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Proactiv Acne Solution Review

Updated on February 4, 2012

The Whole System OVERALL Received 3 Stars

Proactiv Acne Solution Review

If you have struggled with acne, spots, blackheads, pimples, or any other types of acne you might have considered trying out the (over-advertised) acne solution known as Proactiv, and yo might be wondering: "Does Proactiv work?" The 5 step kit includes:

  • Proactive Refining Mask
  • Renewing Cleanser
  • Revitalizing Toner
  • Repairing Lotion
  • Green Tea Moisturizer

However you may be surprised to hear what others are saying about Proactiv. I have read literally hundreds of reviews on Proactiv, to put together this review, and heard personal stories of success and disaster. When it comes to acne and pimples, Proactiv can either be a huge success or a disaster in a bottle for your skin. The one thing customers seemed to agree over and over again, is that Proactiv dries out skin. Check out some of the pros and cons below!

Please take note that the system comes in the basic 3-step package, but can be purchased in the full 5-step treatment. Individual products can be purchased also on Amazon.

Cons of Proactiv Acne Solution

  • Difficult to use
  • Must follow instructions precisely
  • Reddens and irritates skin
  • Expensive
  • Makes skin very dry and flakey for some
  • Some may experience burning sensation after use
  • Extremely bad and unreliable customer service*

Pros of Proactiv Acne Solution

  • Gets rid of blackheads
  • Smells good
  • Minimizes appearance of pores
  • Makes skin soft for some
  • Gets rid of acne if used exactly as instructions suggest.

*Many reviewers said it is best to just purchase the kit on Amazon, instead of using the official website, because it is hard to cancel your account and many people claimed that Proactiv kept charging their bank accounts months after they canceled their subscription with them. When they contacted customer services they were very unreliable to solve their issues.

This Product Received 4 Stars

Consistency of Proactiv Refining Mask
Consistency of Proactiv Refining Mask

Purchase the Proactiv Refining Mask

Proactive Refining Mask Review

This mask is very concentrated and should be used carefully according to instructions because the chemicals can be harsh on sensitive skin, and can even be drying to oily skin.

Many customers use this mask overnight and see a reduction in pimples in 2-3 days. However the mask does not prevent future breakouts it only treats existing ones.

The main ingredient in the refining mask is sulfur. Sulfur kills bacteria on the skin that causes acne which is mainly why it only treats existing breakouts. It does not penetrate the skin like other acne fighting ingredients such as benzyl peroxide. Read more about the benefits of benzyl peroxide in acne solutions here!

The Renewing Cleanser Received 3 Stars

Renewing Cleanser Review

The Renewing Cleanser should be used sparingly especially if you live in an area with a dry climate or a high altitude where moisture is more scarce. The product is very drying on the skin and can cause itchiness

This is another product in the kit that users have found very drying and causes flakiness on skin. It is not recommended on sensitive skin. (Most of this whole system is not recommended for dry skin just to be brief.)

The main ingredient in the Renewing Cleanser is 2.5% benzyl peroxide. Some people have experienced allergic reactions to this product so I have listed the full ingredients list here. Take a look before you purchase.

Other Ingredients: water (aqua), magnesium aluminum silicate, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, disodium dimethicone copolyol sulfosuccinate, sorbitol, dimethyl isosorbide, polyethylene, tridecyl stearate, neopentyl glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, tridecyl trimellitate, cetyl esters, anthemis nobilis flower extract, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, propylene glycol, xanthan gum, imidazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, propylparaben, fragrance (parfum).

The Revitalizing Toner Received 3 Stars

Revitalizing Toner Review

A great website for customer reviews provided the Pros and Cons for this section. Want to see the website for yourself? Check it out here.


  • Easy to apply
  • Soothing
  • Evens out skin tone


  • Dried out skin
  • Burned face
  • Made skin peel
  • Hurt
  • Loses effectiveness after a few months
The main ingredient in this product is glycolic acid, which removes dead skin cells and is supposed to get inside pores and unclog them.
Many customers and users have said that although the toner prepares your skin for the next step, the Repairing Solution, it tends to start to dry out skin overtime, yet this is not something new, as it happens to a lot of acne medications out there. The key is not to overuse it or it will start to burn, because the acne fighting ingredients in the whole system are harsher because they are designed to treat severe acne.

