If you go to Google and look up acne treatments, Proactiv is a brand that keeps popping up. They offer a 3 step system which they guarantee will clear up your acne, and make sure breakouts will not come back. Seeing as this brand kept showing up everywhere I looked, I decided to have a closer look at the ingredients and reviews for the Proactiv+ Clear Skin System.

What I found was absolutely astonishing, and not in a good way. If you are considering buying these products, I highly recommend you read this entire article, because Proactiv might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’d like to add that today’s review might be a bit different from the usual format in which I review products. Again, please read the entire thing. Without further ado, let’s dive right into today’s review of the Proactiv+ Clear Skin System.


Product name: Proactiv+ Clear Skin System

Product type: Acne Treatment

Where to buy: Proactiv.co.uk or Proactiv.com

Price: $29.95, £24.99 monthly

Designed for: Oily, Acne-prone skin

Overall Score: 1/10

Let’s Break It Down

About Proactiv

Founded in 1995, Proactiv has been around for a while. It’s endorsed by celebrities like Julianne Hough and claims to be the number 1 acne treatment brand in America, with 20 million customers. Proactiv claims to be tested and approved by dermatologists.

They believe that there is no single product to truly fight acne, but rather that a combination of effective products will show the best results. This is why all of their kits are designed to work optimally when used together. They also say they were the first brand to implement this kind of approach.

The Ingredients

The Proactiv+ Clear Skin System comes with 3 products: An exfoliator, something that looks like a serum (they call it a treatment) and a moisturizer. I won’t go too deep in the individual ingredients per product, but here’s what I noticed: These products seem to contain completely different ingredients on the US website than the ingredients on the UK one.

Big red flag there. Why do their products seem so drastically different depending on where you buy it? I’m not talking about one or two ingredients that are different, they are literally two different products. The exfoliator, serum and moisturizer all have this problem. This baffles, amazes and worries me. Because of this, it’s no use to look at ingredient lists, since they might be different to the products that you’ll be actually buying.

What Proactiv+ advertise themselves is their use of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which, as I’ve said before, are great ingredients to keep your skin clear. However, the US version of this product has no salicylic acid, and the UK one does not have benzoyl peroxide. What on earth is going on here?

The Reviews

As I always do, I went to Trustpilot, Amazon and other websites to see what people were saying about this treatment, since the opinion of many outweighs the opinion of one. Trustpilot and Consumeraffairs give Proactiv 1 star, with people saying this brand is a scam, it made their skin dry and flaky, and lots of people say this did not help their acne at all.

On the other hand, the Proactiv website itself seemingly only had positive reviews from people who have magically seen their acne disappear. Seem fishy yet? I also noticed they show before and after photos on both sites, but these seemed to have been taken professionally in a studio.

Of course, since the products are so dramatically different depending on where you live, this could influence the reviews, but the general opinion on this brand isn’t a positive one.

The Trap Door

So why are people calling it a scam? Well, if you order this kit, you’ll essentially be signing up to a monthly subscription. For the price of $29.95 or £24.99 monthly, you’ll get a new supply each month. If you want to quit using the products, Proactiv offers a 100% money back guarantee, even if the bottles are empty. Promising, right?

Nope. Among the reviews I saw, almost everyone complains about their abysmal customer service, stating that when they call the help line, they are greeted by a robot. People also claim that even though they have canceled their subscription, money is still being taken out of their account.

On top of that, the website for both the US and UK territories does not make it clear you’ll be signing up for a monthly payment, as demonstrated by the photo above. The highlighted area (I did the red marking myself, this is not Proactiv’s doing) is the only part of the entire order process where they mention recurring payments. Because of this, a lot of complaints also focus on the fact that people did not even know they were signing up to a subscription service.

What Do I Think?

Honestly, I do not even know where to start with this company. I was hoping to write about a great treatment for acne today, and instead of that, I’ve just been shaking my head at my computer whilst doing the research. Since Proactiv makes such great promises about their products and using only the best ingredients, you’ll see why I’m disappointed.

I always like to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. If they have 20 million customers, there are bound to be some bad reviews out there. However, my personal findings caused me to doubt the legitimacy of this brand more and more.

I could not do what I normally do for a review, which is thoroughly analyzing the ingredient lists of products and comparing that to the needs of different skin types. It was no use to do this in this case, since they sell completely different products depending on where you live. I reached out to Proactiv on this by the way, and did not receive a reply.

On top of that, the ingredients that are in the product lists for both websites are mediocre at the least. They are things you can get anywhere nowadays, so it’s not hugely innovative either. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are great acne-fighting components, but lots of brands offer this.

The thing that really worries me is people saying the Proactiv+ kit makes their skin dry, sensitive and flaky. I understand why though, because Proactiv tells you to use an exfoliator twice daily. How on earth is anyone going to react well to using a harsh product like that so often. If you remember from my previous post, you shouldn’t make acne angry, and this will make it furious.

Furthermore, can we talk about this whole subscription service debacle? People not knowing they are signing up to a monthly payment, then trying to cancel and not being able to do so. Money being taken out of accounts unwittingly and then not returned because of horrible customer service? Need I go on?

I’m so upset by what I’ve seen of this brand and will never, ever, buy or recommend Proactiv for anyone. It looks like they just want your money, and do not seem trustworthy at all. Their products are mediocre and are too harsh on your skin, and there are so many better options out there.

Is It Worth It?

Easy answer: NO. Do not buy this brand, do not use it, do not even look it up on the internet. Stay as far away from Proactiv as possible. Their products are way too harsh on any skin type and will only aggravate it, as well as having a very high chance at causing permanent damage to your skin.

I am surprised this brand is so popular, since what they offer is not worth any price. Remember what I said in my last post, gentle is the way to go for acne-prone skin. This kit is not gentle.

On top of that, the whole subscription issue and the fact that canceling said subscription seems to be impossible, I’d not go through the trouble of even trying this kit in the first place. You work hard for your money, don’t waste it on useless products.

I’m so disappointed at today’s post, and I had such high hopes for the Proactiv+ Clear Step System, but I can only end with a warning to please use other brands that do work, and will not upset you and your skin like this one will.

If you’d like to know which brand I do recommend for acne-prone skin, feel free to have a look at my previous post. It contains lots of information on why you should be using gentle products for acne, as well as my personal top 2 recommendations.

So, what do you think of Proactiv? Has my review changed your opinion of it? Let me know in the comments!

Keep glowing!