Dear Acne, It’s Time to Face Reality

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Face Reality Skincare

The Most Meaningful Work in Skincare

Acne isn’t skin deep. It is a skin condition that undermines confidence, impacts self-esteem, and can make people who experience acne feel isolated and alone. Face Reality surveyed over 1,000 people in the U.S. to learn how acne has impacted their life, confirming what we have always known to be true: acne has a profound effect on one’s mental health.

Roughly, 85% of participants in our National Survey on Acne said it had a very or extremely negative impact on their confidence when their acne was at its worst.1 The lack of confidence isn’t only from the acne itself, but from the frustration of trying product after product without results. There is a need for not just products that work, but guidance from skilled professionals who can coach them through the clearing process. Only 7% of respondents in our National Acne Survey said that they felt confident on where to find help for their acne, with 83% frustrated with the lack of acne products that work.2

That’s where Face Reality comes in, which was founded in 2005 by licensed esthetician Laura Cooksey who developed the Acne Professional Program™ and Face Reality Clear Skin Method™ to help fellow estheticians do the most meaningful work in skin care, and by default, help people across the country regain their confidence. As licensed esthetician and Certified Acne Expert Jillian Schaeffer explains, “those who haven't experienced acne may not understand the emotional, physical, and mental toll it can have on a person, but being able to see the joy when my clients achieve their clear skin goals is something I'll never grow tired of."

Throughout its evolution, Face Reality has remained true to Laura’s inspiration—to help everyone feel confident in their s3kin; to educate the industry and people with acne about the condition and how to control it; and to help skin care professionals feel confident in their ability to treat acne in a safe and effective way.

Understanding Acne

Affecting more than 50 million people annually, acne is the most common skin condition in North America.3 Though the most common condition, Jillian shares that “when we graduate from esthetician school, we are really taught the bare minimum to pass state boards. I knew the very basics about acne.” To treat acne, you must thoroughly understand it from all angles.

At its core, acne is a hereditary disorder of the follicle caused by retention hyperkeratosis, excess sebum production, systemic inflammation and proliferation of c. acnes bacteria. Retention hyperkeratosis is the excess shedding of corneocytes within the follicle, and the retention of those corneocytes.  An average follicle sheds one layer of cells per day, while an acne-prone follicle sheds up to five layers a day. The body can’t keep up with this level of desquamation, culminating in a microcomedone, the beginning of all acne.

This condition will cause inflamed and noninflamed lesions alike. While acne cannot be cured, it can be managed with the Face Reality Clear Skin Method™ which uses the right combination of products, professional treatments, nutrition and lifestyle choices.

The Face Reality Clear Skin Method™

Ingredients & Adaptive Treatment

What we do in the treatment room is excellent for our clients, but what they do every day, twice a day, at home is exceedingly important to reach and maintain results. An acne client’s home care routine needs to be curated by a professional based on their skin type, Fitzpatrick type, acne type and severity, age and other various factors.

Not only will you create this customized routine, but you will also guide your client through adaptively incorporating their “active” products like exfoliating serums and benzoyl peroxide. Slowly introducing these products drastically cuts down unwanted effects such as dryness, irritation and redness. Slowly increasing usage of active products ensures optimal skin health while also pushing the skin to clear. Around 80% of the clearing process is achieved through diligent use of their home care routine and by making proper lifestyle adjustments.

Nutrition & Supplements

There are certain foods that can aggravate acne-prone skin or trigger breakouts, but the most important point to remember is that moderation is key (acne clients do not need to diet for their skin). The two main nutritional issues for acne-prone individuals are hormone disruption and inflammation. Some culprits of these issues are foods with a high glycemic index and high iodine content. Inflammatory foods typically rank high on the glycemic index and have high levels of saturated fat, trans fats and refined sugar, which disrupt hormones and insulin levels. Lastly, iodine-rich food irritates the pores and can cause acne flare-ups.

We can also help acne-prone skin internally with supplements. Zinc is excellent for anyone experiencing moderate to severe inflammation. You will see this in clients who bleed excessively during extractions. Molecularly distilled omega-3 fish oil is good for anyone experiencing chronic dryness, inflammation and hormonal breakouts.

Lifestyle Matters

There are many lifestyle factors to consider, but three of the biggest are pore-clogging ingredients, sweat and sun exposure. The first being comedogenic ingredients, which are ingredients that can clog pores and exacerbate acne. These ingredients can be found in makeup, hair care, skin care, laundry products and just about anything that contacts the skin. Another common lifestyle factor at the top of the list is sweating, during any activity. Sweating can cause breakouts and can cause fungal conditions like folliculitis. Lastly, clients (acne or not) must always be diligent about sun exposure and must wear sunscreen every day. The importance of consistent sunscreen use is two-fold: acne clients use exfoliating acids at home which increases the chance of sun damage and burning; the other factor to keep top of mind is that acne clients may already have compromised skin due to their acne type and severity or are already experiencing hyperpigmentation from breakouts.

Q&A With Jeremy Soine, CEO

Skin Inc. (SI): How did you get started in the industry?

