Microdosing, an emerging branch of skinimalism, focuses on lower concentrations of active ingredients and smaller doses in your skin care products. In this episode of The Rogue Pharmacist with Ben Fuchs, Ben discusses his view on microdosing and how to get the most out of your skin care.
Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) presents The Rogue Pharmacist with Benjamin Knight Fuchs, R.Ph. This podcast takes an enlightening approach to supporting licensed estheticians in their pursuit to achieve results-driven skin care treatments for their clients. You can always count on us to share professional skin care education, innovative techniques, and the latest in skin science.
About Ben Fuchs:
Benjamin Knight Fuchs is a registered pharmacist, nutritionist, and skin care chemist with 35 years of experience developing pharmacy-potent skin health products for estheticians, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons. Ben’s expert advice gives licensed estheticians the education and skin science to better support the skin care services performed in the treatment room while sharing insights to enhance clients’ at-home skin care routines.
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0:00:55.2 TD: Welcome everybody to ASCP and the Rogue pharmacist, Benjamin Knight Fuchs. In each episode, you guys, we will explore how ingredients, chemicals and the environment can have positive, and you guys know negative effects on the skin. I am Tracy Donley and joining me today and co-hosting is our beautiful and fabulously brilliant Maggie Staszcuk our very own education manager. How are you Maggie?
0:01:20.5 Maggie Staszcuk: I am doing good, Tracy. How are you?
0:01:22.2 TD: Well, I'm feeling real good. So my question for you today, Maggie, are you microdosing?
0:01:28.5 MS: I am not microdosing, Tracy.
0:01:30.2 TD: Oh my gosh.
0:01:30.8 MS: I know.
0:01:31.6 TD: How offensive. Well, I actually ask you because microdosing is a big huge buzzword these days in the wellness community, especially when it comes different illicit plant derivatives, for things like PTSD, depression, anxiety, and pain, but we don't hear very much about it in the skincare industry. So today we're gonna learn why microdosing could be beneficial to include in skincare treatments from the guy who created skincare products, a formulator, the man who needs no introduction, the ASCP Rogue pharmacist and star of the show. Welcome Ben.
0:02:11.6 Benjamin Knight: Thank you, Tracy. Nice to see you and nice to see you Maggie.
0:02:14.7 TD: So Ben, what is microdosing?
0:02:16.9 BK: You tell me.
0:02:17.5 TD: As it relates to skincare, we know what microdosing is right, as it relates to herbal supplementation.
0:02:25.5 BK: So what is, how do you see microdosing when it, as it relates to things like mushrooms or even LSD hallucinogenics?
0:02:32.3 TD: Yeah, I see it as it's very, very small amounts of really potent stimulant or hallucinogen.
0:02:42.4 BK: But why microdose as opposed to taking a regular dose?
0:02:45.7 TD: Because then you would just get the benefits versus the negative effects that...
0:02:53.7 BK: You get a very subtle change to the biochemistry.
0:02:56.8 TD: Yeah, it's like tiny.
0:02:56.9 BK: Yeah. Very, very subtle change and it turns out that that subtle change in biochemistry can induce some of the beneficial effects of the psychoactive substance, some of the beneficial psychoactive benefits, creativity, for example, or anti-anxiety or antidepressant kinds of effects without zonking you out, without making you have to sit on the couch with your earphones for hours.
0:03:18.4 TD: Really big toxic... We talk so much about pharmaceuticals and it being very toxic.
0:03:23.5 BK: Yes, you'll minimize the toxic effects with a microdose. Now, as far as skincare goes, that's kind of an interesting concept and it's... People don't really talk about it. It's been something that I noticed as a formulator in the sense that a skincare product is a very complex... Most skincare products are very complex concoctions. Some of 'em are made of hundreds or over a hundred different chemicals. And we don't really know how all of these things are interacting with each other in the jar while they're sitting there or on the skin for that matter.
0:03:57.5 TD: Oh, that's a great point. Both places. Yeah.
