The Only Vegan Face Wash for Acne You Need in Your Skincare Routine

We’ve all experienced acne at one point in our lives. It can be stressful finding the perfect skincare routine for your skin type that actually works. Not to mention the overflow of different acne fighting face washes on the market to choose from. Although it can all be overwhelming, all we want to do is nurture our skin. We kept this in mind when creating our very own vegan acne cleanser.

Some face washes include harsh ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, and retinoids which can be too irritating and inflaming to your skin. Harsh ingredients are what you want to avoid when you’re trying to nurture your skin. This is why we came up with our Phyla Phresh Gel Cleanser.

Best Vegan Face Wash for Acne

“Their cleanser is one of the most unique ‘acne cleansers’ that I ever found because opposed to it being really foamy, really drying, stripping, it’s actually a very hydrating and gentle formula.”
– Hyram

The Phyla Phresh Gel Cleanser is an effective vegan face wash for acne that scrubs off blemishes without scrubbing off your skin. It provides a light exfoliation with its 2% Salicylic Acid solution. The vegan cleanser is formulated to be gentle and friendly to even the most sensitive skin, leaving your face feeling calm and bright, with a zesty tingle from tea tree oil. It’s the perfect prep for Phortify – our groundbreaking probiotic serum.

Meet the key ingredients of our vegan face wash below!

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid is an FDA-approved ingredient to treat and prevent acne. Its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to deeply penetrate the skin to draw out any dirt, dead skin cells, and other impurities makes it one of the most favored skincare ingredients for acne.

Being the star of our vegan face wash for acne, the 2% Salicylic Acid solution is used to gently exfoliate the skin without causing skin damage. This is especially important when preventing blemishes, which can help to alleviate redness and swelling on your skin barrier.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is most commonly used for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to relieve the skin of irritation. This essential oil also helps to reduce oiliness, minimize pores, decrease inflammation, and relieve itchy skin.

While calming redness, inflammation, and relieving skin irritation, tea tree oil leaves you with smooth, clear skin that feels refreshed.


Sorbitol is a natural sweetener that’s most commonly derived from fruits and plants. It’s used as a conditioning agent for the skin, preventing moisture loss to obtain a healthier and hydrated microbiome. Along with a healthier microbiome, sorbitol helps improve skin texture and reduces signs of aging.
Overall, sorbitol leaves you with hydrated and dewy skin; all the good things!

Beta Glucan

Beta glucan works to calm and soothe irritated skin. With antioxidant properties, this ingredient firms and plumps fine lines and wrinkles in addition to boosting the skin barrier.
Along with the other key ingredients in our vegan facial cleanser, beta glucan is another hydrator. It’s similar to sorbitol where it reduces the loss of moisture by pulling in water into the skin barrier.

When choosing a cleanser that will tackle acne, but retain a healthy and moisturized skin barrier, you need to pay close attention to which type of ingredients it includes- an active acne fighting ingredient and hydrators being very important.
If you have been searching for a vegan face wash for acne, our Phresh Gel Cleanser is the perfect solution!

All Phyla’s products are certified vegan, cruelty-free, and paraben-free. This means the products were developed without any tests on animals while also not including any animal-derived ingredients.

The best 2% SA solution you’ve ever tried

Cleansers are important. However, finding the right cleanser for you and your skin can be very stressful considering the wide amount of options that are available on the market.

For example, people who tend to wear makeup throughout the day typically use a cleansing balm to break down their makeup and follow with another cleanser, some people like to use micellar water in the morning and go in with foaming cleanser at night, and others simply don’t cleanse their face at all or use whatever they have in the shower and call it day (no shade). There are many different forms of cleansing and they are all unique to each individual. But if a cleanser doesn’t stay on your skin like a toner or serum does, then why is it such a crucial step in our skincare routines? Specifically, why is it so important to choose the right option?

Here’s why. The purpose of a cleanser is to remove the dirt, excess oil, dead skin cells, and other pollutants that we accumulate throughout the day to keep our pores clean and prevent further skin issues. A proper cleanser can also enhance your skin by managing its pH levels and giving your skin an extra boost of hydration. While cleansing sounds like the most simple step in a routine, it can also be the most damaging to your skin. Cleansing too often or using the wrong cleanser for an extended period of time can dehydrate your skin by stripping it of its natural oils, and not cleansing enough can lead to breakouts which can make your skin look and feel dull and textured.

