It took me forever to write this post. It took so long Proactiv came out with a new product line and I have a feeling that the original line is going to be discontinued. I decided to post this review anyway as the original Proactiv Solution 3 Step System is still available and I already wrote the review.
For a long time Proactiv Solution was household name for anti-acne products. However, it gets very mixed reviews. It seems to be one of those products that people either love or hate. I’ve used Proactiv on and off for several years to manage my acne, and I don’t belong to either “love” or “hate” camp. I feel that it is a solid product, that works for many, including yours truly. However, it is not a panacea or “one size fits all” solution. It didn’t eliminate my breakouts, but reduced their quantity and prominence to acceptable levels. Core Proactiv Solution system consists of three products, and each one comes its own ups and downs.
Renewing Cleanser. The cleanser doesn’t foam like conventional ones. It contains polyethylene microbeads that are supposed to exfoliate your skin and promote removing makeup and other contaminants. Some scrubs contain particles with sharp edges, that can damage skin. As a result, many people shy away from them. Microbeads in this cleanser are smooth and round, so they are unlikely to scratch you skin, but physical exfoliation still may be too harsh for sensitive skin. Also, I find that the cleanser itself is a bit drying. There is also an environmental downside of this product – the microbeads were found to pass though water treatment plants and collect in lakes posing potential threat to wildlife. There is a movement to ban use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. I wonder if this is what prompted Proactiv to reformulate their products.
Refreshing Toner. This was the first alcohol free toner I encountered. When I started using Proactiv system it was my favorite product from this line. It does feel refreshing to apply. It contains witch hazel, known for it’s toning and antiseptic properties. On the downside – witch hazel can be too irritating for sensitive skin.
For some reason I always went through it faster than other products.
Repairing Lotion. This was the first non-prescription product with benzoil peroxide I tried. And I loved it. It was about 10 years ago and most of over-the-counter acne treatments had salicylic acid as active ingredient. Which is great for blackheads, but not as effective for whiteheads. Salicylic did next to nothing for my acne. So, this lotion was a great find. I feel that it is the most effective product of the three. There were periods of time, when I used it with different cleansers, while skipping toner altogether, and it still made great difference for my skin. So if you are on the budget, consider using just lotion (paired with your favorite gentle cleanser) and see if it works for you.
Bottom Line: Proactiv Solution 3 Step System is a solid product (or line of products). It is a bit dated, but it still works. Like other anti-acne products, it may be too drying and/or irritating for sensitive skin. If you suffer from acne, by all means give it a try, but keep your expectations reasonable.
Tips – how to make the most of this product:
Use it regularly – consistency is crucial for prevention of future breakouts.
If your skin is sensitive and gets irritated easily, start using Proactiv once a day or every other day at first. If tolerate well, increase frequency to twice a day for maximum benefit. Do not use more often then that.
Use moisturizer to counteract drying effect of benzoil peroxide, especially in colder months.
If you order this product from Proactiv directly they will force you to sign up for periodic shipments. Which is a pain, as you never run out of products at the same time. To avoid this you can buy product from one of their kiosks (usually at a higher price) or from Amazon.com
Make sure to wear sunscreen religiously – benzoil peroxide makes skin more sensitive to sun.
Cleanser and lotion are fairly thick, so keeping them up-side-down makes dispensing easier and saves you a lot of frustration.