There is a reason that people with acne are described as sufferers. There are undoubtedly many far more debilitating conditions, but a recent study found that the impact on the acne sufferers’ lives is at least as great as that of patients with chronic disabling asthma, epilepsy or arthritis. 85% of adolescents – as bewildering a stage of life as any without the added horrors of having your face colonised by angry spots and lumps – are afflicted to some degree, and the rise in adult acne has been described as an epidemic, with up to 50% of those over 40 affected. Acne develops when the body’s immune system creates an inflammatory response due in the main part to high androgenic hormone levels, but the recent increase has also been attributed to a combination of stress and lifestyle issues, such as smoking and poor dietary habits. In a society obsessed with looking good, this unsightly problem can cause severe depression, anxiety and self confidence issues, ironically the possible cause for the condition in the first place. Thankfully, Scottish company AMBICARE have the solution.
CEO Graeme Low joined the business in 2013. ‘AMBICARE was formed in 2004. The founders – two highly distinguished Professors of Physics and Dermatology respectively – and working out of the University of St Andrews and Ninewells Hospital (recognised as one of the pre-eminent European Centres of Excellence in the field of Dermatology), had long concentrated on clinical trials – mainly for Japanese pharmaceutical companies – looking at the effect of sunlight on drug compounds. They realised that they could replicate the outpatient clinical experience and, having secured a grant from Scottish Enterprise, started the company with the initial focus on using light therapy in the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers’.
With this technological expertise, the team decided to shift their focus onto the huge – for want of a better word – market of spots. In 2016, the US spent $4.9bn on acne treatment with each individual spending on average a whopping $300 – 1,000 a year alone. It has long been understood that light can significantly help when treating acne, though in the case of its natural source – the dreaded sun – it can also cause skin cancer. And so the LUSTRE range was developed: consisting of two products, all with an FDA-cleared, risk free blue light. An instant hit, they are listed on Amazon and Boots.com (selling so well that Boots stock it in their top 250 stores) and consistently get rave reviews (the current overall aggregate shows 91% of all ratings are 4 or 5 star).
‘We have sold in the region of 4,000 units’, continues Graeme, ‘and this has proven highly successful from the technical, clinical and user perspectives because, quite simply, it works. However, they are very expensive to manufacture (and thus have a high retail price) and some users (think the anxious teen) find that the treatment heads, which are connected to the controller by wires, unattractive. We acknowledged this factor and have created a shift in the design by launching the LUSTRE SOLO.
The new design will be just as proficient and have the same clinical efficacy as the current products but with some key differences: SOLO can be charged from any device with a USB port, it doesn’t require a separate controller thus eliminating the need for wires and the manufacturing cost has been reduced by almost 90%, which in turn will make its retail price much lower. SOLO will continue AMBICARE’s unique ‘wearable’ technology family – with the adhesive strips, the user just has to stick them onto their skin rather than having to hold the device, thus minimising disruption to their daily routine. SOLO can also be attached anywhere on the body where there is an outbreak of spots compared to the rival Neutrogena light mask that is limited to the face only. Finally, this ambulatory feature means the user can get on with their life knowing they are receiving a precise dosage of blue light for the necessary amount of time, guaranteeing results in twelve weeks’.