Finding the right cleanser or cleansing method that can do the job without overwhelming your skin can be difficult, and sometimes it could take some trial and error to find the perfect fit. This was one of the problems we faced as a company while trying to develop a cleanser to pair with our live probiotic serum. We found that traditional face washes on the market did the job, but they often lacked ingredients that were beneficial for acne-prone skin, and acne face washes were often formulated as foaming cleansers which are known to dry out the skin. As a company founded by microbiologists and acne sufferers, we knew that these products could trigger inflammation and cause an imbalance on the skin’s microbiome which would further cause breakouts and other skin concerns. Given this issue and the lack of awareness in the skincare community, we decided to create our own cleanser to support the live probiotic technology of our flagship serum and to reach our healthy skin dreams.

Introducing the Phyla Phresh cleanser! Our Phresh gel cleanser effectively yet gently cleanses the skin while providing a light exfoliation with its 2% Salicylic Acid solution. It’s creamy texture has been described as “cloud-like” and leaves your skin feeling bright, conditioned, and clean without that “tight” feeling that other cleansers tend to have. Although the cleanser was made with oily skin in mind, the product has shown great success with all skin types and it is even friendly to those with most sensitive skin. The 2% Salicylic Acid concentration in the cleanser draws out any impurities deep in the pores, which properly prepares the skin for an application of the live probiotic serum.

Given that other acne face washes did not provide the proper cleansing elements for the skin, we went ahead and created our own formula that could unclog and shrink enlarged pores, smooth wrinkles, and exfoliate and brighten the skin in a nourishing way. The Phyla Phresh cleanser has even been recognized as one of skincare blogger Hyram’s favorite products from Phyla for its high quality ingredient list and unique moisturizing properties as an acne face wash.

When deciding what skincare products work best for you, it is important to listen to your skin’s needs and avoid what makes it unhappy. As a company serving those who suffer from acne, we personally believe that a cleanser should work productively on your skin, without compromising your overall skin health. As others like to say – “feed your skin,” and that starts with the right cleanser!

Does Natural Skincare For Acne Work?

Phyla acne care system science and discovery

Does Natural Skincare For Acne Work?

‘Natural’ is a broad term in skincare, so we break it down and help you separate fact from fiction.

Natural is in. Natural is hip. So does it work for acne?

To cut a long story short: no. But there’s a very important reason that people are attracted to natural remedies for acne, and it’s not what you think. More on that later, but first: what are natural remedies and how do they work?


Natural cures for acne usually have anti-inflammatory or antibacterial properties. These include apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, honey, green tea, tea tree oil, and even supplements like zinc and fish oil. While the mechanism of their action is similar to that of rigorously tested pharmaceutical products like benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, and retinoids, they generally have a rather mild effect on acne. Here are three of the top reasons why natural cures for acne aren’t for everyone, and may not be the right choice for you in particular.

Firstly, natural remedies are usually food-safe, but are not meant to be used on the skin. As they do not undergo any prior testing for skin safety, they are known to frequently cause bad skin reactions and irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin. Cider vinegar is a mild acid and can cause redness and peeling, but also mess with your skin’s pH. Witch hazel contains alcohols that can dry out your skin. And while remedies like tea tree oil could possibly help you, a concentrated dose that’s left on for too long can lead to redness, itching and a burning sensation on the skin.

Secondly, these acne remedies are largely unsupported by medical studies and scientific data. While it may well work for some people, each person’s skin is different and the proven acne solutions work for a wide variety of skin types. Not so for natural acne products, which have highly variable results and more importantly, varying levels of safety. In fact, some recommended remedies are very questionable. For example, honey and supplements like zinc and fish oil are very unlikely to help with your acne. There is no scientific evidence supporting such products, and in some cases the doses required are so high that it risks hurting your skin or gut in order to see any difference. Yet there is no shortage of DIY recipes for honey face masks and scrubs, or advice on how supplements are the key to clear skin.

