Top 2 Acne Systems Compared

Effectiveness5 stars4 stars4 stars
Safety4 stars4 stars4 stars
Guarantee5 stars4 stars
Good for:
Sensitive skin5 stars3 stars4 stars
Normal Skin5 stars5 stars4 stars
Oily Skin4 stars4 stars4 stars
Customer Reviews5 stars4 stars
(60-day supply)
Overall score5 stars4 stars3 stars
Full Review
WebsiteVisit ExposedVisit Paula’s ChoiceVisit Proactiv

What makes an acne treatment the “best”? We asked ourselves, dermatologists, and real people with acne that question as we prepared to create this article, and we came up with several criteria.

  • First, it should be made with reliable ingredients that are combined well to make an effective, safe formula.
  • Second, using it should be simple and quick.
  • Third, the company should provide helpful customer service and a guarantee that demonstrates faith in their own product.
  • Fourth, the product should be marketed to you clearly and fairly.
  • And Fifth, it should all come at a cost you can afford consistently.

With this in mind, we set out to find the top 2 acne systems available right now and found the two gems above: Exposed Skin Care and Paula’s Choice CLEAR.

Although Proactiv didn’t make the cut, we wanted to include their Proactiv+ system in our comparison. In our research, we discovered that Proactiv+ is actually a pretty decent product, but unfortunately their billing practices and customer support need serious improvement. Proactiv is very well-known and at this time helps provide a point of comparison for other, better options.

Both Exposed Skin Care and Paula’s Choice CLEAR meet all of the criteria outlined above and provide excellent treatment for all skin types and all kinds of acne. For more detailed information about why we chose them, read the short blurbs below or check out our full reviews at the links provided.

#1: Exposed Skin Care

Best for dry and sensitive acne-prone skin.

Contains the super-powerful combination of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which studies have shown are as effective as prescription medications, but without the same risks of side-effects.


  • Affordable
  • Thousands of positive reviews
  • Quality products made in the US and Canada
  • In business for almost 20 years and have helped 400,000+ people get clear
  • Excellent support
  • Industry-leading guarantee
  • Very effective formula that combines the best science and nature has to offer
  • Prescription-strength but very safe
  • Home-based treatment system


  • Their routine requires washing your face both in the morning and the evening consistently for best results
  • Paula’s Choice is perhaps slightly better for oily, resistant skin
  • Not appropriate for those with salicylate allergy

If you have dry or sensitive skin that’s also prone to acne breakouts, you know that it can be difficult to find an acne treatment that works without irritating your skin. We are happy to announce that the search is finally over. Exposed Skin Care’s line of products were made just for you.

Exposed gets five stars for effectiveness and five stars for use on sensitive skin because their formula carefully combines both scientific and natural ingredients in concentrations that successfully treat and prevent acne without drying out the skin or causing redness and irritation.

Their products include classic acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide, but they also contain well-researched natural ingredients like tea tree oil, green tea extract, and aloe vera. We have yet to find another acne treatment kit that is this effective and gentle at the same time.

After considering the customer reviews, price, and number of products you receive for that price, it became clear that Exposed was the best option. Still, it isn’t perfect. Even though it’s a steal to get a 60-day supply of six acne-fighting products for $60, you do need to be consistent with a morning and evening skin care routine for best results. If you are more into very low-maintenance skin care, Exposed may not be for you.

#2: Paula’s Choice CLEAR

Best for oily, resistant skin.

Contains the powerful combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, but in higher amounts that Exposed. That’s why we recommend Paula’s for oily and resistant skin as other types may irritate skin and worsen acne.


  • Well-established brand
  • Reasonably priced
  • Some good reviews
  • Possibly better for oily, resistant skin


  • Guarantee not clearly stated
  • Not appropriate for those with salicylate allergy
  • Contains sodium laureth sulfate and laureth-4, which will sometimes clog pores
  • Not best for sensitive and normal skin types
  • Their routine requires washing your face both in the morning and the evening consistently for best results
  • Not enough before-after pictures

If a “gentle” formula sounds a little too weak for your oily skin, we get it, and in that case we recommend the Paula’s Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Kit.

If your skin is truly an oil slick, like mine was back in high school, they also offer an Extra Strength Kit, though we urge you to be cautious with that one.

The reason we love their Regular Strength Kit is because the formula contains just the right amount of some key acne-fighting ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Increasing those amounts for an Extra Strength formula could cause irritation, inflammation, and potentially end up causing more acne, so we recommend giving the Regular Strength Kit a try first.

For roughly $60, you receive a 60-day supply of a cleanser, an exfoliating solution, and a treatment cream, which makes for a relatively simple daily skin care routine that helps treat and prevent all kinds of acne. The exfoliating solution is a great way to remove blackheads and whiteheads, while the treatment cream helps kill the bacteria involved in pimples.

The only downside to Paula’s Choice CLEAR products is that they contain a few undesirable ingredients. For instance, the cleanser contains sodium laureth sulfate, an ingredient well-known for clogging pores, and the treatment cream contains laureth-4, another well-known pore-clogger. These ingredients are more likely to affect those with sensitive skin, and there’s a chance they are used in small enough amounts that they won’t clog pores, but it’s a significant drawback to their formula.

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