People have asked me about Proactiv® so much that I decided to try it so I could give my feedback. I found it to be surprisingly irritating and utterly ineffective. However, Proactiv is on the right track in recommending benzoyl peroxide, and specifically recommending it in 2.5% strength.
Where I think Proactiv veers off track:
- Cleanser: The Proactiv Cleanser contains scrubbing beads, and Proactiv recommends washing for 1-2 minutes with this cleanser. I am quite stunned at both of these oversights. It is absolutely vital to avoid irritation when treating acne, especially inflammatory acne—the kind most of us have. Scrubbing beads, and washing for this amount of time introduces unnecessary and damaging irritation, perpetuating the acne cycle.
- Toner: I think the Proactiv toner is fine, albeit unnecessary to achieve clear skin.
- Treatment: Over my 20+ years of benzoyl peroxide research and experience, I have found that for benzoyl peroxide to completely clear acne, people must apply it generously. “Use a lot!,” is my simple mantra. It is amazing what this simple act will do toward achieving completely clear skin. Unfortunately, Proactiv packages its treatment in a 1oz. container. The small size of Proactiv ’s treatment bottle leaves people skimping and often disappointed in results. Next, Proactiv combines their benzoyl peroxide treatment with moisturizer. One of the main reasons benzoyl peroxide works so well is because it is a drying and peeling agent, which helps prevent clogged pores. For this reason, it is a good idea to apply benzoyl peroxide without moisturizer, and let the benzoyl peroxide do its thing for a few minutes (5-15) before introducing moisture. Unfortunately, you don’t have that choice with the Proactiv treatment. Lastly, the treatment is heavily scented. I personally avoid scented products because they must be applied right under the nose, and tend to linger and leave me feeling a little nauseated throughout the day.
My suggestion: To completely clear acne, it will prove far more beneficial to buy a gentle cleanser without scrubbing beads, a large, unscented 2.5% benzoyl peroxide medication, and a non-comedogenic moisturizer. Then follow these steps precisely to achieve completely clear skin.
If you currently own Proactiv Solution products, don't throw out the Repairing Treatment. If you can handle the smell, it should work in a pinch, as long as you are generous with it. I would not recommend using the Proactiv cleanser. I would also forgo the toner until you’re completely clear. Then feel free to add it in if you’d like and see how things go.
As a final note, I am thankful that Proactiv hires celebrities to talk about acne. This helps reduce stigma, so thumbs up on that!