DRx Blemish Solutions Clarifying Mask with Colloidal Sulfur
Dr. Dennis Gross’s DRx Blemish Solutions Clarifying Mask with Colloidal Sulfur is an interesting product concept, but in trying to be too many things it ends up not being all that effective save for killing acne-causing bacteria and absorbing excess oil.
Housed in an opaque squeeze tube is a slightly creamy clay mask that spreads easily. You’re given three options to apply this: a thin layer to breakout-prone areas 1-3 times daily then rinse after 10 minutes, a thicker layer to leave on overnight as a deeper treatment, or as an overnight spot treatment on active breakouts and clogs.
Of those, the only one we can get behind is the 10 minute rinse-off option. That’s because the formula is medicated with 5% sulfur, a potent disinfectant that can kill acne-causing bacteria but at the cost of being too drying and irritating for most people. Benzoyl peroxide is preferred, as its potential side effects are generally minor compared to sulfur.
The clay (kaolin) ably absorbs excess oil but also keeps this mask from being deeply hydrating as claimed. That’s but one of the claims that sends this leave-on or rinse-off mask off in too many conflicting directions. Along with the sulfur for acne and the clay for oil absorption, this is also said to calm redness, reduce wrinkles, minimize pores, and reduce blackheads.
It does contain some soothing and anti-wrinkle ingredients to support those claims, but they’re intermingled with irritating rosemary oil (the long-lasting tingle it leaves is your skin telling you it’s being irritated) and the fragrance ingredient farnesol.
As for helping with pores, the clay’s effect on excess oil will make a temporary difference in pore size, but you’d be better off with a salicylic acid exfoliant and niacinamide treatment for lasting improvement in both pore size and function.
We’re also concerned that using this all over the face as an overnight mask will feel uncomfortable and that prolonged contact with sulfur could result in patches of dry, flaky skin--not good. On the positive side, whether you leave this on for 10 minutes or overnight, it rinses easily.
Note: The ingredient list we have on this site matches what was printed on the outer carton of the product, which differs from what some retailers are showing online.
- Absorbs excess oil.
- Opaque tube packaging keeps the delicate ingredients stable.
- 5% sulfur is a too-strong disinfectant, especially to leave on overnight.
- Rosemary oil is a mint-like irritant that produces a lingering tingle.
- The amount of clay (kaolin) keeps this from being deeply hydrating as claimed.
This overnight mask is time absorbent to draw sebum, pollutants, impurities, and bacteria out of skin while you are sleeping. It features an array of powerful yet gentle active ingredients that calm redness, smooth the look of wrinkles, and deeply hydrate. Great for all skin types, it reduces the appearance of pores, minimizes blackheads and blemishes, and enhances overall clarity for a refreshed complexion by morning.
Dr. Dennis GrossSkincare At-A-Glance
Strengths: Almost all of the products are fragrance-free; several serums and moisturizers contain a brilliant assortment of beneficial skin-care ingredients; all of the sunscreens contain sufficient UVA protection; almost all of the antioxidant-rich products are packaged to ensure stability and potency.
Weaknesses: Expensive; no effective AHA or BHA products (including the at-home peel the line is "known" for); problematic toner; incomplete selection of products to treat acne, and whats available is more irritating than helpful; a few "why bother?" products.
As you may have gleaned from the name, dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross created this skin-care line. Based in New York City, he claims that all of his products provide "maximum results without side effects," a statement any doctor should know better than to make. For instance, a consumer would logically assume, especially coming from a doctor, that "maximum results" means the products in question really will firm, lift, tighten, plump, or peel the skin. ButDr. Dennis GrossSkincare products don't provide maximum results, not in the least, and definitely not in any of the ways suggested by the marketing copy. In fact, although Gross includes some very impressive ingredients in his products, they cannot make good on the most enticing claims he makes for them.
As for the promise of "no side effects," that is easily refuted with a simple overview of his underachieving products. A quick summary: lavender oil can cause skin-cell death, sulfur is extremely irritating and drying to skin, ascorbic acid can be sensitizing, as can retinol, and the synthetic active sunscreen agents he uses can also present their share of problems. That's not to say that all of these ingredients are bad for skin (only the sulfur and lavender oil qualify for that description), but it's foolish to make a blanket statement that your cosmeceutical-type products are free of side effects. How could he possibly know what a person may react to?
Gross also asserts that he uses cutting-edge technology in his products, a point which I concede given the number of superior moisturizers and serums he offers, all of which compete nicely with other well-formulated products. His products are expensive, but if you're going to spend a lot of money on skin-care products, you should be purchasing state-of-the-art formulas, and these do rate. Of course, this technology (read: efficacious ingredients) doesn't extend to everyDr. Dennis GrossSkincare product, but overall this is one line whose formulas have improved considerably since the previous edition of this book, and that is excellent news!
Several of the products in this line contain emu oil. While there is research indicating that emu oil is a good emollient that can help heal skin, it is not that different from other oils that offer the same benefit, such as grape or olive or even mineral oil for that matter (Source: Australasian Journal of Dermatology, August 1996, pages 159161).
Last, please ignore the tired claim that these products are your alternative to surgical procedures and that they use medical-grade ingredients. Concerning the latter, there is no such thing; Gross uses the same cosmetic and over-the-counter active ingredients found throughout the cosmetics industry. And although his line offers some remarkable products, none of them can provide results equivalent to Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels, or laser treatments (and definitely not a face-lift).
Note: Unless mentioned otherwise, all MD Skincare products are fragrance-free.
For more information about Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, call (888) 830-7546 or visit the Web site at www.dgskincare.com.
NOTE: In Spring 2010, MD Skincare became Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare.
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.