Clean & Clear Advantage Oil Absorbing Cream Cleanser Oil-Free
5 fl. oz. for $6.99
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Brand Overview
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Advantage Oil Absorbing Cream Cleanser Oil-Free is said to contain special particles that keep absorbing oil even after you’ve rinsed, but the fragranced formula contains some rather heavy ingredients that actually make it tricky to rinse completely. Perhaps their special oil-absorbing ingredient is the rice seed protein, but this has no special ability to cling to skin and keep absorbing excess oil long after you’ve cleansed your face. But that’s not the biggest issue…

As with many Clean & Clear cleaners, this contains menthol for its cooling, tingling sensation. Unfortunately, that sensation isn’t a benefit—it’s your skin telling you it’s being aggravated. The irony is that this effect can stimulate more oil production at the base of the pores, so, in essence, this cleanser that claims to absorb excess oil may end up making oily skin worse (see More Info to learn why)!

As for the salicylic acid that this cleanser contains, that’s a great anti-acne ingredient for exfoliation when used in a leave-on product, but it is far less effective for exfoliation, if at all, in a cleanser. That’s because it is rinsed off before it can begin to work. In other words, if you are hoping for this cleanser to provide exfoliating benefits think again.

See our Best Cleansers list for superior options. 

  • None.
  • Tricky to rinse completely.
  • Menthol-infused formula can aggravate skin.
  • Contains potentially sensitizing fragrance.
  • Doesn’t live up to claims.

More Info:

Whether you can see it on the surface of skin or not, using harsh, skin-aggravating ingredients is a serious problem for all skin types but uniquely so for those with oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin.

Research has clearly established that when skin is aggravated the oil gland is stimulated by nerve endings to make more oil creating a perfect environment for blemishes, breakouts, and clogged pores to get worse.

Using any product that’s gentle and completely non-irritating is without question the only approach to taking the best care of your skin; doing otherwise hurts your skin.

References for this information:

Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology, January 2016, pages 25-30

Journal of European Dermatology and Venerology, May 2014, pages 527-532

Journal of Dermatology, May 2012, pages 433-438

Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, April 2011, pages 41-53

Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2004, page 764

Dermatology, January 2003, issue 1, pages 17-23

 European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2002, pages 422-427

Last Updated:01.04.2017
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews

There are cleansers. And then there’s ADVANTAGE® Oil Absorbing Cream Cleanser, the only one with PowderParticles™ that absorb oil—even after you wash. The cleanser leaves you with a soft, powdery-finish that helps control oil so your skin stays less shiny all day.


Active: Salicylic Acid 0.5% (Acne Medication), Other: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Glycerin, Steareth 21, Titanium Dioxide, Polysorbate 60, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Seed Protein, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, C12 15 Alkyl Lactate, Menthol, Benzalkonium Chloride, Sodium Benzotriazolyl Butylphenol Sulfonate

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.

About the Experts

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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