From commercials with celebrities to advice from friends and even to kiosks at the mall, we hear a lot about Proactiv products. It is no secret that Proactiv Plus has some intense marketing. In fact, Proactiv spends around $12 - $15 million a year to hire on celebrity endorsers since they stopped their infomercial approach. That money pays endorsers such as Justin Bieber $3 million over the two years that he advertised for them.
However, when something is this publicized and talked up, it prompts the question as to if they can thank their marketing department for their high sales or if Proactive Plus actually lives up to its proclaimed potential. In addition, if they are paying celebrities this much to smile and promise our acne away, can we really trust these testimonials or are we once again being duped by the promises of advertisements?
That is what we are here to discuss today; does Proactiv work? Or are we all just falling for the power of these advertisements? Today, we will take a look at real Proactive reviews and Proactive products without the influence and glamor of celebrities who claim to use Proactive Plus or the magnetic draw of a product on sale to see if they are really worthy of your time and money. For this article, we are going to focus on one of Proactiv’s latest products – Proactiv Plus – to see if it works as well as we all hope it does.
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Who is Proactiv?
Contrary to popular belief, we didn’t all wake up one morning with kiosks in our malls and Adam Levine telling us his acne was gone because of Proactive products. They, like any other brand, were started by a couple of people with a goal. What may surprise you, though, is that this skin care kit that we see everywhere today was released in its first form in 1995.
In this case, it was two dermatologists, Katie Rodan M.D., and Kathy Fields M.D. They, like most people, remembered how hard acne was when they were teenagers and – even more so – knew how much harder it could be to deal with acne as an adult.
However, the Proactiv that we know now is much larger than a pair of dermatologists. As of today, they have been highlighted with 28 different awards and honors from various outlets in the beauty and cosmetology market. Their influence has become a near monopoly on the skin care corner of the market.
What is Proactiv Plus?
Proactive has changed their line many times throughout the years. So, for simplicity’s sake, we are going to look specifically at the Proactive Plus line. This line is the most recent in Proactiv’s history.
Unlike former Proactiv products, the Proactiv Plus kit is aimed at general skin care. Since other former products from Proactiv, it doesn’t just focus on acne. Rather, it focuses on skin care in general.
This system has 3-steps in it. It uses nano-sized particles to help not only to clear acne but to clear and minimize pore size. In addition, it will hydrate your skin, making sure that dry skin doesn’t affect you.
Proactiv’s Claims About Their Proactiv Plus Skin Care Kit
The first thing that you should consider when you are purchasing a new product is what the company says they will offer you. We say this understanding that you can’t always take what the company tells you at face value. After all, they are trying to sell their product so, while they may not lie, they may leave out any negative aspects of their product in the interest of making a sale.
However, the claims that the company makes can act as a wonderful baseline of what to expect from the company. In addition, looking at company claims next to actual customer reviews can give you an idea of how honest a company is and if they are going beyond highlighting the good of their product and have started making claims they can’t back up.
Proactiv describes their Proactiv Plus skin care kit as the result over a decade of research and development that incorporates both dermatologists’ and customers’ feedback in their new formula. Proactiv Plus, according to the company, works better and faster than previous installments of the brand to rid your skin of acne while keeping your skin hydrated and radiant.
On the note of whether you should take this at face value, we will address later. For now, though, know that this is what you should use as your base for comparison. This is the quality that Proactiv wants you to expect, so today we will be looking at whether or not the actual product that Proactiv Plus delivers lives up to its promises.
How Does Proactiv Plus Work?
Now that you generally know what the product is, let’s look at how it works. The main ingredient that Proactiv Plus uses is called Benzoyl Peroxide. This is a common ingredient in skin care products such as Proactive Plus that treat mild to moderate acne.
Benzoyl Peroxide is used to help clear clogged pores. This helps to both reduce acne and shrink pores. This is because – like most Peroxides – Benzoyl Peroxide kills bacteria quickly so, it clears pores out fast. As a matter of fact, if you use a product using Benzoyl Peroxide on a pore, it usually only takes 48 hours for 99% of the bacteria in that pore to be dead and gone!
What Makes Proactiv Plus Different from Other Proactiv Products?
As we mentioned before, Proactiv Plus looks to hydrate your skin as well rid you of acne. However, that hardly seems like enough to say it does more than other products in the line. So, let’s take a moment and look at how Proactiv Plus changes what this brand has to offer.
