Proactiv Solution Review: Does it keep its Reputation?

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If you have acne today, you MUST have heard of Proactiv Solution, and it’s number four on our current list of acne treatments. It’s recognized around the world, so how does the famous acne fighter compare to other brands?

You can find out with this official review of Proactiv Solution.


What Is This Product?

Proactiv dark spot corrector bottles

Proactiv has been around since 1995, offering acne solutions to millions of people. If you’re thinking about trying this product, there are a few things you need to know to understand how it works.

First off, it’s not difficult to get your hands on the Proactiv system. It’s available as an over-the-counter acne treatment [1]. You can get it nearly anywhere – calling the number on a TV commercial, a kiosk in the mall, or ordering it online directly from the supplier.

Not to mention that dozens of celebrities speak highly of this product – this must mean it works for everyone right? Not necessarily.

Not everyone benefits equally from an over-the-counter treatment like this one. While some will see their acne issues improve, others won’t see notable results. Your success using this treatment depends on the following two factors:

  • Your skin type
  • The severity of your acne

If you have sensitive skin or little success with over-the-counter treatments, this may not be for you. Instead, speak with a dermatologist to obtain a stronger, prescribed medication for your acne.


Active Ingredients

Facial skin with blemishes

So, what’s the magical ingredient that makes facial blemishes disappear? The main acne-fighting ingredient is benzoyl peroxide. This substance is proven to be the most effective over-the-counter treatment ingredient, boasting many benefits. It reduces bacteria on the skin and fights pore blockages – two main reasons many of us suffer from acne.

Another ingredient found in Proactiv products is glycolic acid. What this substance does is it removes dead skin cells and keeps pores cleared out. It exfoliates the skin – an integral step in any acne treatment routine. Moreover, sulfur is another common ingredient in these products. It helps reduce the oiliness of your skin and cleanses out pores.

Is this the right acne treatment for you?

The ingredients of this product have the potential to be effective. However, it doesn’t guarantee that it will work for everyone. If you can relate to any of the following, Proactiv may work for you:

  • You have mild acne including minor pimples and blackheads. If you have moderate acne, you may benefit more from prescribed medication.
  • If you’ve never tried an over the counter treatment that contains benzoyl peroxide, this may work for you. Many people rely on soap and water, which isn’t enough.
  • For people looking for a complete skin care kit, Proactiv may be right for you! Its system includes a cleanser, toner, and lotion.

These are a few things to look for when determining if Proactiv is a good solution for you. Now, how do you know when it may not be your best choice? Here are some signs it won’t be very effective:

  • You suffer from moderate to severe acne. If this is your case, Proactiv is not strong enough to clear your acne. Instead, save yourself the frustration and skip to a prescribed treatment.
  • If you’ve had very little success using over the counter products, this may not be the right solution for you. Instead of being disappointed again, speak with your dermatologist about a possible prescription.

In other words, Proactiv works best for individuals who suffer from minor acne. These are the people who have seen success with this solution. Those with severe acne aren’t likely to benefit from this product.

If you decide to give Proactiv a try, be sure you’re using it every day as instructed. If you don’t, you won’t see results, and it will be a waste of money. If your skin reacts negatively to it, stop use immediately.


Proactiv Solution is a complete system for acne management. It’s in the same category as Exposed Skin Care, and it uses three steps. They are:

1. Renew

Rather than using a simple cleanser to clear away dirt and dead skin, Proactiv made its mark by using an antibacterial as the first part of its formula. This is commonly done today since antibacterial ingredients help remove the bacteria that causes acne.

2. Revitalize

The second step is a toner that helps in removing dirt and excess oil, and it clears away the rest of the cleanser from your skin. This allows your pores to be open for the final step.

3. Repair

Using most of steps 1 and 2 ingredients will dry your skin out and cause it to become inflamed. Using a moisturizer will help in repairing your dry skin, so it doesn’t develop blocked pores, which are also a main cause of acne.

Proactiv steps

As you may already be aware, Proactiv has been used for a while now. It was the top treatment for acne for many of its early years and was the first product of its type that the public could buy.


Here are a few reasons why it’s been such a hit:

What We Like

“Hot” may not be the word we’re looking for here, but there are positive aspects of Proactiv that we want to mention:

  1. It’s Inexpensive
    $30 a month is a relatively low price for acne treatment with a good record.
  2. It Mostly Does its Job
    If you have only mild or moderate acne, Proactiv should probably offer you positive results. It was not designed to fight severe acne, though. If you have occasional outbreaks, Proactiv may well keep your acne reasonably well under control.
  3. It has Limited Side Effects
    Since the Proactiv solution isn’t overly powerful, you shouldn’t have significant issues with irritation or redness. It’s usually safe to use for people who have sensitive skin.

Just like any treatment form, Proactiv has disadvantages, too.

What We Don’t Like!

Here are a few simple reasons why Proactiv Solution has fallen aside a bit when compared to today’s acne technology:

Lady wearing a black dress
  1. It’s Not Effective for Everyone
    In a way that is similar to Clear Skin Max, you’ll find that Proactiv is a one type fits all treatment. It doesn’t allow for different levels of severity of acne or different types of skin. What you see in Proactiv is all you will get, and it indeed won’t be sufficient for everyone who will use it.
  2. Some People See Side Effects
    It’s relatively common for people using Proactiv to see a breakout as soon as they begin treatment. But some Proactiv users complain about consistent breakouts that are worse than those they already had. That is because the product is not explicitly made for any skin or any acne severity.
  3. It Doesn’t Have Enough Power
    You’ll discover this problem as soon as you apply the product. A robust product will show apparent cleansing of pores, but Proactiv doesn’t cleanse your pores deeply enough to get rid of blockages. This doesn’t allow it to work the healing process it includes in its final step.

Here’s our rating for Proactiv Solution.

What’s Our Conclusion?

Proactiv is not a new product, and it had plenty of satisfied customers at one time. But they have not taken the time or initiative to update their formula, and it can’t compete against products like Exposed Skin Care. There are parts to the Proactiv formula that just aren’t powerful enough, and it only helps with mild acne. That means that to us, it’s incomplete.

Having said that, we did give Proactiv Solution a score of 4.1/10. It has had some happy customers, through the years.



Editors Choice
Proactiv Solution Review: Does it keep its Reputation? 1

Proactiv Solution

Our #1 Recommendation

  • A skin care kit for treating acne: includes cleanser, toner, and lotion
  • Reduces oil and bacteria, clears pore blockages, and exfoliates skin
  • First product of its type and used by happy customers for many years
  • Relatively low price compared to similar acne treatment systems

Proactiv Solution Review: Does it keep its Reputation? 2

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About Alina Jumabhoy

With almost 10 years of experience writing for the skincare industry, Alina brings her unique perspective into all of the in-depth reviews and articles she writes.