Jeremy Soine (JS): I’ve enjoyed a serendipitous career path, where I’ve been able to work across many companies in food, beverage and skin care. And I’ve worked in many different functions—sales, marketing, finance, operations but never as an esthetician! So, unlike many leaders in our industry, I didn’t grow up in professional skin care. I’ve been an intent learner to understand the unique dynamics in this industry and have enjoyed this learning. By combining our purpose-driven vision to support our Acne Experts with an innovative internal culture, I believe great things will continue to happen.

SI: What sparked your interest in professional skin care?

JS: Laura Cooksey, our founder! I remember very clearly the first time I met her. She talked about her “adaptive approach” to skin care. I asked her, “what’s that?!” She explained that skin adapts to treatments and topical products. If you use this adaptation to provide stronger active ingredients as the skin can tolerate them over time, you’ll achieve superior results. It’s one of the guiding principles of our protocols and one of the reasons that the Clear Skin Method™ is so effective in treating acne. I was so inspired after that first conversation with Laura, I could see that Face Reality was doing something very different than the rest of the industry.

SI: What does the future hold for Face Reality?

JS: We’re working hard to invest in all parts of the company, with the vision and inspiration of helping our Acne Experts become more successful. Just in the last year, we’ve introduced new packaging, made significant supply chain upgrades, launched three new products, and are continuing to identify gaps and invest in product offerings for acne clients and the estheticians treating them. We’ve expanded our education team to bring Acne Experts more robust, continuous education, and we’ve substantially improved access to information through The Acne HQ, which houses our learning platform, business dashboard, digital tools, and more. We’ll also continue to invest in building an incredible team. The "voice of the esthetician” remains a very important part of our company culture.

SI: Moving forward, what do you see as the future for professional skin care?

JS: For all the conveniences of social media, it’s made professional skin care more important than ever. An increasing percentage of our Acne Experts’ new clients show up for their first appointment with a compromised barrier. When asked about their current products, those clients often mention learning on social media–self-diagnosing in skin care is becoming an increasing problem, making the job of skin care professionals even more critical. The expanded awareness of estheticians is a challenge that rests on the collective shoulders of the industry leaders. As Face Reality grows, we’re investing more of our marketing budget to target end consumers, teaching them about the importance of estheticians, and directing them to our Acne Experts. It’s a more complicated message, but a very important one.

Q&A With Stephanie Criscione, Director of Education and Acne Clinic

Skin Inc. (SI): How did you get started in the industry?

Stephanie Criscione (SC): Like so many estheticians, I struggled with debilitating acne in my teens and early 20s. Under the guidance of a highly skilled, passionate esthetician, I was able to get clear, stay clear, and regain my lost confidence. My acne clearing journey had such a profound impact on my self-esteem, and I realized very quickly that I wanted to make helping people struggling with acne my life’s work.

SI: What sparked your passion for acne education?

SC: I’ve been a licensed esthetician for over two decades and have witnessed many positive changes in the skin care industry over the years. Most notably, the amount of education available to estheticians and their clients. When I began specializing in acne, I was amazed at how little information there was on the condition. I made it my mission to arm myself with as much acne knowledge as possible to provide my clients, and students, with a deep understanding of the condition and how to best treat it.

SI: What's your favorite thing about being a Face Reality Acne Expert?

SC: My favorite thing is having the knowledge to curate targeted, comprehensive treatment plans catered to the individual needs of my clients. Every client is unique and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to treating acne. Being an Acne Expert gives me the tools to treat any skin condition with a holistic approach incorporating both topical solutions and lifestyle modifications.

SI: What's an often-forgotten aspect of acne education?

SC: As simple as this sounds, an often-forgotten aspect of acne education is the ability to possess a deep understanding of the histology and physiology of acne. Although there are many factors that contribute to acne formation, understanding root causes and the most efficacious ways to get clients clear are paramount.

Real Clients, Life-Changing Results

Dear Acne, you were just a chapter, not my entire story

"Working with a Certified Acne Expert has completely transformed the way that I feel about my skin. My skin is cleaner, smoother, and all-around healthier which is such a relief, especially for my mental health." - Michael, Client of Jillian Schaeffer

Dear acne, I am more than my skin.

"I did three rounds of Accutane, so many different antibiotics, and nothing cleared my skin long-term. I've been with Jillian for almost a year now and my skin has been consistently clear. I've never had that before in my life." - Mik, Client of Jillian Schaeffer

Dear Acne, you don't stand a chance anymore.

"I've had the joy of having Face Reality in my business for 4 years, and there has yet to be another company that has mirrored the educational, professional, or personal support and growth!" - Jillian Schaeffer, Licensed Esthetician and Certified Acne Expert


  1. Respondents were given a 5-point scale when asked the extent to which acne has affected their confidence. 
  2. When asked how confident they were about where to find help and treatment at the onset of their acne 
  3. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association
  4. Respondents answered ‘yes’ when asked if they have been frustrated with the lack of efficacy in products available to treat acne


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