For one, the Benzoyl Peroxide we already discussed is a new addition to the Proactiv brand. This allows Proactiv Plus to get deeper into your skin and pores than previous kits in the line. The products in this Proactive Plus kit are thin enough to sink into the skin and be more effective.
In addition, Proactiv has found a fantastic balance in their Proactiv Plus line. One downside to Benzoyl Peroxide is that if you aren’t careful, it can really irritate your skin. For most companies, avoiding this means that they reduce the concentration of this formula down to around 2%. Unfortunately, this leaves the formula nearly useless.
Proactiv, however, has found a way to create a formula that avoids both these problems. While it uses enough Benzoyl Peroxide to make the formula effective, it also shouldn’t irritate your skin and cause it to be red, swollen, or itchy after each use.
This is done by making the Benzoyl Peroxide concentration about 2.5%. This may not seem like a huge difference but there is a science to making these formulas, so precision is everything and small differences can make a world of a difference. With this concentration, you won’t be trading that pesky acne for a puffy, red face.
Proactiv Plus also uses what they have trademarked as Smart Target Technology. This keeps the Benzoyl Peroxide in a small capsule – much like a slow release medicine – to make sure that it reaches deep into your pores before it is released.
It is good to remember, however, that a 2.5% concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide isn’t right for anyone. As with any ingredient, there are going to be users who are more or less sensitive to its effects than others. The best way to find out what your tolerance is would be to start with a very low concentration and work your way up to a concentration that shows improvement in your skin without causing any negative side effects. Be careful not to fly through percentages too fast, though, or you may damage your skin.
However, Proactiv Plus also uses acetyl salicylic in their formula. This may not mean much to you at first glance, but it is one of the active ingredients that you find in medicines such as Aspirin. As such, it helps to reduce any inflammation, redness, itching, or other nasty side effects that Benzoyl Peroxide is prone to causing.
Just the use of Benzoyl Peroxide isn’t the only thing that makes Proactive Plus a fantastic and revolutionary product in the line, though. In addition to the standard benefits of Proactiv and its acne erasing ways, it also helps to rid your face of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of aging. So, alongside clearer skin, you should get smoother and tighter skin out of this kit as well.
Recommendations from Proactiv About Proactiv Plus
On Proactiv’s website, they do offer a recommended regimen to get the best results. Following this regimen should help you to get the quickest and most effective results from these products and there is no better source to get information on how to use products than straight from the minds who designed them.
First Step: Skin Smoothing Exfoliator
The first step in the Proactiv Plus skin care kit is a cleanser named the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator. It is meant to be used both when you get up and go to sleep every day and will prepare your skin for further treatment by removing any dirt or other materials that could be blocking your pores.
To use it, you will only need a dollop about the size of a quarter that you will spread over your damp skin. You should massage this into your skin in circles for a minute or two – remember, letting it sit instead of scrubbing defeats the purpose of an exfoliator. Once you are done, simply rinse your face with warm water and pat it dry.
It is also, of course, important to know what ingredients are in your skin care product so you don’t end up buying something that you are allergic to. Luckily, Proactiv is very honest on its website with what is involved with each product. Except for the ingredient labeled “active”, these are inactive ingredients. For the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, the following are ingredients to the formula:
· Active Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide (2.5%)
· Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
· Lauryl/ Myristyl Benzoate
· Linoleic Acid
· Butylene Glycolic Acid
· Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer
· Glycolic Acid
· Sodium Hydroxide
Second Step: Pore Targeting Treatment
The next step is to use the Pore Targeting Treatment. This part of the treatment is designed to stop acne deep in your pores. Rather than treating the parts of your acne that you can see above the skin, this formula works deep to solve the problem at its core. Once again, this treatment should be done in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed.
To use this part of the kit, use 2 pumps of this cream on dry skin that has been cleaned by the Proactiv Plus Skin Smoothing Exfoliator. You are going to gently smooth this over your entire face. Do not massage it in as with the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator and do not rinse it off. Rather, you should allow your skin to fully absorb this before moving on to step 3.
Once again, knowing the ingredients is crucial and Proactiv lists the ingredients for their Complexion Perfecting Hydrator as follows:
· Active Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide (2.5%)
· Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (also known as sweet almond oil)
· Polysorbate 80
· Polysorbate 60
· Sorbitan Stearate
· Potassium Hydroxide
· Disodium EDTA
Third and Final Step: Complexion Perfecting Hydrator
The last step in the Proactive Plus kit is the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator. This step will not clog your pores as some other hydrating face creams tend to do. However, it will help with any redness, brighten skin tone, and even help to fade any acne scars you may have.