Lastly, these natural acne remedies aren’t formulated for use on the skin, and their dosage has not been tested to give optimum results. So if you use too much, it might cause skin damage or trigger a breakout; but if you use too little, you won’t see any results. It’s very hard to be consistent using DIY products over a period of time because they lack consistency and they’re definitely not a long-term solution for a problem like acne. If you have moderate or severe acne, you are unlikely to see satisfying results from home remedies.


One enduring trend of the past decade has been the increasing use of food extracts in skincare products. Brands are using ingredients like watermelon and kale in their products, with the hope that our increased focus on healthy eating and nutrition will conflate these ingredients with skin health. It’s true that blueberries are rich in antioxidants, or that algae contain polysaccharides and micronutrients that our body needs.

But there is scant evidence that smearing blueberries or algae extract on your skin would have the same benefits as eating these foods. For the most part, you’re probably better off eating healthy foods than soaking in them. And while superfoods might help your skin a little bit, when it comes to acne there is no proof that it helps at all. Antioxidants, phytonutrients and astringents have a limited effect on acne since they don’t address its root cause. In general, the marginal benefits of So if you want to get the skin benefits of vitamin C, it’s better to use a serum than baste yourself in lemon juice.


Probiotics play a key role in gut health, and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut have been part of traditional diets for centuries. Recent research on the microbiome – the community of bacteria and other microbes that live on and within our body – has shed further light on how the microbiome keeps us healthy. But just as you wouldn’t expect an orchid to survive the desert, our gut bacteria and skin bacteria are adapted to live in completely different environments. So it makes sense that probiotics for the gut wouldn’t necessarily confer the same benefit on the skin.

However, the probiotic used in most probiotic skincare products is yogurt bacteria, even though there is no substantial link between yogurt bacteria and skin health. Even worse, they use dead bacteria in their formulation. It’s like buying a cup of yogurt that has NO living bacteria – guaranteed! So it’s interesting to understand exactly what probiotic benefits these dead yogurt bacteria are actually supposed to be having on our skin, and why they’re called ‘probiotic’ in the first place.

Although other skincare companies are meeting the interest in probiotics with dubious products, there is hope. Scientifically speaking, the study of the microbiome holds a great deal of promise. Understanding it better can unlock the mysteries of multiple skin conditions, from acne to eczema and psoriasis. It might even have an impact on other health factors, such as cardiovascular health. Products designed with solid microbiome research will be effective without harsh side effects caused by conventional products. Acne is a great example of this. In fact, about a third of people who find benzoyl peroxide effective have to stop using it, because it is too harsh on their skin. Unfortunately, most acne-fighting ingredients cause skin damage that accumulates over years and is irreversible. This was one of the chief motivations behind developing Phyla – to build an acne-fighting system that delivers powerful results without the side effects or skin damage that most people are forced to accept with their skincare.

Acne innovation has stalled out for the last 40 years. Don’t let the constant parade of ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ acne products fool you – most of the innovation comes in the form of combining old acne ingredients, or making these harsh products a bit less damaging. But Phyla is built on a revolutionary breakthrough in skin microbiome research – we discovered a probiotic that actually lives on healthy skin, and specifically kills the acne-causing bacteria to balance our microbiome. This is a truly natural probiotic, isolated from healthy skin, for healthy skin.

probiotics for the skin

The Phyla™ system was designed to give you the great-looking and healthy skin you deserve. Unveil what nature gave you by being kind to your microbiome.

Table of Contents

Phyla: Cassandra Bankson Approved!

Acne causes a lot of pain and suffering, but acne treatments often don’t help. Harsh acne products let us down time and time again, but we feel like we have no choice – we want clear skin, after all. But these harsh acne products are proven to cause a lot of skin damage, and often they do more harm than good.

Many acne sufferers, including one of our co-founders, have faced relapses, accumulated skin damage, gut issues, and serious medical risks like IBS, liver damage, and depression from these harsh treatments. The products that promised you clear skin cause redness, dryness, and irritation – all for short-term solutions where you’re only a relapse away from going back to square one. And as much as doctors and skin care specialists want to help, there has been no breakthrough innovation in acne skincare in the last 40 years.

