Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Cons of ProActiv

Everyone has seen the commercials on TV. You know the ones I'm talking about - the ones with the fresh-faced, smiling faces of everyday people intermingled with celebrities who once upon a time had blemished skin, but now thanks to a simple product, are all of a sudden flawless and carefree. No, I'm not talking about a commercial for some magical facial cleanser - I'm talking about ProActiv solution. But, from the claims the commercials and advertisements make, it certainly comes across as a miraculous acne fighting product sent from the heavens to wreak havoc on all nasty, unwanted zits.

ProActiv solution offers a lot of promises in it's commercial. For the low price of $19.95 (depending on where you live - in Canada it's significantly higher) ProActiv guarantees a lifetime of smooth, clear and healthy looking skin. By ordering this product you are given a monthly supply of the product, along with a free refining mask, a special bonus booklet and a sample of ProActiv Green Tea Moisturizer. And, if you're unhappy with your purchase, the company claims you can get a money back guarantee if you return it within 60 days. Sounds good!

Celebrities such as: Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, and yes even Canada's own little ball of joy, Justin Bieber, are all spokespeople for the ProActiv brand. With a demographic of mostly preteens and teens viewing these commercials, ProActiv cleverly utilizes popular pop stars to target the exact audience who would desire this product most. Because, I mean, if Bieber says it's good it must be great, right?


Well, at least in my case.

Nearly five years ago I was up late one night flipping through the channels when I saw "Who's the Boss" star Judith Light raving on and on about this wonderful product called ProActiv that made her skin soft, smooth, and sexy. Then the always gorgeous Vanessa Williams appeared on the screen detailing her embarrassing ordeal with pimples throughout her life. I couldn't believe my eyes. These glamorous actresses suffered the same thing I suffered from? How could these otherworldly beings have something in common with little 'ol me?

Ever since I was a pre-teen I've dealt with the occasional break-out. But as soon as I hit high school my skin became worse and worse. I went to dermatologists to try to find a solution. I changed my diet. I always washed my face after I worked out. I ritually cleaned and changed my pillow case. Any little tip anyone would tell me, I would try. My breakouts became something I obsessed and worried over - to the point where I wouldn't want to leave the house in fear of someone looking at me and shouting out, "OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!" as they pointed in horror at the ginormous (at least in my mind it was) zit on my nose.

Of course now, looking back, I realize my skin was not nearly as atrocious as I imagined. But, I must admit, that fateful night I saw the ProActiv commercial on TV I knew I must have it asap. I begged my parents to purchase it for me for my upcoming birthday. I fantasized about returning back to school with silky smooth skin, never having to worry about applying concealer on my bad spots every day. I imagined how great it would feel to have completely clear skin for life, never having to worry about if this person or that person is starring at my smile or at my zit.

My parents caved in, and for my birthday I received the treasured package of ProActiv solution - free Green Tea Tree moisturizer and all. The package almost glowed in my hands, as if sent from God himself.

Then I used it.





Actually, horrible is too nice a word to describe my experience with ProActiv solution. Day one into using the product my skin became so soft and silky. I was ecstatic! Such quick results! I went to bed with a huge smile on my face. Then day two I woke up to my forehead being ridiculously oily and gross - along with three new pimples. I had heard people tell me that while using the system sometimes your skin will get worse before it gets better, so I just shrugged this off and prayed day three would serve better results. However, on day three my face was so swollen and inflamed I could barely recognize myself in the mirror.

My skin was BRIGHT red - I'm talking "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" red - and was covered in hundreds of little liquid-filled bumps. Imagine the worse sunburn you've ever had times one hundred, and that is what my skin looked like. My eyes were swollen nearly shut, and, on top of all this, I had a scattering of fresh pimples across my face. I swear, I almost fainted. The itchiness alone was enough to drive me mad.

Fast forward to one week (yes, a whole week!) later and my skin was still angry tomato red, bumpy, and painful. I went through an entire tube of polysporin on my face just to alleviate the fiery symptoms I was experiencing.

I missed out on two birthday parties and refused to leave my house for roughly two weeks until finally the top layer of my skin hardened, crusted, dried up and peeled off. (Yes, this is extremely gross and graphic - but that's exactly what happened!) ProActiv solution literally burned my face off - or, the top layer at least. Suffice to say, after that week I threw the whole skin care package in the garbage.