With this step, you should apply at least an amount the size of a large coin to your skin. You are going to, once again, smooth this hydrating cream over your entire face but do not rinse it off. Then, allow it to absorb into your skin.
If you find that your skin is still dry with the twice daily use of the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator, you can reapply throughout the day as you need to. In addition, you should be careful to protect your skin when using this. When you go outside, the use of an SPF 15 sunscreen is the minimum requirement to protect yourself properly.
Once again, ingredients are key to having a chance of knowing if you’ll have a reaction to the treatment before making your actual purchase. For the final time in this kit, Proactiv lists the ingredients of the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator as follows:
· Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid (0.5%)
· Butylene Glycol
· Cetearyl Alcohol
· Sodium Polyacrylate
· Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract
· Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract
· Morus Alba Root Extract
· Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract
· Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract
· Kojic Acid
· Zinc Gluconate
· Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide
· Sodium Hyaluronate
· Safflower Oil/ Palm Oil Aminopropanediol Esters
· C12-15 Alkyl Lactate
· Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride
· Caprylyl Glycol
· Ethylhexyl Palmitate
· Hydrogenated Polydecene
· Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin
· Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate
· Polysorbate 60
· Hexylene Glycol
· PPG-2 Myristyl Ether Propionate
· Sodium Hydroxide
· Disodium EDTA
What Results Can You Expect from Proactiv Plus?
When you are using a product that takes habitual use and time – such Proactive Plus – it can be confusing to find out if it’s working. What results should you expect? How fast should you expect these results to develop? Lucky for us, Proactiv very clearly spells out on their website what you should expect during your first six weeks of use with their skin care kit.
Within the first week, you shouldn’t expect any drastic changes. This is because your skin is still getting used to the use of a new product. You may experience some irritation in your skin such as dryness. Don’t be too concerned, though, because these effects should wear off as your body gets used to the new skin care regimen.
In the second week of use, around 80% of those customers using Proactiv Plus started to see results. These results include a smoother texture to your skin and the pores begin to shrink. If there is still some dryness at this point, it’s okay. Your skin is still probably getting used to the new regimen at this point.
For week three, your skin should be more adjusted to your new Proactiv Plus skin care regimen. Due to this, you will probably have less trouble with dry or irritated skin. It is at this point that you may realize that any new blemishes that appear are healing quicker than they used to.
At week four, you have been using your skin care kit for a month, making it so that you don’t have to worry about remembering whether or not you did it – it is a habit now. Now you are probably starting to notice some of the more long-term effects of this treatment. These may include your skin looking more radiant and it may even begin to look smoother and feel softer.
By week five you should be noticing a significant difference in how healthy and hydrated your skin is. The breakouts on your face are starting to clear and happen less frequently and the soft clarity of your skin shows improvement with each passing day.
The final week that Proactiv goes over is the sixth week of using the Proactiv Plus skin care treatment. By now, your skin should be clear for the most part, with former acne healed and new acne very rarely coming up. The radiance of your skin should be unmistakable at this point and improve with every day of use. Any acne scars that you had when you started the treatment should be fading by this point as well.
It is important, though, to remember one major thing. Proactiv Plus is a skin care treatment that only works so long as you use it. You can’t skip days or stop using it once your skin clears up and expect the results you worked so hard for to stick around without fail. They will begin to deteriorate rapidly if you quit your regimen, no matter how far into using it you are.
What Skin Types Can Benefit from Proactiv Plus?
When we are buying skin care product to work for us, most will advertise the niche they are best with. By this we mean whether you should use the product with oily skin, dry skin, etc. to achieve the best results. Proactive Plus, however, works the same with all skin types. So, there aren’t any worries as to if this Proactiv product works for you or not.
How Much Product Comes in a Proactiv Plus Kit and How Expensive is it?
A fair and valid question is how much of this product you are paying for. After all, Proactiv is a higher end product and most of us know and expect that it comes with a price tag to match. However, while it may not be the cheapest option, we can’t really label it ungodly expensive either, at least at first glance.
Well, the size that this product is available in is measured by Proactiv in the number of days of use you should get out of the product. For the Proactiv Plus system, they claim that you will get 90 days of use out of your new skin care kit. However, many customers have said that with the recommended, twice daily use these bottles don’t last quite as long as promised.
