Acne is the most common skin condition, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. Approximately 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience minor acne, and with adult acne increasing, it’s little wonder that the treatment market has exploded in recent years.
With over two decades providing acne treatment plans, Proactiv is a clear frontrunner in the world of subscription skincare. But now that the subscription skincare market has erupted with seemingly limitless options for treating acne and other skin conditions, how does Proactiv hold up in 2021?
Our team at Innerbody Research has tested out Proactiv’s line of products and analyzed its value and service compared to competitors. Read on for all of the pertinent details.
- Easy subscription service automatically delivers products to your door when you need them
- Offers a comprehensive range of products to address different skin issues
- Products contain powerful and scientifically proven active ingredients
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Time-tested and shown to be highly effective for many acne sufferers
- Products can cause initial skin irritation (skin may get worse before it gets better)
- Proactiv is not suitable for severe nodular or cystic acne
- Imperfect handling of payments and customer service
We recommend Proactiv’s simple and relatively gentle three-step system as an excellent choice for treating mild to moderate acne. The company now offers three different kits so that you can address issues like sensitive skin or fragrance intolerance. However, if you struggle with more severe acne or skin conditions, we recommend taking advice from a dermatologist before using any anti-acne treatments.
Proactiv’s three-step systems are a convenient and affordable way to clear up acne and keep it from returning. Now you can get a free pore cleaning brush when ordering a Proactiv system.
The company’s easy subscription options prove effective and relatively affordable for treating mild to moderate acne. Those with severe acne should seek more aggressive treatment. Proactiv’s 60-day money-back guarantee makes this easy to try.
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We extensively test each health service we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, this review of Proactiv, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Dermatologists Katie Rodan, M.D. and Kathy Fields, M.D. founded Proactiv in 1995. With help from infomercials and several celebrity ambassadors, including Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Kendall Jenner, and most recently, Olivia Munn, Proactiv has grown to be one of the most popular skincare brands of all time.
Proactiv relies on the principles of a three-step anti-acne program, which consists of a cleanser, toner, and moisturizing lotion. These steps work in synergy to clear acne and prevent future breakouts, giving users clear skin. In the process, Proactiv’s regimes ensure your skin stays hydrated, healthy, and bright.
Proactiv offers several different products and systems aimed at treating acne, blackheads, and even dry skin. The most popular products by far are the three-step treatment subscriptions.
Proactiv’s products are aimed at teens and adults who struggle with mild to moderate acne with or without hormonal breakouts.
Proactiv’s three-step subscription systems start at $29.95 per month, with automatic charging approximately every four weeks. There are also bundles with two additional products for $39.95 per month. An additional shipping and handling fee ($2.99) applies for each installment as well. Individual products that complement the kits are sold separately and range in price from approximately $20-$40.
Proactiv primarily operates through a subscription program. Users select their skincare kit and receive an introductory 90-day supply of products. Every four weeks, Proactiv charges you and automatically delivers a new 90-day supply every 12 weeks. The subscription program is also a way to access and save money on members-only products and promotions.
HSA, FSA, and health insurance
Acne medications such as those offered by Proactiv are covered or partially covered under some insurance plans. They are also usually HSA- and FSA-eligible.
Proactiv offers three different systems to treat mild to moderate acne. These kits arrive at your door every 12 weeks and improve skin with twice-daily applications.
Proactiv Solution is the company’s classic three-step solution and the first Proactiv Combination Therapy product. Proactiv suggests this product is best for teen acne. It delivers benzoyl peroxide, which acts as a skin antiseptic, deep into the pores to limit acne-causing bacteria and prevent new breakouts. The Proactiv Solution regime includes the Renewing Cleanser, Revitalizing Toner, and Repairing Treatment, each to be used twice a day, at morning and night.
- The Renewing Cleanser contains benzoyl peroxide, which removes excess oil and dirt from the skin, and exfoliating beads, which smooth away dead skin cells.
- The Revitalizing Toner is an extra cleansing step, further removing dirt and refreshing the skin.
- The Repairing Treatment also contains benzoyl peroxide, tackling bacteria on the skin’s surface and getting deep into the pores.
When used as directed, you should start to notice your skin becoming smoother and more even-toned in a few weeks. Within 4-6 weeks, breakouts should be reduced and heal faster, and your skin should be brighter.
In the Proactiv+ treatment system, Proactiv Combination Therapy is married with Smart Target technology to precisely target the skin pores for quicker results. The three-step regime includes the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, Pore Targeting Treatment, and Complexion Perfecting Hydrator, each to be used twice a day, in the morning and at night.
- The Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, containing benzoyl peroxide, prepares your skin for the pore targeting treatment by buffing away dirt, oil, and dead skin cells.
- The Pore Targeting Treatment supplies a blemish-fighting medicine, targeting benzoyl peroxide right into the pores.