The big question we faced as a team of scientists and acne sufferers was, “Why does clear skin have to come at such a cost?” We knew there had to be a better solution. Given the current harsh options and a lack of research in the acne skincare industry, it became Phyla’s duty to develop a healthier acne treatment that was not only safe, gentle, and effective to use; but also protected and nurtured your skin for life.

We turned to the microbiome for answers to this problem, and we found something interesting: a natural probiotic called phage, which is a harmless virus that kills only the acne-causing bacteria C. acnes. Even more fascinating, this phage is predominantly found on healthy skin, and it might be the reason why some people never seem to get a pimple! We were incredibly excited to have found this solution, and we have worked hard to overcome the many challenges to bring this revolutionary technology to market.

Our innovative acne product caught the attention of one of the most beloved skin care specialists on Youtube who our team knew and admired, Cassandra Bankson. As a cystic acne sufferer herself or as she likes to call, a “cyster”, Cassandra fully resonates with our company’s mission and our co-founder’s own experiences with acne, and she became very intrigued with our product’s technology and the work that goes into developing it. So we invited her to our facility in Petaluma and our research lab in San Francisco to give her an exclusive look into Phyla’s unique production process.

Throughout the day we were able to show Cassandra and her team around our lab facilities, educate them on the importance of the microbiome and the live probiotic (called bacteriophage) that we discovered in our lab, and discuss how we stabilized and incorporated this probiotic into our products to provide a safe application for our users. The brand new type of skin probiotic we discovered kills the bad bacteria associated with acne and keeps the good bacteria to help balance the skin’s microbiome. Strong and healthy microbiomes tend to be more diverse with both good and bad bacteria, which makes the skin more resilient towards common skin concerns like acne.

Our brand’s approach to combat acne by maintaining a healthy skin microbiome, rather than getting rid of its appearance on the surface provides a more gentle and natural treatment to those who face these problems. As discussed in our video with Cassandra, this live probiotic is naturally found on healthy skin which also makes it safe to use everyday, unlike traditional acne products. In our San Francisco lab, Cassandra viewed samples of our phage with our co-founder and CEO, Dr. Yug Varma. They discussed the struggles of acne, why traditional acne products fail, and how Phyla’s technology solves acne by removing the root cause of the disease.

A few of our key core values as a company is to provide full transparency behind our product’s technology, and to keep our innovative solution accessible to those who have found no cure after trying all the acne products on the market. Given Cassandra’s platform and her experience as an esthetician, our team was very thankful to be given the opportunity to showcase the cutting edge findings we are bringing to the skincare industry to both her and her audience.

Try our products risk-free with our 60-day guarantee! For more information about our product’s technology and an inside look into our production process, watch Cassandra Bankson’s visit to the Phyla facility here.

How Do You Discover and Develop Your Probiotics?

Phyla acne care system science and discovery

Our discovery starts in our advanced biotech labs, where we have developed a platform to discover and catalog the hundreds and thousands of microorganisms in the skin microbiome. We noticed that one microorganism, a phage, seemed to be a key difference between samples from healthy skin and acne skin. Some of the latest microbiome research also points to these phages being a differentiating factor between healthy and acne skin. This led us to wonder whether the organism plays an active role in keeping skin blemish-free. You see, this phage naturally targets Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) with deadly efficiency, and C. acnes is the prime bacterial cause for acne. So what if this phage could help balance the microbiome by keeping this acne-causing bacteria in check, and provide a natural and gentle way to get blemish-free skin?

We collected a large library of C. acnes phages using our platform technology, and through full genome sequencing, we were able to check whether any potentially harmful behaviors were encoded in these phages. Phages have two types of lifecycles, or two ‘flavors’ – lytic and lysogenic. The lytic phages are always in ‘kill mode’, while the lysogenic phages have an additional ‘dormant mode’ that makes them slip into the bacteria’s genome, where it can make the bacteria more nasty and virulent. We only selected the obligatory lytic phages for our use, and we made sure that their genomes didn’t carry genes for antibiotic resistance.

