12.19.2014
2
103
Cleanser
Rating
8 fl. oz. for $8.05
Category:Skin Care > Sensitive Skin Products > Face/Body Cleansers
Last Updated:12.19.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This is a very good water-soluble cleanser whose silky texture and low-lathering formula is suitable for all skin types, breakouts or not. Although this doesn't contain anything special for those with acne, it's still a great cleanser that doesn't leave skin dry or tight.

Cleansing is an important step in any anti-acne routine, and we're glad to see Kern didn't follow the pattern of most anti-acne cleansers by medicating his with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Those anti-acne superstars are wasted in a cleanser because they're rinsed from skin before they have a chance to work.

Kern advises only having this cleanser on your skin for 10 seconds before rinsing as well as using minimal to no pressure when moving it around with your fingers. We're all for gentleness while cleansing, but minimal pressure won't be enough to completely remove excess oil and, for those who use it, not nearly enough to remove makeup. Ditto for only leaving this on skin for 10 seconds; it's fine to leave this on a bit longer if you need more time—just be sure to rinse thoroughly and gently pat (don't rub) skin dry.

Technically, this isn't fragrance-free because it contains a tiny amount of sage extract. On the upside, though, this cleanser's scent is undetectable, so we're not concerned the sage will be an irritant. This contains a couple of preservatives that have stronger irritant potential than many others, but they're of minimal concern in a rinse-off product like this.

Note: Cleanser also comes in a 16-ounce size for $9.50 and a 2-ounce travel size that costs $4.

Pros:
  • Silky, water-soluble gel texture rinses easily.
  • Removes excess pore-clogging oil without drying skin.
  • Able to remove all but the most tenacious makeup formulas.
  • Although technically not fragrance-free (it contains sage extract, and sage is a fragrant plant) this does not have a detectable scent.
Cons:
  • Contains a fragrant plant extract and a couple of preservatives known to be more sensitizing than many others (though this is of lesser concern for a rinse-off product, so we're mentioning it as a modest precaution).
Claims

When treating acne, it is important to avoid irritation. This generously sized, ultra-gentle liquid cleanser is designed to be pH balanced so it doesn't overdry or strip the skin. It also produces a thick lather which cleanses just the right amount and rinses clean.

Ingredients

Water, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Disodium Cocamphodiacetate, Butylene Glycol, Sage Extract, Cucumber Extract, White Oak Bark Extract, Panthenol, Allantoin, Acrylates Copolymer, Methylgluceth-20, Polysorbate-20, Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Disodium EDTA.

Brand Overview

Strengths: Inexpensive, effective formulas, most of which are fragrance-free; some of the products come in a variety of sizes, including travel sizes; good water-soluble cleanser; good AHA exfoliant; simple but effective benzoyl peroxide treatment; an intriguing anti-acne line for those with sensitive skin.

Weaknesses: No BHA exfoliants (while AHA can help improve breakouts, BHA, also known as salicylic acid, is preferred); no products to fade red marks from acne; the size of the benzoyl peroxide treatment may render the benzoyl peroxide ineffective before you’re done with it (it’s really, really big!); only one strength of benzoyl peroxide, and it may not be strong enough for those with stubborn breakouts.

The Acne.org product line and website is a labor of love from Daniel Kern, a resourceful guy who struggled for years with acne before finally, through much trial and error (sound familiar?), finding what worked for him. He decided to share his story online so others struggling with acne would have a place to ask him questions, talk about their failures and successes with battling breakouts, post reviews of products they’ve tried, and boost each other’s self-esteem—which often takes a nosedive when persistent acne shows up.

After years of personal experimentation to get his own acne under control, Kern developed what he refers to as The Regimen. This is a 3-step system for treating acne that involves gentle cleansing, disinfecting with a benzoyl peroxide product, and applying a moisturizer. Each step in the regimen sounds simple enough, yet following it takes some getting used to, as each individual step is highly detailed.

For example, cleansing isn’t just the usual “splash face with warm water, apply cleanser in circular motions, rinse, and then pat skin dry.” Instead, the precise amount of cleanser is calibrated, you’re only supposed to use it on skin for 10 seconds before rinsing, no washcloths allowed, use barely any pressure (which won’t work well for removing makeup), and you must wait until skin is completely dry before applying the next product.

The entire 3-step routine is super-detailed, so be prepared to read, re-read, and study the routine’s charts and images carefully before doing this, assuming you choose to follow it. One thing is certain: This is a routine that won’t get you out the door in a few minutes; however, many who’ve adapted to it feel strongly that it’s worth it, and we’re not going to debate that when clear skin is the result!

Do you need to follow The Regimen to get great results with these products? No, and if you choose to follow The Regimen you do not need to use Kern’s Acne.org products—something he makes clear on his site. Although Kern shares some good tips and helpful guidelines, much of his info is rooted in personal experience rather than scientific research. Also, when it comes to acne, there’s more than one way to treat it—as most people with acne have likely come to discover. Kern’s Regimen is merely one more method to try; it may work, but it may not.

We’re surprised that the Acne.org line doesn’t offer a BHA exfoliant, because BHA (salicylic acid) has mounds of research proving it’s an important, if not crucial, ingredient for battling blemishes (not to mention redness, blackheads, white bumps and red marks from acne). Instead, Acne.org sells an AHA exfoliant, which can be an option but many will have even greater results using a BHA exfoliant or at least alternating between the two if you like how Kern’s AHA product makes your skin feel.

Overall, although the Acne.org regimen isn’t as complete or as simple it may seem, most of the products are worth considering, and they’re affordable, too. Kern wisely avoids the use of fragrance or common irritants found in so many anti-acne products. Like us, we imagine Kern has wondered more than once why so many products claiming to improve acne only contain ingredients destined to make the redness, pain, and inflammation of acne worse, not better.

We’re thrilled to say that Kern’s products, while not perfect (but then again, no anti-acne routine will work the same for everyone), are considerably better than almost every other anti-acne line out there. It’s sad that there are so few truly effective (or at least strong potential to be effective) anti-acne products available, but you can add those from Acne.org to the short list of winners!

For more information on acne.org, visit www.acne.org or call (800) 773-7803.

Note: Acne.org also offers their products in various kits that feature different sizes and mixes of products depending on your needs and preferences. These, along with the individual Acne.org products are sold on the company’s site. You can also arrange to have Acne.org products or kits automatically shipped to you on a schedule you determine.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment that Paula Begoun, founder of Beautypedia and Paula's Choice Skincare made over 30 years ago-to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!


The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

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02.20.2015
Holy grail cleanser!

This is my favorite cleanser, I have gone through countless bottles! I use it as my body wash as well so I go through it quickly. I don't use other products from acne.org, as Retin-A is what I use to keep my skin acne-free. However, I just love the cleanser, it's the best I've ever tried! Removes makeup exceptionally well and is never drying to my (dry) skin, even though I usually double cleanse when I wash my face. Can't beat the price of about $10 for a huge 16oz bottle! Rated 3 by EWG.

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Annie M.
04.04.2014
Too drying

My skin is more on the oily side but I actually found this cleanser to be very drying. It made my skin tight and flaky immediately after use. I switched to the cerave cleanser for normal to oily skin, which Paula's choice also gives a best rating and found it to work much better for me!

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Reviewed by
Sara J.
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