Clean & Clear

Advantage Mark Treatment

0.50 fl. oz. for $ 6.49
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Brand Overview

Red marks from past acne breakouts are a common problem, but this product is not a good solution. It does contain 2% salicylic acid (BHA) along with the AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) ingredient glycolic acid, and the formula’s pH allows exfoliation to occur (and regular exfoliation helps these red marks fade faster). Unfortunately, however, the base formula contains alcohol and witch hazel, both of which cause significant irritation, which makes red marks worse. Please see More Info for details on why irritation is a problem for all skin types, and a real negative for those struggling with breakouts.

  • Contains an effective amount of salicylic acid and is formulated at a pH that allows exfoliation.
  • Contains two potent skin irritants that make acne and the red marks it leaves behind worse.
  • Irritation from this product can stimulate excess oil production that leads to more breakouts, and, thus, more red marks.

More Info

Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation, which impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes vital substances your skin needs to stay young. Irritating ingredients stimulate excess oil production at the base of the pores, making oily skin and the accompanying breakouts worse, which in turn makes red marks from acne worse. So, products like this actually make matters worse.

For these reasons, it is best to minimize or eliminate as much as possible your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant anti-acne formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients.

Note that the list of inactive ingredients for this product is in alphabetical order rather than in descending order of content. This is permissible via U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standards because this product is regulated as an over-the-counter drug.

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

Treats breakouts fast. Diminishes the look of post acne marks. Recommended for daily use.

Active: Salicylic Acid (2%), Other: Alcohol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Bisabolol (L-Alpha), Butylene Glycol, C12 15 Alkyl Lactate, Cetyl Lactate, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Fragrance, Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana Leaf Extract (Witch Hazel), Isodecyl Laurate, Polyquaternium 37, Polysorbate 20, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Sodium Benzotriazole Butylphenyl Sulfonate, Sodium Hydroxide, Water

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.

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