Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007


Review: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash and Adult Acne

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

Many acne treatment products are made with teens in mind because puberty is typically acne’s time to shine. However, many of us continue to have acne into adulthood, and those products that used to work for us when we were young no longer do the trick. That’s where La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash comes in. It contains classic acne treatment ingredients like salicylic acid and citric acid, but it also contains lipo-hydroxy acid, which is a derivative of salicylic acid that is more effective for adult skin. This face wash isn’t perfect by any means, but after checking out the ingredients, reviews, and cost, we think it’s an excellent option for people with adult acne.


  • The Medicated Acne Face Wash contains lipo-hydroxy acid, which is an ideal ingredient for treating adult acne specifically.
  • Those with sensitive acne-prone skin may want to slowly incorporate this face wash into your routine to make sure it doesn’t cause irritation.
  • With four- to five-star reviews across the board, this product is beloved by those who use it.
  • This La Roche-Posay Effaclar face wash is readily available on many websites and in most drugstores for a very affordable price.
Laroche-posay bottle
The La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash is ideal for treating adult acne because of the unique ingredients it includes.

What Is Lipo-Hydroxy Acid, and Why Is It Perfect for Adult Acne?

Lipo-hydroxy acid is derived from salicylic acid, one of the most popular chemical exfoliators on the market for acne treatment. It works by absorbing into the pores and removing dead skin cells and excess oil, but lipo-hydroxy acid is an even better option for adult acne because of the way it absorbs and its additional effects.

Lipo-hydroxy acid absorbs into the skin very slowly, ensuring that it won’t irritate and inflame the skin, which is especially important for adult skin. Unlike teenage skin, which is producing new skin cells rapidly, adult skin produces new cells more slowly, and it’s important to exfoliate gently, without stripping the skin of too many skin cells too quickly. Additionally, lipo-hydroxy acid stimulates collagen and elastin production, which is great for reducing and preventing wrinkles in adult skin.

Even though it’s perfect for adult acne, lipo-hydroxy acid may be a little too gentle to get rid of acne completely on its own, which is why La Roche-Posay also included 2% salicylic acid in their medicated face wash. Salicylic acid is stronger and less gentle, but it’s also more effective in exfoliating the skin and getting rid of acne, especially blackheads and whiteheads.

Those With Sensitive Skin May Want to Avoid This Particular Face Wash

Woman checking her face
If you have sensitive skin, there are a few ingredients in this face wash that you may be better off avoiding.

Although the lipo-hydroxy acid is relatively gentle, the Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash in general could be too harsh for some with sensitive skin. This is mainly because of two ingredients: salicylic acid and sodium laureth sulfate.

On its own, salicylic acid is actually pretty gentle, but at a concentration of 2%, it may be too harsh for some people. In many acne face washes, salicylic acid is included at a concentration of 0.5-1%, and while that may not seem much different from 2%, it can make a large difference for the delicate skin on your face. This may not be a problem for people with non-sensitive skin, but if your skin is sensitive, it could cause redness, irritation, and even increased acne. If you have sensitive skin and still want to give the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash a try, we recommend using it once every other day for a week, then once per day for a week, then finally twice a day. Taking it slow like this should help prevent some irritation.

Even if your skin isn’t sensitive to the high concentration of salicylic acid, there’s one other ingredient that could cause problems: sodium laureth sulfate. This ingredient is used to help the product form suds and remove excess oil and dead skin cells, but in the process it can easily irritate the skin and clog pores. Generally, Facing Acne doesn’t recommend any products containing sodium laureth sulfate or its close cousin, sodium lauryl sulfate, but because of the lipo-hydroxy acid, we think this face wash may be worth trying, with caution. If you notice increased redness, blackheads, and/or whiteheads, then you may be reacting to the sodium laureth sulfate and this may not be the best product for you.

Excellent Reviews Suggest That This Face Wash Really Works

We looked through hundreds of reviews on Amazon, Influenster, and La Roche-Posay’s website and found that it is widely beloved. All three websites had an overall rating of at least four and a half stars, and out of nearly 800 total reviews, only 30 received a one-star rating. Those are some impressive stats, especially since people are more likely to post a review if something goes wrong rather than if something goes right.

According to the reviews, the Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash works for all skin types, but seems especially popular among those with oily or combination skin. People reported the most significant improvement in their blackheads and whiteheads, rather than their pimples or cysts, which makes sense given the ingredients. Pimples and cysts form due to a bacterial infection, and this particular face wash doesn’t contain any significant antibacterial ingredients, but it does contain several great exfoliating ingredients that help clear away blackheads and whiteheads.

Additionally, many of the reviewers specified that they were dealing with adult acne, and said this face wash helped reduce their acne considerably. This confirms our suspicion that the lipo-hydroxy acid is ideal for adult acne. Many people mentioned that they always used a moisturizer after using this face wash, which is something we also recommend, due to the high concentration of salicylic acid, which can be drying. Overall, reading these reviews gives us the confidence to recommend this product, especially for those with oily skin and adult acne.

The Best Part? The Price is as Good as the Reviews

Coins piled up
For this price, almost anyone can afford to try the Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash.

There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect product for your acne, only to realize it’s way outside of your price range. Luckily, that is not a problem with the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash. For $15, you get nearly 7 ounces of the face wash. That might not sound like much, but it should be enough to get you through two to three months of twice daily use. At that price, it’s the perfect product to try if you’re looking to switch up your skin care routine.

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