AcneFree Clear Skin Innovations claims it clears skin 24/7, fights acne in five different ways, is quickly absorbed through the skin, and is “10 times gentler” than competing products. But do the claims for AcneFree match the reality?
- AcneFree claims its treatment systems fight acne five different ways, but the actual performance of the product is not quite as spectacular as its advertising indicates.
- AcneFree products use micronized, or finely ground benzoyl peroxide. This isn’t a time-released form of benzoyl peroxide. It’s just a form of benzoyl peroxide that can go deeper into your skin.
- If you get red, itchy skin when you use benzoyl peroxide, you will probably have a bad reaction to AcneFree.
- If you get good results from ProActiv, which usually costs a little more, you will probably get good results from AcneFree.
- Test a dot of AcneFree on your skin before putting it all over your face, just in case it makes you break out.
- Another option for cost-effective acne care is Exposed Skin Care.
Clearing Skin 24/7
AcneFree makes the claim that it clears skin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year on the basis of its inclusion of time-release benzoyl peroxide as an ingredient. There is solid scientific evidence that time-release benzoyl peroxide really does make a difference in treating acne.
The kind of benzoyl peroxide that is truly “time-released” is a specialized polymer known as a microsphere. In the 1990’s, scientists in Turkey developed a way of mixing benzoyl peroxide with a solvent that created a microscopic structure that would look something like a kiwi fruit. The outside of the pore-sized sphere was covered with benzoyl peroxide. Molecules of benzoyl peroxide broke off as the pore was moved inside the pore by natural mechanical forces on the skin. Only a small amount of benzoyl peroxide was active at any given time, so there was very little irritation, but acne bacteria were constantly exposed to the treatment, so they died off much faster.
That isn’t the kind of benzoyl peroxide used in AcneFree. The kind of benzoyl peroxide in AcneFree is “micronized” rather than “microencapsulated.” The benzoyl peroxide in this product is ground about 60 times finer than the benzoyl peroxide used in most lotions. It does a much better job of staying inside pores—but most of the product will remain on the surface of your face between pores where there are no acne bacteria to fight.
Fighting Acne Five Ways
Time-released benzoyl peroxide, the makers of AcneFree tell us, is just one of the five ways that the product clears acne-prone skin. AcneFree also contains salicylic acid, sulfur, retinol, and benzalkonium chloride.
Salicylic acid, which is also identified as beta-hydroxy acid, does not kill acne bacteria directly. Instead, it loosens debris on the surface of the skin and in the lining of pores so that they can drain more freely. The exfoliation of the topmost layer of the skin also stimulates the production of collagen at lower layers of the skin. Pores open and scars begin to fill in, and the skin takes on a healthier glow.
The tricky part of using salicylic acid in acne treatment is putting it in the product in the right concentration (it has to be 0.5% to 3.0%) and at the right pH (3.0 to 3.9), strong enough to remove dead skin and “glue” that keeps pores clogged but mild enough not to burn the skin. Almost all acne products err on the side of safety and include salicylic acid at the wrong concentration or the wrong pH, or both.
Sulfur deprives bacteria of proteins they need for growth and breaks down the “gunk” that causes blackheads and whiteheads. The makers of AcneFree claim that sulfur helps relieve non-inflammatory acne “without peeling or drying,” but most users of sulfur products find that they experience both peeling and drying of the skin.
Retinol is a form of vitamin used to stimulate growth of the skin, opening pores and making the skin smoother. Too much retinol, however, can cause the skin to grow too fast, resulting in itching and irritation.
Benzalkonium chloride is an antibacterial compound that is more often used to treat sinus infections. Back in the 1970’s, dermatologists found that it was as effective as antibiotics for controlling the growth of the kinds of bacteria that cause acne and impetigo—but that is only enough to control about 20% of blemishes the first week and maybe 50% of blemishes after a month.
Absorbed More Quickly?
The makers of AcneFree claim that their finely ground (micronized) benzoyl peroxide is absorbed more quickly that most other benzoyl peroxide products. This is true, but most of the product is rinsed away.
Ten Times More Gentle
AcneFree also claims that its product is “ten times more gentle” (or causes 10% as much irritation) as other benzoyl peroxide products. There are no independent studies to confirm this claim.
So, What Kind of Experience Can You Expect with AcneFree?
How you respond to AcneFree has a lot to do with the severity of your acne when you start treatment.
- If you have very mild acne, up to 10 blemishes (whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples) on your face, AcneFree will probably work well for you, as long as you don’t combine it with other treatments. Adding AcneFree to another benzoyl peroxide treatment for acne is almost a sure guarantee of reddening, inflammation, irritation, and a complexion that actually looks worse after treatment than before. If you get a good response to ProActiv, you will probably get a good response to Acne Free.
- If you have moderate acne, up to 25 blemishes on your face, AcneFree will probably work as well as Proactiv, but you are likely to experience drying of your face. You may find that you break out in whiteheads and blackheads about as quickly as you clear up pimples. This is a problem with many other products, too, but there are acne treatment systems that don’t have this side effect.
- If you have severe acne, over 25 blemishes on your face, AcneFree is more likely to work if you also take a zinc supplement. Any kind of zinc is fine, but don’t take more than 50 mg a day, because excess zinc can deplete your body’s supply of copper. People with oily skin acne report that the AcneFree system can leave their skin looking shiny.
Whether you have mild, moderate, or severe acne, always test any new acne treatment on a small area of skin before you put it all over your face. It’s important to know whether you are allergic to a product before you put it all over your face. If you get itchy or burning skin after using AcneFree and there is not enough money in your budget to buy another acne care product, try using it as a spot treatment for pimples rather than all over your face. You will limit the side effects but still get some benefit from your purchase.
Or better yet, return unused product for a money-back refund.
No acne treatment product clears up your skin in 24 hours. The very best acne treatment systems may get rid of most of your blemishes in about 30 days. A more reliable acne treatment system that is likely to be a lot easier on your skin is Exposed Skin Care.