Star dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, believes that the world is in the “dark ages” of anti-acne treatments. This is because, according to him, the majority of topical acne-fighting solutions treat breakouts once they’re already taking residence on your skin, rather than way before they even rear their head. After years of research and testing, Dr. Gross discovered an ingredient that he believes can actually help to prevent breakouts from forming: monk’s pepper.
“Monk’s pepper is probably the biggest breakthrough,” says Dr. Gross of the ingredient, found in the new Blemish Solutions Acne Eliminating Gel ($40) in his eponymous line. “It’s a naturally-derived ingredient that helps increase testosterone precursors.” Of course, this sounds contradictory: Why would you want an increase of testosterone when this is the hormone that increases oil production in the skin?
“The reason we want this is because it’s a precursor that bonds itself to the testosterone receptor, which prevents the testosterone from binding to the receptor—it acts as a decoy,” says Dr. Gross of how monk’s pepper works on the skin. Upon applying the ingredient, it prevents a surge in your oil—or sebum—production, which is one of the main causes of breakouts (since this excess sebum often clogs pores). Because of this, Dr. Gross believes the acne treatment could usher in a new wave of pimple-preventing products.
As far as the ingredient itself, monk’s pepper extract comes from the chaste tree and has medicinal properties. It’s an astringent that works as an antimicrobial, and it has antioxidant effects. These traits combined with the ability to hack your skin’s oil production make for a potent acne fighter. “It doesn’t matter what type of acne a person has—the common thread is an abnormality of oil chemistry,” says Dr. Gross.
Coming from the dermatologist behind the famous Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel ($88), a two-part chemical exfoliant that uses both alpha and beta-hydroxy acids for a one-two punch that reveals more clear, even skin (like an at-home, dermatologist-level chemical peel), the acne treatment gel featuring monk’s pepper is poised to be a game-changer.
Want even more ways to deal with breakouts? Click on the video below for more intel on how to squelch breakouts (and prevent them from happening in the first place).