My heart dropped. Were all those celebrities in the ProActiv commercial wrong?! Could this miraculous product be not all it was hyped up to be? Say it ain't so!

See, what ProActiv failed to warn me about was the fact that, even if you follow the directions perfectly, 1-3% of the population (although I believe this number to be much higher) are allergic to a key ingredient in the formula - benzoyl peroxide. Oddly enough, I had tried acne products before that contained said ingredient with no complications at all.

I immediately jumped onto online forums to investigate if others had had the same experience using ProActiv that I had, and quickly found out I was not alone. Hundreds of eager ProActiv users had purchased this product only to have their clear skin dreams extinguished in favor of numerous allergic reactions and a terrible case of hives.

While this has been my personal experience, I do know several people who have used ProActiv and had only great things to say about the product and their personal results.

As for me, this whole ordeal taught me to be much more cautious when watching infomercials about any product - even when there are recognizable celebrities endorsing these items. What works for one person may not work for another - especially when it comes to skin care. There is no such thing as a "magic" product, despite any promise the company might make.

I realized that in the end, if someone is going to judge me for a pimple on my face, they aren't all that worth my time anyway. I just wish it didn't take a chemically burnt face to get me to that realization!

So be cautious Internet Readers. Even if Justin Bieber claims it's the best thing ever, remember he's getting the big bucks to promote any product they shove in his tiny, munchkin-like face. Chances are, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

- Jennie

(sidenote: for a laugh, check out the Bieb's own personal ProActiv page, right here: click here! )


  1. I had to laugh, not at what you went through, but because the proactive doctor gals have now started a MLM skincare company...

    I found you on the Fun Follow Friday Blog Hop on Simply Stacies Blog! Happy to be following you!

    Anna, The Pilot's Wife
    Follow My Blog At:
    Enter Weekly Drawing for a Free Candle!

  2. Oh gosh, really? They'll never end!

    Thanks for the comment ! I'll follow you back :)

  3. Good review Jennie! Never used ProActiv or something similar, but i never go after the infomercials. So sorry you had to get through this bad experience:! Hope your face is happier now tough:) Oh and btw you have a nice blog here! I am now following you thanks to Fun Follow Friday, and it would be so nice if you could share the love back on my blog;)
    Also today we have the coolest blog hop there is... no rules just fun and would love you to join in with us at Boost My Blog Friday :) See you there! Happy Friday!

  4. Thanks so much! I definitely learned my lesson! lol.

    I just got this blog up and running, so I hope everyone can bear with me as I figure everything out.... hehe. I'll definitely follow you back! Your blog looks amazing!!

    Thanks again!

  5. I had a good experience with ProActive the first time I used it. Then, several years later I bought it again, and oh what a difference! It wreaked havoc on my skin! Aaargh! I broke out so bad and my skin was so oily! Yuk!
    Anything else works better! Now I'm older and finally my skin has cleared,yay. But I feel so bad for kids that have bad skin problems. They won't get help from ProActive!
    Thanks for the review.
    New follower, please follow back! xoxoxo

  6. Hello! I am a new follower from friday hops! Your blog is so cute! I look forward to reading more from you!

  7. Thanks so much Poe! I know some people have had GREAT success with ProActiv and at the same time I've heard horror stories as well. I guess everyone's skin just reacts to it in it's own way!

    ps - your site is so adorable. I love those clay figurines. I'm following you back :)

  8. Hi Living on Love and Cents! Super cute blog name! Thanks for following - I'm following you back :)

  9. Hi There! I am your newest follower from the blog hop. Lovely blog!! You can find me at
    take a peek at my giveawys when you stop by. I currently have 7 going on and everything is handmade and GORGEOUS:) HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

  10. Hi Hanna! Thanks so much for following! I'm following you back now. Your site is great!

  11. Here from the bloghop.
    I follow you on GFC. I'd love for you to follow me back
    Tiffypoot @ (

  12. Since I work a lot of overnight shifts, I get pounded with these commercials all the time... and trust me... there have been nights that I've been sitting there wondering if it would be worth it to order some... although far from a teenager, I still wish that I had better skin, and anyone who waives a "magical cure" around is going to draw a certain amount of my attention.

    Thank you for posting this. Unfortunately I think I know a little of what you must have felt like when you missed those 2 birthday parties...