From a 302 Skin Care Customer
This is my first review of a product. First of all, let me say that I have used 302 Skincare from almost its inception. I think they came out in 2003 or 2004. I started the line in January 2005, over 3 years ago. I have stuck with them the entire 3+ years. Not to say I don’t use other things too, but it’s my staple skin care that I would never be without. I can definitely say that this line has produced the most visible and consistent results for me as far as promoting skin health and appearance goes.
You can consider 302 cutting edge (and controversial) because it goes against everything you’ve been taught about skincare the last 2 decades or so. You can’t just add it to your current regimen and be successful, so I decided I really needed to write a thorough review. If you wonder why you’ve never heard of 302, it’s because they a small company, relatively new, and do not advertise. They sell directly to professionals only, and the line is not well known outside of CA.
So if your current skin care is just not cutting it any anymore for you, or you want try something totally different, read on…
First of all, about me: I’m turning 53 in June. I’m Asian, have oily, acne prone skin. I suffered from severe cystic acne in my teens and have spent practically my entire adult life trying to fix the resulting scars. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on procedures, prescriptions, and skin care to try to fix my skin to look halfway decent. I had rolling, icepick, boxcar scars all over my cheeks and chin. For the longest time, I would dread looking at my face in the morning. In the last 30+ years, I’ve done the gamut of skin care, including medical chemical peels, fillers, TCA Cross, Skin Biology CPs, AHA, BHA, Mama lotion, lactic acid, enzymes, Karin Herzog, Epicuren, Epidermx, lasers, and even snail cream. Though I had results from some of these things, I still had scarring and hyperpigmentation. It was in around 2004 that I was noticing how bad my skin was starting to look. I was following the conventional skincare mantra that exfoliation was the only way to rid myself of the hyperpigmentation and scars and build collagen. I was religiously doing weekly glycolic peels, applying multiple topicals each morning and night, but they no longer seem to make my skin clear. It just started looking blotchy, red, oily, and irritated. I was so self-conscious, I could not be seen without makeup at all, even at home.
HOW I DISCOVERED 302:
It was the beginning of 2005 when I happened upon a thread about 302 on another forum. It intrigued me because it was totally different from what I was doing. They claimed that acids, excessive peels, and the resulting exfoliation were bad for the skin and actually caused accelerated thinning and aging in the skin. The guy who was making this statement was the founder/formulator of 302, Dr. Richard Huber. He was a biochemist who had been working on a research project for Eli Lilly. He knew of a village of people in Guatemala with very resilient, healthy skin even though they lived in a hot, sunny climate and, obviously, didn’t use sunscreens. Through his research, he figured out what was responsible for this incredibly smooth, wrinkle free skin. It was the Avocatin that was created when they ate their main staple…avocados. Avocatin is not the same as avocado oil. It’s much more potent. This was in the 1980s. It took him the next 15 or so years to perfect and patent the Avocatin, which is the main active ingredient in most of their products (you can read the patents on the website). As I read and reread the website, it all made perfect sense to me. Given the fact that my current skin care routine was not working for me anymore, I took a leap of faith and bought the 302 drops and Face/Body bar. Almost from the start, I could see a change in my skin. At about 10 days, I noticed a plumpness and healthy-looking appearance that I had not experienced in awhile. My skin felt calm again, my skin tone evened out. Even my not-so-observant husband noticed and asked me what I was doing to my skin because it looked better. I was sitting in the bright light of an open window at the time. That kinda convinced me something was going on and it wasn’t just my imagination. After a few months, I even noticed my scarring was starting to diminish. I was overjoyed and, the rest, as they say, is history. I was hooked for life. The line has never been irritating or stopped working for me. Since that time, the product line and website has greatly expanded to address various skin issues, including aging, acne, and rosacea or sensitive skin. Each has its own products and protocols. All of the details are on the website. They sell to professionals only, so it’s hard to find some of the products at times, but they are available on the web from estheticians or skincare salons. If you live in California, you can probably find a salon that carries 302 and/or does their facials.
I have issues with oil, acne scars, hyper-pigmentation, and breakouts, so I have been using the 302 cleanser, oily/combo cleanser, Face/body bar (still my favorite cleanser), 302 drops, 302 acne drops, C Boost, A Boost, and 302 serum plus. All the product ingredients are listed on the 302 website. They use nonacid forms of Vitamin A and C. Their products are simple, natural formulations with a lot of botanicals. They are gentle, yet powerful at the same time.
