed by physicians, however the pharmaceutical companies continue to add clogging oils to the new and old topical medications. Regarding oral antibiotics, they are the same pretty much, just a different name or compound. But still going after bacteria on the skin when acne is caused from the retention of dead skin cells in the hair follicles seems silly since it doesn’t address the root cause of breakouts. Then there’s still Accutane – still with the possible horrible side effects.

– What demographic would you say is your biggest in terms of clients?

Definitely female between the ages of 15-55.

– Are treatments for young people the same as for older clients? Or do they differ? How?

Since acne is caused from dead skin cells retained in the hair follicles, we customize our treatment to address that issue, regardless of age. If a person has bigger and deeper pimples or smaller pimples, their treatment should match their skin type, not their age. However for some younger clients who are just starting to break out and are just getting into the routine of washing their faces, we try to keep their nighttime routine as simple as possible. So they may not use the Abolishing Sulfur Mask and might wait on using a Secret Agent. We can always add more treatment options once they’re on board for doing more. 

– How long, would you say, until you can cure someone’s acne?

There is no cure!! Remember that – nothing cures acne unfortunately so if someone tells you they can cure your acne, run! ha ha….  It takes up to 4 months to clear the skin because it takes that long to form a pimple. So today, you’re making new pimples for the future which is why most clients will require that length of time to get over the hump and see positive changes to their skin. 

– In your experience, what is the worst thing someone can do for their acne?

sun tanning and sun burning. People notice that UV radiation makes their acne dry up and go away, however it also kills skin cells. So in defense, your body will produce way more skin cells to replace the ones that got killed off. When those skin cells die off, they will get stuck in the hair follicles for those acne prone individuals, will make new pimples form for the future. Wear lots of sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat and long sleeves/swim shirts when you’re in the sun. 

– Are there any acne myths that you think are particularly interesting? 

Obviously the cruel myth that chocolate causes acne – simply not true. However, if your diet is high in chocolate or you’re eating chocolate because you’re stressed – then stress and a bad diet make your acne worse, not the chocolate. Nothing you eat comes through your skin that makes your acne worse, except for high (and I mean HIGH) levels of iodine.  There’s another myth about choosing oil free products, but as I mentioned before – not true. Same thing as with sun exposure that I discussed already too. 

– If you had one piece of advice for a teenager who is having a hard time with their skin, what would it be?

wash your face at least 3 times a day and definitely after sweating. Don’t wear over the counter makeup if you can live without it. And of course, contact us and we’ll help you out as long as they are willing to be consistent with their treatment, check in every 2 weeks and don’t use other products. 

– How does lifestyle affect acne, from your experience?

stress makes acne worse for sure. Your body feels stress from not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water and eating a bad diet, especially one that is high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. So it’s super important to eliminate those stresses on your body. It is sometimes tough to get on track, but once you do you will notice your skin heals faster, is less puffy, is more elastic and also you will feel better. It’s worth it! 

For some, they work outside or get crazy amounts of sun exposure, either because of work or choice. So really try to cover up in the sun by wearing long sleeves, sitting under an umbrella and wearing a wide brimmed hat. As I said before, the sun is a killer to the skin.   

– How do hormones affect acne?

Hormones make our oil glands, which are at the bottom of our hair follicles, produce oil. Some hormones make our oil glands produce very thin oil, like estrogen, and other oils make the oil glands produce more waxy and sticky oil. Testosterone for men and progesterone for women – those are the primary hormones that can make your oil more clogging. During puberty, both hormones start rising and not only make the oil more sticky, but that type of oil is also irritating to your skin. So not only is there more waxy oil, but the skin will produce more skin cells to protect itself from the irritant..whew this leads to more pimples in the future for sure. So, wash your face more often to get the oils off your skin.  If you’re using a birth control, make sure it’s lower in progesterone and contains the type of progesterone that will not produce sticky oils. 

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