The Repairing Lotion Received 3 Stars

Repairing Lotion Review

This product, like the rest of the kit, is not recommended for sensitive or dry skin, because it is very drying even though the concentration of benzyl peroxide is only 2.5%. 

The instructions recommend using this lotion all over the face, but do not do this if you have sensitive or dry skin. The Proactiv system is not meant to be customizable to a persons skin, however this is something that can be tweaked around if you find your skin getting irritated. Try using it as a spot treatment and applying it only to the areas where most pimples appear. 

The Repairing Lotion should not be used with extra moisturizer if you have dry skin and decide to use this system anyway. Apply another moisturizer like Aloe Vera, or something light, in addition to the Green Tea Moisturizer that comes with the Proactiv kit.

The Green Tea Moisturizer Received 4.5 Stars

Green Tea Leaves
Green Tea Leaves

Green Tea Moisturizer Review

This product is highly recommended if you decide to use ANY of the Proactiv steps. Do not use the system without any kind of moisturizer. 

This moisturizer is very light however and many customers have found that they need an extra moisturizer to apply in the morning or right on top of the Green Tea Moisturizer.

Overall this product is considered to be a very goo moisturizer that soothes the skin and leaves it feeling refreshed. Plus, it contains no harsh chemicals!


  • Great smell
  • Absorbed into skin right away
  • Leaves skin smooth and soft
  • No greasy residue or feel
  • Great for dry skin
  • Reduces redness and irritation


  • Expensive
  • Small bottle size

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      First off, I'm in my early 20's and have combination type skin with occasional, mild to moderate acne. I used nearly two whole ProActiv systems before switching to the Citrus Clear Acne kit and have found that this clears up my skin much better and faster. I find it very convenient & I would recommend anyone with my acne/skin type who is thinking about subscribing to ProActiv to try Citrus Clear first.

      Anyway, the Citrus Clear kit lasts around 3 months for me.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      ..I never used proactive before and when I use thing to help my break outs and zits it always brings them up before removing them, I hope proactive really works. I love the 60 day if it doesn't work bring it back and I'm looking forward to buying it. :D

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have been wanting proactive for a long time and my skin always breaks out from skin care, I hate it how the website doesn't say the price but I'm going to try it and see if it works for the first time. Hope it goes good. :)

    • Londonlady profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Writes 

      6 years ago

      I can't personally comment on the effects of the ingredients on your skin, I can only tell you in my review what I thought of the system. I haven't reviewed the Advanced Blemish Treatment because I have never used it. I think a helpful resource for you might be their customer care line which you can call by going to their website.

      Hope this helps you out a bit

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Have you found anything in your research taht would indicate that someone could be allergic to the blemish treatment but not the 3 main products? I used the 3 main ones and didn't appear to have a problem, but suddenly i had this random, weird breakout on my forehead and so I tried the blemish treatment that I had been sent at some point, and then I started experiencing this burning, itching, hot feeling on my forehead and down into around my eyes. Are the amounts of benzoyl peroxide that much greater in the blemish treatment that it would be affecting me that much more than the 3 main products? Another note, I really only use proactiv as a routine cleansing skincare system, I am prone to blackheads but not severely, and have never had a problem with acne at all, like ever, and I'm 28. However, the proactiv 3 step sytem really seemed to make my skin glow and it just seemed incredibly different so I decided to keep using it, figuring if it worked well for those with severe acne then it would obviously make my skin look great since I didn't even have problem acne, just a zit here or there and some blackheads but largely attributed to large pores. So when I randomly got a breakout on my forehead (like clusters of tiny zits, have NEVER ever especially had a problem on my forehead--in fact, in basically my entire life, I can't even recall having a zit on my forehead! They've always been on my chin or cheeks, like on the fleshy part of my cheeks. So my forehead breaking out was just weird and that prompted me to use the blemish treatment, and now my face is on fire! So anyways, is the blemish treatment's ingredients that much higher than in the 3 step product? Any info would be appreciated! Thank you!


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