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View Full Version : Giving up Proactiv. Advice please?


Sattua
07-05-2011, 03:51 PM
So I had a baby and quit my job and we're living on my husband's salary now, so I have time to figure out ways to live on less money (but only while the baby naps).

My Proactiv regimen, which abolished my cystic acne four years ago, seems like a candidate. Looking at the bottles, it appears that the key ingredients are

Face wash: exfoliating grit and benzoyl peroxide 2.5%
Toner: witch hazel and glycolic acid
Lotion: benzoyl peroxide 2.5%

I might have time to identify what things we must be paying too much for, but I DON'T have time to read the darn ingredients labels of all 6000 acne products in the drug store. Has someone else given up Proactiv for an equally effective, more economical regimen? Can you tell me what products you use please?

ZipperJJ
07-05-2011, 04:02 PM
Hmm...do you have health insurance? Can you go to a dermatologist and ask them?

The reason I suggest that instead of giving my answer for fighting cystic acne is that if you go to acne.org you will see that every single treatment works brilliantly for a bunch of people, doesn't work for a bunch of other people and makes things worse for others.

So I would feel really bad if you got a ton of answers here and you were both overwhelmed by the different responses and then either tried something that didn't work or tried something that was worse.

Actually I will share my answer for fighting cystic acne...I went to a dermatologist and she tried a bunch of different things for me over about 6 months until it got fixed. Now all I have to do is wash daily with Cetaphil and I'm good to go!

But it was a long 6 months before that was the case.

Good luck - adult acne is awful awful!

papergirl
07-05-2011, 04:14 PM
Pharmacists are a great resource for questions like this. Take the bottles to your local pharmacy and ask him or her the same question. If there is something available, prescription or otherwise, with similar ingredients, the pharmacist would know it.
Good luck. Maybe I'll try proactiv for my son.

Ferret Herder
07-05-2011, 04:28 PM
Witch hazel usually is in an irritating, drying alcohol base, and exfoliating scrubs can irritate and damage the skin as well. I second seeing a dermatologist if you can afford it. For exfoliation, products like salicylic acid (aka: BHA, beta-hydroxy acid) will both exfoliate and reduce inflammation - it's essentially aspirin.

I have a good, inexpensive benzoyl peroxide product at home; I'll post it after I get off the train. Check the product recommendations/reviews and skin care advice at beautypedia.com; the reviewers generally rely on a mix of testing, product analysis, and peer-reviewed journal articles (on the ingredients) to make recommendations.

PunditLisa
07-05-2011, 04:31 PM
Go to Drugstore.com and enter the active ingredients. For instance, searching "2.5% benzoyl peroxide" returned this:

http://drugstore.com/neutrogena-on-the-spot-acne-treatment-vanishing-formula/qxp16553?fromsrch=2.5%25+benzoyl

Witch hazel can be found at any drugstore for cheap.

elfkin477
07-05-2011, 05:10 PM
The new Oxy Clinical (http://oxyskincare.com/our-products/), which is available in a kit (http://oxyskincare.com/our-products/oxyclinical-acne-solutions-pack/) with 3-4 weeks of stuff for $10-12, works just as well if not better than Proactiv for me. It might be cheaper in the long run to buy the bigger bottles of product separately, and I think that would run you $20-25 for probably 3 months worth.

As an FYI, though, I broke out the first week after giving up Proactiv for this, but it cleared up in a few days.

alice_in_wonderland
07-05-2011, 05:17 PM
I would also recommend heading to the drug store and talking to the cosmetician. Yes, yes, I know cosmeticians are a bunch of charlatins just trying to shill product on the unsuspecting public :rolleyes: (says the former cosmetician); however, they do receive a lot of training on specific product properties and many would be perfectly happy to go through the products they have and find something that might work for you.

