Litmus Test Glycolic Acid Facial Cleansing Gel
8 fl. oz. for $25
Last Updated:03.11.2013
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This cleanser is misguided because its selling point is that it doesn't contain detergent cleansing agents—but it does! The second ingredient, ammonium lauryl sulfate, is exactly that, a detergent cleansing agent, also referred to as a surfactant. This also contains another detergent cleansing agent, ammonium laureth sulfate.

Just as there are good and bad natural ingredients, there are good and bad detergent cleansing ingredients. Most detergent cleansing agents included in facial cleansers like this are gentle yet effective, although some people, especially those with very dry skin, cannot tolerate any amount or type of detergent cleansing agent.

This fragrance-free cleanser is best for normal to oily skin, but the amount of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) glycolic acid means it should not be used around the eyes. However, if you're thinking the glycolic acid will exfoliate your skin, it won't—the pH of this cleanser is too high for it to work in that manner, and you'll rinse it from your skin before it has a chance to work.

  • Fragrance-free.
  • Cleanses skin and removes makeup without making skin feel dry or tight.
  • Expensive (you'll find plenty of less expensive options on our Best Cleansers list).
  • The amount of the AHA glycolic acid makes this a problem for use around the eyes.
  • Because this cleanser is rinsed off, the AHA is gone before it has a chance to benefit your skin.
  • Although it claims to not contain detergent cleansing agents, it does. Most detergent cleansing agents are not bad ingredients for your skin, it's the claim that's misleading.

Unlike other foaming cleansers, this incredible formulation doesn’t contain detergents so it won’t strip, parch or irritate the skin. Cleanses away impurities, removes environmental debris, dirt, excess skin oils and makeup. Leaves skin refreshed and radiant.


Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycolic Acid, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Methylisothiazolinone, Magnesium Chloride, Magnesium Nitrate

Brand Overview

DERMAdoctor At-a-Glance

Strengths: Company provides complete product ingredient lists on its Web site; well formulated AHA products; sunscreens provide critical broad-spectrum protection, good oil-control product; a couple of great, though pricey, cleansers.

Weaknesses: Expensive; mostly poor anti-acne products; anti-wrinkle products making imossible claims; clinical studies alluded to are not made available to the public (which is odd, given that this is a brand fronted by a dermatologist); some product formulas suffer due to jar packaging.

The DERMAdoctor line is the brainchild of Kansas City-based dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin. Dr. Kunin's Web site retails not only the DERMAdoctor brand but several products from other brands, many of which have ties to specific dermatologic concerns (everything from athlete's foot to warts). Many of these specialty products are available from your local drugstore, but Kunin's site provides helpful, mostly reliable information concerning various skin-care concerns.

We wish her own products followed the strength of her advice, but alas, most do not. This is another dermatologist-developed line with plenty of products whose names and claims make you think they're a cosmetic corrective procedure in a bottle (or, in some cases, a jar, which is never a good packaging move). There are some products to pay attention to, though whether you want to strongly consider them or not comes down to how much you feel comfortable spending (DERMAdoctor products aren't cheap).

DERMAdoctor isn't exactly "your prescription for beautiful skin" but Dr. Kunin gets enough right that her line isn't one to gloss over, particularly if you're shopping for sunscreens, AHA products, and facial cleansers. Those with acne should look elsewhere, because DERMAdoctor's products don't have the solution, despite their cute product names.

For more information about DERMAdoctor, call (877) 337-6237 or visit www.dermadoctor.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment 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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