Last Updated on November 21st, 2021
Unlike many mainstream skin care brands, Dermalogica was built on the idea that truly effective skin care products must be free from ingredients that irritate the skin, like specially denatured (SD) alcohol, fragrances, and dyes. Because of its dedication to well-rounded products, we wanted to see if Dermalogica products really live up to the hype created by the online reviews. Specifically, we are taking a look at the Dermalogica Clearly Matte Kit, which is designed to “deep clean and purify skin, clear breakouts fast and hydrate and defend against harmful UV rays without clogging pores.”
Can it really do all that? We’re stacking the Dermalogica reviews up against the reviews for another best-selling skincare kit, the Exposed Skincare Basic Kit. We’e comparing these two because they have similar claims and price points—but you’ll see that one brand really stands out over the other.
Article Table of Contents
Acne is caused by a variety of factors, and unless all of those factors are addressed, your acne isn’t going anywhere. So before trying out any new skin care products, you should make sure that they are really able to clear your skin.
There are four basic issues that lead to acne:
The ideal acne treatment addresses all four of these factors. This is why we frequently recommend the Exposed Skincare Basic Kit. It has a success rate of 98% in clearing acne by tackling all four of the acne-causing factors.
So let’s put the Dermalogica Clearly Matte Kit head to head with the Exposed Skincare Basic Kit. See how it measures up in all of these areas in the convenient chart below.
As you can see, these Dermalogica products really only solve one out of the four major acne problems.
The Dermalogica products claim to offer added benefits, like skin brightening and reduction in acne scars, but that isn’t helpful if you’re still getting consistent acne. Meanwhile, the Exposed products check every box, which tells us that the success rate for that kit will be higher.
The comparison reveals that the Exposed Skincare Basic Kit is a better value. You get four products instead of three, and the 1-year performance guarantee means you can return your empty product for a refund within a year of purchase. This guarantee is why we recommend Exposed—it’s risk-free to try, and 98% of users see clearer skin.
It’s one thing for us to tell you that the Dermalogical Clearly Matte Kit doesn’t prevent excess oil production, unclog pores, or kill acne-causing bacteria, but we would never make you simply take our word for it. Instead, we’re going to break down the formulas of each product in the kit and explain why they work (and why they don’t).
Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash: This is the only product in the kit that has an active ingredient, which is salicylic acid, 0.5%. Generally, salicylic acid is a great ingredient for treating acne because it sinks into the pores and breaks up the excess oil and dead skin cells, which means it takes care of one of the four major causes of acne: clogged pores.
However, Clearly Matte Kit likely can’t unclog pores because the salicylic acid is in the face wash. That’s because you immediately rinse face wash off, which doesn’t actually give the salicylic acid enough time to do anything at all for your skin. On the plus side, it does contain several essential oils that are known to reduce inflammation, such as tea tree oil, lavender oil, and licorice root extract.
Breakout Clearing Booster: This Dermalogica product also contains salicylic acid. However, it isn’t listed as an active ingredient, meaning the amount included is likely too small to have an effect on acne. If you have moderate to severe acne, it is unlikely to make much of a difference in your skin.
If you want to brighten your skin and reduce scars left behind by acne, this could be a good choice. It contains niacinamide and orange peel oil, both of which are known to even out skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation. But if you are purchasing this kit to combat current acne, you likely won’t see results.
Clearing Defense SPF 30 Mattifying Moisturizer: A lot of people with acne skip the moisturizing step for fear of clogging their pores, but in reality, moisturizing is one of the best ways to help prevent acne. Dry skin can lead to irritation and inflammation, and inflammation is one of the primary causes of acne. If you keep your skin well-moisturized, you can actually prevent a lot of acne from forming in the first place.
This moisturizer in particular is a fine choice for acne-prone skin. It contains willow bark extract, which is derived from the same plant as salicylic acid, plus more orange peel oil for brightening and natural tapioca to help prevent shininess.
We examined the Dermalogica Clearly Matte Kit because it is their main acne treatment kit, but there are some other wildly popular Dermalogica skin care products to review as well. Specifically, we want to take a look at the Daily Microfoliant, the Special Cleansing Gel, and the Skin Smoothing Cream and see if they live up to the Dermalogica reviews.
