Helping People Achieve Clear Skin For More Than 10 Years

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What’s New About The New Proactiv Plus?

The most well-known acne product on the market just got better. The new Proactiv Plus heals your skin in ways few other acne killers can1. While we still think Exposed Skin Care is the best over-the-counter acne treatment system available, there is no doubt Proactiv Plus is a big improvement over the ‘old’ Proactiv.

Proactiv Plus fights acne2 with the power of benzoyl peroxide combined with nanotechnology3. The old Proactive acne system used benzoyl peroxide too, of course. Hundreds of anti-acne preparations do.

proactiv plus
Proactiv Plus uses benzoyl peroxide combined with nanotechnology.

Benzoyl peroxide is a reliable way to kill4 the bacteria that cause zits. Just 48 hours after benzoyl peroxide finds its way inside a pore, more than 99% of the bacteria that can clog it are dead. But the problem with older products was that benzoyl peroxide (1) didn’t always find its way inside a pore and (2) usually caused some degree of skin inflammation. This new way of formulating products with benzoyl peroxide takes care of both of these problems in ways that generic benzoyl peroxide in other products never can.

The reason older acne products didn’t always get down inside skin pores where they are needed is very simple. Acne is caused by clogged pores. The clog in the pore keeps “chunky” medications, even finely milled medications from getting inside. The new technology creates particles that are so small that they can slip past sebum, dead bacteria, and dead skin cells to penetrate the pore and do their work5.

But even when benzoyl peroxide did penetrate the skin, in the old-style products, it could be irritating. Everybody gets red, itchy, skin when using a product that’s 10% benzoyl peroxide or more. Lots of people get red or itchy or flaky skin when using a product that’s just 5% benzoyl peroxide. Some companies just reduced the amount of benzoyl peroxide in their acne creams and lotions to 2%, but that’s not optimally antibacterial unless the chemical is processed in a way that makes sure it get where it needs to go. What was needed was a way to make the chemical fight bacteria inside pores6 without injuring skin around them. And nanotechnology is the way to do that.

Proactiv Plus doesn’t just contain tiny particles of benzoyl peroxide that can penetrate deep into pores. It coats them with a natural polymer that bacteria find yummy. Some benzoyl peroxide gets eaten by bacteria, which die in less than 2 days. The rest of the benzoyl peroxide nanoparticles simply hang around until the pore flushes them out naturally7.

The result is that Proactiv Plus kills bacteria fast but doesn’t irritate your skin. Redness, irritation, flaking and peeling are kept to a minimum. Your pores open up as your skin renews itself from the inside out, without the bacteria that can clog them all over again.

But that isn’t all that makes the new Proactiv Plus such a “plus.” Proactiv plus moisturizes your skin without making it oily. The extra moisture in your skin8 causes the tiny particles of benzoyl peroxide to swell inside your pores once they have reached their destination. Bacteria can’t miss them. And your healthy skin is smoother and less wrinkly.

Proactiv Plus softens your skin so that enlarged pores relax and acne scars begin to fill in naturally.   This brings out your natural skin tones, the reds and yellows and browns and blacks that make your skin distinctively your own.

The benzoyl peroxide in Proactiv Plus is formulated to be so effective that the product works with just 2.5%, a gentle formula that kills bacteria without killing skin cells9. And just in case your skin is exposed to some other irritant, Proactiv Plus also contains the active ingredient in aspirin, salicylic acid, to stop redness, inflammation, irritation, and itch10.

Now we’ll answer some common questions about Proactiv Plus.

Q. How long does it take Proactiv Plus to clear up your skin?
A. Proactiv Plus kills acne bacteria, and then your skin has to renew itself from the inside out. This takes about 30 days, longer if you have other infections (like impetigo) or if you let yourself get sunburned. Killing acne bacteria isn’t all you need to do, of course. You need to cleanse your skin to get rid of oils that can still make whiteheads and blackheads. You need to moisturize your skin to keep your pores open. And if you have yellow, brown, or black skin, in particular, you need to use sunscreen to keep pigments from forming where acne heals. But if you aren’t seeing initial results in 30 days, take advantage of your seller’s return policy.

