Clean & Clear Advantage Daily Soothing Acne Scrub
5 fl. oz. for $5.99
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Brand Overview
Expert Reviews

First, we want to make it perfectly clear that scrubs aren't all that helpful for acne by themselves. Acne isn't about the skin being dirty, so scrubbing skin clean won't make breakouts go away—and depending on the scrub it may actually make them worse because overdoing a scrub can damage the skin's surface impeding healing and may make redness worse if the scrub is too abrasive.

Although medicated with 2% salicylic acid, that ingredient's anti-acne benefit is all but lost when present in a scrub because it would be rinsed off before it has a chance to absorb and work its magic. For best results, a leave-on product with salicylic acid will do much more to relieve blemishes and reduce redness from acne.

As for this scrub being soothing, it doesn't contain any significant anti-irritants; aloe and avocado don't have that benefit, especially not when present in such tiny amounts. Indeed, this contains more fragrance than it does the showcased plant extracts, and fragrance poses a risk of irritation (although less so in a rinse-off product).

So where does that leave us? It is a fairly gentle scrub (jojoba beads are the scrub ingredient) for normal to dry skin but the waxy ingredients it contains aren't the best for blemish prone skin.

  • Contains jojoba beads as the scrub ingredient, and these typically are gentle on skin.
  • Leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.
  • The 2% salicylic acid is rinsed from the skin before it can truly improve breakouts.
  • Acne cannot be scrubbed away, but using a scrub too zealously can make breakouts worse and prolong the healing process.
  • Despite the "soothing" theme, the fragranced formula falls short because fragrance can cause irritation.
Last Updated:02.14.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews

Clean skin should look good and feel good too. CLEAN & CLEAR® ADVANTAGE® Daily Soothing Acne Scrub brushes away dirt and oil and brings max-strength acne medicine to your face in an oh-so-soothing formula, with aloe and avocado. So you can be tough on acne, not your skin.


Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid (2%, Acne Medication) Inactive Ingredients: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Propanediol, Jojoba Esters, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Microcrystalline Wax, Fragrance, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract, Chromium Hydroxide Greens, Chromium Oxide Greens

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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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.

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