Acne Solution Pads

Price:
$16.95 - 2 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Sensitive Skin Products > Blemish/Acne Treatments > BHA
Last Updated:
8/15/2013
Jar Packaging:
Yes
pH:
3.60
Tested On Animals:
No

Acne Solution Pads contain 3% salicylic acid in a base of aloe, water, witch hazel, and a small amount (1%) of glycolic acid, formulated at an effective pH for exfoliation to occur. The problems with this product are so numerous we don't know where to begin. The witch hazel water base is potentially irritating, the ingredient statement doesn't comply with the regulatory standards of the FDA for over-the-counter (OTC) acne-treatments, and it's packaged in a jar. Last, it has a questionable preservative system (a concern exacerbated by the jar packaging).

DeVita claims on the product packaging and website that their Acne Solution Pads have salicylic acid "from" willow bark and glycolic acid derived from sugarcane. That sounds nice and plays into the brand's "natural" angle, but neither claim is accurate. Salicylic acid, as a finished ingredient, is not "from" willow bark, it's synthesized in a lab—you can't get salicylic acid from willow bark without a complex chemical process that isn't even remotely natural.

Just like salicylic acid, glycolic acid is produced synthetically—it's not a sugarcane extract. While sugarcane does contain small amounts of glycolic acid, adding sugarcane to a skin-care product won't make an AHA exfoliant, any more than adding a splash of vodka to a glass of water makes a martini.

Witch hazel water (as used here) has a high-alcohol content (most forms of witch hazel are 14–15% ethanol) due to the distillation process used to extract it from the plant, so the notion that this product doesn't contain alcohol doesn't really hold water. DeVita also lists the extract as "Aqua Hamamelidis" on the ingredient list, but there is no such ingredient! They might mean "Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) water," but we (and you) don't know for sure, and DeVita's list doesn't tell you.

One more point about the ingredient label: In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid products, as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. This requires a special Drug Facts Label that lists the "active" ingredient (in this case salicylic acid) separately from the inactive ingredients. The FDA Drug Facts Label also specifies a limit on the strength of the active ingredients. The Acne Solution Pads have 3% salicylic acid, but the FDA limit for salicylic acid acne treatments is 2%. In fact, DeVita doesn't include Drug Facts Labeling on the packaging at all.

As if the above facts weren't enough to make Acne Solution Pads a bad idea, the only preservative is grapefruit seed extract. This is particularly problematic because this ingredient is not a broad-spectrum preservative—research doesn't support its use because it won't protect a water-based product (especially one packaged in a jar) from growing bacteria and mold. It's true that salicylic acid itself has some antimicrobial benefits, but it won't serve as an adequate preservative, and certainly not in this formula. Skip this problematic product and consider any of the well-formulated alternatives from other brands listed on our list of Best BHA Exfoliants.

Pros:
  • None.
Cons:
  • Contains witch hazel water (usually at least 14% alcohol).
  • Questionable preservative system.
  • Ingredient label doesn't comply with FDA or (global) INCI cosmetic regulations, so you really don't know what you are putting on your face.

Devita Acne Solution Pads are formulated with Salicylic Acid, an effective method of acne control and acne treatment. It is designed to penetrate pores to remove residual dirt, oil and make-up, while working to help prevent the development of new acne blemishes. Safe formulation using Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel and Witch Hazel eliminating any alcohols!

Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid 3.0%. Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel), Purified Water, Aqua Hamamelis (Witch Hazel Extract), Glycolic Acid 1%, Grapefruit Seed Extract.

It seems strange that the tagline for the Arizona-based DeVita Skin Care is "Guided by Nature, Driven by Science" because they take a decidedly unscientific route to promote their products, using consumers' fears of chemicals (describing them as "poisons and toxic" on their website) to the fullest degree. If this company was driven by science, we would expect more than just the same old scare tactic—"all chemicals are bad but all plants are good." In fact, all the ingredients in any cosmetic, including water, are chemicals.

DeVita makes the claim that their products are "all natural," vegan, and paraben-free, despite the fact that parabens come from natural ingredients and there is no research showing they are a problem for the body. Their all-natural claim is easy to debunk because their products contain decidedly synthetic ingredients, such as retinol, l-carnosine, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, and polymethylsilsesquioxane, to name a few.

Regarding the l-carnosine and retinol, they are found naturally in animals, but they do not occur in plants. However, because the natural, animal-based versions aren't very stable or effective in skin-care formulas, l-carnosine and retinol in cosmetics are (with rare exceptions) synthetic. Therefore, either DeVita isn't being straight about being a vegan line, or they have their own definition of what "all-natural" means. That may very well be the case, because the "all natural" claim is not beholden to any sort of cosmetic regulation anywhere in the world.

All of this natural, chemical-free posturing gets so tiring—the truth is that there are good and bad natural ingredients, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients. Natural isn't inherently better and synthetic isn't inherently evil. One problem with DeVita products is that you can't be sure what you're really putting on your skin because DeVita takes liberties with how they list product ingredients, which is a regulatory no-no. For all the DeVita products we reviewed (without exception), not a single one had an ingredient list that complied with FDA or (global) INCI standards.

For example, "De-Ionized Water" isn't a recognized name, nor is "Aloe Barbadensis." In the latter case, the designation doesn't tell you if they're using aloe leaf, aloe flower extract with alcohol, aloe leaf juice diluted with water, or just a plain aloe extract. Listing the full ingredient is important information because different forms of an ingredient can mean different things to a formula and can have different effects on your skin.

We admire DeVita in that they don't resort to alcohol-based formulas (a rare quality for a natural brand); unfortunately, it seems they ignored, or simply overlooked, the research on the potent irritant potential of essential oils and fragrances.

They also seem to ignore the risks inherent in not using an effective preservative system. Many of the products we reviewed had questionable preservative systems (see individual product reviews for details), which is bad news (for you and your skin) because you won't know how long you can safely use a product before it's overrun by bacteria and mold. We raised our concern about the preservatives with a representative from DeVita and were told that their products were preserved by the use of aloe, allantoin, grape seed extract, grapefruit seed extract, and "others," depending on the product. To be clear, none of these ingredients has any research demonstrating an ability to work as broad-spectrum preservatives; that is, they won't keep your product free of mold, fungi, or bacteria.

It is true that some ingredients have natural antibacterial benefits, but that doesn't mean they are a good substitute for tried-and-true preservatives. For example, vitamin C has antibacterial and antioxidant benefit, but are you willing to drink from a container of 100% fruit juice that's been sitting on the counter for a month or two? There are plenty of options for effective preservatives, no matter if your preference is for natural skin care or not, but aloe, allantoin, grape seed, and grapefruit seed extract aren't counted among them.

We understand the appeal of DeVita as a brand for those who are enamored with the concept of 100% natural products. However, the reality is that DeVita presents this appearance of "all natural" by fudging the details, devising their own definitions of "all natural," and providing inaccurate information about the source of their ingredients (vegan plant-based l-carnosine and natural silicone—Really?). In many of the products we reviewed, DeVita either omits the source of their preservatives, or (more dangerous to imagine) uses ineffective preservative systems. We are not against naturally derived ingredients by any means, but if you're looking to use natural products, you can do better than this brand, which ultimately leaves you questioning what exactly it is you're putting on your skin.

For more information on DeVita, visit www.devitaskincare.com or call 1-877-233-8482.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice 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 herself.

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