Fresh Effects Clear Skin Spot Zinger

0.50 fl. oz. for $ 6.99
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Brand Overview

From Olay's Fresh Effects line (which is geared towards teenagers and young adults) comes this lineup of anti-acne products touted as being "better and faster than ProActiv" on their packaging. ProActiv is of course a line famous for its acne-fighting products, so Olay is clearly throwing down the gauntlet here! The problem is that none of the Fresh Effects Clear Skin acne products is distinguishable or better than a number of competing products from brands like ProActiv or Neutrogena.

We definitely give credit where it is due; this lightweight cream spot treatment contains 2% salicylic acid, one of the gold standards when it comes to treating acne breakouts. Even better, it's at a low enough pH where it can act effectively as an exfoliant.

The rest of the ingredients are a fairly standard mix of silicones, emulsifiers, and slip agents. The reason this didn't earn a higher rating from us is because it contains multiple fragrance extracts (such as orange and peppermint) plus added perfume. The best skincare, especially for acne-prone skin, is fragrance-free skincare.

Fragrance has the potential to cause irritation. Since acne is an inflammatory condition, irritation is the absolute last thing you want! See the More Info section for the details on why irritating ingredients can make breakouts and oily skin worse.

What a shame, because without the numerous fragrance ingredients, this would have been a good and affordable option for a salicylic acid spot treatment. As it stands though, it just doesn't measure up to the standards of the products you'll find on our list of Best BHA Exfoliants.


  • Contains 2% salicylic acid at a pH where it can be effective as an exfoliant.


  • Contains fragrance, which could potentially irritate skin and worsen breakouts.

More Info:

Inflammation in skin is usually related to external factors such as irritation that damages the skin's barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin happens it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2007). Those substances are specifically the kind that regulates the hormonal system of the body.

When this happens, it leads to the formation of inflammatory chemicals directly in the oil gland. These inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production, which can increase the size of the pore, and the likelihood of acne—the more inflammation that occurs, the worse the risk (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002 & Dermatology, 2003).

Bottom line: Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and more acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009 & Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes
Instantly battle and blur blemishes! With the essences of citrus & mint, this targeted blemish treatment instantly improves skins appearance while delivering a 2% salicylic acid treatment to win the war on blemishes. Our lightweight, quick-absorbing formula penetrates deep into pores to help control blemishes and prevent new acne from forming.
Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid 2%. Inactive Ingredients: Water, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Titanium Dioxide, C13014 Isoparaffin, Talc, Stearyl Alcohol, Dimethiconol, Isohexadecane, Decylene Glycol, Steareth-21, Laureth-7, Fragrance/Parfum, Disodium EDTA, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Extract, Mentha Peperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract.

Olay At-A-Glance

Starting decades ago with the now-classic Oil of Olay, this brand now offers an extensive range of skin-care products sold at drugstores and mass-market stores. Today's Olay lineup for those concerned about staving off the effects of aging skin is impressive, comprising their Regenerist, Pro X, and Total Effects lines. All of these (and several other Olay products) contain the B vitamin niacinamide. As you might expect, the claims made for it are inflated, but niacinamide is a very helpful ingredient for all skin types, capable of exerting multiple benefits.

In fact, perhaps the biggest complaint about Olay is that there are a number of repetitive formulas within and between the sub-brands make this line confusing and tricky to shop! Still, there is a lot to like about this drugstore stalwart, with its main drawback being a few formulas containing fragrance or other ingredients that have the potential to cause irritation.

For more information about Olay, owned by Procter & Gamble, call (800) 285-5170 or visit www.olay.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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