Q. Isn’t ProAktiv the same thing as Up and Up?
A. No. Up and Up doesn’t have benzoyl peroxide in the non-irritating nanoparticle form.

Q. What about tea tree oil? Isn’t tea tree oil more effective than benzoyl peroxide?
A. Tea tree oil is a little slower in killing bacteria than benzoyl peroxide11, but it almost never (unless you happen to be allergic to it, something that doesn’t happen with benzoyl peroxide) makes your skin break out. However, in some boys, tea tree oil can stimulate the growth of breast tissues. Big boobs are a  bigger cosmetic problem than acne for most pre-teen and early-teen boys. And since the new, “nanized” benzoyl peroxide does not cause inflammation, it now has the main advantage that tea tree oil does.

Q. Is it true that Proactiv Plus can turn your skin orange?
A. No. That’s a side effect of Retin-A and retinol treatment. If you use both Retin-A and ProAktiv, you may notice some strange coloration of your skin, but it’s the medication that is causing that, the same your skin would turn orange if you ate a couple of bunches of carrots a day, providing an amount of vitamin A comparable to Retin-A12.

Q. I read product reviews that say just to skip ProAktiv Plus and get a prescription for Accutane. Is that a good idea?
A. Even when health insurance changes in the US on January 1, 2014, many people won’t be able to get Accutane under the health coverage, and it is not cheap. But even if it were free, there are problems with the medication that you don’t have with ProAktiv. Accutane can cause severe irritation. It is linked with depression13. And it is not safe for women who could become pregnant. None of these problems are found with ProAktiv, which is a lot less expensive, and doesn’t require blood tests and doctor visits.

Q. Do I absolutely, positively have to use ProAktiv Plus every day?
A. We’d like for everyone to buy more ProAktiv Plus, of course, But the truth is, if your acne is under control, you can use it for spots when they break out, only when you need it. But if you have multiple pimples on your face, use this product every day until you get your acne under control.


  1. Eichenfield LF, Thiboutot D, Shalita A, Swinyer L, Tanghetti E, Tschen E, Parr L. A Three-Step Acne System Containing Solubilized Benzoyl Peroxide versus Benzoyl Peroxide/Clindamycin in Pediatric Patients with Acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009 Nov;2(11):21-6.
  2. Rodan K, Fields K, Falla TJ. Efficacy of a twice-daily, 3-step, over-the-counter skincare regimen for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017 Jan 4;10:3-9.
  3. Vyas A, Kumar Sonker A, Gidwani B. Carrier-based drug delivery system for treatment of acne. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Feb 9;2014:276260.
  4. Kawashima M, Nagare T, Doi M. Clinical efficacy and safety of benzoyl peroxide for acne vulgaris: Comparison between Japanese and Western patients. J Dermatol. 2017 Nov;44(11):1212-1218.
  5. Kahraman E, Özhan G, Özsoy Y, Güngör S. Polymeric micellar nanocarriers of benzoyl peroxide as potential follicular targeting approach for acne treatment. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2016 Oct 1;146:692-9.
  6. Kircik LH. Microsphere technology: hype or help? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011 May;4(5):27-31.
  7. Antonio JR, Antônio CR, Cardeal IL, Ballavenuto JM, Oliveira JR. Nanotechnology in dermatology. An Bras Dermatol. 2014 Jan-Feb;89(1):126-36.
  8. Rosso JD, Zeichner J, Alexis A, Cohen D, Berson D. Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner: Proceedings of an Expert Panel Roundtable Meeting. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016 Apr;9(4 Suppl 1):S2-S8. Epub 2016 Apr 1.
  9. Tan AU, Schlosser BJ, Paller AS. A review of diagnosis and treatment of acne in adult female patients. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2017 Dec 23;4(2):56-71.
  10. Whitney KM, Ditre CM. Management strategies for acne vulgaris. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 4:41-53.
  11. Kim MR, Kerrouche N. Combination of benzoyl peroxide 5% gel with liquid cleanser and moisturizer SPF 30 in acne treatment results in high levels of subject satisfaction, good adherence and favorable tolerability. J Dermatolog Treat. 2018 Feb;29(1):49-54.
  12. Kircik LH. Evaluating tretinoin formulations in the treatment of acne. J Drugs Dermatol. 2014 Apr;13(4):466-70.
  13. Li C, Chen J, Wang W, Ai M, Zhang Q, Kuang L. Use of isotretinoin and risk of depression in patients with acne: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2019 Jan 21;9(1):e021549.
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Johmny Blevins Reply