0:04:00.4 BK: We don't really know how any of these things are going together. And then on top of that, if you're using two products or three products, we don't know how all that goes together on your skin. So I've always been troubled as a formulator with very complex skincare formulations. And my formulations are always very, very simple. And not only are they very simple, they're based in terms of their, the number of ingredients that are in there, but also in terms of the compartments. So that when I'm formulating, I'm formulating products with only two compartments, one compartment is the active ingredient itself. And the other compartment is a transdermal delivery system. And that's how I formulate all my products. I don't put any molecules in there that aren't going to be functional to the cell. I'll tell you what I mean by that here in a second, or are gonna have some kind of functionality in terms of getting the active ingredient to the cell.
0:04:48.7 BK: So I'm always looking for only two kinds of ingredients in my products, either ingredients that are transdermal, supporting ingredients that as they allow the active ingredient to get down to the cell or directly communicate to the cell. That being said, if you have a formulation, you really wanna maximize the activity. And to me as a pharmacist, I'm always thinking, well, that seems so obvious to me, but it's not really.
0:05:16.4 TD: It's not.
0:05:17.0 BK: It's not really an obvious concept.
0:05:18.6 TD: No.
0:05:18.6 BK: Because we don't really hear about this notion of activity, but I'm always thinking, 'cause I'm a pharmacist. I'm thinking, well, when you come to the drugstore, what's the one thing you want your drugs to do?
0:05:26.1 TD: Work.
0:05:26.5 BK: Right? Exactly.
0:05:26.7 TD: You want them active.
0:05:28.0 BK: You want 'em to work. Yes. What's the one thing you want your skincare product to do.
0:05:32.7 TD: I want it to work.
0:05:33.6 BK: You want to work, right. So it seems like a, duh, to me, as a formulator that, hey, you want to have some kind of activity. So what does activity really mean? In order to have activity, you have to be communicating to the living part of the skin. Now you guys are probably everybody here is a healthcare or skincare professionals listening. And you guys are in the business. And you know that the skin is stratified. It's layered. And the bottom of the skin, the bottom of the epidermis and in the dermis is where the living cells are. So if you're just putting a product on the surface of the skin, and you're not either getting to the cell, or once you're at the level of the cell, communicating to the cell, you're not doing anything. So the key to effective skincare product is having an ingredient that what we say in the business signals to the cell, communicates to the cell, and there's not a lot that do that. That tells the cell to do something. And then some kind of system for getting that ingredient to the cell.
0:06:27.1 TD: So pulling it down.
0:06:28.1 BK: Pulling it down. Delivery system.
0:06:28.6 TD: So it's not just on the surface.
0:06:30.3 BK: And pharmacists study this, we study transdermal penetration percutaneous absorption, technically because we look at the skin as a route of administration into the bloodstream. And that's why you have transdermal medications. So in skincare, I believe it should be the same kind of idea. You don't need to be in the blood, but you need to be the lower levels of the skin. So what does this have to do with microdosing? When you say microdosing, what you really, you're talking about small amounts of active materials but when I think of skincare, I'm thinking of small amounts of product.
0:07:00.3 BK: You don't want a lot of product on your skin because we don't really know what's in the product and the way... Like I said, the way things are interacting in the bottle or in the jar and on your skin, so putting something on your skin, exogenously is already gonna be a little bit tricky with emulsifiers and preservatives and fragrances, and surfactants and waxes and various chemical components that can have deleterious or negative effect on the skin, even something occlusive can suppress biochemistry within the skin.
0:07:35.9 TD: We talk about fillers and foods all the time, right, how we're like, oh, stay away from that. It's got fillers in it or what have you, it's almost like that's what you're saying.
0:07:43.8 BK: Well, you say said micro-dose, I think micro-application, I think macro-dose, so you want a high concentration of an active ingredient that will allow you to put less product on your skin, that will give you that beneficial fact. So when I'm formulating a skin care product, I'm using 80% vitamin C, fat soluble vitamin C or I'm using 5% retinol. I'm using much higher concentrations of active ingredients, that way you don't have to put a lot of product on your skin and you get the active ingredient, so it's more like macro-dosing, but it's micro-application, and that's really the way you wanna use skin care products. You wanna do it like medicine. You know medicine is very potent, if you're really sick. Right? You have a really bad cold. Do you take your amoxicillin and go, I'm gonna take all 30 pills.
