Last Updated on January 6th, 2020
The makers of Noxzema (sometimes misspelled Noxema) skin care products are the dominant forces in low-cost acne skin care. The problem with Noxzema is that its acne products just don’t work for any but the oiliest allergy-free skin.
Article Table of Contents
Almost all Noxzema products contain camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. These ingredients are practically a trademark for the company. You open the jar or squeeze the tube and you instantly know it’s Noxzema.
The problem with some of these ingredients is that they irritate the skin. Camphor is an aromatic substance made from the bark of a tree that is closely related to cinnamon. Applied to the skin, it dilates blood vessels and produces a cooling effect. The additional blood flow to the skin, however, makes pimples redder and can trigger rosacea attacks in people who have this form of acne.
Eucalyptus oil is the ingredient in Hall’s Eucalyptus Cough Drops. It’s used in vaporizers when babies get colds. Extracted from the bark of eucalyptus trees, this oil can stimulate the skin to produce ceramides, the fat-like compounds that protect it from moisture. Of course, if you are trying to get rid of fat-like oils from your pores, you really don’t want to apply a product that stimulates your skin to produce other fat-like oils and seals them in. In rare cases, a strong odor of eucalyptus oil has been known to induce seizures.
Menthol cools the skin. It also dissolves salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, and a compound that breaks up plugs of hardened skin oils in pores on oily skin. Used without salicylic acid (and the salicylic acid has to be in the right concentration and at the right pH to do any good), however, menthol just creates a tingle in the skin that turns into a itch in the skin, as it kills healthy cells around pores. Like the other Noxzema ingredients, menthol used in the wrong way only makes skin problems worse. Now let’s look at the bestselling Noxzema acne products one by one.
This skin cleanser could be fairly rated “not all that bad” for very oily skin. It fights bacterial infection with the ingredient triclosan, and it contains a potassium hydroxide cleanser that can help break up plugs of sebum hardened in pores. The problem with this cleanser is that it contains so much potassium hydroxide that it can dry out and tighten all but the oiliest skin, creating about as many whiteheads as it removes. Of course, from a marketing standpoint, this is a great characteristic—it keeps customers coming back for more!
This toner tightens the skin with the action of alcohol, menthol, and peppermint oil. It leaves the skin feeling fresh and cool. It fights acne-causing bacteria.
So what’s not to love about Noxzema Anti-Blemish Astringent? The alcohol in this product can actually cause more blemishes! When you dry out your skin with alcohol, it protects itself by producing more oil.
The box of Noxzema Anti-Blemish Pads looks like a real bargain. At a Dollar Store, you might get a box of 65 pads for as little as US $2.99. Even at regular retailers, the suggested retail price is just $4.49, or less than $0.07 a pad.
The problem with these pads is the same as with the Anti-Blemish Astringent. The pads contain a mixture of alcohol, camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. The alcohol both removes oil from the skin and stimulates the skin to create more, ensuring that you always need to use the pads.
This blackhead cleanser may actually help remove blackheads on loose, oily skin. It contains tiny particles of polyethylene plastic that scrub the skin without injuring it, and it contains 2% salicylic acid, which helps strip away the fats that hold dead skin cells to the surface and that plug pores. The problem with this and many similar cleansers is that salicylic acid has to set on the skin in order to really work, and most people simply apply the cleanser and rinse it away before the active ingredients can do their jobs. For salicylic acid to really get into your pores to break up clogs, you need to apply this cleanser and then let it set for at least 30 seconds. Since your face is often dripping and wet, this isn’t the most comfortable experience. Salicylic acid is typically much more effective when used in a product that remains on your face all day, like a treatment cream.
If you are an American over the age of 50, you probably can remember a time when the blue jar of Noxzema cleansing cream was the only product many stores carried for acne treatment. This product was the mainstay of anti-acne skin care. The cream used to be made with lye, just to make sure it got all the dirt off your face. Phenol was added to make sure it stayed fresh—and you could be sure the bacteria off your fingers met sudden death when you dipped your fingers in Noxzema.
Nowadays Noxzema cleaning cream no longer contains lye or phenol. You can’t use it to strip wax off your floors, or to prime outdoor surfaces for painting. However, the eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor that cause problems with almost all Noxzema products are still in the cleansing cream, and if you have sensitive skin, you really should avoid it. People who have especially resistant (non-sensitive) oily skin may be OK after using Noxzema, but there are better options.
The appeal of Noxzema skin care products is that they smell good and they don’t cost very much. If you can spend just a few dollars more, however, you can treat your acne with a complete skin care system like Exposed Skin Care. You may spend a few more dollars upfront, but you won’t be perpetuating your acne care problems. You just might get rid of acne for good with Exposed Skin Care. With a money-back guarantee you have nothing to lose but your zits.