Naturals Acne Spot Treatment
0.75 fl. oz. for $8.49
Last Updated:03.12.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Neutrogena Naturals Spot Treatment is medicated with anti-acne superstar ingredient salicylic acid (BHA), which also helps clear blackheads and white bumps. We're pleased to report that the pH of this BHA spot treatment is within range for the salicylic acid to function as an exfoliant! This has a thin, lotion-like texture that applies easily and sets to a strong matte finish.

In terms of spot-treating acne, that's an option if your breakouts are minimal or confined to a small area. If the breakouts are all over your face, you'll want to consider a BHA exfoliant that comes in a larger size, such as the Skin Perfecting BHA exfoliants from Paula's Choice.

Although this BHA exfoliant stands a very good chance of improving acne, blackheads, and the like (and the majority of its ingredients are natural or at least naturally-derived), it missed our top rating due to the inclusion of a small amount of fragrant cedar extract, listed by its Latin name of Cedrus atlantica. Although present in a low amount, it does pose a slight risk of irritation that you won't have to worry about with other BHA exfoliants.

  • Medicated with anti-acne superstar salicylic acid.
  • The pH is such that the salicylic acid will function as an exfoliant.
  • Lightweight texture, matte finish is ideal for use on breakouts.
  • Small size isn't the best option if you have breakouts all over your face rather than just a few spots.
  • Cedar bark extract poses a slight risk of irritation.

Clinically proven acne medicine treats and helps prevent breakouts. Fortified with an acne fighting bionutrient from the wintergreen leaf for clear, healthy looking skin. With powerful natural salicylic acid, this spot treatment penetrates down into pores to treat breakouts and help prevent breakouts.


Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid 1%. Inactive Ingredients: Water, Hydrated Silica, Glycerin, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Sodium Hydroxide, Cetearyl Glucoside, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Coco-Glucoside, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Fragrance.

Brand Overview

Neutrogena At-A-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive; several recommended cleansers; retinol options, in stable packaging; vast selection of sunscreens, most of which offer excellent UVA protection; several fragrance-free options; many of the Healthy Skin products are state-of-the-art; the foundations with sunscreen provide sufficient UVA protection; some praiseworthy makeup items.

Weaknesses: An overabundance of overlapping anti-aging products that is perennially confusing for consumers; irritating bar soaps; lackluster to downright bad toners; a handful of bland moisturizers and eye creams; some sunscreens too much alcohol or problematic preservatives; most of the Deep Clean products are terrible; mostly disappointing concealers; the lip balms with sunscreen provide inadequate UVA protection.

Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena has been around for over 50 years, and they've come a long way since they launched their first transparent, bronze, detergent-based bar soap (it also contains tallow). The bars are still sold, and while we still don't recommend them (they are too drying for all skin types), the good news is that Neutrogena has come a very long way from where they started. In fact, several of their products represent truly state-of-the-art options.

Strolling the skin-care aisles of any drugstore or mass-market store reveals that Neutrogena vies for shelf space and prominence with only one other brand, Procter & Gamble's Olay. For the most part, both companies offer a similar assortment of products, with Olay being slightly more focused on anti-aging products and Neutrogena going for broader appeal, offering a nearly equal amount of antiwrinkle and anti-acne products. Regrettably the latter category presents few viable options.

Where Neutrogena really excels (and has for years) is with water-soluble cleansers, AHAs, retinol, and sunscreen products. Their Healthy Skin lineup offers some beautifully formulated moisturizers with glycolic acid, and the sunscreens offer something for everyone, including some ingenious options for those with oily skin (or anyone who finds the texture of high-SPF products as unappealing as slathering your skin with Crisco).

A recent self-proclaimed advance in sun protection came with Neutrogena's Helioplex complex. It is not the superior breakthrough Neutrogena makes it out to be. It's a good system to keep avobenzone stable for longer, but Helioplex isn't the only way to get the most out of this important UVA sunscreen. If it were, why didn't Neutrogena scrap all of their other sunscreens that don't use Helioplex technology? And why do they still offer a handful of SPF-rated products that leave skin vulnerable to UVA damage? Although they offer a proportionately greater number of sunscreens that provide excellent UVA protection, it's hard to unequivocally deem them a sun-care leader when they still sell inadequate sunscreens.