Ferret Herder
07-05-2011, 05:19 PM
The new Oxy Clinical (http://oxyskincare.com/our-products/), which is available in a kit (http://oxyskincare.com/our-products/oxyclinical-acne-solutions-pack/) with 3-4 weeks of stuff for $10-12, works just as well if not better than Proactiv for me. It might be cheaper in the long run to buy the bigger bottles of product separately, and I think that would run you $20-25 for probably 3 months worth.
This happens to be the benzoyl peroxide product I have in my bathroom cabinet - Oxy Clinical's Clearing Treatment, which contains 5% benzoyl peroxide.

typoink
07-05-2011, 08:20 PM
Two things I've heard that may be useful:

1. Benzoyl peroxide is benzoyl peroxide. It's really the only "important" part of Proactiv's stuff. There's lots of preperations on the market that use it; my favorite (ie the cheapest) is, IIRC, made by Oxy. It comes in a black bottle that looks a bit like Axe body wash.

2. Half the reason proactive works isn't the chemical, it's the regiment. Apply it with roughly the same timing you were using on Proactive and your results should be similar.

fluiddruid
07-06-2011, 12:07 AM
I used to work in the acne cream field...

In my opinion, the toner isn't necessary. The two important components are the benzoyl peroxide (the more important of the two), and the cleansing/exfoliation portion. It all comes down to the reason for acne -- Proactiv is designed to deal with a few major factores, specifically cleaning away oil and dead skin (which mechanically block pores), and benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria that can cause acne as well. Doing this routinely is the key portion. It's a preventative product.

Benzoyl peroxide is easy to find. Note though that more may not be better as it is also a bleaching agent. Higher percentages (~6%+) are good for spot treatments, lower concentrations are best for the whole face.

Exfoliant cleansers are easy to find too. Make sure to use one suitable for people with acne -- you do not want one of the ones aimed at the worried-about-aging crowd (which will tend to be oily), nor do you need ones that are really gritty. You don't want to cause irritation, just routinely scrub away the dead skin cells before they slough off into pores.

Now, don't get me wrong. Proactiv's a good product. It is also pretty expensive so I understand why you might want to look at other options. Acne Free and other direct knock off Proactiv products are often really close in terms of ingredients, if you want to play it a little bit safe.

One other thing. If you decide to stick with Proactiv, there are a couple of ways to still save money. One example is that you may not need Proactiv's treatment twice a day. You do need to use it routinely, but a lot of people who don't have bad acne can easily get away with using it once a day. If you do this, and you are on the subscription program, call them and you can space out your shipments further apart (up to six months even, IIRC). If you buy any of their other products, this entitles you to keep the discount you get on them as well. You can also, if you call customer service, swap out the components in the kit as desired -- for example, if you want to try stopping using the toner to see if it still works for you, you can get two lotions or two cleansers in your next kit instead. You'll have to call each time you want to change the composition of the kit, but this helps save money if you don't use the items at the same rate or want to omit one. These substitutions (as of the last time I was aware of their policy) were free of charge. If you swap back and forth between the two-cleanser-one-lotion and two-lotion-one-cleanser kits, etc., you can get more of what you need and then just decrease the frequency to the right amount.

JKilez
07-06-2011, 08:35 AM
Why not (with your dermatologist's approval and supervision) just use Roaccutane? With only four months of slight discomfort, you can be free of acne forever. Insurance pays the bulk of the costs and then you would have no more creams and lotions to buy.

Sattua
07-06-2011, 09:50 AM
Thanks for the input, everybody. The drugstore.com search is very useful!

My acne cleared up with only one daily use of MUCH less product than Proactiv recommends, so I'm optimistic about continuing to treat it without dermatologists or accutane. If I'm wrong, I'll let you know ;)

shunpiker
07-06-2011, 10:41 AM
What really worked for my (adult) acne was to do away with all soaps and cleansers. Instead, I'd (vigorously) wash my face 3, 4, maybe 6 times a day with just water. This was easy to do at work, school, after lunch, etc. I could feel the water wash away the oils and leave my face clean, but it wouldn't dry out my skin like the cleansers. YYMV, but I still don't use soap on my face unless it's been somewhere exceptionally dirty.

alice_in_wonderland
07-06-2011, 10:47 AM
Why not (with your dermatologist's approval and supervision) just use Roaccutane? With only four months of slight discomfort, you can be free of acne forever. Insurance pays the bulk of the costs and then you would have no more creams and lotions to buy.

