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We Know Exactly How to Pick the Right Proactiv 3-Step System for Your Skin

Ashleigh Morley
We Know Exactly How to Pick the Right Proactiv 3-Step System for Your Skin
Photo: Courtesy of Proactiv. Design: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

I can think of few things more existentially frustrating than a zit that just won’t quit, despite even the most well stocked vanity. Acne at any age can be a bear—whether it’s hormonal, due to stress or causing persistent inflammation. And the longer you’ve been living with it (and let’s be real—staring it right in the face), the more anxiety you might feel.

Sprawling skin care lines can make it hard to pinpoint the right product for your needs and mixing the wrong ingredients can have a less than desirable outcome. But a personalized skin care system that is tailored to match your skin’s unique needs? Now you’ve got my attention.

Over the years, proactiv has honed their classic 3-step skin care system to address the needs of different kinds of skin. Their clinically-proven ingredients are tested by dermatologists and the systems are specifically designed to let you fully embrace your inner Goldilocks. Each one is expertly developed to both clear and prevent breakouts

If you don’t have one particular skin concern

proactiv solution

Image: Courtesy of Proactiv.

Proactiv created the concept of a 3-step skin care system with their OG Proactiv Solution. This acne-fighting trio is popular for a reason: because it works. And better yet? This system is the brand’s most universal—aka, a great place to start no matter your skin type.

The Renewing Cleanser, Revitalizing Toner, and Repairing Treatment work together to provide a one-two punch that clears existing acne and prevents future breakouts. In the first step, the brand’s proprietary, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide works to kill acne-causing bacteria, without causing some of the irritation, dryness, or stinging that can come from other formulations. The alcohol-free Revitalizing Toner does something truly refreshing—it smoothes and softens your skin without drying it out. And in the third step, you get a light, oil-free moisturizer with more of the brand’s signature, proprietary benzoyl peroxide.

If you want an advanced formula

proactiv md

Image: Courtesy of Proactiv.

Do a simple internet search on acne-fighting ingredients and you’re sure to stumble upon retinoids. Once only available via prescription, the vitamin A-derivatives (like adapalene) are bonafide darlings of the skin care industry — and for good reason. The ProactivMD system is completely free of benzoyl peroxide and instead includes a prescription-strength 0.1% adapalene gel treatment as the third step—a major differentiator from the brand’s two other skin care systems—that attacks acne at a cellular level.

The ProactivMD system begins with a Deep Cleansing Face Wash that gently exfoliates as it lifts debris from your pores. Next is the Daily Oil Control Moisturizer with SPF 30, which has a three-in-one formula that hydrates, controls shine, and provides UVA/UVB protection while leaving a matte finish (SPF protection is vitally important for routines with retinoids since the ingredients could make your skin more photosensitive). And finally the Adapalene Gel 0.1%, where you get the benefits of proactiv’s prescription-strength retinoid without the extra trip to your dermatologist. Stubborn breakouts and inflammation from acne won’t stand a chance with this skin care system.

If your skin craves hydration above all else


Image: Courtesy of Proactiv.

If you’ve got sensitive skin that thrives with an extra dose of hydration, then it’s time to start a long-term relationship with the Proactiv+ system. Like the other two systems, Proactiv+ will clear and prevent breakouts, while hydrating, brightening, promoting an evening skin tone. And while this line — like all of the proactiv lines — is designed for all skin types, it’s especially beneficial for normal, dry, and/or dull skin.

It all starts with the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator, where the combination of prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid gently exfoliate to renew the skin’s surface and wash away pore-clogging impurities. In the second step, the Pore Targeting Treatment’s exclusive formula includes benzoyl peroxide patented with Smart Target® technology that stays inside pores longer for lasting effectiveness. And you’ll finish the routine with the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator, a nutrient-rich moisturizer with a low dose of salicylic acid to keep pores clean while simultaneously hydrating and nourishing the skin. The result? Smooth, bright, radiant skin thanks to a gentle-yet-effective skin care system.

This article was created by STYLECASTER for proactiv.