Once we had a small group of phages with all these beneficial properties, we tackled the next challenge – how do we keep phages alive in formulation? All skincare and beauty products contain antimicrobial preservatives. This is necessary so your face cream or lotion doesn’t grow bacteria or mold once you open it, or while it’s sitting in your warm, humid bathroom. Unfortunately, these preservatives would also kill any probiotics that you might want to put in it. At this point, if you’re asking, “Wait, does that mean that my probiotic skincare doesn’t have any live cultures?”, well, that’s a blog post for another day.

Back to our problem: how can we keep these phages alive in a serum, without compromising on the safety of our products? First, we had to select the hardiest, most stable phages from our collection. We performed several assays and tests, and finally landed on our most stable phage – codenamed MEPA-012. Then we looked for other research on formulation with live phages, but there is almost no work that’s been done on this new type of probiotic. Thus, we had to start from scratch. We tested cosmetic ingredients one by one, to determine whether they were compatible with our phage. We first tested preservatives that would keep our phage alive. Luckily for us, since phages are metabolically inactive (kind of like the dormant bacteria in probiotic supplements), certain preservatives that target active metabolic processes were fully compatible with our phage. We built on these results and tested numerous oil phases, emulsion systems, emollients, humectants, and thickening agents. We finally built up a huge database of formulation know-how, which helped us understand not only how to stabilize our phage in a serum, but also how these ingredients affect our skin microbiome. 

You see, we use a lot of products on our skin – it is estimated that women apply an average of 515 separate ingredients on their skin every single day. There is not much research on how these ingredients affect our microbiome, and our internal testing shows that many commonly used cosmetic ingredients kill beneficial members of our skin microbiome. Our focus is on minimizing the burden and effect of skincare ingredients, so that they care for the skin, and don’t suffocate it. To this end, we designed a system that you can use daily to control blemishes and breakouts, without any of the harsh side effects like redness, dryness, and irritation. We’ve designed each product with a minimalist ethos, and we don’t use any ingredient that’s on the banned list of cosmetic ingredients in Europe – a much more stringent list than the US. We recognize that cleansing, treating, and moisturizing are some of the basic functions of a daily skincare regimen. (Sunscreen is also very important, and we’re working hard to solve that need too!) In our testing, most moisturizers would kill the phage, and so if you moisturize right after applying the serum you wouldn’t see any benefits from our probiotic. We built our moisturizer to be light and hydrating – like a cloud – while preserving the phage on your skin. Thus, the system works in tandem to optimally support the integration of the live probiotic on your skin.

How do you test your probiotic?

Once we isolated and fully characterized the phage, we grew it up in order to incorporate it into the serum. This manufacturing process was developed fully in-house, using the advanced expertise of the founders in fermentation R&D and pharmaceutical biologics manufacturing. Starting from all vegetarian components, we developed and scaled a highly efficient manufacturing process to obtain a concentrated and highly purified phage stock. All our manufacturing processes are supervised and validated by a third-party quality inspection team, and we go over and above the requirements of cosmetic ingredients manufacturing by adopting more of a pharmaceutical-grade approach. This is part of our brand DNA, and it reflects the scientific roots of our products. You can find more technical details of our manufacturing and testing process here.

Our probiotic is tested for purity and identity by third-party labs, and all of this documentation is kept on file for every batch we make. The founders are instrumental in every step of this process, and their knowledge and obsessive attention to detail ensures that every batch meets the highest standards of quality and purity. 

A critical part of testing is the safety of our products on human skin. Even though all our ingredients are certified green and cruelty-free, we perform extensive safety testing with volunteers to adhere to, and surpass, the industry standards. We use third-party services to provide unbiased safety testing results on all our products, and they have reported a perfect response (no irritation or sensitization) on 100% of subjects.

Since we have live phages in our serum, we take great care to ensure that the phages are at optimal levels at all times. The phages are extremely stable in refrigeration, but since they are a live culture they do have a more limited shelf life at room temperature. We have extensively tested and evaluated the stability of live phages in our serum at room temperature and elevated temperatures, as well as the effect of shipping on their potency. We are proud to report that the phages are extremely stable in all these scenarios. As such, we recommend that you keep the serum refrigerated until you use it, and then you can keep it at room temperature for your everyday use. We still recommend that you keep it refrigerated if you can, because it delivers a lovely cooling effect on your skin. This is especially welcome on inflamed or acne-prone skin, but in general, it provides your skin with relief and comfort at least once or twice a day.

probiotics for the skin

How Is Phyla’s Probiotic Technology Radically Different?

