Acne Gel

by PCA Skin  
Price:
$40 - 1 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Sensitive Skin Products > Blemish/Acne Treatments
Last Updated:
1/6/2012
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
No

Acne Gel is medicated with 2% salicylic acid (good), but is formulated in a base of irritating, drying alcohol (really bad). In addition to the alcohol, the ginger and cinnamon it contains also cause irritation. Both have some antibacterial properties, but the resulting irritation is a problem

The addition of irritants is a shame because with some tinkering this could be a very good BHA (salicylic acid) product for managing acne and blackheads. The pH is within range for the salicylic acid to exfoliate skin, but the irritants keep it from earning a recommendation. Please see our list of Best BHA Exfoliants for superior options, and More Info for details on how irritation makes oily, acne-prone skin worse.

Pros:
  • Medicated with the proven anti-acne ingredient salicylic acid.
  • Formulated in the correct pH range to allow the salicylic acid to exfoliate.
Cons:
  • Expensive for such a small amount of product.
  • Contains a high amount of skin-damaging alcohol.
  • Fragrant ingredients ginger and cinnamon put your skin at increased risk of irritation and can increase the time it takes for blemishes and red marks to heal.

More Info:
Alcohol causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin’s ability to heal. The irritation it causes (exacerbated by the ginger and cinnamon) damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse. None of this is what you want from an exfoliant, and there are plenty of products that provide benefits without problematic ingredients.

Acne Gel contains 2% salicylic acid and 5% azelaic acid to treat and prevent acne blemishes. Gentle and effective, this spot-treatment gel kills blemish-causing bacteria while controlling oil production, helping to create an anti-acne environment for clearer, healthier skin.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid (2.0%); Other Ingredients: Water, SD Alcohol 40-B, Ethoxydiglycol, Azelaic Acid, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Butylene Glycol, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Poterium Officinale (Green Burnet) Root, Cinnamomum Cassia (Cinnamon) Bark, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root

PCA Skin is a product line you may have seen at your spa, salon, or dermatologist's office. Founded by an aesthetician in 1990, the brand became relatively popular after developing a series of professional alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels marketed as "medical clinical aesthetics"; in other words, these products are sold to dermatology practices offering cosmetic services such as facials. More recently, PCA Skin has teamed up with a dermatologist and other medical professionals to develop skin-care products. The peels are for professional use only and, in fact, except for a facial scrub, PCA Skin does not sell exfoliants that consumers can use at home.

Not surprisingly, PCA Skin's medical and aesthetics background is supposed to be rooted in science. The company states that "we use rigorous research and science to develop safe, highly effective products that deliver healthy, beautiful skin." Although PCA Skin products contain many beneficial, research-supported ingredients, they also contain numerous problematic ingredients that cause irritation; somehow, that "rigorous" research overlooked those. Irritation is always a problem for skin, causing inflammation and collagen breakdown, and impairing the skin's ability to heal.

Chief among the irritants you'll find throughout the PCA Skin line are witch hazel, citrus and numerous other fragrant oils (whether synthetic or natural, fragrance is almost always a problem for skin), drying cleansing agents, and alcohol (we mean, really, alcohol?!). In our Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary, we provide detailed information on why each of these ingredients is a problem; for all of their talk about science, chemistry, and research, PCA Skin should know better.

If you remain intrigued by this brand (or find the sales pressure from your aesthetician too intense to ignore), there are some worthwhile products. It’s great that every SPF-rated product from PCA Skin includes reliable broad-spectrum sun-protection ingredients, and fans of facial scrubs should know this brand does offer a gentle option. Also, their eye cream and retinol serum are worth a look, and several products are fragrance-free, although you need to choose carefully because many of their products contain fragrant plant extracts or oils despite being listed as fragrance-free.

PCA Skin's science-based mission is admirable, but just because an aesthetician and doctor teamed up, the results for these products aren't going to be spectacular, or even all that helpful.

For more information about PCA Skin, call (877) 722-7546 or visit www.pcaskin.com.

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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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