Daily Microfoliant: The Daily Microfoliant is a loose, rice-based powder that you mix with water to physically exfoliate your skin. Physical exfoliation is when you use a rough substance (like rice powder) to physically remove oil and dead skin cells. The trouble is, physical exfoliants tend to cause a lot of irritation and inflammation, which can actually lead to more acne. That’s our biggest worry with the Daily Microfoliant, so we don’t highly recommend it.
Special Cleansing Gel: This product is essentially a face wash, and we actually think it should work very well based on its formula and ingredients. It’s a foaming cleanser, which we usually recommend avoiding because the chemicals that encourage foaming can cause irritation, but this Special Cleansing Gel is special because it uses an all-natural foaming agent called Quillaja Saponaria.
Skin Smoothing Cream: If you have seriously dry skin, then this intense moisturizer could be the right product for you. It contains aloe vera extract, cucumber extract, and plenty of other hydrating ingredients that actually help your skin retain water to leave your skin feeling hydrated for days. But if your skin is sensitive, be cautious. This cream has a long list of ingredients, which means it’s far more likely to irritate sensitive skin.
Before you decide to use a new acne treatment product, we always recommend checking out its 1-star reviews. If there are some common problems that could affect your skin type, it’s good to know before buying the product, and 1-star reviews are often more reliable than 5-star reviews, which can be easily manipulated by large companies.
Follow us through three of the biggest issues with the Clearly Matte Kit based on ten 1-star Dermalogica reviews from Acne.org and Dermalogica’s website, and read three real Dermalogica reviews that show the problems with the kit.
The biggest issue among Dermalogica reviews seems to be that this kit actually causes additional breakouts for many people.
I was struggling with break outs and unevenness on my forehead but since using this they have only got worse and the spots have spread to my cheeks. Not sure what to do!
The product is terrible, i was expecting it to be amazing because of the price, but it burnt my skin and made it very dry. At the minute i can not even wear makeup as my skin is so dry. i only have it one star because you can’t give it none.
made skin soft. didnt work for me i think this product is great for balancing ph levels it made my skin ultra soft like never before. however my mild acne became much worse and whet to moderate. these products werent for me.
We looked into Dermalogica’s company ownership, customer service, and return policy, and we found a few good things, like a very cool skin analysis tool on their website, but we also found a few things that concerned us. Follow us as we explore Dermalogica’s corporate policies that might negatively impact your experience.
Dermalogica was founded in 1982 by skin therapist Jane Wurwand in an attempt to create skin care without all the harmful ingredients that bothered her own skin, like alcohol and fragrances. That sounds really great, but in 2013, they became a subsidiary of Unilever, a massive multinational company that manufactures everything from Breyer’s ice cream to Lux fragrances . Under this new company, their high-quality skin care priorities may have changed.
Another area of concern is that Dermalogica is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). When a company that’s been around for nearly 40 years isn’t accredited by the BBB, that raises a major red flag.
The BBB is a great organization to help consumers identify shady business practices, so by not being accredited, we worry that Dermalogica may not have the best customer service.
Case in point: Dermalogica’s return policy. The Dermalogica return policy is acceptable, but not great. For up to 30 days after your purchase, you can return your Dermalogica products for a full refund. However, because the return policy is based on the date of purchase, if it takes 15 days to ship to you, then you really only have 15 days to test it out and see if you want to return it.
This is why we love Exposed Skincare. The company gives you a full year to test its products. If you don’t like them, you just send the products back and get a full refund. This is the best money-back guarantee in the skincare industry, and is a major reason why we believe you should try Exposed.
We also love that Exposed is not owned by a massive conglomerate. The company’s customer service team is easy to talk to and their products are easy to get. That’s because every product is made in the USA and Canada. Plus, the Seattle-based company sources its ingredients responsibly and doesn’t test on animals. These are all really important reasons to choose Exposed Skincare, besides the fact that their products work.
Based on our research into Dermalogica reviews and product formulas, it seems like their products are generally good for the skin, but not necessarily good for treating acne specifically.
As we’ve said, we recommend a kit that is proven to treat acne specifically and help improve the quality of your skin at the same time. For us, our top-reviewed product line is Exposed Skin Care.
We recommend Exposed because it works, and we like the company’s philosophy of using low levels of acne-fighting ingredients combined with natural botanicals. This combo fights all four primary causes of acne without irritating your skin.
Start with the Basic Kit, which gives you a 3-step morning routine and 3-step evening routine.
Taking this simple first step to clearing your acne will have results. The system is proven to clear skin within 30 days (or, like we said, you get your money back—seriously!).