Clean & Clear Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
5 fl. oz. for $6.99
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Brand Overview
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This cleansing scrub is an all-around mess of a formula that’s all but guaranteed to make acne and redness from breakouts worse. It’s medicated with 5% benzoyl peroxide, the gold standard ingredient for killing acne-causing bacteria; however, in a cleanser that’s rinsed from the skin, its impact will be minor at best.

The formula contains a drying detergent cleansing agent (sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate) along with fragrance, and the potent irritant menthol. Please see More Info to learn why irritation is a problem for all skin types.

The scrub ingredient is polyethylene, which is great; however, acne cannot be scrubbed away, and the fact that this contains mineral oil along with petrolatum (that’s Vaseline) makes it difficult to rinse, plus it can leave your skin feeling greasy.

It’s really hard to believe that after several permutations of their anti-acne products, Clean & Clear comes up with this absurd combination of ingredients for acne.

  • None.
  • The active ingredient (benzoyl peroxide) is rinsed from skin before it can offer much benefit.
  • Contains the drying cleansing agent sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, and drying skin hurts healing.
  • Fragrance and menthol irritates skin, which makes redness worse.
  • Difficult to rinse because it contains mineral and petrolatum (Vaseline) oils.

More Info

Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation, which impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes vital substances your skin needs to stay young. Irritating ingredients stimulate excess oil production at the base of the pores, making oily skin and the accompanying breakouts worse.

For these reasons, it is best to minimize or eliminate as much as possible your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant anti-acne formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients.

Note that the list of inactive ingredients for this product is ordered alphabetically rather than in descending order of content. This is permissible via U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standards because this product is regulated as an over-the-counter drug.

Last Updated:11.20.2013
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews

ADVANTAGE 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser is a daily scrub that allows micro-beads to slough away dead skin and unclog pores. The innovative formula combines a key acne-fighting ingredient to treat acne while helping to prevent future breakouts.


Active: Benzoyl Peroxide (5%), Other: Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Crosspolymer, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Carbomer, Fragrance, Glycerin, Menthol, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Polyethylene, Potassium Polyphosphate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Sulfate, Titanium Dioxide, Water, Zinc Lactate

Brand Overview

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 & Johnson–owned 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.

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