“90 days” isn’t a measurable amount, though. Most of us would much rather have a number to compare. This is especially true when other customers are saying that the number of days of use may be slightly exaggerated. So, we have looked for and found measurements so you don’t have to sift through all the fine print on Proactiv’s website. They are as follows:
· Skin Smoothing Exfoliator: 2 fluid ounces (or 60 milliliters)
· Pore Targeting Treatment: 1 fluid ounces (or 30 milliliters)
· Complexion Perfecting Hydrator: 1 fluid ounce (or 30 milliliters)
To be fair, though, this is a marketing tactic that Proactiv isn’t the only guilty party involved. Most quality or high-end acne treatments tend to offer their products for a lower price but a lower quantity at the same time. With the way that Proactiv products’ sizes are portrayed, though, has generated complaints about a lack of transparency from the company by customers.
To put it simply, while looking at the price alone (as we did at the beginning of this section) you probably won’t think the price is too bad. When you compare it to the size of the product you are getting, though, you may find that Proactiv Plus isn’t quite as inexpensive as you thought.
Proactiv Plus Reviews: Skin Smoothing Exfoliator
The best way to look at a multi-step acne treatment such as this is to break it down into its singular parts. The first step in our list of Proactive reviews, we are going to look at the first step in the Proactiv Plus kit; the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator.
First, let’s take a look at the positive side of the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator. It is an extremely gentle cleanser that even those users with sensitive skin found to be a bearable and useful exfoliator. The texture of it is also rather pleasing since it is lightweight and rather luxurious feeling.
However, those customers who took their time to look through the ingredients and research them carefully were concerned with the use of a silicone known as Dimethicone. Let’s be perfectly clear here: this ingredient is not concerning because it is toxic or “bad” for you.
Silicone is actually a common ingredient in skin care products since it gives your skin that automatic, silky smooth texture. However, Dimethicone, in particular, can cause a thin layer to form over the skin, trapping any remaining dirt and impurities underneath the film that this cleanser creates.
Proactiv Plus Reviews: Pore Targeting Treatment
Next, we will look at the second step of the Proactiv Plus regimen; the Pore Targeting Treatment. One thing that consumers were impressed with for this product was the short ingredient list as far as inactive ingredients go. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry, the idea is quite simple. The less inactive ingredients you have in a treatment such as this the more the formula focuses on the active ingredient (in this case, the Benzoyl Peroxide).
In addition to a smart formula, this step of the treatment is an extremely lightweight serum. As you may recall, we mentioned earlier that the Pore Targeting Treatment isn’t one that you wash off but rather allow to absorb into your skin. Due to how light it is and the makeup of the formula, you won’t have to wait a long time for this formula to absorb into your skin and it won’t leave a greasy or oily residue behind.
There aren’t many complaints about the Pore Targeting Treatment. This, of course, bodes well for this step of the Proactiv Plus skin care treatment if nothing else.
Proactiv Plus Reviews: Complexion Perfecting Hydrator
If you remember, this is the only step of the three in the Proactiv Plus regimen that allows for multiple uses throughout the day. As such, it is crucial that it be a reliable and as close as possible to a fault-free product.
First, let’s take a look at some of the technicalities of this formula. It is full of natural ingredients – such as licorice extracts – instead of depending solely on chemicals to get the job done. Unfortunately, though, the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator has the same downfall as the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator. It employs the use of a silicone, which causes it to form a seal over your skin. Once again, this causes any dirt or bacteria that is on your skin at the time of application to be trapped underneath this film.
As far as how well it works, many found that while the hydrating cream felt a bit sticky when they first put it on, this feeling faded quickly as it soaked into their skin. Unfortunately, it tended to soak in so fast that some users found it to be nearly impossible to get through the day without having to follow Proactiv’s advice of “maybe having to reapply this throughout the day”.
While this may seem fair – after all, they did warn you – we urge you to consider the amount of each product you have and the overuse of one paired with the standard use of others can cause a significant difference in when different parts of the Proactiv Plus kit need to be replaced.
Proactiv Plus Reviews: The Good
We have gone over how customers were fond of each set of this kit separately, providing excellent and detailed insight. However, in the end, these are sold in a kit for a reason. They are meant to work together and complement the effects of one another. So, it is only fair that just as we looked at the products in the Proactiv Plus skin care kit, we look at the results that customers faced with the kit being used all together as intended.