0:08:31.4 TD: I hope not.
0:08:31.7 BK: 'Cause I wanna get better really fast.
0:08:33.3 TD: 'Cause your microbiome is gonna be messed up.
0:08:35.6 BK: Right? You may get very sick. You may even die, but with skincare products, we say, "Oh, I'm really dry, I'm gonna put a lot of products on my skin."
0:08:42.4 TD: It's so true. Gosh.
0:08:43.2 BK: Right. Or I wanna get rid of this wrinkle, so I'm gonna put whole bunch of wrinkle cream on my skin or a whole bunch of skin lightener on my skin, you don't realize that you're upsetting the balance of the microbiome on the skin, the biochemistry in the skin when you put a lot of product on there. So you wanna look for products that have minimal ingredients, but high amounts of active ingredients, by active ingredients, I'm talking about ingredients that communicate to the cell, and of course to do that, you've gotta have some kind of transdermal penetrant to support that.
0:09:10.6 MS: I've got two thoughts here. So we just did a podcast talking about where do you draw the line with supplementation internally, it's kind of the same thing with that supplementation, topically. And so I guess my question to you is...
0:09:23.1 BK: Can you do too much?
0:09:24.2 MS: Yeah, can you do too much?
0:09:24.6 TD: That was gonna be my next one. That's so true.
0:09:25.2 BK: Yeah so that's a great... That's actually a great question. And I love how you said that because that's really to me, the best skin care is nutritional supplements for your skin. Just like the best kind of internal therapeutic modality is gonna be nutritional supplementation, topically, nutritional supplements for the skin, that's the best way to do it. And that's why I started my businesses to be able to provide nutritional supplements for the skin, then your question is, is can you overdo it? How much nutritional supplementation? Well, there's two classes of nutritional supplements, there's one class of nutritional supplements that's very, very stimulating, and specifically, I'm talking about vitamin A. And super specifically retinol and retinoic acid, which are the active forms of vitamin A, retinol is a precursor, but retinoic acid is the active form, and yes, you can overdo a stimulating ingredient, but vitamin C, it's very hard to overdo vitamin C, because it's not a stimulating ingredient it's a nourishing ingredient, and that's a really important point as far as... I call it saturation.
0:10:26.5 BK: What you wanna do when we're using nutrition for the skin or really when we're using any kind of nutrition, what we're trying to do is we're trying to tell the cell, 'cause it's all about the cell. Let's be very clear about this. Health is about the cell, it's not about the stuff that comes out of the cell, it's about the cell, and that's where you have to be if you're gonna be changing your biochemistry for the better with nutritional supplements or with topical skin care. So we wanna be at the level of the cell and where our mission is, is to tell the cell that the world is safe, that it's summertime, that you can grow and you have abundant resources, and there's plenty that... You don't have to skimp, you don't have to hoard because there's plenty, and that's what we're trying to send the message to the cell, and the cell is... A cell is sitting in a soup, cells don't touch each other, cells are sitting in liquid, and they're like a biochemical stew, they're sitting in this biochemical stew, and they're constantly reading the biochemical stew. And based on the message...
0:11:30.3 MS: That's what it's in, the broth.
0:11:31.6 BK: The broth, right.
0:11:32.8 MS: Okay, got it.
0:11:33.3 BK: Soup, soup. It's constantly reading the soup and it's looking for molecules that will tell the cell whether it's safe or whether it's not safe, Albert Einstein... I have probably told you this before, but Albert Einstein had a famous quote, he said, "If I could to talk to God, I would ask him... " And I'm paraphrasing here. He says so I would ask him, is the universe a friendly place? And that's the question, that's the ultimate question that we're all asking, when you meet somebody new, have you noticed that it's... Tell your name, and then two minutes later you're like what was his name again?
