Monday, December 28, 2015

Proactiv—Solution? Part I

I have a mixed report on this infomercial product-by-mail. I have had several clients come into my clinic telling me how Proactiv “tore up” their skin. And I have also had experience with a few people who have had success with it. Over the span of a few articles, I will include some stories of how Proactiv helped or hindered the clearing of their problem skin.

What’s in Proactiv Solution?

This is a benzoyl peroxide-based skin care product line. The most basic Proactiv Solution program consists of four products: Cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and mask. The pH values of all but the mask are acidic, which is good. The mask tested to be alkaline, so if you decide to use this product line, I would be careful about using the mask. As you know, alkalinity can dry out the skin’s surface. Proactiv also contains fragrance; something that cannot be ignored once you smell the different products. This should raise a red flag if you have known reactions to fragrance in products, so be aware and be careful.
  • The Renewing Cleanser has 2.5% benzoyl peroxide (BP).
  • The Revitalizing Toner has glycolic acid as its second ingredient, along with aloe, chamomile, and witch hazel as some of the top ingredients.
  • The Repairing Lotion Acne Treatment (moisturizer) also has 2.5% BP.
  • The Refining Mask Acne Treatment has kaolin (clay) as its second ingredient, which is actually a good thing. Too bad it’s an alkaline mask.
The ingredients in this system are predominately synthetic, with a few organic ingredients thrown in, mostly in the toner.

Proactiv has definitely worked for many people—although some for just a short period of time. If you are at the end of your rope, you might want to give these products a try. By this I mean you have really looked into your diet and lifestyle habits and cannot determine a source for your breakouts. Or at least no source that you are willing to give up, perhaps. Ingredient for ingredient, I am not impressed with Proactiv, but if it works for you then that is what really matters.

Kerry’s story. Kerry was pregnant with her second baby. Her skin, like with the first pregnancy, had gone completely haywire. No matter how good she was about doing all the right things, her skin was still at the mercy of the baby growing inside her. Hormones are funny things, and when a woman is pregnant, they control just about everything, including her skin.

Kerry came in for a facial with what looked like chapped skin all over her face. She was so dried out and dehydrated I couldn’t believe it. I asked her what she had been doing, and she reluctantly admitted the truth. She had gone to the store and purchased products that promised to clear up acne. What they had done instead was dry out the entire surface of her face, which did relatively nothing for the infections and cysts coming up from below the skin.

I got her to stop using the harsh, drying products, and considered the options with her. She shyly asked me what I thought of Proactiv. I said I honestly didn’t have any personal experience with it, but that several clients in recent years had said it was one of the worst things they had used on their skin.

A month later I saw Kerry for another facial and noticed an improvement in her skin. It was perhaps 25% better than the previous month. She went on to tell me she had purchased the Proactiv products and decided to use them and see how it went. She, too, had noticed a difference in her skin; it seemed to be clearing up a bit. Here is what Kerry had to say about her Proactiv experience.

Proactiv worked to dry my skin out pretty well, but nothing really helped to clear it up. It definitely improved the bright red, breakout pus things, but didn’t help with the blackheads that were so bad. The cleanser and toner are the best products. The lotion (moisturizer) was okay, but the mask was horrific. Let me put it this way, using Proactiv made me feel like I was doing something to sort of help my skin, but nothing really could make it better. It finally cleared up in my fourth month of pregnancy.

One of the side effects I noticed with Kerry’s skin was dehydration; in fact it was flaky. This was no doubt from the benzoyl peroxide contained in Proactiv. Benzoyl peroxide, although sometimes effective for blemishes, can really dry out the surface skin. Although Kerry had some success with Proactiv, she ended up going back to her regular routine with the products she had used for years. Products that didn’t dry out her skin.

Proactiv does work for some people. But if the cause of the problem skin is dietary and the diet is not altered dramatically to ensure a healthy body and therefore healthy skin, the problems will continue to occur. You may go through an initial period of clear skin. Then three, four, or maybe six months later (even while still using Proactiv), your problems might seem to be returning in full. This is because you did nothing to stop the acne from occurring in the first place. You took the short cut, which usually leads you in a circle back to where you started. It’s about causal healing, not quick fixes. Remember, you must fix the system, not just the symptom.

If you have problem skin, these articles and others on this blog may be of interest: