Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Will Clean & Clear Really Clean And Clear Your Acne Blemishes?

By Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

After reviewing the labels on Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear products for acne, I was prepared to write a scathing review. But I accidentally picked up the wrong product when I went to the cosmetics counter and came home with a tube of Clean & Clear, so I tried it myself.

Clean and Clear for acne
Clean and Clear Acne Spot Treatment works on both blackheads and pimples.

To my considerable surprise, Clean & Clear worked. It worked literally overnight. Since I have to be honest about what I know really works, I took a second look at the Clean & Clear product line and I think I’ve figured out why these products really work. And that’s a great thing, because Clean & Clear is one of the most affordable brands of acne care products you can find in the USA and Canada. Let’s take another look at their bestselling brands.


  • Clean & Clear Mark Treatment can literally get results overnight.
  • Clean & Clear Acne Spot Treatment is one of the few treatments that will work on blackheads as well as pimples.
  • Some Clean & Clear products aren’t advisable if you have dry or allergy-prone skin.
  • For a comprehensive approach to acne skin care, try Exposed Skin Care.

The Clean & Clear Product That Worked For Me

By the time you are 56 years old, you aren’t supposed to get acne any more. I usually don’t. But once or twice a year I get whitehead or a blackhead and every year or two I get a pimple. When I do, I can treat them easily with moisturizer (to help a whitehead or blackhead pop right out on its own) or benzoyl peroxide (to stop the bacteria in a pimple). But because I live in an especially hot and sunny climate, I get brown spots that last a lot longer than blemishes.

A few days ago I accidentally picked up a tube of Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment. It’s usually US $6.49 but it rang up as $4.99 at the cash register. This product contains 2% salicylic acid at a pH of 3. That is the right amount of salicylic acid at the right pH to gently lift and remove the top few layers of cells on pigmented skin. Because the product is made with salicylic acid instead of glycolic acid, it is good for treating red marks on the skin as well as brown marks left behind when acne-prone skin is exposed to the sun.

I dabbed a little bit of the mark treatment on some spots that have been on my face for about two months. I had a couple of blackheads that were easy to treat, but the day I treated them I also took a stroll down to the market in the afternoon heat.

That particular day it wasn’t just hot. The sun was so bright and strong that it literally hurt to go out in it. The air temperature was just at our all-time record high, 112° F/56° C but the temperature of exposed skin was about 165° F/73° C. That’s hot enough literally to cook your skin if you can’t sweat.

I don’t have the kind of skin that burns, so I wasn’t red when I got back from the store. But the next morning I had several brown blotches on my face where I had had the blackheads.

Fast forward two months to my accidental purchase of Clean & Clear. I still had the brown spots on the side of my face, so I decided to dab on a little Clean & Clear before I went to bed and see what happened. The next morning I looked in the mirror and they were gone.

I’ve never used any product that worked that well. I can say with absolute confidence that if you are a 56-year-old man who has olive skin tones and very mild acne Clean & Clear is the mark remover for you. And this is probably true for a lot of people who (1) are a lot younger or older than their mid-50’s, (2) have skin tones other than olive and (3) aren’t men.

The Pros and Cons of Clean & Clear

I happen to have especially resistant skin. I could tour (and have toured) a sulfuric acid factory or a steel mill and not break out. But not everybody’s skin is resistant.

If you have allergy-prone or chemical-sensitive skin, the alcohol and witch hazel extract in Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment might be a little too much for you. The salicylic acid will still get rid of existing pigmentation, but the alcohol and witch hazel can cause new inflammation. You aren’t going to get any new blemishes that are worse than the ones you have now as long as you use the product as a spot treatment, but it’s not impossible that you would create new spots as you clear up old ones if you have sensitive skin and you don’t use sunscreen when you are using Clean & Clear’s mark remover. Some Clean & Clear products, however, are safe even if you have sensitive skin.

Safe Clean & Clear Products For Sensitive Skin

Clean & Clear makes a moisturizer that is great for sensitive skin unless you happen to be allergic to cinnamon. The Advantage Acne Control Moisturizer Oil-Free contains just enough salicylic acid that it can break up the “glue” that holds hardened sebum in pores, but it also contains a good moisturizer that can keep the skin soft and supple. The product helps give your skin an even matte, or finish, so that rough spots are not noticeable and scars are not as prominent.