Phyla's Phortify Probiotic Serum

We bring hard scientific results to skincare and are going where no one has gone before because Phyla started off as a biotech company.

Our probiotic is actually a bacteriophage or a phage. Phages are viruses that exclusively target bacteria, and they’re extremely widespread in the environment and in our body. In fact, phages are such a common part of the microbiome that about a billion of them pass through our bodies every day! Phages have never been used for acne before, and we are proud to be the first.

So are phages a probiotic? Here’s the definition again: “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. Viruses are certainly microorganisms, and they DO confer a health benefit in adequate amounts. So they certainly fit the definition! In addition to several scientific studies showing that certain phages are very efficient in specifically killing bacteria associated with acne, we have data showing excellent safety of phages when applied to the skin. We’re also wrapping up a larger study to look at the effect of phages on acne-prone skin, and we’re excited to share this with you very soon!

Now some might say that since phages are viruses, they are not strictly living. That’s true since phages are considered not quite living, and not quite non-living. However, if you consider a probiotic supplement, the bacteria in that pill are about as alive as the phages in our serum. They are not metabolically active or dividing, but when they hit the gut they will become active. In the same way, the phages in serum are dormant and only activate when they hit the skin. Cool, right?

As a microbiome researcher, to me, it’s more accurate to say that they’re in a non-metabolic state. That’s just a fancy way of saying ‘dormant’, since phages come to life once they come in contact with their bacteria of choice – the kind that causes acne, in this instance. And then they wreak havoc on their target, killing every one of them in the vicinity until there are none left. They do this with breathtaking elegance and precision, and they don’t target any other beneficial bacteria in this process. 

Phyla's targeted acne care technology

What Makes Phyla Different from Other Acne Products

What makes Phyla acne care different

What Makes Phyla Different from Other Acne Products

Traditional acne treatments use harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide and adapalene to treat your acne. Not only are these ingredients ineffective in the long term, causing endless cycles of relapse; but they are incredibly damaging to the skin. In fact these ingredients have also been shown to trigger inflammatory pathways associated with aging. Thus, prolonged use of these damaging ingredients causes premature aging and comes at a significant cost to healthy skin. Unfortunately, there has been no meaningful innovation in acne since retinoids were introduced in 1982, which makes it nearly 40 years of stagnation in acne care. 

Phyla is the world’s first and only acne care line to incorporate live phages, the first TRUE skin probiotic. Bacterial overgrowth is a central cause of acne, and recent breakthroughs in skin microbiome research have unveiled mechanisms by which Cutibacterium acnes, or C. acnes, inflames the skin and causes acne. Phyla is building on this important work, and we have discovered novel probiotics, called phages, that exclusively kill the acne bacteria, without harming the good bacteria on your skin. These phages are found on healthy skin.  We make and purify them to the highest standards in small batches for stable incorporation into our serum.

With harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, and retinoids, your skin accumulates damage that is irreversible and evident only years later. By using phages to recalibrate your skin microbiome, not only are we setting you up to have truly healthy skin for life, but you can do this without compromising your skin’s health. A third of people who find benzoyl peroxide effective have to stop using it, because it is too irritating and inflaming to their skin. The Phyla system is so gentle that you can use it every single day for years, with none of the redness, dryness and irritation of other products. With regular use, the Phortify Probiotic Serum also evens skin tone, reduces redness, and soothes inflammation.

What Makes Phyla Different from Other Acne ProductsPhyla is the world’s first and only acne care line to incorporate live phages, the first TRUE skin probiotic.

The Phyla™ system was designed to give you the great-looking and healthy skin you deserve. Unveil what nature gave you by being kind to your microbiome.

The Truth about Fungal Acne, and What to Do If You Have It

The Truth about Fungal Acne, and What to Do If You Have It

What is fungal acne? Like most people you are probably hearing a lot about this and googling “what is fungal acne?” When reading on the internet it is so confusing! So as any responsible scientist would do, I took a look at NCBI to see what has actually been studied or published on this.

