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Clearasil for Acne

Clearasil is one of the most well known brands in over the counter acne treatment. We look at the ingredients and effectiveness of their main products.
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Clearasil is one of the most well-known brands for fighting acne.

It was founded in the 1950's, and was the first product of its time to acknowledge and treat youth acne problems.

Since then, the company has benefitted from a large marketing budget, and generally continues to focus its efforts on attracting young people that are suffering with acne.

Clearasil for Acne – A Brand, Not a Product

Clearasil is actually not an acne product. Rather it is a brand that offers several acne skin care products. At the time of this writing, Clearasil offers five separate product types:

  • Clearasil face wash.
  • Clearasil face scrub.
  • Clearasil acne pads.
  • Clearasil "acne treatments."
  • Clearasil acne kits.

Within each of these categories there are several sub-products, such as treatment creams, spot lotions, and more. For acne, Clearasil essentially is a market force, creating a wide range of products in order to have every avenue of acne prevention covered.

Clearasil Face Wash

Face washes are essentially acne-safe soap designed specifically for the face.

Clearasil face washes use salicylic acid – a fairly well-known type of acne treatment that is able to penetrate deep inside pores and clear out cells and bacteria that otherwise cause acne.

The face washes come in different styles depending on the sensitivity of skin. Research has confirmed that salicylic acid is a useful ingredient for face washes, because it clears pores fairly easily while still cleaning the skin.

Some Clearasil acne wash promises clearer skin in 12 hours or less. This is a bit of a dubious claim, because acne itself doesn't "cure" very quickly and acne is growing under your skin long before it reaches the surface (implying it takes weeks to truly treat acne).

Most likely, the clearer skin is due to a lack of inflammation. Salicylic acid can reduce inflammation, which makes acne a bit less visible despite still being present.

Clearasil Face Scrub

Face scrubs are similar to face washes.

While bacteria is the primary cause of acne, one of the contributing factors to a buildup in bacteria is dead skin, which can clog pores and give bacteria more room to grow and thrive.

Face scrubs use the same main ingredient as Clearasil acne wash (salicylic acid), but also use "microbeads" to exfoliate the skin, which removes dead skin cells.

Otherwise, the mechanism of action is the same, and face scrubs should not be used daily, otherwise you risk damaging your skin. It may also not be a good idea to double up the face wash and the face scrub, since generally combining two identical acne treatments has the potential to cause skin irritation and possibly lead to more acne.

Clearasil Acne Pads

Once again, Clearasil uses the same medication in its acne pads – salicylic acid.

Acne pads are more about convenience than they are any other benefit. The reality is that youth suffering from acne are not generally fond of using facial washes and scrubs – especially not teenage boys.

Acne pads are essentially a quicker delivery system. Take a pad, wipe your face, and you're done. This makes them a more popular choice for those that are not fond of using a complete face washing system.

Otherwise the mechanism of action is no different.

Interestingly, Clearasil acne products tend to use the same amount of Salicylic acid (2%), but claim that one is maximum strength and one is regular strength. It's unclear what the difference is between these two products or why one would be considered more effective than the other, despite containing the same amount of salicylic acid. There do not appear to be any known examples of a salicylic acid being stronger than another.

Clearasil Acne Treatments

Acne treatments from Clearasil are a broader term for things like spot medications and vanishing creams.

The treatment gels and overnight face lotions are all salicylic acid treatments, so presumably they have roughly the same effect on acne as the Clearasil acne wash and other products.

The more interesting products are the treatment creams.

Most products Clearasil for acne seem to utilize salicylic acid. The creams use benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide, like salicylic acid, is one of the most widely established medicines for acne. It's been labeled by the WHO as an essential medicine because it is one of the few (along with salicylic acid) scientifically proven acne fighting medications.

Clearasil uses the standard 10% benzoyl peroxide solution. There is also a tinted cream for those that want their treatment to hide their blemishes.

Another interesting product is the adult treatment cream.

This is one of the few acne treatments from Clearasil that appears to use a less common ingredient base – in this case, Resorcinol 2% and Sulfur at 8%.

These ingredients were actually in the original Clearasil product. Research does appear to support the idea that both of these nutrients have a valuable oil reduction effect on the skin, and greater ability to reduce acne buildup compared to placebo.

Research has shown that these ingredients both work as antiseptics and disinfectants, and may be present in a variety of other skin treatments, such as those for eczema.

Clearasil Acne Kits

Acne kits are popular ways to treat acne because it takes much of the guesswork out of mixing and matching acne treatments.

Research has established that using acne products incorrectly (using too much of any one type of acne product, or using acne too often) can both create considerable skin irritation and, in some cases, make acne worse.

In the case of Clearasil, an acne kit makes sense because those that want to use the Clearasil product may find that they aren't sure how to mix and match the available benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid products. A kit lays out the exact process in an easy to understand way.

The kit uses the basic Clearasil products, but provides a combination that, presumably, will be beneficial for your skin. This includes:

  • StayClear Daily Face Wash
  • StayClear Daily Toner
  • StayClear Daily Lotion 
  • Spot Treatment Cream

It should be noted that all kits have one main downside – namely, because all skin is different, it's possible that a Clearasil acne kit may not work as well for some type of skin as it will for others.

Clearasil for Acne – Clearasil Product Side Effects

The Clearasil product line is not much different from any other type of acne product.

Most of their products contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, and as a result they should have the same side effects and risks of other products that contain these ingredients. Some of these include:

  • Skin redness or burning
  • Itching
  • Visible irritation
  • Stinging
  • Allergic reaction

All skin is different, but the side effects of Clearasil do not appear to be any more or less than any other benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid treatment.

Overall Impressions of Clearasil as an Acne Treatment

Treatments for acne and Clearasil are often linked in people's minds, because Clearasil has become a name brand, thanks to a fairly targeted and well-funded marketing campaign.

Based on the ingredients, there is little reason to think that Clearasil is any better or worse than other medicated acne treatments, as they all tend to use the same ingredients.

Many people report that they enjoy the smell of Clearasil more than other medicated acne treatments, so presumably this would be an advantage to using a Clearasil product or system.

Clearasil is likely to work based on the same science that has shown other acne treatments to work – namely, that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are effective for treating acne. Beyond that, a few of their claims are a bit questionable, but there's no reason to believe that Clearasil cannot provide many of the same benefits for acne prone skin.



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