The Clean & Clear Acne Advantage Spot Treatment is also useful for all types of skin. It’s based on salicylic acid instead of benzoyl peroxide, so it works better on blackheads instead of pimples, although it can also stimulate the healing of pimples. Again, if you have an allergy to cinnamon, you should not use this product, but it’s one of just a few acne spot treatments that you can use to get rid of blackheads without popping or squeezing.

Unfortunately, there can still be a lot of problems with other Clean & Clear products, especially if you have sensitive or oily skin. Most of them contain ingredients that can irritate or dry out the skin, which causes the skin to repair itself by making more sebum which then clogs more pores. However, I’ll be testing them all systematically, and if I happen to be wrong about them, I’ll let you know through this site’s blog.

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jogu07 Reply

Yes, the clean and clear treatment can to a certain extent help you get rid of the acne blemishes on your face and this is because one of the reasons for recirring acne is dirt and pollution on the face. If you wash your face and cleanse your face regularly and religiously, it may help a great deal to keep your skin clean and healthy, get rid of the acne and open pores so that your skin can breathe which would reduce acne and it also helps in undarken your blemishes caused because of the acne. It is very important to keep your skin clean, scrub your skin regularly to get rid of the black and white heads.

February 7, 2012 at 9:23 am Reply
Amandabea Reply

This was the biggest piece of shit I've used my whole life. I can't believe I actually spent money on this prouduct. I was trying to use it to lighten up some scarring that I had, and I put it on at night, woke up, and it was like all of those past pimples had resurrected, just without the pus, but I have around 30 bright, blood red dots ALL OVER my face now, it burns terribly, and no clue of what to do about it. So thanks clean and clear for ruining my life.

August 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm Reply
Dakota Reply

Does it really not work? Because I was going to try the honey mask. And if someone says it wont work I wont try it....And i'm really sorry about you'r face my face is Pretty bad to I have alot of pimples and black heads.

August 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm Reply
Sara Reply

After Reading lot of reviews I bought this kit to try on. My skin is a normal one. I have been using this for the past 2 weeks and their is no result. I have only few acne on my chin which doesn't disappear since 2 weeks. No results , waste of money. Bought it in Walmart for $16. Don't buy this crap product.

November 15, 2014 at 9:37 pm Reply
sagar Reply

Yes I also used tha clean na clear it dosent work my face its not gud to removed pimples so dont buy this if u r buy this this get a more pimples in ur face....

April 19, 2015 at 8:03 am Reply
Tulip Reply

I know there's a lot of people here saying "It gives me more acne" I m guessing it's basically sucking in all of the pimples I'm unsure if it's actually going to remove them because I started using this yesterday, I've had acne for a very long time and completely sucks. If any of you are starting to break out like 1 or 2 pimples don't pop them it just spreads over your skin when you scratch or touch it and clean your hands and avoid touching you face, that's where I got pimples from. And does anyone have any type of homemade simply treatments that work for pimples and dark spots, and black/white heads? I'd really appreciate it.

February 24, 2016 at 12:52 am Reply
alex Reply

This was an awful product. I came out in red sores all over my face and neck and this have never happened before with any products that are similar. I do not recommend this to anyone.

March 24, 2016 at 7:32 am Reply
rosalie Reply

I tried the clean and clear, and it didnt really work, but after that I went to tnt to buy some aloe vera face mask. it actually works, after I was done showering I would put it on, and by the next morning, the swelling and the redness was gone, so only this little bump was there. I used this routine for about four to five days, and by then the pimple was actually gone.

February 21, 2017 at 5:06 am Reply
Lele Reply

Bad product. only causes more pimples... sure... you think it works when you feel your face get colder just a bit... but no... within 3 days later... you get a face full of pimples... like wth

April 5, 2017 at 10:56 am Reply
Elizabeth Reply

alot of bad comments lol

September 15, 2017 at 1:08 am Reply
Becky Reply

IVE been using this for a few days on some really horribly aggressive spots I get every month or two in the side of my chin. Everything I’ve tried never works and I had no idea why I suddenly get them. I’ve been using this and it’s the only thing that seems to have worked. They are less inflamed and less irritated, and the swelling has gone down so much by a noticeable amount. Definitely worked for me.

August 27, 2018 at 10:35 am Reply