Proactiv and Proactiv+

Skin Revitalizing Pads

90.00 for $ 65.00
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Brand Overview

Skin Revitalizing Pads are an interesting, somewhat cumbersome way to get the anti-aging benefits of retinol along with some plant-based antioxidants which also function as anti-irritants. What’s interesting is the process of putting this together and wondering why ProActiv+ packaged it the way they did.

Housed in one box is a set of three 1-ounce bottles of a liquid labeled as Skin  Revitalizing Solution and cotton pads. You’re directed to pour the entire contents of the bottle (which contains the retinol in a fragrance-free solution) over 30 pads, which are housed in a plastic jar. If you’re wondering why we list this product as providing 90 pads, it’s because in addition to the supply of 30 pads pre-packaged in the jar, ProActiv+ also provides 60 additional pads (in packs of 30) to use with the other bottles of Skin Revitalizing Solution.

Normally we wouldn’t recommend a retinol product housed the jar packaging because retinol is light- and air-sensitive, so breaks down fairly fast. Although the choice of jar packaging isn’t ideal, the company does advise using the 30 pads within a month of them being saturated. Is that a guarantee the retinol will stay potent? Not exactly—but at least they’ve provided a helpful guideline to go along with their less-than-ideal packaging, and in all likelihood some potency remains as you reach the end of a month’s use.

Of course, you also have the option of opening one bottle at a time and pouring a small amount on a single pad per use. This option stands  better chance of keeping the retinol active and stable, as the brown bottles and label do a good job of shielding the retinol from degradation.

Skin Revitalizing Pads are suitable for all skin types; however, you’ll find superior retinol products in more robust packaging on our list of Best Retinol Products.


Seems pricey but you get three solid months of use.

Contains retinol along with plant-based antioxidants in a lightweight solution.

The third ingredient (ethoxydiglycol) enhances the penetration of retinol.



The packaging is less than ideal for keeping the retinol stable during use.

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

Our Skin Revitalizing Pads contain an exclusive blend that combines the exfoliating power of retinol with the soothing properties of green tea, chamomile, cucumber and aloe. Together, they help gently lift away dead, dulling surface cellsrevealing the radiant, youthful-looking skin beneath. Designed to encourage cellular turnover to help reduce the visible signs of aging.

Water, Polysorbate 20, Ethoxydiglycol, Retinol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.

Proactiv Solution At-A-Glance

Strengths: Effective, elegant-textured AHA, BHA, and skin-brightening options; all sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection; good options for controlling excess oil breakthrough, including a colorless pressed powder.

Weaknesses: Several products contain irritating ingredients that do not help acne-prone skin; some gimmicky products that no dermatologist-created line should be selling (they should know better); mostly substandard to poor makeup options, including a sulfur-based concealer.

Created by dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Proactiv launched in 1995 as a three-step system sold via infomercial. With the doctors' endorsements and winning personalities along with a heap of testimonials from people who use the routine (including a rotating list of celebrities, which always garners attention), Proactiv remains a very successful brand that is still going strong. The effusiveness, medical background, accurate information about how acne forms, and sincerity of its creators definitely makes for compelling television (we admit to catching the infomercial on more than one sleepless night), but what about the products themselves? Are they the answer the ads promise?

The core system consists of a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide and scrub particles, a toner with glycolic acid, and a lotion that contains a low (but still effective) amount of benzoyl peroxide. No questions here, this is a straightforward routine and hardly unique to Proactiv! Some percentage of people will benefit from daily use of this system (it contains the basics that are necessary for over-the-counter treatment of acne), but it's definitely not for everyone, and every dermatologist knows that (just check out the American Academy of Dermatology Web site at www.aad.org, for example, on their recommendations for battling blemishes).

It also goes without saying that other lines offer many less expensive versions of all the Proactiv products. However, for those who choose this system, the key is compliance, at least as long as you're seeing good results. Anyone battling acne needs to know that, barring a successful experience with the prescription drug Accutane, it cannot be cured, only controlled. We don't doubt that many people have seen their acne respond positively to a daily routine of the core Proactiv products, and for some it has been a life-changing experience, but it's not the answer for acne for everyone.

Although they still appear in ads and literature for the brand, Drs. Rodan and Fields have branched out to create their own namesake line, reviewed elsewhere on this site.While the Rodan + Fields line is not acne-centric like Proactiv, they did include products for blemishes, a few of which are similar to but more expensive than their Proactiv counterparts. And of course, this dual branding begs the question: if Rodan and Fields believe that Proactiv is the best option for those struggling with acne, why did they create alternative products in their namesake line? Why not just mention to Rodan + Fields customers dealing with acne that the Proactiv line has exactly what they need?

Along with Proactiv and the namesame Rodan and Fields line, these dermatologists also created Proactiv+, which is supposed to be smarter and faster than original Proactiv. For the most part, these products are quite similar, they just have a stronger emphasis on anti-aging issues such as uneven skin tone and enlarged pores from sun damage. We wish these products were more compelling, but many of them are truly problematic and not something two reputable dermatologists should feel comfortable putting their names on.

For more information about Proactiv, call (800) 876-9717 or visit www.proactiv.com. For more information about Proactiv+, visit www.proactivplus.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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