09.20.2013
3
Proactiv & Proactiv+Cleansing Body Bar
2 bars for $40
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ingredients
Brand Overview
Expert Reviews

This very expensive bar cleanser is essentially the classic Dove Beauty Bar medicated with the anti-acne active ingredient salicylic acid, which is an exfoliant. Unfortunately, it's far less effective for exfoliation, if at all, in a cleanser. That’s because it's rinsed off before it can begin to work. If you are hoping for this cleanser to provide exfoliating benefits, think again. Plus, this bar cleanser leaves a residue on skin that can, over time, impede the effectiveness of other ingredients.

One more comment on the price: Cleansing Body Bar is nearly identical to the main ProActiv line's Medicated Cleansing Bar, which costs less.

More cause for concern (and more of a wonder why the doctors behind this line don't seem to know better) is how strongly this bar cleanser is fragranced. Fragrance isn't skin care, and using heavily fragranced products won't help acne in the least. See More Info for details. The strong fragrance pushed this over the top for earning our lowest rating.

Pros:
  • Cleanses thoroughly.
  • Soft, cushiony lather, just like classic Dove Beauty Bar.
Cons:
  • The active ingredient is rinsed from the skin before it can help improve acne.
  • Highly fragranced formula poses a strong risk of irritation.
  • Leaves a soap-like residue on skin.
More Info:

Why Fragrance is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.

This leads to all kinds of problems, including disruption of skin’s healthy appearance, worsening dryness, redness, depletion of vital substances in skin’s surface, and generally keeps skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.

A surprising fact: Even though you can’t always see the negative influence of using products that contain fragrance has on skin, the damage will still be taking place even if it’s not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see or feel the effects on your skin for your skin to be suffering. This negative impact and the visible damage may not become apparent for a long time.

References for this information

Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410-1,419

Aging, March 2012, pages 166-175

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77-80

Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821-832
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement pages 1-43

Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446—475

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, issue 11, pages 789-798

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, issue 4, pages 191-202

Last Updated:01.06.2017
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Community Reviews
Claims

Deep-cleansing, exfoliating, medicated, lather-rich bar fights body acne all over. Salicylic acid helps unclog pores and prevent future breakouts, while exfoliating beads gently remove dead skin. Gracefully ergonomic bar acts as a mild, soap-free cleanser that contains no fats, sulfates or dyes.

Ingredients

Active: Salicylic Acid 1%. Inactive: Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Water, Sodium Isethionate, Fragrance, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Chloride, Galactoarabinan, Polyethylene, Disodium EDTA, Pentasodium Pentetate, Titanium Dioxide.

Brand Overview

Proactiv Solution At-A-Glance

Strengths: Effective, elegant-textured AHA, BHA, and skin-lightening options; all sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection; good options for controlling excess oil breakthrough, including a colorless pressed powder.

Weaknesses: Several products contain irritating ingredients that do not help acne-prone skin; some gimmicky products that no dermatologist-created line should be selling (they should know better); mostly substandard to poor makeup options, including a sulfur-based concealer.

Created by dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Proactiv launched in 1995 as a three-step system sold via infomercial. With the doctors' endorsements and winning personalities along with a heap of testimonials from people who use the routine (including a rotating list of celebrities, which always garners attention), Proactiv remains a very successful brand that is still going strong. The effusiveness, medical background, accurate information about how acne forms, and sincerity of its creators definitely makes for compelling television (we admit to catching the infomercial on more than one sleepless night), but what about the products themselves? Are they the answer the ads promise?

The core system consists of a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide and scrub particles, a toner with glycolic acid, and a lotion that contains a low (but still effective) amount of benzoyl peroxide. No questions here, this is a straightforward routine and hardly unique to Proactiv! Some percentage of people will benefit from daily use of this system (it contains the basics that are necessary for over-the-counter treatment of acne), but it's definitely not for everyone, and every dermatologist knows that (just check out the American Academy of Dermatology Web site at www.aad.org, for example, on their recommendations for battling blemishes).

It also goes without saying that other lines offer many less expensive versions of all the Proactiv products. However, for those who choose this system, the key is compliance, at least as long as you're seeing good results. Anyone battling acne needs to know that, barring a successful experience with the prescription drug Accutane, it cannot be cured—only controlled. We don't doubt that many people have seen their acne respond positively to a daily routine of the core Proactiv products, and for some it has been a life-changing experience—but it's not the answer for acne for everyone.

Although they still appear in ads and literature for the brand, Drs. Rodan and Fields have branched out to create their own namesake line, reviewed elsewhere on this site. While the Rodan + Fields line is not acne-centric like Proactiv, they did include products for blemishes, a few of which are similar to but more expensive than their Proactiv counterparts. And of course, this dual branding begs the question: if Rodan and Fields believe that Proactiv is the best option for those struggling with acne, why did they create alternative products in their namesake line? Why not just mention to Rodan + Fields customers dealing with acne that the Proactiv line has exactly what they need?

Along with Proactiv and the namesame Rodan and Fields line, these dermatologists also created Proactiv+, which is supposed to be smarter and faster than original Proactiv. For the most part, these products are quite similar, they just have a stronger emphasis on anti-aging issues such as uneven skin tone and enlarged pores from sun damage. We wish these products were more compelling, but many of them are truly problematic and not something two reputable dermatologists should feel comfortable putting their names on.

For more information about Proactiv, call (800) 876-9717 or visit www.proactiv.com. For more information about Proactiv+, visit www.proactivplus.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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