Side Effects of Proactiv Solution


Proactiv Solutions has been a beauty regimen for Hollywood celebrities and non-celebrities for years. It was developed by two dermatologists, Drs. Katie P. Rodan and Kathy Fields, for the treatment of acne, a common skin ailment. Although it can be effective, there are some important caveats to its daily use.


Acne is caused by a hormonal imbalance which results in a change in the rate at which you shed dead skin cells and produce oil. This condition can occur at any age and is characterized by the development of whiteheads, blackheads or pimples, often called "zits" on the face. According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health and ADAM, an on-line health information service, treatments for acne involves many chemicals including sulfer, benzoyl perozide and salicylic acid. All three are found in the Proactiv Solutions system. Salicylic acid in the active ingredient in the toner and benzoyl perozide is used in the repairing lotion and renewing cleanser. Sulfur is used in the facial mask.

Side Effects: Dry Skin

A common side effect of Proactiv is skin dryness. Accordingly, the company places product warnings on their website related to this. For instance, Proactiv warns that for the renewal lotion, "If bothersome dryness or peeling occurs, reduce the amount or frequency of application." Dry skin may also result from the renewal cleaner since, like the renewal lotion, it contains benzoyl perozide. Reducing the amount of product used and adding a moisturizer like Pond's Dry Skin Cream may help.

Side Effects: Redness

Redness has also been reported with Proactiv use stemming from a reaction sensitive skin may have to benzoyl perozide, according to To deal with this, adding a light coat of the product and slowly increasing the amount over time may help.

Side Effects: Irritations

Another common side effect of Proactiv and acne treaments in general is a stinging or itching sensation. This may be due to sensitive skin adjusting to a new skin regimen. The feeling should go away in a few weeks, according to If the feeling persists, you may be allergic to an ingredient in the Proactiv system and will need to switich to another product.

Other Treatments

There are several other acne treatments available if Proactiv is in effective. Murad, acne treatments from skin care companies like Biore and St. Ives, as well as prescription medicines like Epiduo (generic name: Differin) may work. Check with your dermatologist to find what may work best.


Although effective for some acne sufferers, Proactiv Solutions does not treat all types of acne. The system uses chemicals such as benzoyl perozide which is a very effective anti-acne agent, according to Dr. Stephan Mandy in Deramtology Insights, a publication of the American Academy of Dermatology. Yet for more severe acne, isotretinoin, which is only available with a prescription, may be more effective. In some cases, a combination of therapies may work best. Along with medicine, a diet high in essential fatty acids and vitamin A may help treat acne, according to research cited in Prevention Magazine and the dermatology journal Cutis.

Final Thoughts

Being patient is important when seeking treatment. Trying too many different products on your skin can be damaging. It may also prevent you from seeing positive results from the products that do work for you.

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