Does Proactiv Actually Work?

proactiv faq

As stated in the Proactiv 101, the main compound Benzoyl Peroxide is a very common “corner stone” of acne therapy. The other compounds that work to reduce oil and dead skin build up also have researched backgrounds in their use.

In the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, they tested 3 compounds, one being Proactiv, against a baseline (people who didn’t use the compounds). What they found was: “clinically and statistically significant reductions in acne lesion counts were achieved at 8 weeks compared with baseline”.

Proactiv states on their website that it can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks, 8 weeks seems more of a better ball park. But, everyone is different, so some people will have actually found Proactiv to work within 3-4 weeks.

They are actually Drs behind the product

rodan and fields proactiv

Remember that Proactiv was developed by 2 experienced dermatologists (Drs Fields and Rodan). They have seen P.acne time and time again. They have seen products that work. It is hard to emphasise this enough. They are not just paid actors who work on a TV show they are actual clinical Dermatologists with experience (you have to become a Doctor first before you become a dermatologist- which is extra years of study). We have all seen them, so I will choose one, Dr Rodan and check out their real, true background:

  • Dr. Rodan is an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Stanford University School of Medicine
  •  Started private practise
  • Yelp review #1. “I have been 100% happy with the inexpensive but effective product she prescribed, and would definitely go back if I had any new concern” (5 stars)
  • Yelp review #2. “Dr. Rodan came highly recommended by physicians all around the Bay Area”

With their own formulation they have:

  1.  used what works,
  2. logically figured out how to reduce the steps in p/acne growth and what actually causes P.acne to increase and become problematic
  3. figured out who is likely to be more prone to P.acne and tried to figure out a way to “speak” to that group, which is harder than you think.

Most teens don’t often go to their medical practitioner. But when celebrities became more candid about their skin issues, then that “spoke” to the target audience. If you think about it, acne issues have been around for a very long time, and many have been a jumble with not one being a run away success. Teens can sense BS far more easily than companies give them credit for.

So when you have an acne product that works (and it does actually work or else social media would have crushed it by now), is being backed-up by the usual “before and after” pictures, but then, a younger celebrity actually stands up and says “I have acne and this is how I have got rid of it”, teens tend to see the genuine message that comes out, even thought hey know the celebrity is getting paid by the promoting company.

Then you have these (uncut) testimonials from Amazon customers:

  • I bought the 4-PC kit for my 16 year old grandson. His acne was very bad and painful. Within days we saw a marked improvement and we both are thrilled with the results. He definitely will continue to use it. It is worth every penny it cost. (verified purchase)
  • I purchased this product for my daughter. It has worked fast for her. Her forehead is almost all cleared up (verified purchase)  
  • I bought this for my little sister and she love it! It works so well! (verified purchase)
  •  On time, no problems,very happy,as shown,5Stars thank you

Do celebrities actually use Proactiv?

olivia munn proactiv

Actually they do (thats Olivia Munn above, once a Proactiv Spokesperson). And this was easily found out through a complaint. In the UK the broadcasting standards agency was given a complaint that stated that US celebrities didn’t use the UK version of Proactiv.

What was found is that the US celebrities actually did use Proactiv, but it was the US version, which contained different ingredients. They then swapped to the UK version for about a month and then carried on with the advert.

Are Doctors hiding better treatments?

Most medications that are “over the counter” (otc)- in other words, can be bought in stores, have to be reduced because the general public are not being monitored by a medical professional when they use a product. We have personally seen corn plasters placed on top of each other and created a hole in a Diabetics foot- even though Diabetics are not allowed to wear corn plasters.

Doctors have access to combination therapies and slightly higher doses to certain medications. They can assess whether a certain patient can have a certain medication and made doubly sure that they:

  1. require it in the first place
  2. is not going to interact with something that they are using already
  3. the patient is not allergic to the medication
  4. and the patients knows what to expect from the medication.

Combination therapy has actually been found to be effective in treating moderate to strong cases of acne. In one case 2 medications was more effective at reducing lesions and suppressing P.acne (the bacteria that causes acne).

In another study (from the Canadian Medical Association), 23 patients with mild to moderate acne, inflammatory lesions were reduced by 39% in patients using a combination of butenifine (an allylamine) and benzoyl peroxide compared with 34% in those using Proactiv. So even with a combination therapy, 5% increase is not actually that remarkable, and 23 patients is not actually that good a sample number.

Is it a gentle formula?

Unfortunately there are some compounds which people are allergic to. And even though reactions to acne products are rare, Proactiv has brought out a salicylic acid preparation. This is to try and help people who have found some irritation to the cornerstone acne fighting compound: benzoyl peroxide (unfortunately, irritation is a common side effect).

Problems with Proactiv?

When you look online and do a quick online search for “proactiv scams, “bad proactiv” there are sites that appear. Now don’t worry too much. When you look a little bit deeper, what you tend to find are the following:

  • People trying to sell Proactiv

When people sell a product they know that people are trying to make sure that the product they want isn’t a scam. So sellers can put up a website like “Is Proactiv A Scam?” and many people will click on the link. The answer always turns out to be no, it isn’t a scam, and visitors are offered a link to buy.

  • People who do not read the label

Many times people do not believe the labels on medications. They consume medication with the thought of “more is better”. Most of the time this is not true.

  • Cost?

Cost is very subjective. It depends upon what you are expecting, what you experience and what you have tried before. If you have suffered with chronic pain that makes you wince every time you walk and cry every time you sit, and you have been like that for years, then cost doesn’t come into the question if the medication got rid of that debilitating pain. If that pain only lasts for 5 seconds once a month, you probably wont seek treatment for it. Maybe you take some painkillers, or just wait until the pain goes.

Proactiv works for mild to moderate acne. It is also a triple punch to acne- not just one bottle, but 3. So for some people the minor cost of Proactiv is too much for them, but for others it is just the ticket, the exact thing that they have searched for. And in many cases- especially when you read testimonials from people who have bought the product, they have actually tried most products and they have had acne for many years. They are frustrated with acne, frustrated with false promise and frustrated with “one bottle potions”. In reality they probably have spent a small fortune on many different products in the past that have done very little to their acne.

Buying Proactiv for these people makes economical sense- buy one product and keep on top of the acne with the same product that works.

  • People who forget or don’t read the website

Proactiv knows that acne can come back in some people because you have to keep on top of the issues that caused it in the first place (remember: dead skin, excess skin oil and multiplying bacteria?). Proactiv therefore have designed a system which knows when you will run out- in 30 or 90 days. They understand that, with direction, your supply should last for 1-3 months.  What they do then is they automatically send you out more.

And it is this automatic billing and supply sending that confuses some people. Proactiv actively go out of their way to say this is what is going to happen. Please note the order summary:

proactiv billing

Then you have the onsite FAQ, which is really quite detailed. And some of the questions are concerned about “How do I check the status or history of my orders?”, “How do I cancel future shipments”, How do I return my products?” and “What is the Proativ+ guarantee?”…

  • People who are in the tiny majority who are affected by Benzoyl Peroxide

These people have an allergic reaction. Remember that these reactions are rare, but still present in a tiny amount of people. When you are selling thousands of product a month, you are going to come into contact with someone who might be allergic to your product. They will be allergic to anyones product because of the ingredients just do not agree with them.

Go back to the Proactiv 101 page here.

The medical information on the web site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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About Dominic Hough

Hi. I'm Dominic. I treat patients every day at a local clinic. I am a trained Chiropodist and I care about prevention. I designed the website to help readers understand treat and even prevent issues from happening to their feet.