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.
This cream mattifier is packaged in a clear pump, where you can see swirls of a white cream along with a pale green cream. When you press the pump, both creams come out together as one. The green tint is supposed to neutralize redness, though it doesn't make any significant impact (if you have a lot of redness, whether from past breakouts or concerns like rosacea, this will not hide it). The good news though is since it dries clear, you won't have to worry about looking sickly!
Once dried, this does indeed have a mattifying effect on skin, causing imperfections (such as acne scars) to appear slightly "blurred." It's lightweight and soft, and mattifies without feeling drying. The issue – same as with other products in Olay's Fresh Effects anti-acne products – is that this contains fragrance, in part from orange flower extract and peppermint leaf extract. So, while ingredients like niacinamide and kaolin have merit for making pores appear smaller, the fragrance and fragrant extracts get in the way.
While that does give this mattifier a pleasant smell, 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.
In the end, because of the inclusion of fragrance and lackluster performance, this winds up being an average product. You're better off using one of the fragrance-free options on our list of Best Oil-Absorbing Products.
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).
That's reason enough to avoid products with irritating ingredients, which often come in the form of fragrance including the misnamed "essential" oils.
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.
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