Here’s some knowledge that hopefully will help to simply put your mind at ease.

What is fungal acne, how is it different from regular acne, and how to treat it?

Normal acne is caused by p acnes that lives on all of our skin but when it overgrows it causes the inflammation in your pore that leads to acne. When you have fungal acne, which is very rare, it is caused by a fungus, not a bacteria. The fungus is usually Malassezia which is the same fungus that causes dandruff. Normally fungal acne should not occur and is super rare because the microbiome of the skin/face should protect you. But when you take something or do something to your skin that damages your microbiome, then it is no longer able to protect you and then this fungus can grow on your skin.

How do you tell if you have fungal acne? You will get the bumps on your skin like normal acne but they will be very itchy, so that is the first clue that you might be experiencing fungal acne. Additionally, it will burn to the touch if it is really bad. But don’t depend just on this. We recommend going to a doctor to have it checked out. If a doctor does diagnose you with fungal acne they will likely prescribe an anti-fungal pill which you will take orally or they will prescribe a cream that you would apply to the skin. The good news is that fungal acne should respond very quickly to this type of treatment.

Just remember that fungal acne is super uncommon and is caused by a fungus, not a bacteria. It is quite itchy and if you think you have it go to a doctor to be sure as they can easily treat this with anti-fungal medications.

Thanks for taking the time to read and if you have any questions be sure to send us a note!

Phyla Acne Care What Is Fungal Acne

How Our Technology Works

To understand how our technology works, and why our approach is so revolutionary, let’s see how current acne products work. It’s important to note that the active ingredients in all acne products out there have an antibacterial effect – from over-the-counter products to strong prescription medication. Benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics simply kill all the bacteria they touch – they don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria. This isn’t a good option, because other than being very harsh on your skin, they cause massive disruptions in your microbiome, which can leave you susceptible to skin infections. Also these harsh measures inevitably lead to recurring acne, since the bad strains tend to be more resilient and craftier than the good guys. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone who’s had to deal with le zits?

Retinoids are some of the most effective acne treatments we have, and it works by remodeling skin. It shrinks your pores and drastically cuts down on oil production, so it literally shrinks and starves the P. acnes out of its home. Of course, the heavy helping of side effects of retinoids comes with include extreme dryness and skin irritation, birth defects, liver damage, depression and suicide. For an acne drug. Oh, the things we do for clear skin.

And the fact is, since acne occurs in our youth when our skin is resilient, we are so eager to get rid of it that we don’t think twice before we bombard our fragile skin with all sorts of intense and harmful chemicals. Harsh substances like benzoyl peroxide and retinoids have been shown to activate pro-inflammatory pathways in our skin, which are also involved in aging. So while you’re desperately trying everything under the sun to push the acne off your skin, you don’t realize that in 20 years you’ll be wondering why your skin looks so much worse than it should, and what you could have possibly done differently.

Salicylic acid is a gentler, milder option than these, and kills P. acnes indirectly. Since P. acnes is anaerobic, it needs a clogged pore (aka whiteheads and blackheads) to keep the oxygen out. Salicylic acid is keratolytic, which means it breaks up these clogs and exfoliates the skin, exposing the P. acnes to oxygen and stopping it in its tracks. It also lowers sebum secretions, and robs the P. acnes of some of its food.

So it seems like all these products try to limit the growth of P. acnes indirectly, but they all do this in an indiscriminate way, killing both good and bad bacteria and being incredibly harsh on acne skin that needs to be treated with TLC. In an ideal world, we would simply get rid of the acne-causing bacteria without disturbing the good community of bacteria on our skin. Ideally, we could do so without being harsh on the skin, treating it with the care and consideration it deserves. Ideally, we could use this soothing treatment that gently reshapes your microbiome to health, well, forever. Without side effects. Without redness and irritation. Without irreparably damaging your skin and aging it prematurely.