WHAT IS 302’S PHILOSOPHY:
The philosophy of 302 is based on some very unconventional and controversial assertions. A lot of people (including most skincare companies) will adamantly disagree with these assertions. My intent here is to provide other possible theories, so you can do your own research and come to your own conclusions. For me, it works. My skin has responded very positively since I’ve been off acids and on their products and regimen. The following points are paraphrased from information I’ve read on the 302 and Osmosis websites and other articles:
1. The current practice of excessive exfoliation (whether by acids or manual means) is potentially damaging to the skin. The plumpness and glow you see immediately after exfoliation is temporary micro-inflammation, and actually compromises the skin’s integrity in the long run. When you constantly exfoliate the epidermis, you compromise the skin’s natural protective barrier. You are, in essence, inflicting minor injury to the epidermis in order to kick start the repair response in the dermis and, hopefully, build collagen. But the bad side of this process is that dermis senses this damage and also starts increasing melanocyte activity to protect you from the sun. This actually makes you more susceptible to sun damage and hyper-pigmentation. Additionally, the constant state of micro-inflammation from acids and exfoliation can lead to accelerated aging with thin, crepey, see through skin. People who are chronic acid users for many years may eventually acquire a mannequin type appearance with a tight, shiny skin which is impermeable. According to 302 and Osmosis, a better skin model would be to prompt the skin’s metabolic functions to work the way they did when you were younger. This involves providing good circulation (exercise, massage, ultrasound, cupping for example), nutrients (from food and supplements), and introducing actives which do not harm or irritate the epidermis, but instead can go down into the dermis to promote healthy collagen, elastin, and fibroblast production. BTW, the name “302” is taken from the molecular size of avocatin; it is small enough to penetrate to the dermis (especially with ultrasound or dermarolling).
2. When you over-apply topicals (using 1 or more actives day and night on a continuous basis), you can overload the receptors in your skin (causing skin fatigue). The skin’s receptors will shut down and revolt after awhile. If you ever notice that you get great results from a certain topical in the beginning, but then it just stops working after a few weeks or months, this is probably due to skin fatigue. Also, you might notice that if you stop a topical after prolonged use, sometimes an addiction response ensues, resulting in redness, irritation, return of pigment problems, dullness, or dryness. Excessive use of topicals and especially acids can eventually lead up to rosacea. This is why they suggest mixing up the routine and limiting actives to 1 a day. They really emphasize the “less is more” philosophy. If you see a immediate visible response on the skin from any active, they suggest that you should REDUCE its use instead of increasing it to reduce the chance of skin fatigue.
3. External barriers such as moisturizers or sunscreens which sit on top of the skin are bad for the skin. Especially if you are oily, you should never apply moisturizer or liquid sunscreen on a daily basis. Liquid makeup is also bad. It clogs the pores and creates whiteheads, blackheads, and inflammation. For normal daylight exposure, MMU with SPF is adequate. Only apply a physical sunscreen if you are in direct sunlight for a prolonged length of time. It should be washed off as soon as you go inside. If your skin barrier is intact, you shouldn’t need to apply any stronger than a SPF 5-15 MMU or sunscreen for normal daylight exposure. Constant application of very high SPFs, especially chemical sunscreen, is not necessary or beneficial to your skin.
- Rotate between 3 of the 302 cleansers. These are non-foaming or low foaming, so it takes getting used to. But I leave it on my face while I brush my teeth and drape a hot washcloth over my face before rinsing it off.
- Put MMU with SPF on. I seldom use liquid sunscreen now except when going outside for more than an hour.
- Cleanse as above, but rotate with a different cleanser.
- Rotate with 1 of my 302 topicals (302 drops, acne drops, C Boost, A Boost, or serum plus. I have used Osmosis products on an occasional basis too). But it’s always just 1 topical, and no more. Some nights, I just use hazelnut oil with EO, sometimes nothing at all. The skin benefits from a break once in awhile.
- After my topical is applied, I occasionally use LED (DPL or Quasar), dermaroller, ultrasound, or my UP5 microcurrent device. All these gadgets boost the results with 302.
That’s it. I’ve been doing this for 3+ years and have saved a bundle on skin care as I don’t use anything for daytime and only 1 topical at night.
In order to reap the most benefits, you have to keep in mind the following rules when using 302. If you can’t do all of the following, then you really should not use this line. It would be a waste of your time and money. You have to be committed to the philosophy. If you really want to do it right, consult with the 302 folks or one of their trained estheticians. They are SUPER friendly and knowledgeable. But at the very minimum, you have to follow these rules:
- You need to stop all acids at least a week or 2 before. If you don’t, you will be causing more damage than good when you start using the 302 products. Acids and 302 are incompatible and counterproductive when used together. You may experience more irritation.
- Transition slowly in the beginning. Get your skin back to baseline by simply washing with a mild cleanser for a week. No other topicals, no moisturizers, no liquid sunscreen. 302 has some transitional products to help people who are long time acid users get through this stage. During transition, your skin may look really bad. This is a result of the withdrawal from your current products, not because of 302.
- Use only 302 and follow the protocol precisely as detailed on their website. Don’t try to experiment. It will be tempting for you to use your existing products, but don’t do it, so you can fairly judge if 302 is working for you or not. Don’t over-apply the products! It’s not going to speed your results. After a few months, if you have a good result with 302, you may be able to alternate with other compatible skin care lines that are nonacid. You can even stop using 302 for a few weeks and then go back. The results you have gained do not disappear. Your skin jumps to another level of improvement when you restart.
- Be patient. It may take up to 3 months to see final results. Many see results faster, but if your skin is very stressed or traumatized from long-term acid use, it may take much longer.
- Look at the general state of your health. Exercise, nutrition, stress reduction all contribute to a healthy skin, like any organ in your body. Look at supplements such as MSM, wheatgrass, vitamin C, fish oil, etc. to provide the nutrients your skin needs.