GLOSSIER: ZIT STICK
It has been very hard to ignore the buzz that originates from the Glossier camp these days. From their Cloud Paints, Boy Brows, Balm Dotcom, Stretch Concealer, and a host of other creatively marketed and packaged products – their newest release, the Zit Stick, is one that is not shying away from the spotlight.
This is the second (first, being Solution) that provides “therapeutic-like” claims from Glossier. Before these two, Glossier not so quietly released (one after another) makeup after makeup product – peppered with the occasional skincare (cleansers and moisturizers), fragrance and body products.
So naturally, it was only fitting for us to review this newly minted product, the Zit Stick, with its 5% benzoyl peroxide active.
Let’s be clear, benzoyl peroxide (BPO) containing products used to treat acne isn’t a novel concept. In fact, BPO has actually been around for at least five decades! And it is considered the gold standard for treatment and maintenance of acne vulgaris.
Now I’m not exactly five decades old, but I do remember childhood memories of seeing the dermatologist and having had to apply prescription-strength topical BPO to my acne flare-ups. So this little guy that could has certainly been around. But back then, formulations of BPO were harsh.
Full disclosure: Since it was released only a few days ago, this current review won’t be able to personally comment on the actual effectiveness of the product. But that doesn’t mean we can’t review its ingredients, its claims, and whether these claims are relevant or substantiated.
Am I right?
However, once I do get my grubby little hands on this product, I’ll be sure to update this post accordingly and let you know my personal take.
But until then, let’s get into the nitty-gritty, the ingredients!
Ok, the claims as detailed on the Glossier website for Zit Stick
“A portable pen to clear zits at high speed. Unlike visible spot treatments (usually used overnight, in secrecy, at home), Zit Stick is designed to live in your pocket, bag, and daily life. Use at the first sign of a pimple, applying up to three times daily until your zit is gone—5% Benzoyl Peroxide kills the germs that caused the zit while shrinking size and swelling, with Tea Tree Oil and Capryloyl Salicylic Acid (a less irritating derivative of Salicylic Acid). Click three times, glide over zit with the antimicrobial stainless steel tip, and wait a few moments for it to dry to a translucent, go-about-your-day finish.
AFTER 3 HOURS: Evaluators found a reduction in pimple size for 83% of subjects.
AFTER 6 HOURS: 4 out of 5 subjects said redness and swelling were reduced, and that their pimples were less noticeable and less painful.
AFTER 24 HOURS: 4 out of 5 subjects said swelling was eliminated and pimples healed faster than normal; subjects reported that more than half of pimples were erased.
Benzoyl Peroxide: Active ingredient that targets the germs that caused the zit while shrinking size, swelling, and redness.
Capryloyl Salicylic Acid: A gentler derivative of salicylic acid for reduced stress on skin.
Tea Tree Oil: A natural oil known for its healing properties.
Stainless Steel Rollerball Tip: Antimicrobial stainless steel prevents bacteria growth for extra-sanitary application.
Clinical Trial Claims: The Zit Stick clinical trial was conducted by a third-party testing facility and included 30 people between the ages of 14 and 50 with one or more active pimples. The participants tried “a novel spot treatment” in lab packaging, with no brand affiliation. For the first six hours after application, an evaluator measured each pimple hour-by-hour for reduction in size. After six hours, 24 hours, and five days, subjects reported their visual results via a self-perception questionnaire.”
Ok, let’s parse this baby to its bare bones based on its ingredients:
|Substantiated||Claims||What's the Problem?|
5% Benzoyl Peroxide: Active ingredient that targets the germs that caused the zit while shrinking size, swelling, and redness.
|Tea Tree Oil: A natural oil known for its healing properties. ||None|
|Capryloyl Salicylic Acid (a less irritating derivative of Salicylic Acid) for reduced stress on skin.||None|
| Stainless Steel Rollerball Tip: Antimicrobial stainless steel prevents bacteria growth for extra-sanitary application. ||None|
Although having clinical trial claims posted is great stuff; it really is hearsay, in my personal opinion. If the company doesn’t publicly make those studies or report (with applicable results) available, making claims that this was performed by a third-party testing facility is as effectual as saying I performed the clinical trial study in my own home. That’s really my two cents to that matter.