0:12:04.1 TD: Sure, yes.
0:12:04.8 BK: And he just told you his name. It's not like your brain is defective. But what it is, is when we meet somebody new, we're not thinking about what they say, we're looking to see if they're safe. We're always doing that.
0:12:14.2 MS: All the signals, right?
0:12:15.5 BK: Yes, exactly.
0:12:15.9 MS: We're looking at their face, we're hearing what they're saying.
0:12:18.0 BK: All that, their posture everything. All living things are constantly asking, is the world safe? Or is it not? Can I go out and expand? Or do I have to contract? Do I have to protect myself? All living things are doing that from plants to humans, to bacteria to animals, cells do it too, and so what we're trying to do is we're trying to tell the cell, the world is safe. There's plenty of resources, it's abundant out there, and the way, the best way to do that is to pound the positive signaling molecules internally through the bloodstream to get to the cell, or what I found is topically, you can do that. And that's why these high doses are so important because you're trying to flood that you're trying to saturate the stew or the soup, you're trying to make sure that that soup is loaded with these molecules that tell the cell that it's safe in the world that it can go out and make collagen or that it can go out and make moisture factors or that they can divide or it can do its business, and the best way to guarantee that is to pound with high...
0:13:17.4 TD: With high potency.
0:13:18.3 BK: With high high dose.
0:13:19.9 TD: Yeah high dose.
0:13:20.8 BK: High dose yes. With high dose, but there are some ingredients like retinol that you have to... Because they're so stimulating, you have to kinda back off a little... You have to take days off. Or I should say you don't want to, so you have to know the distinction between these molecules that communicate safety and stimulating molecules that have a up-regulating effect on the skin and retinol, by the way, is very interesting because the retinoids stimulate the immune system. One of the best pro-immune supplements that you could take is vitamin A. Vitamin A, it was actually the immune vitamin before it was anything else, it was known to be an immune booster, but when you...
0:13:58.4 BK: When you stimulate the immune system, you also stimulate the inflammatory system and they go together. So partial... Vitamin A's irritating effect that some people experience or that a lot of people experience actually in the retinol and retinoic acid form are secondary to its immune boosting effect. It's immune stimulating effect that max, that turns on the inflammatory process. So you have to be a little bit careful with retinol, and it's also important to recognize that inflammation is a precursor to healing. You can't heal without inflammation. So inflammation is almost a prerequisite to growing collagen, to making connective tissue more beefy and robust.
0:14:40.2 MS: A controlled inflammation.
0:14:42.6 BK: Controlled inflammation, because you don't wanna be excessive inflammation. Obviously you can cause a problem, but controlled regulated inflammation. And once again, that's why other supplements could become important. You know, a lot of the problems with stimulating ingredients like retinol is the barrier is defective in so many of our skins. When you have a defective barrier, the immune system becomes much more hyperactive. And so people are gonna be much more sensitized and they may blame the ingredient in the case of retinol, a lot of people who blame the retinol, not realizing it, not realizing that the barrier defects are what make the skin more sensitized and ironically, and paradoxically retinol has a long term barrier building effect.
0:15:26.7 BK: So even though a defective barrier may be more sensitized to retinol, as it turns out in retinoic acid, as it turns out retinol and retinoic acid stimulate the barrier. They make the barrier stronger. So you gotta kind of be able to deal with it. And that's where the art form of using retinol as well as alpha-hydroxy acids have the same kind of effect. That's where the art form of using these kinds of products come in. And that's why estheticians are so important because estheticians can teach their clients and their patients and estheticians are...
0:15:55.4 MS: And control it.
0:15:57.7 BK: And control it in the therapeutic setting. They can control that by using peels or by dispensing retinol kinds of products and educating the patient, and then using these kinds of techniques, these subtle artistic techniques, it's more of an art than a... I mean, it is as much an art as it is a science to know how to stimulate without overstimulating, to know how many days off you take, to know how to strengthen the barrier with nutritional supplements. So you can use the retinol.
0:16:24.1 TD: It's personal training for your skin.
0:16:25.5 BK: I consider...
