Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007


Zenmed Derma Cleanse Review – Does It Really WORK?

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

All of the ZENMED Derma Cleanse products, the manufacturer tells us, are formulated for long-term maintenance of clear skin. The Derma Cleanse line uses the exfoliating power of alpha- and beta- hydroxy acids to prevent the buildup of dead skin in pores, thereby stopping pimples before they start. ZENMED products are intend to clear existing pimples, prevent the formation of new pimples, and to heal scars and discoloration. But do they work?


  • ZENMED Derma Cleanse products are formulated for long-term care of acne-prone skin.
  • ZENMED does not use sulfur, sodium lauryl sulfate, petrochemicals, animal ingredients, or synthetic perfumes.
  • The botanicals in ZENMED’s Botanical Body Wash (for body acne) can clear up your skin—or make it break out even worse. It’s essential to test a dot of the product on the skin of your forearm before you spread it all over your face.
  • The ZENMED Botanical Face Mask can break up the clumps of skin that hold whiteheads and blackheads in your skin. But it can either soothe or irritate your skin, depending on whether you are sensitive to its botanical ingredients.
  • ZENMED Derma Cleanse Acne Gel suffers the same formulation problems that plague other ZENMED products. It has all the right ingredients—plus the wrong ingredients for sensitive skin.

Key Selling Points for All ZENMED Products

ZENMED sells its products partially on the basis of what they do not contain. ZENMED does not use sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, which are effective and cheap chemicals for keeping ingredients in a liquid blend that can cause breakouts on the skin—in up to 80% of adult women who use them.

ZENMED does not use sulfur, petrochemicals, animal ingredients, or synthetic fragrances. It does not test its products on animals, and it does not use packaging that cannot be recycled. What’s not in a product is not enough to prove that it can cure acne, but ZENMED’s attention to these details is a sign that may also care about what they do put in their products. Let’s take a look at their most important acne products one by one.

ZENMED Botanical Body Wash

ZENMED’s Botanical Body Wash is advertised as a treatment for body acne. Blackheads and pimples that form on the shoulders, chest, and back are usually harder to treat because they are in tougher skin. This body wash contains the herbal heavy-hitters that can have a real effect on body acne.

Ground walnut shells can loosen up hardened sebum in pores on tough skin. Essential oils of sage, wild thyme, mint, and comfrey can irritate the skin just enough to stimulate increased formation of collagen, strengthening the skin and opening up pores. There are no ingredients in this formula that will get rid of body acne overnight, but it is a valid natural formula for body acne relief.

However, ZENMED Botanical Body Wash is a product you should not use on the skin of your face. Any kind of scrubbing fiber, such as ground walnut shells, can damage delicate pores in facial skin. There are at least 20 herbal ingredients in this formula that can cause allergies. And while the formula technically does not contain “sodium lauryl sulfate,” it contains a chemically treated form of coconut oil (the source of lauric acid used to make lauryl sulfate when it is combined with sulfuric acid) that acts in about the same way.

This formula is a potent treatment for body acne. It’s so potent that you should test a dot of it on the skin of your arm, leaving it there for at least 8 hours, to check for allergies and contact dermatitis before you use it on your entire body.

ZENMED Botanical Acne Mask

ZENMED’s Botanical Acne Mask contains the right ingredients in the right amount at the right pH to strip dead skin out of pores and to rejuvenate tired skin. The salicylic acid in this formula will exfoliate dry, normal, or oily skin, and the herbal ingredients in the mask will leave a bracing, refreshed feeling on your face.

The possible downside to the ZENMED Botanical Acne Mask is the same as the possible downside for the ZENMED Botanical Body Wash. It contains so many herbal ingredients that it can aggravate sensitive skin. If you have rosacea, or if you have chemical sensitivities, or if you have allergies, you should not use this product.

ZENMED Sebum Regulating Moisturizer

Drying out the skin is never the way to get rid of acne. Regulating the production of sebum in the skin keeps too much oil from accumulating in pores, while moisturizing the skin keeps the it flexible so pores can drain. Stopping just enough oil production by the skin while keeping the skin moist and supple is the objective of this product.

The ZENMED Sebum Regulating Moisturizer is primarily a mixture of purified water and propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a humectant; that is, it seals moisture in the skin. The product contains other skin-identical ingredients, helping maintain the flexibility of the skin, along with vitamins A, B5, and E.

The antioxidant vitamins in this product probably will only have an effect on your skin the very first time you use the product. Just opening the bottle lets in enough air to oxidize and neutralize any antioxidant ingredients added to the formula. The allantoin, aloe vera, and rose essence in the formula, however, are shelf-stable and may slightly increase healthy growth of the skin.

These are the three ZENMED acne products that just might work for your skin. But what about the bestselling ZENMED acne product, its Dermacleanse Acne Gel?

ZENMED Dermacleanse Acne Gel

ZENMED advertises its Dermacleanse Acne Gel as “better than no treatment at all” for whiteheads, pimples, and blocked pores. By accelerating healing time, acne scars may be less likely to form.

And the ingredients ZENMED chose for the acne gel make sense. The product contains salicylic acid at a pH of 3.5. The gel is sufficiently acidic for the salicylic acid actually to break up clumps of dead skin in pores and to stimulate the production of new, healthy skin. The acne gel causes tingling of the skin, which is a bad thing in skin cleansers and facial masks, but a good sign when your objective is stripping dead cells off the surface of your skin.

Unfortunately, all the other ingredients added to this acne gel cancel out the benefits of salicylic acid at the right pH and in the right amount:

  • Witch hazel can close the pores that the salicylic acid opens.
  • Chlorhexidine gluconate can cause skin irritation in some users.
  • Meadowsweet (Spiraea ulmaria) can cause hives in people who are allergic to aspirin.

And do you really want to come down with a nasty case of hives as a result of treating your acne?

Should Anyone Use ZENMED?

Probably you are familiar with the idea of a “cast iron stomach.” If you have “cast iron skin” that does not react to fragrances or essential oils or botanicals or chemicals, then chances are you would have a good experience with ZENMED products (other than the fact they are a little expensive).

But if you have any kind of skin sensitivity, you probably would have a better experience with Exposed Skin Care.

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