La Roche-Posay
Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment
1.35 fl. oz. for $36.95
Category:Skin Care > Anti-Acne Products > Benzoyl Peroxide
Last Updated:11.26.2014
Jar Packaging:False
Tested on animals:Yes

This anti-acne product earns its stripes, containing an effective amount of the topical disinfectant benzoyl peroxide in a fragrance-free lotion formula that contains antioxidant vitamin E and a good anti-irritant to help reduce redness from blemishes. Although pricey (there are definitely cheaper options with great formulations), it should help clear breakouts without leaving skin dry or flaky.

The claims mention 0.4% micro-exfoliating LHA, which is listed as capryloyl salicylic acid. The only study on this ingredient's benefits comes from L'Oreal, the company that owns La Roche-Posay. Interestingly, their study had nothing to do with acne; rather, it compared the effects of relatively low concentrations of LHA with the effects of relatively high concentrations of AHAs (that is, the concentrations dermatologists or aestheticians use in performing AHA peels), not to the effects of AHAs at the concentrations found in skin-care products (talk about comparing apples to oranges!). There isn't any research proving LHA helps heal breakouts or somehow improves clogged pores.

If you decide to try this product (keeping in mind that companies such as Clearasil, Paula's Choice, and Clinique offer less expensive, equally effective options), it is best to use it with a well-formulated BHA exfoliant (the exfoliant is applied first).

  • Medicated with gold standard anti-acne ingredient benzoyl peroxide.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Lotion texture is easy to apply and reduces the chance of dryness.
  • Contains an anti-irritant to reduce redness.
  • Expensive.
  • LHA ingredient isn't proven effective for exfoliation or reducing acne.

More Info:

We had to comment on this product's claim that it can dry out blemishes. A blemish or other acne-type breakout has nothing to do with skin being wet, and water is the only thing you can "dry up." Products that make breakouts dry up and flake may make them look smaller, but it also trades one unsightly problem for another, and it prolongs healing time. Luckily, this product isn't formulated with drying ingredients (although some may find any amount of benzoyl peroxide intolerable), but we need to let go of the concept that blemishes need to be "dried up"!


Eliminate blemishes while preventing new breakouts with La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo. Formulated with 5.5% benzoyl peroxide to dry out blemishes and 0.4% micro-exfoliating LHA smoothes skin texture.


Active: Benzoyl Peroxide (5.5%), Other: Water, Isostearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Silica, Carbomer, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Epilobium Angustioflium Flower/leaf/stem Extract

Brand Overview

La Roche-Posay At-A-Glance

Strengths: A few good cleansers; anti-aging formulas tend to be stably packaged to get the most out of the air/light-sensitive ingredients; many fragrance-free options; a unique lip moisturizer; some praiseworthy specialty products.

Weaknesses: Some problematic, overly irritating exfoliants; several ho-hum moisturizers and sunscreens; ineffective skin-lighteners; disappointing toner.

L'Oreal-owned La Roche-Posay has a pharmaceutical lineage based in France, and the company speaks of their thermal spring water as the cornerstone of their commitment to dermatological skin care. Sound familiar? L'Oreal-owned Biotherm makes similar claims for the water in their products, yet their marketing niche is spas, while La Roche-Posay caters to doctors and consumers interested in effective, no-frills skin care. Regardless of the source of their water, or how many minerals there may be in it, or the other benefits they assert it has, water is water and skin can't tell the difference. Even if the water were somehow "special," it takes a lot more than water to create and maintain healthy skin. This is something La Roche-Posay is aware of, because they do offer a fairly broad range of products to address the various needs of skin.

Their thermal spring water is said to be a rich source of selenium. Selenium is a nonmetallic element that has potent antioxidant ability. However, almost all of the research surrounding its benefits pertains to dietary or supplemental consumption, not to topical application. According to the research, selenium is absorbed into skin and helpful when applied topically only when applied as l-selenomethionine (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, July 2004, pages 149–155). It is unknown whether the water La Roche-Posay uses contains this form of selenium, but we wouldn't bank on it for a unique benefit.

For a dermatologist-oriented line like La Roche-Posay, most of the products are surprisingly devoid of state-of-the-art or other interesting ingredients. There are some standout products, such as those with retinol and stabilized vitamin C; however, most of them are one-note options that offer the help of their promoted ingredient but don't commingle it with anything else of value to skin. It's ironic that although there's not a jar package to be found in this line, most of the moisturizers lack light- or air-sensitive ingredients, so jar packaging actually wouldn't be a problem. In fact, most of the moisturizers are downright monotonous. For the money, these products will leave your skin wanting more.

If you steer your way to the well-formulated products La Roche-Posay offers, you will find some first-rate options. They're not as varied as what many other lines offer, but for a pragmatic, no-frills approach to serious skin care, they'll do just fine. In fact, among all of the L'Oreal-owned skin-care lines, La Roche-Posay comes closest to successfully competing with the best of the best. It's up to you to decide if "close" is good enough. However, if you need to avoid fragrance and a range of potentially irritating plant extracts prevalent in the products of many brands, this line may suit your skin to a T.

Note: La Roche-Posay is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although La Roche-Posay does not conduct animal testing for its products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law.” Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.

For more information about La Roche-Posay, owned by L'Oreal, call (888) 577-5226 or visit www.laroche-posay.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Sunday, November 16, 2014
Great Results

I am in my 50s and was having a terrible time with large, unsightly pores in my T-zone. I've tried everything. This is the only product that keeps my pores clear with absolutely no irritation to my sensitive skin. My pores have cleared to such an extent that they appear to be smaller. Remarkably, this has not dried my skin. I only apply it to the targeted areas.

Reviewed by
Thursday, August 21, 2014
good results

I just bought this 5 days ago after reading paulaschoice review. I don't have the most horrible form of acne but I do get pimples and blackheads constantly on my cheeks,chin, and nose. After 5 days of use I can honestly say all of the blackheads on my nose are gone, even my 8 year noticed. the pimples have also gone down in size and redness. This will cause some dryness but nothing a good moisturizer can't fix. Overall so far I'm very happy with results and would recommend this.

Reviewed by
toni c.
Monday, June 23, 2014
This is a different product in Canada

I bought this based on the glowing recommendation on this site, only to realize after I used it, that this is not the same product as is available in the USA. Mine says "Made in France" on the tube and does not contain Benzoyl Peroxide, only 0.5% salicylic acid. I'm not sure how this product differs from Effaclar AI...

Reviewed by
Thursday, February 07, 2013
great lotion!

This product is awesome. When I had pretty bad breakouts it helped a lot. One of the only acne lotions that didn't feel like it was irritating or drying out my skin. It has a light and smooth texture that feels nice on the skin. Moisturizing, but not greasy. It even has a decent smell (even though its fragrance free). I think the exfoliant in this definitely works too, because even after a few days of using this, my skin is noticeably smoother and softer! It is a tad pricey ($30, though not that bad at all compared to some) but for sure a must buy!

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