I thought there was some evidence that accutane can have the side effect of Ulcerative Colitis, IBD, Crohn's etc. That seems like a big price to pay to get rid of pimples; however, I don't know how much medical evidence versus lawsuits is actually involved.

rhubarbarin
07-06-2011, 01:23 PM
Check out acne.org. He recommends using a mild, non-exfoliating moisturizing facewash, followed by application as-needed (like you I didn't need much and did fine with only one application daily) of a benzoyl peroxide lotion similar to Proactiv's (he sells a great lotion for a very reasonable price, much more lotion for less than Proactiv's), which does all the exfoliating and oxygenating your skin needs, and a moisturizing facial lotion to treat any resulting dryness/flakiness.

When I stopped using Proactiv I started using this method, buying only my BP lotion from acne.org, and it worked better than Proactiv's system for a fraction of the cost.

In the past year I've cured my acne with diet/nutrition changes - lifestyle is a huge factor as well. My skin is the best it's been since I was 14, I still can't believe it. I barely have to wash my face any more (after 10 years of moderate to severe non-cystic acne and trying everything to treat it - yes, I tried water-only washing, oil cleansing - but unless I used benzoyl peroxide, my skin was a disaster area).

Toucanna
07-06-2011, 01:45 PM
I'm sure you've already done this, but in case it hasn't been mentioned...

If you are nursing, please consult your medical provider before using any medication. Some meds can be absorbed through the skin and show up in the mother's milk.

Regards,

Claire Beauchamp
07-06-2011, 02:02 PM
Go to cosmeticscop.com and its sister site, beautypedia.com. On the former, read Paula Begoun's articles on treating acne. If you go to the second site and look up Proactiv, you'll see that it's overpriced mediocrity and you can get the same active ingredients in a whole lot of other products for less money. Also, many of the celebrities who pitch Proactive ALSO had other treatments like Accutane. The fact that Proactiv worked for you means that you can spend less money and get the same results with the same active ingredients.

JKilez
07-06-2011, 05:42 PM
I thought there was some evidence that accutane can have the side effect of Ulcerative Colitis, IBD, Crohn's etc. That seems like a big price to pay to get rid of pimples; however, I don't know how much medical evidence versus lawsuits is actually involved.
Roaccutane/Accutane is powerful stuff and certainly has a selection of both temporary and permanent side-effects; however, I do not believe that the connection between a significant increase in chronic intestinal ailments and the drug has been demonstrated.

The big difference between Roaccutane and other treatments is that Roaccutane actually cures acne. One or two cycles and you are done. No more zits, no more breakouts, nothing, from that point forward. If you were an obese person and you could take a pill for only a couple months that would not only cause you to lose the weight, but also keep you from ever being overweight again, what side-effects would you be willing to live with? That is what Roaccutane is to an adult with chronic acne.

anu-la1979
07-06-2011, 09:53 PM
Do you not like/do well on the prescription topical medicines like Retin-A (now Renova, I think) and the other one made by Galderma (Differin, I think)? Because usually insurance covers those.

Glycolic acid creams are all over the place. Alpha Hydrox is the cheapest, I use Merz's Aqua Glycolic, which I think is very reasonable in price and am very happy with (it's 10% glycolic to Alpha's 12%). A pharma rep told me about it. Alpha Hydrox also has a potent retinol-esque one called ResQ but I am so happy with glycolic acid I have stopped the handwringing over losing my retin-a pipeline. I'm not sure what type of acne you have-mine at its worst is light-moderate and glycolic acid creams seem to treat it just fine.

