The Regimen

Dr. Fulton Changed Everything About Skincare

Dr. Fulton reading a research paper in a lab

Exclusive photo from The Vivant Archive.


What is your must-have ingredient? Retinoids? Benzoyl peroxide? Mandelic acid? Vitamin C? It’s hard to imagine a typical skincare regimen that doesn’t include at least one of these crucial ingredients. Aside from their stellar results, what do each of these skincare superstars have in common? Dr. James Fulton. That’s right, Vivant’s formulator was instrumental in the development of each of these revolutionary skincare advancements and more.


Vitamin A Acid (Retinoids)

In the late sixties, scientists studying vitamin A acid had given up on its prospects for acne because they found it caused excessive peeling and appeared to flare up acne in the first weeks of use. Dr. Fulton, whose own struggles with acne had made him passionate about finding a solution, realized it was precisely those characteristics that made the retinoid work so well. The vitamin A acid peeled the skin’s surface and the lining of the follicle to clear the pore of impactions. The peeling, Dr. Fulton rightly surmised, was essential to the process, and the flare-ups were temporary as everything was brought to the surface.

The work led Dr. Fulton to co-develop the formula now known as Retin-A®. The breakthrough represented a revolutionary approach of topical treatment aimed right down into the pore where acne was forming. In the process, they found that vitamin A had great benefit for treating aging skin as well.


Vitamin A Propionate 

Retin-A® was a huge advancement for treating acne and aging skin, but it could be overly irritating and required a prescription. Dr. Fulton wanted to find a way to harness the treatment’s exceptional benefits without the irritation and make it available over the counter.  

The result of his efforts was vitamin A propionate. Dr. Fulton designed it to be close enough in molecular structure—just three carbon molecules away from retinoic acid (Retin-A®)—to allow it to reach the deeper levels of the skin to bring change that other retinols can’t, and to do it with minimal irritation. 

Dr. Fulton’s patented vitamin A Propionate is the closest you can get to Retin-A® without a prescription, and it’s the foundation of Vivant’s vitamin A therapies.

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Benzoyl Peroxide

This anti-bacterial, pore-peeling agent has been around in one form or another since 1905, but its unstable nature had made it virtually impossible to use. Carriers were greasy, messy, and occlusive. To improve its performance, BP was often distributed by pharmacists in a package separate from the carrier to be mixed just before use.

In 1970, Dr. Fulton changed all that when he developed a carrier vehicle in the form of a vanishing gel that kept benzoyl peroxide stable and maximized its beneficial properties, allowing benzoyl peroxide to become the most widely used acne treatment in the world today.

Shop Vivant Benzoyl Peroxide Products

Topical Erythromycin

Oral antibiotics were a mainstay of acne treatment from the 50s through the 70s despite the fact that they were minimally effective and produced some unpleasant side effects.  Dr. Fulton felt the antibiotic would be more beneficial applied to the skin where it could reach its target while minimizing side effects. In 1970, Dr. Fulton developed the gold standard topical erythromycin, reversing decades of dermatological theory.


Mandelic Acid

It used to be that people with darker skin tones had to choose between acne or hyperpigmentation because many of the best acne treatments of the day were melanin triggers. In working to find a solution for his patients, Dr. Fulton explored mandelic acid because of its non-irritating, anti-bacterial, and melanin-inhibiting properties. His pioneering work led to the first clinically-tested skincare products addressing the needs of black skin. 

Shop Vivant Mandelic Acid Products


Vitamin C

In 2004, studies were showing vitamin C to be particularly adept at neutralizing free radicals, enhancing UV protection, aiding in the synthesis of collagen, and inhibiting tyrosinase production to reduce excess melanin. Only one problem, vitamin C is a highly unstable ingredient. It rapidly oxidizes and loses potency. Having cracked the stabilization code with other ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, vitamin A and brightening agents, Dr. Fulton applied his knowledge and came up with a formula that allowed vitamin C to retain its potency even when exposed to light. He also determined that combining vitamin C with vitamin E enhanced the photoprotective effects of both to form a powerhouse serum. 

Shop Pure C + E


Alpha-Hydroxy Acids + Vitamin A

Dr. Fulton didn’t invent alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). But he was among the first to see their greater potential for skincare. He introduced the practice of combining AHAs with vitamin A for enhanced results. Vivant’s multi-tiered vitamin A corrective serums take advantage of the synergy between AHAs and vitamin A for unmatched transformative results.  

Shop Corrective Serums.

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