Acne Triple Cleanse Exfoliating Scrub
Clean & Clear's Acne Triple Cleanse Exfoliating Scrub continues the brand's pattern of formulating problematic scrubs sold under the misleading idea that acne is about skin being dirty and can be scrubbed away.
The best thing we can say is that this cleansing scrub rinses without a residue. Its active ingredient of salicylic acid is a proven anti-acne superstar, but is of little use in a rinse-off product like this.
Even if blemishes got some benefit from the salicylic acid, this scrub also contains irritants such as menthol, peppermint, and a rather strong fragrance—a trio that can wind up making acne and clogged pores worse because irritation triggers more oil production.
It gets even worse because Clean & Clear chose one of the more drying detergent cleansing agents. It's one that can be OK for very oily skin, but even if that describes your skin, we can't recommend this scrub. See our list of Best Acne and Blemish Treatments for superior picks, including some from the drugstore.
- Rinses without a residue.
- The salicylic acid is rinsed from skin before it has much (if any) benefit.
- Contains a drying cleansing agent.
- Menthol, peppermint, and this scrub's strong fragrance can irritate skin.
- Acne cannot be scrubbed away.
Using harsh, irritating ingredients or cleansing brushes with stiff bristles is a serious problem for all skin types, especially for those with oily, combination, and acne-prone skin.
Research has clearly established that when skin is irritated, the oil gland at the base of each pore is stimulated to make more oil, creating a perfect environment for breakouts, white bumps, and clogged pores to get worse.
Using a product that is gentle and completely non-irritating is without question the only approach to taking the best care of your skin; doing otherwise hurts your skin—this is true even if you cannot see or feel the damage taking place.
It is also vitally important to use products that research has shown are beneficial for oily skin, clogged pores, and breakouts. The gold standard over-the-counter ingredients for these concerns are salicylic acid (BHA) and benzoyl peroxide.
References for this information:
Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology, January 2016, pages 25–30
Journal of European Dermatology and Venerology, May 2014, pages 527–532
Journal of Dermatology, May 2012, pages 433–438
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, April 2011, pages 41–53
Dermato-Endocrinology, January-March 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2004, page 764
Dermatology, January 2003, pages 17–23
European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2002, pages 422–427
Clean & Clear At-A-Glance
Strengths: Inexpensive; an excellent 10% benzoyl peroxide product; some very good cleansers.
Weaknesses: The majority of products contain irritating fragrant extracts, alcohol, menthol, menthyl lactate, or other problematic ingredients; below-average moisturizers; poor options for those struggling with breakouts or blackheads (at least if your goal is assembling a helpful skin-care routine using only Clean & Clear's products).
The name of this Johnson & Johnson-owned brand clearly communicates what it attempts to provide, and may seem to be a beacon of hope for consumers struggling with acne. The products are heavily marketed toward teens, with commercials and print ads featuring attractive young models with nary a blemish in sight, presumably because these fresh-faced teens adhere to a routine consisting of these attractively packaged products.
Although there are some great, inexpensive cleansers available, blemishes have nothing to do with how clean your skin is; the two issues are completely unrelated. The other failing is that unlike sister company Neutrogena (also owned by J&J), almost all of Clean & Clear's anti-acne products contain irritating ingredients that won't improve skin problems and end up making matters worse. Even a couple of the pH-correct BHA options are marred by troublesome ingredients that only make blemished skin more inflamed and impede the healing process. Moreover, the issue of sun protection is inadequately addressed, with the only option failing to provide sun protection without added irritants. What kind of message is that for teens trying to put together an effective skin-care routine? Clean skin is attainable from these products, but the company's road to "beautifully clear" skin has too many speed bumps to make this a one-stop destination for the blemish-prone.
For more information about Clean & Clear, call (877) 754-6411 or visit www.cleanandclear.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.