If you're handy, you could always buy the ingredients for everything from Skinactives and formulate something for yourself. For instance, making your own c-serum is de rigeur these days since people figured out skinceuticals was making like a 50000% profit on theirs. The typical acne based ingredients you'd want to look out for are hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid and Vitamin A. The people at SkinActives will help you out, you can also ask over at Essential DaySpa. The MakeUpAlley girls aren't as do-it-yourselfy on their boards, I think. I've ordered some ferulic acid from them to make some C-serum on the cheap but those formulations are all over the internet so I can't speak to their helpfulness, but apparently they are quite nice.

Also, I bought into the Clarisonic hype around Christmas and I think it's an amazing tool that allows the topical stuff to penetrate deeper. But it is uber-expensive, which probably wouldn't do much on the money saving front.

Zulema
07-06-2011, 10:23 PM
I bought a kit that is almost identical to Proactive at Walgreens. It's made by University Medical and is called Acne Free. It was 19.99 and I get the same results as Proactive, it even smells the same and has the same size bottles.

Kimmy_Gibbler
07-06-2011, 11:39 PM
Benzoyl peroxide is easy to find. Note though that more may not be better as it is also a bleaching agent. Higher percentages (~6%+) are good for spot treatments, lower concentrations are best for the whole face.

So many towels I've ruined using Clean & Clear 10% benzoyl peroxide face wash. Not just washcloths, but the towels I use to dry off after a shower during which I've used it. But it does work.

Sattua
07-07-2011, 11:16 AM
I bought a kit that is almost identical to Proactive at Walgreens. It's made by University Medical and is called Acne Free. It was 19.99 and I get the same results as Proactive, it even smells the same and has the same size bottles.

Aha, this is exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for... no brainpower required on my part. I'll check it out. We've even got a Walgreens in town.

Toucanna
07-10-2011, 05:03 PM
Accutane/Roacccutane (http://acne.emedtv.com/accutane/accutane-and-breastfeeding.html) is not recommend for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who are likely to become pregnant.

From University Medical (https://acnefree.com/faqs.htm)'s FAQs:
"Can I use AcneFree if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Because AcneFree has not been tested on pregnant or breastfeeding women, it is recommended you consult with your physician or pharmacist before using."

Okay, I'm done nagging. ;) Best wishes for clearing up your acne soon. Regards,

elfkin477
07-11-2011, 12:56 PM
Why not (with your dermatologist's approval and supervision) just use Roaccutane? With only four months of slight discomfort, you can be free of acne forever. Insurance pays the bulk of the costs and then you would have no more creams and lotions to buy. I just looked up the cure rate for accutane (85% are permently cure)...holy hell, why didn't a doctor ever mention this when I was in college and happily insured?

lindsaybluth
07-11-2011, 04:41 PM
Oooo, I am the answer to your prayers!

No really, I've done a LOT of research and spent a load of time on this.

Read my reviews on Amazon: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask (http://amazon.com/Neutrogena-Clear-Pore-Cleanser-Ounce/dp/B000NSIGE6/ref=cm_aya_orig_subj) and of Stri-dex Power Pads (http://amazon.com/Stri-Dex-Power-Pads-28-Count-Boxes/product-reviews/B000II57B6/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1).

Basically:

AM: Wash with Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask (3% BP) OR Cetaphil gentle bar. I use the Cetaphil in the winter and the Clear Pore in the summer.
Apply moisturizer/sunscreen combo (I list options in the reviews)

PM: Wash with Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask
Apply AcneFree (buy it on Ebay or Amazon, Ebay's usually cheaper)

Weekly: Proactiv's sulphur mask. Linky here (http://amazon.com/Proactiv-Solution-Refining-Mask-Lot/dp/B001KZ1AM6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1310420252&sr=8-3). This'll keep the blackheads at bay. Steam your face in the shower or with a hot washcloth beforehand. In the winter keep it to your T-zone only. Right now the 2x1oz ones are cheapest but sometimes the 2.5oz bottle is cheapest.