The thing is, your microbiome is kind of like a beautiful garden that you tend and nurture with care. One day, you see a weed in your lawn. What do you do: douse the whole garden in gasoline and set it on fire, or just scoop up the weed and replace it with a patch of grass? Every time you use benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics on your skin, you’re basically setting your microbiome on fire. And up until now, you’ve had no option.

Here’s where we come in. We’ve discovered a brand new type of skin probiotic, called a bacteriophage (phage, for short). It eats bacteria, and it’s incredibly specific. It’s found in our skin all the time; in fact, it’s found far more frequently on healthy skin, and there’s a hypothesis that its natural occurrence correlated with the absence of acne could mean that it causes some people to never break out. Its specificity means that it will never kill or inhibit the growth of neighboring good bacteria, and because it is naturally found on healthy skin, we know (and have proven) that it is incredibly gentle on your skin and can be used every day without any harsh side effects. More excitingly, since it specifically kills P. acnes only, you can now eat all the spicy food you want, sweat as much as you like, and there will be no overgrowth from the bacteria feasting on your sebum. This means that over time, as the phage continually reshapes and recalibrates your microbiome towards health, you will see the long-term benefits of being acne-free – in the healthiest and gentlest way imaginable.

We’ve figured out a way to keep the phage alive in our formulation, which is no mean feat, and we are the world’s first true skin probiotic – no ground-up dead bacteria, no bacteria from yogurt or dirt. Our probiotic is a microorganism that lives selectively on healthy skin, and is probably the cause of healthy skin. Maybe some people are born with it, but we want to democratize this probiotic and make it accessible to everyone – so that we all can have the great-looking healthy skin we deserve.

phage probiotic acne care

What Causes Acne?

Acne is a multifactorial disease, and there are many factors that contribute to its occurrence and severity. We all know that diet, stress, genetics, and hormones can affect acne – we’ve experienced most of these in our life. But these are all secondary factors that support the primary cause of acne, which is the overgrowth of a key bacteria in the ‘oily’ microbiome – Propionibacterium acnes. Confused? Let me explain.

Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes, is an anaerobic bacterium that lives deep within the pores of our oily skin. We generally think of our skin as this flat thin layer, but if you zoom in you can see that our skin has pores which are narrow, deep wells. In oily or sebaceous skin, which is your face, upper chest and upper back, each pore has a sebaceous gland that secretes an oily substance into the pore. P. acnes absolutely love this stuff – it is uniquely adapted to feed on this oil. Further, this oil accumulates and tends to block the pore, which seals off the pore from oxygen and gives P. acnes the anaerobic environment it needs to thrive. Due to the unique distribution of sebaceous glands, you can get acne on your face or back, but you’ll never get acne on your leg. (If you think you have acne on your leg, it’s not acne. See a doctor.)

So is P. acnes the enemy? Well, kinda. We’ve known for decades that P. acnes is intimately involved with acne, but for a long time we didn’t know exactly how. You see, every teenager and adult has a considerable amount of P. acnes on their face – it dominates our ‘oily’ microbiome. But obviously, all of us don’t have acne. Also, acne does not correlate with the amount of P. acnes on your skin – healthy skin can have more P. acnes than acne skin. Microbiome research has helped to solve this conundrum, when we discovered that all P. acnes are not made equal – there are many strains of this bacterium, and some strains (classified as ribotypes) are almost perfectly correlated with acne, while others are perfectly correlated with healthy skin. There are also ‘garden variety’ strains, which are present on almost everyone and sort of constitute the background of your microbiome. More importantly, an overgrowth of the bad strains triggers the inflammation that leads to acne, so the key to controlling acne is to keep the population of these bad strains in check.

So… how do those secondary factors figure in acne? Well, it turns out that all those factors – diet, stress, genetics, hormones – are linked to changes in skin chemistry, specifically in ways that affect the food for P. acnes. If you eat too much spicy food, or stress out or exercise in a way that makes you sweat more, you’re just providing more food for this bacteria. Some people are genetically predisposed to have oily skin or large pores, or sweat more – that’s a bacteria buffet. And hormones can change skin chemistry too, which stimulates the sebaceous glands to provide more microbial munchies. You get the idea.

Have more questions about what causes acne? Leave them in the comments for Dr. Yug Varma to answer below!