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Proactive Review - Proactive Solution for Acne

Updated on August 7, 2009

The Proactive Solution for Acne is one of the best selling acne skin care products on the market today. The 3-step system promises to clear up acne and improve the appearance of skin, but does it really work? 

The goal of any acne treatment is to keep skin clean and keep pores unclogged. When pores get clogged with dirt and oil, they can become infected, and this causes pimples, blackheads, and other breakouts. 

The Proactive Solution for Acne consists of a cleanser, a toner, and a solution that are supposed to be used twice a day: morning and evening. Proactive also offers other acne skin care products, including a Refining Mask, a Green Tea Moisturizer, Oil-Free SPF 15 Moisturizer, and a Daily Oil Control Lotion.

In this Proactive review, I will focus on the 3-step Proactive System.

Proactive Review
Proactive Review

Proactive System

Step 1: Renewing Cleanser

This cleanser is both an exfoliator (with little beads that scrub the skin) and a medicated cleanser. It contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is an anti-bacterial product that is designed to kill the bacteria that cause breakouts.

Step 2: Revitalizing Toner

This toner is applied after using the cleanser. It contains various botanical ingredients, which claim to refine and soften skin. The important ingredient is glycolic acid, which is an alpha-hydroxy acid that chemically dissolves the dead skin cells that can clog pores and lead to breakouts. Glycolic acid also promotes cell turnover, meaning that it smooths out the overall texture of the skin.

Step 3: Repairing Lotion 

This is an oil-free lotion that contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, the same anti-bacterial found in the Renewing Cleanser. 

Proactive Review

I used the Proactive Solution for Acne a few years ago, when my acne was very bad, and I was not happy with the results. I felt that it irritated my skin and did not get rid of my acne as the commercial promised. I've done a lot of research and used a lot of acne skin care products, and I've finally figured out why Proactive didn't work for me -- and why it probably won't work for you.

The main reason why Proactive doesn't work as well as they claim is that it is too harsh and irritates skin. A lot of the redness and small bumps on my face that I used to think were acne are actually just irritated skin from using products that were too strong. All the Proactive products contain powerful ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin.

The first problem is the cleanser. It has been shown that medicated cleansers do not really help the skin because the medication does not have enough time to penetrate the pores. But, medicated cleansers are harsh enough that they can irritate the skin.

The next problem is the toner. It contains glycolic acid, which is again a strong irritant for sensitive skin. Using an acid-based exfoliant is a good way to unclog pores, but salicylic acid does a much better job on oily skin than glycolic acid. That is because salicylic acid is oil soluble and can do a much better job unclogging oily pores. 

The repairing lotion is actually an okay product. The concentration of benzoyl peroxide is high enough to kill bacteria, but low enough not to irritate skin too much. However, I think that using the lotion twice a day is a bad idea. It makes the skin very sensitive to sunlight, which is a problem if it's put on in the morning. Also, I've found that benzoyl peroxide is better as a spot-treatment because it does not prevent breakouts as well as salicylic acid does. 

Instead of Proactive, I suggest you check out this acne skin treatment. The products I recommend are the result of all my research and testing (on myself, over many frustrating years...). They're all available at your local drugstore and probably cheaper than Proactive, too. 

More Acne Product Reviews

You can get more acne product reviews and read about my favorite acne home treatments on my blog.


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    • profile image

      PerryK 4 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

      vishnu shelar 5 years ago

      tri these product proactive solution give me set my contac no.9930888338

    • profile image

      tony 6 years ago

      Proactiv does not work

      I tried it one year ago for a whole month

      Acne got worse

      Do not waste your money!!!

    • profile image

      chris 6 years ago

      Buyer beware!! They will keep billing you without your permission!! Half tempted to file a lawsuit!

    • profile image

      James 7 years ago

      U guys need to be careful when purchasing proactive products espeacially giving out credit card information. They will trick you and keep sending you products even now and then. I have been trying to cancel it but they still keep sending me. It is so annoying with how they do their business.

      The products irritated my skin so badly too

    • profile image

      Lisa/Jeremy's mom 7 years ago

      Proactiv works for people with more mild acne like my daughter. It did not work for my son. We use a lot of the acne products and they seem to help although after trying 8 skincare lines we realized that my son needed help internally. He is currently taking apple cider vinegar capsules and evening primrose oil as described on itjusmeli's hub on the apple cider vinegar cure. It has helped him, but not cleared him entirely.

    • profile image

      tam 8 years ago

      i used proacitv for 3 months and my skin cleared up but after 3 months and with continous use i started breaking out again, my skin became immune to the product and stopped working, proactiv is good but it seems like a short term solution

    • profile image

      John 8 years ago

      after i saw and read the promising results of proactive it the internet and tv. im all desperate to have and try the product, but after reading your hub, i realize something.. hehe besides that product has a very high price.. tnx on your info. its a very good hub^^

    • ManekiNeko profile image

      ManekiNeko 8 years ago from USA

      I agree that hormones play a huge role Gypsy Willow. For girls, going on the pill helps a lot, but that's not really an option for your son. :) Ultimately, it all comes together (what's inside and what's outside), so it helps to do the best you can on all fronts.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      I shall tell my spotty son to try your recommended products. I do feel that hormones and diet play a big part in bad skin. I'm sure they were for me. Good subject, good hub, thanks