- The Complexion Perfecting Hydrator provides moisture while calming redness, brightening skin tone, and reducing post-acne marks. Salicylic acid, the active ingredient in the hydrator, penetrates deep into the skin and acts as a chemical exfoliant, preventing skin cells from clumping together and blocking pores, one mechanism of acne breakouts.
Within two weeks of use, your skin will be smoother, and pores may appear smaller. After 4-6 weeks, your skin tone will be brighter and more even, with fewer breakouts and more clear skin days.
ProactivMD, the company’s only solution with prescription-grade ingredients, contains a topical retinoid called Adapalene. The inclusion of Adapalene makes this the most potent solution among the acne-fighting kits.
This product is also free of benzoyl peroxide, making it gentler for sensitive skin. The three-step system contains a Deep Cleansing Face Wash, Daily Oil Control Moisturizer, and Adapalene Gel. The cleanser and moisturizer are to be used twice per day, while the Adapalene Gel is applied once nightly.
- The Deep Cleansing Face Wash contains exfoliating beads that gently resurface the skin.
- The Oil Control Moisturizer provides SPF 30 sun protection as well as hydration.
- The Adapalene Gel is a topical retinoid used for acne treatment. Users should apply a light moisturizer after Adapalene Gel to prevent the skin from becoming red, flaky, and irritated due to the phenomenon of retinization, which happens to some people following topical use of retinoids.
Over the first two weeks of use, you may see some acne reduction. You may also experience some skin irritation while your skin adjusts to the Adapalene Gel. After 4-6 weeks, you’re likely to start seeing less frequent and severe breakouts and notice your skin smoothing and becoming more even.
Proactiv offers a range of complementary products outside of their three-step system. These products address several skin issues like body acne, blackhead and oil control, and dry skin.
Acne can also affect the body, most commonly on the chest and back. Proactiv offers several products to fight and protect against body acne.
- The Deep Cleansing Wash contains exfoliating beads and salicylic acid to unclog pores and remove dead skin cells.
- The Cleansing Body Bar is a soap-free cleanser containing salicylic acid to clear pores.
- Designed for the face and body, Clear Zone Body Pads contain glycolic acid to promote a more even skin tone.
Proactiv has several products as well to prevent clogged pores and fight blackheads.
- Formulated with salicylic acid, Blackhead Dissolving Gel unclogs pores and absorbs excess oil.
- Mark Correcting Pads exfoliate and resurface the skin with glycolic acid.
- The Skin Purifying Mask contains sulfur, antioxidant vitamins, and botanicals. Use this product as a mask 2-3 times per week or as a spot treatment on immediate breakouts.
- The Pore Cleansing Brush is an ergonomically designed facial brush that removes dirt, makeup, and other pore-clogging materials.
To quickly treat unexpected blemishes, Proactiv offers Emergency Blemish Relief, an invisible spot treatment containing a double dose of micro-crystal benzoyl peroxide (5%).
Several of Proactiv’s products target oily skin, which often goes hand-in-hand with acne.
- Advanced Daily Oil Control is a lightweight moisturizer that helps to reduce shine and clear breakouts.
- Oil Blotting Papers absorb excess oil and combat shine.
- With salicylic acid and glycolic acid, the Re-Texturizing Toner improves your skin’s overall texture and removes dead surface cells.
- The Ultra Poreless Instant Skin Smoother is a cream that hides pores and blurs imperfections.
For dry, blemish-prone skin, Proactiv offers Green Tea Moisturizer, a lightweight formula rich in botanical extracts that hydrate dry skin without clogging pores.
Proactiv’s website provides an easy path to get started with a subscription skincare plan:
Browse Proactiv. Select the skincare regime you would like, plus any additional products.
Place your order. Pay at the checkout using a major credit card or PayPal. As per the company’s Subscription Terms, Proactiv will automatically bill you $29.95 plus $2.99 for shipping and handling approximately every month. Every 12 weeks, Proactiv ships a new 90-day supply of your chosen treatment plan.
Begin your treatment. Once your first order arrives in 4-7 business days, be sure to read and follow the included instructions for each product. Typically you will use the three-step products twice per day, in the morning and at night.
Be patient. Your skin might worsen before it gets better, but you should start to notice results within a few weeks.
Assess your progress. Proactiv offers a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the products within 60 days, return the containers (even if empty) for a full refund minus shipping costs.
Don’t stop caring for your skin. Even when you have achieved your desired results, you can keep using Proactiv to maintain your clear skin.
Proactiv does not collect more personal information than a standard retail website. The company employs advanced security measures to protect your personal information. Proactiv may share or transfer non-personalized information collected through the site via cookies and other technology with affiliates, licensees and partners, and other third parties.
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Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?
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