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Review: Find Out if Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap is Right for You

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap is an all-natural face wash designed specifically for acne-prone skin, but does it really work? We investigated, and found that it while it might work for some, others may want to check out some of our other recommendations, like Exposed Skin Care or Paula’s Choice. If your skin is even slightly sensitive, this product will likely be too harsh, and may cause irritation that leads to inflammation and increased acne. Based on its ingredients, reviews, and cost, we’ve determined that Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap is not the ideal treatment option for most people, especially those with sensitive skin.

Carley's Smooth Soap Bar
Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap contains over 30 all-natural ingredients, but those ingredients could cause problems for some.

Summary:

  • Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap works differently from many other acne products.
  • This acne soap contains many natural ingredients, but that doesn’t mean it’s gentle. It utilizes several physical exfoliants and many essential oils that could easily irritate sensitive or even non-sensitive skin.
  • According to reviews, this product often makes acne worse at first, though it may get better again after a week or two of continued use.
  • According to Carley’s, one 16-ounce bottle and two half bars of natural soap lasts approximately three months, making its $20 price tag extremely reasonable.

How to Use Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap

One thing we love about Carley’s is that their acne treatment soap also comes with two half bars of natural soap. Carley’s instructs users to apply the acne treatment soap, rinse, then apply the natural soap and rinse again. This helps remove any excess benzoyl peroxide leftover from the acne treatment soap, to prevent it from continuing to sink into the skin and dry it out.

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most popular acne treatment ingredients in the world, and for good reason. It effectively kills 99% of acne-causing bacteria and has been shown to significantly reduce all kinds of acne. However, studies also show that overexposure to benzoyl peroxide can cause redness, peeling, and skin irritation, which often serve to make acne worse. By including a natural soap to help remove any excess benzoyl peroxide, Carley’s is trying to effectively treat your acne without causing unnecessary damage to your skin.

Best of all, this process is entirely customizable. If you find that your skin needs more exposure to benzoyl peroxide in order to really reduce your acne, you can always let the acne treatment soap set on your skin for a few minutes before rinsing and applying the natural soap. If you find that your skin is especially reactive to benzoyl peroxide, you might try using the natural soap every day, and only using the acne treatment soap every other day. Carley’s makes their products versatile enough to work for all kinds of people with all kinds of acne.

All-Natural Does Not Automatically Mean Gentle

Green grass background
Just because something is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s gentle.

When we think of all-natural products, we tend to think of them as being far gentler than other chemical-laden, laboratory-made products. But in reality, everything is made of chemicals, and there are plenty of very harsh natural products out there. Although Carley’s includes natural soap to help reduce the irritating effects of benzoyl peroxide, we worry that their acne treatment soap contains too many harsh natural ingredients, and may end up causing irritation anyway.

First, Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap contains several physical exfoliators. Exfoliation helps remove excess oil and dead skin cells, and we highly recommend it for anyone with acne, but there are two main types of exfoliation: physical and chemical. Most acne treatment products utilize chemical exfoliation by including ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and citric acid (many acids chemically exfoliate the skin). However, Carley’s has chosen to go the physical exfoliation route, which is often rougher on the skin. Their acne treatment soap contains walnut shell powder and corn meal, both of which are large enough particles to physically exfoliate the skin. For some, this may not cause any issues, but for those with sensitive skin, it could cause serious irritation.

Second, Carley’s acne soap contains a large number of essential oils. Even though it may sound counterintuitive to use oil to treat acne, many studies have proven specific essential oils to be very effective in acne treatment. The catch, however, is that these oils are incredibly powerful. Used on their own, they can even cause chemical burns. Because they are mixed in with so many other ingredients, we highly doubt Carley’s soap will have this effect, but it could cause irritation for many people, especially those with sensitive skin.

The Reviews Indicate That Carley’s Acne Soap Is Perfectly Safe for Non-Sensitive Skin

Based on the ingredients alone, we had concerns that Carley’s acne treatment soap would be too harsh for many people, so we checked out the reviews available on Amazon, Acne.org, and YouTube. We discovered that the product had nearly 1000 five-star reviews, and only 120 one-star reviews. This tells us that despite our concerns, Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap is perfectly safe and effective.

However, it doesn’t work for everyone. 120 one-star reviews out of over 1000 total isn’t bad, but it isn’t perfect either. We found that the people most likely to leave a negative review came from one of two camps: either they have highly sensitive skin, or they only used the product once or twice and their acne got worse, so they discontinued use. For the people from the first camp, the large amount of essential oils and physical exfoliants in this particular product were probably just too harsh for their skin to handle. Sensitive skin is very reactive and prone to inflammation, which can leave skin looking red and irritated, and may even cause more acne. If you have very sensitive skin, we recommend steering clear of Carley’s and trying something a bit gentler.

The people from the second camp may have had very sensitive skin that reacted poorly right away, but it’s also possible they simply needed to try using the product for a longer amount of time. It’s very normal to have an adjustment period when switching skin care products where your acne may actually get worse before it gets better. When trying a new product, it’s important to use it consistently for at least two weeks before giving up on it unless you have some kind of allergic reaction.

Reasonable Care at a Reasonable Cost

Dollar in a bundle
Carley’s Clear and Smooth Acne Treatment Soap offers top-notch ingredients at a reasonably affordable price.

At $20 for one 16-ounce bottle and two half bars of natural soap, Carley’s acne treatment isn’t exactly a steal, but it isn’t horribly expensive either, especially once you consider the high-quality ingredients they use and the fact that Carley’s says one order should last approximately three months. This is obviously a much better deal than many of those over-hyped acne treatment kits that charge $60 every three months. However, it’s important to remember that those kits come with everything you need for acne treatment, while this is simply a face wash. Many people in the reviews mentioned using additional skin care products, like moisturizers or toners which will add to your monthly skin care budget.

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