At present, the regulatory guidance for the cosmetic and beauty industry is still in its infancy. Therefore, while the results sound amazing, making such bold claims and statements can be very dangerous unless the company can truly back them with concrete results.
And finally, while stainless steel does offer as a better option compared to a plastic tip with respect to enhanced antimicrobial benefits; silver or copper would have been a more novel choice as both provide antimicrobial benefits but also have been found to provide wound healing and anti-aging properties. But we can see how a stainless tip was the more safe and economical packaging route.
And finally, before and after pictures. I’m not going to go into a huge rant about how “a picture is worth a thousand words” because in this day and age of social media and strategic photographs — I’m always wary when it comes to true, unadulterated photos. Therefore, take it for what it’s worth – pictures posted by a company looking to sell you a product. Therefore, my observations on photos may be applied to all products.
SKIN TYPE & USE
According to Glossier, the Zit Stick should be applied up to three times per day until your pimple or acne is gone – with careful attention that benzoyl peroxide may make the skin extra sensitive to the sun.
Therefore, application of sunscreen is key when using this!
THE GOOD & THE BAD
This is definitely a treatment focused product. It isn’t meant to make you look beautiful by enhancing your coloring or adding dimension in any sense of the word. It simply is to clear up problematic acne.
Therefore, it is good to see that the first ingredient listed (as an active) is 5% benzoyl peroxide, followed by a slew of “inactive ingredients”. And some inactive ingredients are not to be taken lightly, such as citric acid, capryloyl salicylic acid, and niacinamide.
If we look at the first inactive ingredient listed (due to abundance) as being water, we understand that there can be issues of bacterial contamination or growth. Thankfully, there is an ingredient that may counter this within the formulation – such as chelating agents: citric acid, and disodium EDTA.
Still, there were a few rough ingredients in this list that I found a little concerning – such as:
- Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer
- Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil (tea tree oil) which may cause mild irritations.
- Disodium EDTA (albeit a chelating agent as well)
- Saccharide Isomerate
- Sodium Hydroxide
Multiple surfactants have been identified:
- Polysorbate 80
- Polyglyceryl-2 Isostearate
- Diethylhexyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate
- Sorbitan Stearate
- PEG-40 Stearate
And of course, again we see a host of preservatives used:
- Caprylyl Glycol
THE UGLY (PRICE)
Glossier Zit Stick ($14)
DO I NEED THIS?
If you suffer from problematic acne and was looking for a “travel-friendly” way of applying benzoyl peroxide – this might be the answer to your problems.
But honestly, benzoyl peroxide-containing products are out there. They come in all shapes and forms. This isn’t THE only version of fighting acne breakouts.
Again, I have yet to try the Zit Stick and can’t really speak to its effectiveness other than reporting and researching its ingredients relative to claims.
And although some of these ingredients have considerable immediate effects — prolonged and constant use is critical to the success of seeing significant improvements, especially for acne treatments.
OXY Acne Medication Maximum Action Spot Treatment
Kate Somerville Anti Bac® Clearing Lotion
Clean And Clear PERSA-GEL® 10 Acne Medication
Acne.org Treatment (2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide)
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Spot Treatment
ARE THE CLAIMS BACKED BY SCIENCE?
Most of the claims were not overly specific and therefore may be drawn from multiple ingredients. As a result, most of the ingredients had multiple benefits that could be applied to each individual claims. There were a few ingredients, in my opinion, that seemed rather odd with no rhyme or reason as to its benefits relative to Glossier’s Zit Stick effectiveness.
Since this was just initially released, I’ll be curious to see how users feel once applied regularly. Will these clinical claims and findings really substantiate? We shall see!
Until my next review!