0:16:26.0 TD: It really is.
0:16:27.3 BK: That's exactly right. I consider estheticians to be personal trainers for the skin.
0:16:30.3 TD: I love that.
0:16:32.2 BK: That's exactly. And I do say that, that's very cool. That's a very good call, 'cause that's exactly what they are. They're training the skin the way a personal trainer trains your muscles.
0:16:40.4 TD: And looks at your body and then pushes or pulls back or yeah.
0:16:43.7 BK: And this is why estheticians are such an important part of the healthcare Pantheon and the skincare Pantheon. And that's why there will always be a need for estheticians because there's always these wonderful ingredients that need a little bit... There's some subtlety that's involved and a nuance that's involved in how you use them.
0:17:01.1 TD: And I love that too, because I mean, we've had so many conversations Maggie, right, on our other podcast too, where we're talking about, consumers now are going out there and making all these determinations of what their skin needs and so forth. And I love that you just said, no, you'll never be able to really truly look at your own skin the way an esthetician would, or a skin trainer would, right?
0:17:22.9 BK: Yeah, unless you're, you know, it's not like it's rocket science, like, you know, you have to go to school for like 12 years and have a PhD and all that stuff. There's some common sense that's involved, but estheticians because they've been trained in it, number one. And also because they see so many patients and they see the different skin types, they are much better situated to be able to help a client understand how to use their, these ingredients and how to maximize and optimize the benefits from these stimulating ingredients, as well as nourishing ingredients than an average average person who's not spending a lot of time studying the skin or seeing a lot, obviously seeing patients.
0:17:58.3 TD: Right.
0:17:58.8 MS: And I think it's hard too, that for you to look at your own skin, and be objective...
0:18:02.1 TD: Yes, that's what I was gonna say, be objective.
0:18:04.5 MS: Yeah. You can can't, but you know, for the personal trainer, the esthetician, like you said, Ben too, to look at the skin and having also compared to so many other clients...
0:18:14.2 BK: Yes. Data points.
0:18:14.6 MS: Yeah.
0:18:15.1 BK: Yes. They have a lot of data points that they know and you know, there's not a lot of... Interestingly everybody's gonna be different obviously, and there's biochemical individuality, but there's only so many things that can go wrong with the skin. And after you see enough patients, it's kind of like, you see the same thing over and over again to a certain extent, and you'll know automatically by looking at a certain characteristic in the skin that they'll benefit from this ingredient or not benefit from that ingredient or this nutritional supplement, et cetera.
0:18:40.6 TD: So this is a crazy question. So when do you know, as an esthetician, both of you guys can chime in here, as an esthetician though when is it time to reevaluate the type of products that you're using on your clients? Like, I mean, should you constantly be doing that?
0:18:57.9 BK: You shouldn't have to. The way I look at it, and I would love to hear it... As an esthetician says...
0:19:01.5 MS: I mean I'm saying like the product lines, the products themselves.
0:19:03.7 BK: Yeah. You shouldn't have to because if you're using, the way I look at it anyway, is nutritional supplements for your skin then it's not really about the product. It's about the ingredient, the specific supplement, if you're using a product line or a product that has a very small ingredient deck, that's basically just the two compartments that I talked about were delivery systems and an active ingredient. Guess what? Your skin always... Skin cells and your skin always need vitamin C. They always need fat soluble vitamin C.
0:19:33.1 TD: It's not gonna change.
0:19:33.6 BK: That's not gonna change. Right. They're always gonna need vitamin A, retinol. They're always gonna need the B complex. They're always gonna need minerals. They're always gonna need certain things. So you shouldn't, if you have a product that provides a dosage, a delivery system for a dose of nutritional supplements, you're always gonna need that. And that's really, an effective skincare product shouldn't... You won't need to change.
0:19:54.1 TD: It shouldn't be complicated.
0:19:56.1 BK: Yeah, and it shouldn't be complicated. And you shouldn't need to change. I don't know. That's my feeling as a formulator. I don't know what you would say as an esthetician.
