The long-living, desert dwelling creosote bush produces something called nordihydroguaiaretic acid. Mercifully, this tongue-twister is mostly known as NDGA. For the last 20 years, it has been established as a potent antioxidant. However, recently it has also been identified as a weapon in the fight against acne.

NGA's anti-aging credentials go back to a 1986 study that involved feeding female mosquitos NDGA to test the effect on their average life span. While the usual mosquito life span was 29 days, the NDGA-fed mosquitoes lived an average of 45 days—an increase of 50 percent. A similar experiment on mice was also successful.

Unfortunately, taking it as a supplement to prolong your life could be a bad idea as ingested NDGA turns out to be toxic (it was, for this reason, banned as a preservative in the early 1960s).

Still this useful compound is very helpful if applied topically. It was widely used by Native Americans as a sunscreen and a protective agent against keratosis caused by exposure to UV rays. As an antioxidant, nordihydroguaiaretic acid has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties for skin. A 2006 study found that this compound suppresses growth in breast cancer cells by inhibiting the function of key receptors.

Recently, NDGA was teamed up with oleanolic acid as an acne treatment in a product called AC Net. The  oleanolic acid inhibits 5-A reductase to fight hyperseborrhea, while the NDGA is a cell growth regulator that inhibits hyperkeratosis (excessive build-up of skin cells on the surface of the skin) and inflammation. The AC NET also helps to control bacterial growth.

According to Sederma, the company that makes AC NET, trials have shown that it can shut down excess production of sebum by 54.1%, and reduce inflammation in the skin by up to 72%. Inactivation of bacteria and yeast infections, which commonly cause acne, pimples and zits, was an impressive 100%. The studies showed that it also corrected the abnormal shedding of skin cells (hyperkeratinization), which causes skin pores to clog - that would be NDGA's job.

It is in Skinfinite Platinum PM Cream 1% Retinol ($63 in the shop).