The results that many customers got from their Proactiv Plus skin care kit were fantastic. They showed improvement in the amount of acne that they had on their face as well as improvement in how dehydrated their skin was. This, of course, led to improved confidence for many users.
Younger users, especially, found that results from using Proactiv Plus were fantastic at ridding their skin of acne. Teenagers and young adults in their 20s specifically found that getting into this new regimen helped to clear their skin extremely well.
Proactiv Plus Reviews: The Bad
Unfortunately, the reviews for Proactiv Plus – or any product for that matter – aren’t all sunshine and roses. In addition, just looking at the good reviews that customers have left doesn’t help us much at all. If we did that, we might as well just look at the company’s claims and trust them.
First up, we have a complaint about negative reactions to the Proactiv Plus skin care kit. There were several customers who reported that the dry, red, itchy skin that was supposed to only be around for the first two weeks continued to persist throughout their entire use. Of course, Proactiv advised them against further use of this skin care treatment since it might be an allergy causing the further irritation.
This brings us to the next point of if you do need to return the Proactiv Plus skin care system. Most customers who needed to return the skin care regimen ran into a variety of problems. To generalize, though, it comes down to the fact that these skin care kits are extremely hard to return if you need to return them. This makes buying the system in the first place even more of a risk since it takes away the chance of returning it and getting your money back if you have a bad reaction or if there is a fault in the kit.
Last but not least, let’s take a look at those who didn’t exactly get the results that they were hoping for from this kit. To be fair, for a product with this much hype, there is bound to be some disappointment with the more realistic results. However, there are some customers who reported using the product for two months – strictly following the regimen - and not noticing any results whatsoever.
There is a trend here to be noted, though. Just as younger users are more likely to report improvement, older users tend to give feedback remarking in the opposite direction. The older that users were, the fewer results that they received. Some users even reported that the use of Proactiv made their skin worse. However, that brings us back to Proactiv’s warning about allergies and personal reactions.
However, for a brand that advertises itself so heavily as being good for adult acne, the fact that older users have more trouble with the brand isn’t encouraging. Especially since higher-end acne products are more likely to be purchased by adults who can afford them more easily.
Is it Easy to Get into a Routine for Proactiv Plus?
The downfall of many skin care kits is that while they are effective, they are difficult to get used to using. This can be especially problematic for skin care kits like the Proactiv Plus skin care kit that need constant and regular use to achieve the results that you are looking for.
Luckily, those customers who have used the Proactiv Plus skin care kit for a while found that using the entire kit takes less than an additional 15-20 minutes of time out of their morning and evening.
As such, many said that it was extremely easy to fit into their day. It didn’t cause any disruption that a long treatment – for example, a face mask that needs to sit for 20 minutes – may cause. Due to this, you won’t have any trouble with falling in and out of this treatment once you start it.
Conclusion: Is Proactiv Plus Really Worth the Cost?
Now that we have all of the information we need in one place, let’s take a look at what it means when you put it all together. We already know that Proactiv products – Proactiv Plus included – are slightly more expensive than your average acne product. This is especially highlighted when you consider the size of the bottles that you are ordering. Does the quality of what you are buying make it worth the cost, though?
As much as we would love to give you an across the board yes or no, it isn’t that simple. So, let’s look at who it would be worth the cost for first. If you are younger and mainly concerned about ridding yourself of the acne on your face, then yes. Most teenagers and young adults who used this regimen as intended noticed a significant change.
However, if you are older and you're concerned with more than just getting rid of acne, this Proactiv Plus skin care kit may not be the best choice for you. While Proactiv Plus may do a fantastic job getting rid of acne, many users found that as far as promises that Proactiv makes for hydration and aging, they fell short.
In addition, you may want to avoid Proactiv Plus if you have sensitive skin. As we have mentioned, the irritation that should only be around for the first few weeks sometimes sticks around. This is usually caused by a personal reaction to the product but - paired with how difficult it can be to return this product – it can be more than slightly inconvenient.
So, in the end our final verdict is that while it isn’t a completely useless product or a scam, it definitely doesn’t live up to all the promises that celebrities had us buying into to. However, if you are a teenager looking to clear up your acne and have the time to commit yourself to a regimen, the Proactiv Plus skin care kit will probably work for you. If you are older and want to get rid of adult acne, the use of the Proactiv Plus skin care kit may be exactly what you are looking for as well, but you are more likely than the 20 year-old using the skin care kit to run into a problem.