From Olay's Fresh Effects line (which is geared towards teenagers and young adults) comes this lineup of anti-acne products touted as being "better and faster than ProActiv" on their packaging. ProActiv is of course a line famous for its acne-fighting products, so Olay is clearly throwing down the gauntlet here! The problem is that none of the Fresh Effects Clear Skin acne products is distinguishable or better than a number of competing products from brands like ProActiv or Neutrogena.
We definitely give credit where it is due; this lightweight cream spot treatment contains 2% salicylic acid, one of the gold standards when it comes to treating acne breakouts. Even better, it's at a low enough pH where it can act effectively as an exfoliant.
The rest of the ingredients are a fairly standard mix of silicones, emulsifiers, and slip agents. The reason this didn't earn a higher rating from us is because it contains multiple fragrance extracts (such as orange and peppermint) plus added perfume. The best skincare, especially for acne-prone skin, is fragrance-free skincare.
Fragrance has the potential to cause irritation. Since acne is an inflammatory condition, irritation is the absolute last thing you want! See the More Info section for the details on why irritating ingredients can make breakouts and oily skin worse.
What a shame, because without the numerous fragrance ingredients, this would have been a good and affordable option for a salicylic acid spot treatment. As it stands though, it just doesn't measure up to the standards of the products you'll find on our list of Best BHA Exfoliants.
Inflammation in skin is usually related to external factors such as irritation that damages the skin's barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin happens it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2007). Those substances are specifically the kind that regulates the hormonal system of the body.
When this happens, it leads to the formation of inflammatory chemicals directly in the oil gland. These inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production, which can increase the size of the pore, and the likelihood of acne—the more inflammation that occurs, the worse the risk (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002 & Dermatology, 2003).
Bottom line: Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and more acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009 & Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).
Starting decades ago with the now-classic Oil of Olay, this brand now offers an extensive range of skin-care products sold at drugstores and mass-market stores. Today's Olay lineup for those concerned about staving off the effects of aging skin is impressive, comprising their Regenerist, Pro X, and Total Effects lines. All of these (and several other Olay products) contain the B vitamin niacinamide. As you might expect, the claims made for it are inflated, but niacinamide is a very helpful ingredient for all skin types, capable of exerting multiple benefits.
In fact, perhaps the biggest complaint about Olay is that there are a number of repetitive formulas within and between the sub-brands make this line confusing and tricky to shop! Still, there is a lot to like about this drugstore stalwart, with its main drawback being a few formulas containing fragrance or other ingredients that have the potential to cause irritation.
For more information about Olay, owned by Procter & Gamble, call (800) 285-5170 or visit www.olay.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!