Proactiv vs. Kale for Acne

Proactiv vs. Kale?!

I’d take kale over Proactiv any day.  I can tell you from trying Proactiv and many other topical acne treatments that contain many of the same ingredients vs. simply having a kale smoothie, I got much better results from kale.

So what’s in Proactiv that helps prevent and fight acne?  What’s in kale that make it so great for reducing acne?

Lets get to it…first Proactiv:

The primary ingredients in Proactiv are benzoyl peroxide, Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid.

Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria associated with acne.  That’s its primary job, to reduce the acne bacteria that is feeding on the sebum produced within the skin follicle.  And you know, what?  It’s effective at killing acne bacteria.

However, do you know that everyone has this acne bacteria on their skin?  Some people don’t get acne though.  More on that later.

One of the problems with benzoyl peroxide though, is that it can cause the sebum on your skin to oxidize.  Benzoyl peroxide creates oxygen on your skin, and the oxidation that results can make your acne worse after a few months of use.  The higher sebum oxidation can create more blocked skin follicles and which then creates a more suitable environment for more acne to form.

Have you ever notice that treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide work in the beginning, but then lose their effectiveness and maybe make things worse weeks or months later?  This is why.

Next up in the primary ingredients list in Proactiv is Salicylic Acid.

Salicylic acid does not kill acne bacteria.  It works by softening keratin and promoting the shedding of cells inside the skin follicles.  It is in a group of medicines called keratolytics.

Salicylic acid is an acne treatment because skin cells that do not shed properly, or produce too much keratin end up clogging the follicle.  A clogged follicle is the perfect environment for acne bacteria to feed and create acne inflammation (zits/cysts/blackhead/whiteheads) related problems.

That is why many topical acne treatments combine benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

The third and final primary ingredient in Proactiv is Glycolic Acid.  Glycolic acid comes naturally from sugar can, but now is most often created in a lab.  It is in a group of molecules called Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s).

AHA’s and glycolic acid specifically, is an exfoliator.  An exfoliator removes the outermost skin cells that are dead.  Just as salicylic acid removes the keratin structures in the follicles, glycolic acid helps in a similar way by remove dead skin cells that can end up creating the clogged environment that allows sebum to build up and create a perfect environment for acne bacteria to feast and cause problems.

All of this sounds great, right?

Right.

But let’s take a look at just some of the benefits of green leafy vegetables like Kale.

Kale fights inflammation.  Kale, and other green leafy vegetables fight inflammation.  The more I research the causes of acne, the more apparent it is to me that acne is primarily an inflammatory condition.

Acne is a condition where sebum is clogged within the skin follicle, and is then devoured by acne bacteria.  Your immune system tries to respond to the acne bacteria, leading to big, red, bumpy skin.

Kale reduces acne causing inflammation because it is loaded with Vitamin K.  Kale contains 671% of the RDA of Vitamin K.  Vitamin K has many benefits, one of them being the reduction inflammation response.  Vitamin K activates matrix Gla protein, which suppresses inflammation.

Kale also contains a ton of Vitamin A.  Vitamin A reduces the activity of sebaceous glands that produce the oil (sebum) that acne bacteria love.  Also, Vitamin A reduces the production of keratin, which as we learned above can cause clumped up dead skin cells within the hair follicle, which creates a buildup of excess sebum.

Kale is loaded with Vitamin C.  Vitamin C helps treat acne because it is an antioxidant.

An antioxidant soaks up and removes harmful free radicals which damage the skin, causing acne.  Free radical formation is one of the causes of acne.  Free radicals break down proteins and fatty acid on the skin, which throws of the pH of your skin.  This can increase the production of sebum production, leading to acne.

Vitamin C in kale also helps with the formation of collagen, which is critical to supporting healthy skin.  Collagen is a building block of skin.  It is the structure, holding it all together.  New collagen formation can help to fill acne scars.  Collagen provides a framework for many of the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial acne fighting defenses to do their job.

Not only does kale have these vitamins that help gain a clear complexion, but it also is an actual food.  You are killing 2 birds with one stone.  Having a smoothie with Kale in the morning, or in a salad for lunch, you are helping your skin, and providing nourishment.  Can’t say the same for Proactiv!

Also, kale is a low Glycemic load (GL) food.  That basically means that kale does not raise your blood sugar level after eating it.  Studies show that a low-glycemic load diet helps reduce acne formation.  This happens because when your blood sugar rises, it leads to inflammation, which as I mentioned earlier, plays a role in acne formation.  Also, eating foods that have a high glycemic load, elevates hormones that signal the sebum (oil) glands to increase their production of oil.  These are some of the primary reasons that cause acne to form.  Eating foods that have a low GL will help you cure your acne from the inside out.

Which would you prefer?  Would you prefer to treat the symptoms with topical treatments like Proactiv, or get to the root cause and treat acne from the inside out with foods that help reduce the cause of acne in the first place?

Maybe you want to spend $30/month for a topical treatment that probably won’t do much for your acne.  Sure it works to a degree, and makes sense to maybe consider using treatments like Proactiv, but if that’s all you are going to do, prepare to be disappointed.

If I were to rank the primary ways to reduce acne, topical treatments like Proactiv have a usefulness of maybe 3-4 out of 10, with 10 being the best.  With topical treatments you are majoring in the minors.  It’s not getting to the root cause of acne formation.

Eating foods like kale I would put up there maybe at an 8 out of 10.  Eating a low GL food would be 10 out of 10.  Staying away from dairy would be a 10 out of 10.

I’ve always wondered why Proactiv is so popular.  In 2010, Proactiv had sales of $800 million!  It never really worked for me.  Maybe people want their hand-held so they can pay about $30 a month, month after month.  It comes in nice packaging!  Celebrities to hawk it!

What does kale have?  Is there a brand name kale brand?  Is it sexy?  Does it say on the “label” that it helps fight acne?  Does it even have a label or come in fancy packaging?  Nope!  You’ve got to understand though, that kale and green leafy vegetables are going to do wonders for your acne problem!  Not to mention a ton of other health benefits that are not minor, such as reduced changes of cancer, heart disease, diabetes that come from eating more vegetables)

Maybe people are catching on to kale though.  In 2013, a total of 176 million pounds of kale was consumed in the United States.  At maybe $2/lb, that’s $325 million in kale consumption!  Kale is cheap.  That’s still less than the sales of Proactiv!

From 2007 to 2012, kale experienced tremendous growth, going from 3,994 acres harvested in 2007 to 6,256 acres in 2012.  In restaurants as of 2013, kale showed up on menu’s 400% more than they had 5 years earlier!

Kale and green leafy vegetables are simply amazing.  They help cure your acne from the inside, getting to the cause of how acne forms in the first place.  Products like Proactiv work on acne, but in my opinion, it’s pitiful how it’s just nipping at the edges when it comes to getting rid of acne.

In my opinion, green leafy vegetables like kale win out in the fight against acne.  My skin wasn’t clear after using Proactiv.  My skin today is perfectly clear, smooth, not inflamed because among other things, I starting dominating greens like kale!  I have it every single day, and it works!

So when it comes to Proactiv vs. Kale in the fight against acne, I’m picking the winner…

KALE!