This four-product system is meant to be used as a daily skin-care routine to treat and prevent severe acne, although typically severe acne requires prescription products from your doctor, especially if it is cystic acne.
As is often the case with anti-acne kits, you’re getting a mix of helpful and harmful products that, when used together, offer little hope of improving acne or its red marks. However, among the sets AcneFree sells, this one has the fewest problematic products. That’s great, but the set lacks a well-formulated BHA (salicylic acid) product, which is essential for improving severe acne and blackheads.
First is the Antibacterial Cleansing Wash (4 fl. oz.). Although this cleanser is medicated with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, its contact with your skin is too brief for it to effectively kill acne-causing bacteria. The base formula is fine for normal to combination or oily skin, but you must be sure to keep it away from the eye area. It contains fragrance in the form of farnesol.
Step two is the Corrective Toner (4 fl. oz.), which isn’t corrective in the least, and will in fact hurt your skin due to the irritation from the alcohol and witch hazel. This irritation leads to increased oil production at the base of the pore and can make redness (and red marks from acne) worse.
This formula also contains the AHA glycolic acid, but the amount is likely too low for it to exfoliate, not to mention that you don’t have to tolerate potent irritants like alcohol and witch hazel to get the benefits of AHA (though BHA, also known as salicylic acid, is preferred for acne).
After using the toner you’re directed to apply the Maximum Strength Repair Lotion (2 fl. oz.). This lightweight, fragrance-free lotion is medicated with 10% benzoyl peroxide. Although it does kill acne-causing bacteria, this relatively high concentration of benzoyl peroxide can be needlessly drying, especially when used right after the Corrective Toner in this set. Research has shown that there is little benefit, and potentially negative results, from using a 10% concentration of benzoyl peroxide.
Most people with acne will find their blemishes respond best to topical disinfectants with 2.5%–5% benzoyl peroxide. If these amounts don’t help, your next step should be to speak with your physician about a prescription topical product, which may be necessary anyway if your acne is truly severe.
The final product is Retinol Renewal Complex (1 fl. oz.), a fragrance-free moisturizer that contains retinol in a creamy base that likely will be too rich for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It’s an OK formula, but you’d do better with a lightweight moisturizer or serum that contains retinol without the potentially problematic ginger root extract Retinol Renewal Complex has. Last, this product contains methylisothiazolinone, a sensitizing preservative not recommended for use in leave-on products (Source: Contact Dermatitis, November 2011, pages 276-285).
ANTI-ACNE CLEANSING WASH This oil-free formula removes dead skin cells and excess oil than can lead to severe acne. Leaves skin feeling fresh and clean. Prescription-grade Micro-Benzoyl Peroxide eliminates acne bacteria. - See more at: http://www.acnefree.com/acne-treatment/severe-acne-24-hour-acne-clearing-system?tab=product-details#sthash.KRsYl2Vj.dpuf
CORRECTIVE TONER Irritation in acne-troubled skin can cause blemishes to worsen, last longer and heal slower. This corrective toner helps refresh skin and gently removes excess surface oils.
MAXIMUM STRENGTH REPAIR LOTION Releases Advanced 10% Micro-Benzoyl Peroxide medication deep within the affected pores to fight acne-causing bacteria and helps reduce excess oil production. Treats existing acne breakouts and helps stop new outbreaks before they start.
RETINOL COMPLEX Contains a skin-soothing formula for significantly less irritation. Gently exfoliates for healthy skin renewal, helping skin look smoother, clearer and healthier. Keeps pores open and “breathing”, allowing oxygen in, which soothes and relieves skin for a healthier appearance.
Antibacterial Cleansing Wash
Active Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%, Inactive Ingredients: Water, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Bakuchiol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Bisabolol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Naringenin, Sea Whip Extract, Polyethylene, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate. Sodium Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Farnesol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Methylisothiazolinone
Water/Aqua/Eau, Alcohol Denat., Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sorbitol, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Lactic Acid, Benzalkonium Chloride, Sea Whip Extract, Bisabolol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower/Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Copper PCA, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Methylisothiazolinone.
Maximum Strength Repair Lotion
Active Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide 10%, Inactive Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Bisabolol, Bakuchiol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Benzalkonium Chloride, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Naringenin, Sea Whip Extract, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Dimethicone, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Methyl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Methylisothiazolinone
Retinol Renewal Complex
Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Cetearyl, Ceteareth-20, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Retinol, Allantoin, Sea Whip Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Bisabolol, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol, Polysorbate-20, Cetyl Palmitate, Ceramide-3, Allyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 20, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Methylisothiazolinone
Strengths: Some of the products in the kit are well formulated for mild to moderate acne; utilizes gold standard anti-acne ingredient benzoyl peroxide.
Weaknesses: None of the kits are all-in-one solutions for those with acne or blackheads (every kit has at least one problematic product that will make acne worse); none of the kits include a product with sunscreen (even those with oily, acne-prone skin need sun protection); no effective products with anti-acne salicylic acid.
AcneFree is a small group of skin-care products sold in sets. As you may have guessed from the brand name, this is a line that's all about treating acne. You'll find this brand in most major drugstores, but it's not the acne treatment system to beat!
Owned by University Medical Pharmaceuticals, you'd think these products would be a slam-dunk for acne, but they're not. Although the kits contain some good products, all of them feature at least one product that's not effective for its intended purpose or contains irritating ingredients that will make your acne worse.
Just because the company claims these kits (systems) are the #1 best-selling in America doesn't mean they work; rather, it means that a lot of consumers with acne are buying the wrong products. We understand the frustration of struggling with breakouts. You want something that works to get rid of them, and the faster the better. It would be great if AcneFree could make good on all of its promises, but it simply doesn't, at least not 100%.
For more information about AcneFree, call 1.800.321.4576 or visit www.acnefree.com.
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