It's common to see commercials and magazine ads for Neutrogena's plethora of products designed to combat breakouts and blackheads. It's nothing short of amazing that, after all these years, the majority of these products, while well intentioned, still don't get it right. Far too many of them contain irritating ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, and menthol, none of which are the least bit helpful for someone struggling with breakouts. If your dermatologist recommends these products for acne without reservation, definitely consider a second opinion! Even Neutrogena's on-the-spot benzoyl peroxide product contains some potentially problematic thickening agents. Despite this, if you choose carefully, there are some great products (including a BHA lotion) that can make a positive difference.

What's most frustrating and, frankly, surprising, is that Neutrogena's enormous assortment of products represents both the best and the worst the cosmetics industry has to offer. Given their worldwide distribution and research capabilities, they really should be offering a consistent range of effective, irritant-free products to address a variety of skin types and conditions. As things stand now, healthy, protected skin is only assured if you know which Neutrogena products to look for and which ones to never put in your shopping cart.

For more information about Neutrogena, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (800) 582-4048 or visit www.neutrogena.com.

Neutrogena Makeup

Neutrogena's "beautiful and beneficial" pronouncement is a great tag line, but most of their makeup doesn't live up to that assertion. This line was lacking in several key areas when it first hit store shelves in 1999, and although some things have improved, the number of problematic products is a bit startling. (We are not aware of any cosmetic line that uses menthol or its derivatives as often as Neutrogena.) Each product carries on about the vitamins it contains, yet compared to the leading roles played by cosmetic staples like silicones and thickening agents, the vitamins have mere cameo roles, and as such have little to no impact.

There are a few key items to seek out, especially if you're looking for makeup with excellent sun protection. We also found their lip gloss to be one of the best at any price, and a few of their foundations successfully bridge the gap between skin care and makeup.

The most frustrating aspect of this line is that almost all of it is packaged so you cannot see the color. Even worse, the color swatch on the box is a poor representation, not only of how the color looks in the compact, but also how it looks on your skin. What would truly be beneficial is for Neutrogena to offer more revealing packaging or provide testers or offer trial sizes. Their overall collection and in-store displays aren't nearly as tempting as most other drugstore makeup lines, so in most cases they're relying on their constant magazine and television ads to drive shoppers to explore the world of Neutrogena makeup, or they're relying solely on those who don't mind guessing what color they are really buying. It's obviously working, because despite the problematic elements, this is a line that has survived and is very well distributed.

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.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Overnight difference

I usually have pretty decent skin, however recently I started to get this weird breakout on my neck & chest that soon spread to my chin then entire face. Horrible! A lot of blackheads & underground evil pimples/zits. I bought this spot treatment as well as their cleanser & lotion in hopes of winning the war since my usual routine was failing me now. I used it before bed & by morning I had no redness, swelling & any puss or undergrounders were gone. Day 3 & still battling through it - hopeful now

Reviewed by
Great Product

This is a great addition as a spot treatment. I get the occasional pimple, so I sometimes use it following Paula's Clear Exfoliating Solution, regular strength. It helps shorten the length of my breakouts. Also, the price is right! It is small, but lasts awhile.

Reviewed by
Not that good..

I used this and I put a thin layer on my forehead but it dried so strongly, it really dried the area/skin out. I don't get what in this product made the area so dry... I've used 2% salicylic acid and have had no problem so I'm not sure why. Does anyone know?

Reviewed by
Elizabeth R.
Purdy good

A lot of spot treatments have comedogenic ingredients like Laureth-4 (Persa-gel and Zapzyt), Isopropyl Myristate (Clearasil), etc.--or they are alcohol-based (Neutrogena Rapid Clear, Clinique salicylic acid gel). This one has neither comedogenic ingredients, nor alcohol. Thus, although it may take slightly longer to "work," I feel better about having it on my skin overnight. Will not cause excessive dryness (not alcohol-based), and no border pimples will pop up around the main one I'm treating!

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585633-IIS5 v1.0.0.431 10/13/2015 9:21:57 PM