I used proactive for 2 years, and after I quit using it, my skin became worse than before. Proactive is designed to keep skin clear. As long as you keep using it. But it is also designed to seep into skin and break it out. Partcals in the scrub remain in the skin and actually create pimples and white heads. Any water, any soap does the same as proactive. I originally got it for my nieces, but in using it. I developed acne. Its a scam. I promise. And they will not return your money!

January 12, 2016 at 9:09 am Reply
Annie Reply

Have you tried the new products and how do know stopping it caused your acne? Did you still keep up with a regime and ate healthy?

September 7, 2016 at 4:40 pm Reply
Johmny Blevins Reply

It's not worth it.

January 12, 2016 at 9:10 am Reply
bocabeauty Reply

I believe this product works well but I believe it is too expensive for the amount you get is not worth the purchase. I was recommended by my Dermatologist to use Sulfur for my acne prone skin. So I went and bought the Joesoef Skin Care Anti Acne 4 Step Regimen. The kit works great and best of all is the price, something I can afford and is effective to all skin types! Sulfur works best and is so beneficial in many ways for our skin!

December 10, 2016 at 8:54 pm Reply
Mel Johnson Reply

Hello all, I have to share my experience with Proactive. Proactive is by far the worst product and company I have had the misfortune of dealing with. One of our teen age sons began developing acne so after a short while I took him to see the dermatologist who DID NOT recommend Proactive. Instead suggested a topical OTC wash and some dietary changes to begin with, however, our son was convinced by the Proactive commercials (which is their job) and begged me to purchase the product. The product is fairly reasonable to begin with but once you are a member you agree to purchase routine shipments at a higher cost. However, I figured since this is something he wants to try having “skin” in the game can only encourage him to use the product as directed, which he did. The first few months I didn’t notice any change but figured we had to give it time to “work”. After 6 months we still hadn’t noticed much change but our son was convinced it was working so we thought we’d give it a few more months. However, at this point I did contact Proactive and explain we weren’t noticing a change and I was told to give it a little longer to work. Fast forward 6 months and not only had his acne NOT gotten better it was WORSE. We have pictures of the before and after and I am devastated by the red angry skin and the scaring along his back, chest and arms. We returned to the dermatologist who prescribed a completely different plan of attack which I am grateful to say has worked dramatically! We will deal with the scars on his chest and back when he is older with laser treatments and the marks on his face we are told will fade with time and proper use of sunscreen! I compiled all the documentation including all the pictures, shipments (in excess of $500) and residual product information and submitted it to Proactive. After receipt a very pleasant woman contacted me asking for more details; which I provided. At this time she said a full refund would be requested but might take a few weeks to process. I contacted Proactive after a few months because I have yet to see a refund and was told the refund posted in March in the amount of $15! I explained to the customer service representative my story and in his broken English he said they did not refund shipping and handling but would do so at this time. I asked to speak with a supervisor, who DID speak English only to have her tell me they declined the request for refund and that-was-that. So, FYI Proactive sucks – the product, the company and most important the customer service – they do NOT stand by their product and must pay post-pubescent celebrities a great deal of money to endorse their horrible product.

June 9, 2017 at 8:14 pm Reply
Sat Reply

Please avoid to Order from this company. Products are very bad, just moisturiser, very very poor quality product and take money from your account without your consent and take payment for next order without informing you. If you return the product, you have to pay the return postage from your pocket and only refunds half. Need to involve the Bank to get money back. Planning to complaint to the UK governing bodies. AVOID AVOID PRO ACTIVE.

July 13, 2017 at 9:21 pm Reply
CG Reply

I found Proactiv to be a wonderful product! Everyone's skin type is different. What works for one may not work for others.

April 7, 2019 at 12:35 pm Reply

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