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Clean & Clear

Lemon Exfoliating Slices

45.00 pads for $ 5.99
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Clean & Clear really reinforces their latest line’s lemon theme with their Lemon Exfoliating Slices. The bright yellow jar holds 45 lemon-shaped textured pads steeped in a water-based solution that’s said to exfoliate skin. Unfortunately, the high amount of alcohol and pervasive fragrance make these pads better for washing windows than improving your complexion!

These lemon slices contain a high amount of the bad kind of alcohol -- drying SD alcohol (it’s the second ingredient), which is a problem for all skin types, as we explain in More Info below. This ingredient helps the pad’s solution dry quickly, but the damage done to skin with each use isn’t worth the trade-off.

As for the fragrance, it’s far closer to lemon candy (think Lemonheads) than a slice of fresh lemon, but in either case these aromas will only please your nose. See More Info to learn why daily use of highly fragrant products is a problem.

On the upside, these inexpensive pads do contain salicylic acid which is among the top leave-on ingredients to exfoliate skin. The solution’s pH of 3 means the salicylic acid can exfoliate and although Clean & Clear doesn’t indicate how much salicylic acid is present, we suspect the solution contains at least 1%, an effective amount.

Despite that ray of light, the amounts of alcohol and fragrance present in Lemon Exfoliating Slices don’t make this product worth choosing over a gentle yet effective BHA exfoliant to combat clogged pores and other issues. It’s particularly frustrating that everything about these pads, including their shape, reinforces the notion that using real lemon on skin is a good idea. It isn’t; lemon is highly irritating and can make skin more sensitive to sunlight.

One more comment: The jar these pads are packaged in will hinder the effectiveness of the vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate) these pads contain. However, given the formula, the packaging is the least of this product’s problems!

Pros:
  • Contains around 1% salicylic acid formulated within the right pH range.
  • Inexpensive.
Cons:
  • High amount of drying, irritating alcohol.
  • Strong, lingering fragrance poses a big risk of irritation.
  • Jar packaging hinders the effectiveness of the (low amount of) vitamin C.
  • Lemon-shaped slices reinforce the idea that putting irritating lemon fruit on your face is a good idea.

More Info:

Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.

When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we’re referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.

When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There’s no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.

The reason they’re included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it’s easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn’t lead to negative long-term outcomes!

Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin’s protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin. The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.

There are people who challenge us on the information we’ve presented about alcohol’s effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded “alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing….” But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.

Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you’ll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcoholstearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It’s important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.

References for this information:
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190

Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.

This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin’s barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin’s surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.

A surprising fact: Even though you can’t always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it’s not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don’t need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.

References for this information:
Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: Yes

Bright skin is one slice away! Specially formulated with lemon extract and Vitamin C, Lemon Exfoliating Slices gently cleanse and exfoliate to remove pore-clogging dirt and oil, leaving skin feeling clean and refreshed. These oil-free face scrubbing pads are suitable for all skin types and can be used every day to exfoliate skin and wash away debris. You don’t need to rinse, so they can go wherever you do.

Water, Isononyl Isononanoate, Isostearyl Palmitate, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Hexylene Glycol, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Sucrose Cocoate, Carbomer, PEG-4 Laurate, Sodium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Ethylhexylglycerin.

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 & Johnsonowned 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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