0:20:01.1 MS: I agree with Ben in the sense that you should never have to change your products line because you're choosing that line because you agree with their philosophy. It is providing you with everything you need to perform your treatments and meet the needs of your client base. If it's not doing those things...
0:20:17.8 BK: Then...
0:20:18.2 MS: Then you need to...
0:20:19.6 TD: And then you're starting to have to get creative or supplements or so forth. Then that should be that aha moment to say, "Hey I might need to make a change." So that makes sense.
0:20:28.8 BK: Yeah. If you have a powerful ingredient and by powerful, I'm just talking about a healing ingredient, an ingredient that will, you can put on a cut or scrape a burn, or some kind of broken skin, and that will heal that traumatized skin, you should always be using it because that mechanism of healing is exactly what you want in a skin care product. So you'll always need vitamin C you always need... There's no time when you're gonna say, "Well, I'm not gonna use fat-soluble vitamin C, I'm gonna use butcher's broom, or I'm gonna use algae, or I'm gonna use something else." You're always gonna need fat-soluble Vitamin C. You're always gonna need vitamin A, and there's certain things that the skin cells are always going to respond to, and you're always gonna use. You can take days off, and a good skin... If you have a good skin care product line that you've been using and you take days off, you're not gonna notice a change for a couple of days.
0:21:14.8 BK: Eventually you'll notice a change, but for the first few days after you've laid off that skin care product, you're not gonna notice a change, and that's an indicator of how effective a skin care product is, is if you've been using it long-term, can you take a day off or two days off and not notice a change? If you don't notice a change, you know that you made some semi-permanent changes in the skin that are gonna take a while more than a couple of days to go backwards on, and that's really the sign of an effective skin care product.
0:21:41.1 TD: That is so moving to me actually, what you just said, because it's true. I mean, I think always, we talk about the, I moisturized my skin, I put so much lotion on it, I just put lotion on every single day, five times a day, and my skin is still dry. But it's so true. I'm going through certain products that I put on my face, and I can tell immediately if I don't put it on that morning what my face feels like, and that means it's not making a real change.
0:22:10.3 BK: Exactly, that's a superficial change, and you know what else you are even if you just touch yourself let alone if other people touch you. That's a love language part, one of the love languages, you're secreting these wonderful mood stabilizing and mood-enhancing chemicals just by being touched, so a lot of the rationale for using skin care products, and we don't even think about it, is it feels good. And it doesn't just...
0:22:33.3 TD: Applying it. Applying it.
0:22:34.0 BK: Yes, and it doesn't just feel good in an immediate sense on the skin, it feels good mentally, it feels good... It ups our mood, and it increases our mood, and there's a lot of people who when they're not feeling comfortable with themselves or they're depressed or they're in grief, will use more skin care products, they'll use skin care products as a way of self-soothing, you know what I'm saying?
0:22:52.6 TD: That's so interesting.
0:22:53.7 BK: Right? Because you're changing your biochemistry, your neural biochemistry, your brain biochemistry by touching yourself, so it's not like you wanna be so down on topical skin care products and slathering things on your skin, 'cause there's some neurological benefits and there's some mood-enhancing benefits and even immune-boosting benefits to just touching yourself. Nonetheless, if you just really wanna take care of your skin, less is more, make sure you're using high concentrations or high percentages of the good stuff, the signaling molecules, and if you take days off... If you have a really effective skin care product, you can take a day off from it and your skin is not going to revert back to its original condition.
0:23:32.5 TD: Okay, well, I think that is the last word today because that was so strong, I think that sums it all up right there.
0:23:39.8 BK: Thank you.
0:23:40.5 TD: Thank you so much. That wraps up the show and as always, if you're not an ASCP member, join today at ascpskincare.com/join, and if you liked this episode, subscribe today, so you never miss a single one. Details from what we've discussed, will of course be in the show notes, and there's a lot. And if you just can't get enough of Ben Fuchs the ASCP Rogue pharmacist, you can check him out at brightsideben.com Thank you everybody, and get out there and get some micro-application with some macro dosing.