Does proactive work?

Proactiv says its newly reformulated acne products heal acne faster and with fewer side effects than ever before.
The Deep Cleansing Wash costs about three times more than comparable products because it contains salicylic acid—which you rinse off your face and down the drain before it gets a chance to work.
The Advanced Blemish Treatment contains 6% benzoyl peroxide, strong enough to kill acne bacteria on contact but also strong enough to cause stinging, burning, itching, redness, dryness, and flaking skin, all of which make keep forming new blemishes.
The Conceal Plus Sulfur product contains 6% sulfur, which is enough both to kill bacteria and to irritate the skin.
The Repairing Treatment is strong enough to work but mild enough not to cause skin irritation. And it’s a whole less expensive than the Advanced Blemish Treatment.
The Body Pads contain ingredients that open pores, along with ingredients that close them.
Other Proactiv acne products also contain all the right ingredients, plus ingredients that can undo the benefits of the product.

This Proactiv product fights pimples with 6% benzoyl peroxide. While this strength of benzoyl peroxide is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in over-the-counter acne products, it can cause dryness, stinging, burning, and peeling of skin in about 80% of people who use it. Most people cannot use a benzoyl peroxide product that is this strong for more than about a month before side effects become intolerable. The new formulation of Advanced Blemish Treatment, however, is less drying and irritating than the old formulation, in that the product no longer contains alcohol.

Proactiv says that its Repairing Treatment is a light and oil-free lotion containing “finely milled prescription-grade benzoyl peroxide” that you can use over your entire face. Costing just $22 for 2 oz/56 grams, this product is a relative bargain compared to the Proactiv Advanced Blemish Treatment. And even though it contains just 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, the minimum amount of the acne-fighting ingredient approved by the US FDA, it is likely to get rid of just as many pimples and blackheads with a lot less skin irritation.

What makes benzoyl peroxide “prescription grade,” by the way, is not how finely it is milled. A few products offer benzoyl peroxide microspheres which slowly release tiny amounts of the chemical into pores, enough to kill bacteria without causing irritation. The process of making microspheres involves combinations of chemicals, not additional grinding of the product.