Pore Targeting Treatment
3 fl. oz. for $42
Last Updated:12.17.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

Pore Targeting Treatment is not an accurate name; it sounds as if it's a product that will minimize large pores, but what this really does is kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin's surface as well as inside the pore. Anti-acne powerhouse active benzoyl peroxide is included in a 2.5% concentration, which is a good starting point for fighting mild to moderate breakouts.

ProActiv maintains that this product utilizes SmartTarget™ technology that's supposed to protect the skin's surface (presumably from dryness) while it delivers benzoyl peroxide into the pores. This delivery system is patented, and that sounds great, but a patent isn't about effectiveness, it just grants the rights to use a concept or idea in a unique way. In other words, it doesn't have to work, it just has to be different.

ProActiv isn't the only company that uses special delivery systems for benzoyl peroxide, but it's good that this active works as intended with minimal risk of causing irritation. This contains some good moisturizing ingredients to help offset potential dryness from the benzoyl peroxide, making it best for normal, dry, or combination skin.

Although we recommend this lightly fragranced product to fight acne, you can find less expensive benzoyl peroxide products from other lines—at least this one comes in a larger-than-the-norm size.

  • Medicated with benzoyl peroxide, the gold standard for fighting acne-causing bacteria.
  • Light, silky lotion texture is easy to apply.
  • Contains moisturizing ingredients to offset potential dryness from benzoyl peroxide.
  • Contains a small amount of fragrance, while many benzoyl peroxide products are fragrance-free.

This new, smarter way to fight acne features our exclusive encapsulated benzoyl peroxide with patented Smart Target™ technology designed to protect the skin’s surface as it delivers the medicine precisely into pores to kill acne-causing bacteria.


Active: Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%. Inactive Ingredients: Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Glycerin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Polysorbate 80, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Stearate, Carbomer, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance.

Brand Overview

Proactiv Solution At-A-Glance

Strengths: Effective, elegant-textured AHA, BHA, and skin-lightening options; all sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection; good options for controlling excess oil breakthrough, including a colorless pressed powder.

Weaknesses: Several products contain irritating ingredients that do not help acne-prone skin; some gimmicky products that no dermatologist-created line should be selling (they should know better); mostly substandard to poor makeup options, including a sulfur-based concealer.

Created by dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Proactiv launched in 1995 as a three-step system sold via infomercial. With the doctors' endorsements and winning personalities along with a heap of testimonials from people who use the routine (including a rotating list of celebrities, which always garners attention), Proactiv remains a very successful brand that is still going strong. The effusiveness, medical background, accurate information about how acne forms, and sincerity of its creators definitely makes for compelling television (we admit to catching the infomercial on more than one sleepless night), but what about the products themselves? Are they the answer the ads promise?

The core system consists of a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide and scrub particles, a toner with glycolic acid, and a lotion that contains a low (but still effective) amount of benzoyl peroxide. No questions here, this is a straightforward routine and hardly unique to Proactiv! Some percentage of people will benefit from daily use of this system (it contains the basics that are necessary for over-the-counter treatment of acne), but it's definitely not for everyone, and every dermatologist knows that (just check out the American Academy of Dermatology Web site at www.aad.org, for example, on their recommendations for battling blemishes).

It also goes without saying that other lines offer many less expensive versions of all the Proactiv products. However, for those who choose this system, the key is compliance, at least as long as you're seeing good results. Anyone battling acne needs to know that, barring a successful experience with the prescription drug Accutane, it cannot be cured—only controlled. We don't doubt that many people have seen their acne respond positively to a daily routine of the core Proactiv products, and for some it has been a life-changing experience—but it's not the answer for acne for everyone.

Although they still appear in ads and literature for the brand, Drs. Rodan and Fields have branched out to create their own namesake line, reviewed elsewhere on this site. While the Rodan + Fields line is not acne-centric like Proactiv, they did include products for blemishes, a few of which are similar to but more expensive than their Proactiv counterparts. And of course, this dual branding begs the question: if Rodan and Fields believe that Proactiv is the best option for those struggling with acne, why did they create alternative products in their namesake line? Why not just mention to Rodan + Fields customers dealing with acne that the Proactiv line has exactly what they need?

Along with Proactiv and the namesame Rodan and Fields line, these dermatologists also created Proactiv+, which is supposed to be smarter and faster than original Proactiv. For the most part, these products are quite similar, they just have a stronger emphasis on anti-aging issues such as uneven skin tone and enlarged pores from sun damage. We wish these products were more compelling, but many of them are truly problematic and not something two reputable dermatologists should feel comfortable putting their names on.

For more information about Proactiv, call (800) 876-9717 or visit www.proactiv.com. For more information about Proactiv+, visit www.proactivplus.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.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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been using all 3 proactiv + product steps

I have been using all three steps for the Proactiv+system for about a week and half now I have been washing my fave at least twice a day I wash my fave every morning and night and if I put makeup on to go out I wash it off as soon as I get home. The first 4 days or so my acne did get severely worse as the products were pulling all the dirt and oil to the top but over the past 8 days my face is almost conpletely clear!My face is getting dry but using step 2 and 3 several times a day really helps!

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Didn't work

Didn't work for me. Make my skin dry and didn't reduce or clear any pimples. It makes it worse. I have to see Dr. after using it to treat my acne. I think Paula Choice is just an idea for you to know about the product before you buy it. But if you really want to know if it fits you, you must try it for yourself.

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Beautypedia Team Response

Hello and thank you for your feedback on this product.  We're so sorry that it didn't work out for you!  Also, The Paula’s Choice Research Team no longer reviews products for Beautypedia, and while The Beautypedia Team is still a part of Paula’s Choice Skincare, what’s new—and you may not yet have known—is that now we have two teams working independently to bring you the best quality reviews, products, and  research-supported expert advice you know and love. One team is dedicated to Beautypedia and product reviews from other brands; the other is dedicated to Paula’s Choice skincare and its unique combination of expertly formulated products and advice on a wide range of beauty-related topics.


Proactiv always worked for me. I guess my skin responds better to benzoyl peroxide than salycilic acid treatments. I used it twice a day and it was very drying so now I use it at least three times a week and I truly believe that this has kept acne at bay.

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Did not work for me

I used regular Proactiv for years and had fairly decent results. I went of for a few months and tried Murad. My skin became a lot worse in that time, so I decided to try Proactiv +. I've been using it exactly as directed for nearly 2 months and I am now officially experiencing the worst skin of my life. I thought maybe it was the fragrance, but then I realized that regular Proactiv is fragranced as well and my skin was never this bad when I was on it. ?

Reviewed by
Pretty Smart, Indead!

This is actually a really great product from Proactiv+. I like the texture, effectiveness, and not-so-drying ingredients. I'm not saying this particular product is not drying at all, but it is far less drying and irritating than most benzoyl peroxide treatments or lotions I have ever tried. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with this product.

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