Tested on animals:Yes
Effaclar K Daily Oil-Free Clarifying Moisturizers looks to be a good option to exfoliate and hydrate skin along with reducing blackheads. Unfortunately, this beta hydroxy acid (BHA) lotion whose texture is best for normal to oily skin has enough drawbacks to keep it from earning a recommendation.
On the plus side, this exfoliant contains 1.5% salicylic acid (BHA), an amount that could, if formulary circumstances were right, improve breakouts and clogged pores while smoothing skin's texture. Alas, salicylic acid is pH-dependent, and the pH of this exfoliant (5.0) is outside the range it needs to be most effective (International Journal of Toxicology, 2003).
Even if the pH wasn't an issue, the fragrance this contains is definitely concerning. Although it's listed as the last ingredient, implying it should be negligible amount, we were shocked at the pervasive nature of the scent, right out of the tube and on skin, where it lingers. This poses a risk of irritation, especially if you plan to apply this daily, as we explain in the More Info section.
A lesser disappointment—but still worth mentioning—is that given this product's price and size, it's sad that other the other beneficial ingredients (retinol derivative retinyl linoleate and zinc PCA) are present in amounts that are likely too low to impact skin, though this product is beautifully packaged to keep such light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use.
It seems La Roche-Posay had good intentions with this BHA exfoliant, but despite the name, Effaclar K Daily Oil-Free Clarifying Moisturizer isn't adept at clarifying skin OR moisturizing it; in fact, the finish dries matte and tends to feel drier the longer it's on skin—not hydrating whatsoever.
In essence, we're being a bit generous rating this two stars but it's not quite bad enough to get our lowest rating. It has a light, easily spread lotion texture but otherwise the strikes against it (ineffective pH range, strong fragrance, inability to hydrate as claimed) make this BHA lotion exfoliant one to skip. See our list of Best BHA Exfoliants for superior options, some of which come in a moisturizing base.
- Medicated with proven anti-acne ingredient salicylic acid.
- Light, thin lotion texture is easy to apply and absorbs quickly.
- The pH is too high for the active ingredient (salicylic acid) to function as an exfoliant.
- Despite fragrance being the last ingredient listed, this is a highly fragrant product—and the scent lingers.
- The matte finish is unable to hydrate as claimed, so this isn't a replacement for moisturizer.
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).