This 3-step anti-acne system misses the mark and isn’t recommended for sensitive skin for a number of reasons.
Step 1, Corrective Acne Cleanser (4 fl. oz.) contains the anti-acne ingredient salicylic acid, which when used in a well-formulated leave-on product, can work beautifully to gently exfoliate skin. However, salicylic acid is far less effective for exfoliation, if at all, in a cleanser. That’s because it’s rinsed off before it can begin to work. If you are hoping for this cleanser to provide exfoliating benefits think again.
Some companies recommend leaving these types of cleansers on skin for a longer period of time so the salicylic acid can absorb, but that means the cleansing agents would also be left on too and that can cause dryness and irritation. AcneFree is making acne-fighting claims for this cleanser that aren’t likely to occur. In short, we don’t want you spending money on a product whose exfoliating ingredients probably can’t perform as it claimed.
Next is the Alcohol-Free Acne Toner (4 fl. oz.) which is a mix of good and problematic ingredients bound to leave sensitive skin confused. Truly a mixed bag, this toner has more pros (niacinamide, antioxidants and soothing agents) than cons (skin-aggravating citrus extracts) but it's still tricky to recommend for sensitive skin. It's an OK option for normal to oily skin that's not sensitive.
Last is the Hydrating Acne Repair Lotion + Spot Treatment (2 fl. oz.) which is medicated with 3% benzoyl peroxide. Although the amount of benzoyl peroxide is great and the lotion-like formula contains some soothing agents, it also contains the preservative methylisothiazolinone. This preservative is known to be sensitizing and is generally not recommended for use in leave-on products.
Note: The inactive ingredients for the cleanser and spot treatment in this system are listed in alphabetical rather than descending order. This is permissible because these products are regulated as an over-the-counter drugs. Although many companies selling OTC skin-care products have begun listing their ingredients in this manner, it doesn't make it any easier for the consumer to determine how much of a given ingredient they're applying to their skin.
References for this information:
JAMA Dermatology, January 2016, pages 67-72
Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia, 2014, issue 3, page 527
Actas-dermo-sifiliograficas, November 2014, pages 854-859
Cosmetics & Toiletries, 2014, issue 2, page 24
CMAJ, October 2013, page E71
For Adult and Teen Breakouts. The AcneFree Sensitive Skin 24 Hour Acne Clearing System is the only acne clearing regimen designed for sensitive skin. Consistent use controls new breakouts, reduces redness and eliminates blackheads around the clock.
CORRECTIVE ACNE CLEANSER
Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid 1.5%, Inactive Ingredients: Aminomethyl Propanol, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Bisabolol, Butylene Glycol, Ethyl Vanillin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Glycerin, Glycol Distearate, Polyacrylate-1 Crosspolymer, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Phytate, Sorbic Acid, Stearic Acid, Sea Whip Extract, Water/Aqua/Eau, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Zinc PCA.
ALCOHOL-FREE ACNE TONER
Water (Aqua), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sea Whip Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Bisabolol, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Salicylic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Benzalkonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Butylene Glycol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Isoceteth-20.
HYDRATING ACNE REPAIR LOTION + SPOT TREATMENT
Active Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide 3%, Inactive Ingredients: Allantoin, Bisabolol, Butylene Glycol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Ethyl Macadamiate, Glycerin, Jojoba Esters, Laureth-7, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Methyl Methacrylate/Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Methylisothiazolinone, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylamide, Propanediol, Sea Whip Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Water/Aqua/Eau, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract
Strengths: Some of the products in the kit are well formulated for mild to moderate acne; utilizes gold standard anti-acne ingredient benzoyl peroxide.
Weaknesses: None of the kits are all-in-one solutions for those with acne or blackheads (every kit has at least one problematic product that will make acne worse); none of the kits include a product with sunscreen (even those with oily, acne-prone skin need sun protection); no effective products with anti-acne salicylic acid.
AcneFree is a small group of skin-care products sold in sets. As you may have guessed from the brand name, this is a line that's all about treating acne. You'll find this brand in most major drugstores, but it's not the acne treatment system to beat!
Owned by University Medical Pharmaceuticals, you'd think these products would be a slam-dunk for acne, but they're not. Although the kits contain some good products, all of them feature at least one product that's not effective for its intended purpose or contains irritating ingredients that will make your acne worse.
Just because the company claims these kits (systems) are the #1 best-selling in America doesn't mean they work; rather, it means that a lot of consumers with acne are buying the wrong products. We understand the frustration of struggling with breakouts. You want something that works to get rid of them, and the faster the better. It would be great if AcneFree could make good on all of its promises, but it simply doesn't, at least not 100%.
For more information about AcneFree, call 1.800.321.4576 or visit www.acnefree.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!