In between: get a script for Stridex 3% pads 60 count box. Swipe face with after working out or on the go. I don't use these anymore but I used to.

Oh yeah, and the toner is garbage. Toss it.

ETA: I found AcneFree's and Acne dot org's cleanser to be garbage, FWIW. The Clear Pore is like $7/bottle but it lasts a LONG time since you only require a thin layer.

Sigmagirl
07-12-2011, 07:43 AM
I just looked up the cure rate for accutane (85% are permently cure)...holy hell, why didn't a doctor ever mention this when I was in college and happily insured?
Accutane is some nasty stuff. I have taken it twice and will not take it again. I guess I am among the unlucky 15% as my dermatologist has suggested I take it a third time. :( Things are actually fairly good right now; I take a low dose of doxycycline and it keeps things pretty leveled out. And I have a Z-pak prescription for when I need it.
Accutane made both my thumbnails split vertically from the nail bed, and they took years to grow back together. That is one of the mild side effects. :eek:

Shot From Guns
07-12-2011, 09:49 AM
Accutane made both my thumbnails split vertically from the nail bed, and they took years to grow back together.

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.

Ferret Herder
07-12-2011, 11:07 AM
I just looked up the cure rate for accutane (85% are permently cure)...holy hell, why didn't a doctor ever mention this when I was in college and happily insured?
Because if you're a woman, doctors will make you swear that you won't even dare look at a man, lest you accidentally get pregnant while on this stuff. Seriously, it is highly likely to cause birth defects and the obstacles required by the FDA before prescribing it are major, plus women have to promise to use two forms of contraception during, and for a month before and after, using it.

Oh, and the list of common side effects is daunting - and I work in medical research, so I'm used to seeing scary lists of side effects that might happen but probably won't.

Shot From Guns
07-12-2011, 11:16 AM
I'm pretty sure that anybody using it has to jump through those same hoops--male or female. Presumably the difference is that if you're female they'll actually know if you have an IUD, are using oral contraceptives, etc.

Ferret Herder
07-12-2011, 11:25 AM
From what I've read, there's no evidence that the drug shows up in seminal fluid, but guys still do have to make promises and sign up for the same FDA-mandated website, answer sensitive questions about their sexual history every month, etc. It's basically easier and less intrusive to get thalidomide in the US.

Anyway, my WAG is that if you don't hear about it as a patient, either your doctor has not gone through the stringent licensing requirements to prescribe it, your type of acne may not quite "qualify," or your doctor is reluctant to prescribe it to a possibly sexually-active and fertile patient for fear of potential consequences (medical and legal).

Shot From Guns
07-12-2011, 11:30 AM
Here's the Wikipedia article on iPLEDGE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPLEDGE), the crazy system you have to go through to get the drug in the U.S.

Mr. Duality
07-12-2011, 08:58 PM
In the past year I've cured my acne with diet/nutrition changes - lifestyle is a huge factor as well. My skin is the best it's been since I was 14, I still can't believe it. I barely have to wash my face any more (after 10 years of moderate to severe non-cystic acne and trying everything to treat it - yes, I tried water-only washing, oil cleansing - but unless I used benzoyl peroxide, my skin was a disaster area).

When I was forty years old I at long last realized nuts were causing most of my acne. Quit eating peanuts and almonds, stopped having more than an occasional zit.

Melysnl
07-13-2011, 08:43 AM
As someone already said check out AcneFree which you can get at Walgreens or Walmart and it costs less and works just as well.

You can also try giving up dairy products to help keep your skin clear. I stopped intaking dairy about 7 years ago and that alone has helped keep my skin clearer than any over the counter acne products.

lindsaybluth
07-13-2011, 12:07 PM
Something nobody else has mentioned is that AcneFree's lotion is 3.5% BP and ProActiv's is 2.5%BP. If you're already using a thin layer I suggest using an even thinner layer of AcneFree's or cutting AcneFree's with some regular night cream, like Olay Regenerist or something.

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