Which acne treatments work best?

November 8, 2011 4:27:09 PM PST
Americans spend almost $400 a year on over-the counter acne treatments. You've probably seen the star-studded ads for one of them -- Proactiv. But star appeal aside, is it the best choice? We found out that pricey treatment may not be worth the extra cost.

Consumer Reports just tested several treatments to see if they deliver clear results. From a drug store classic to the famous celebrity endorsed Proactiv treatment, they found there is not a clear winner.

Justin Bieber is not the only young celebrity pushing Proactiv. Avril Lavigne, Julianne Hough, and Katy Perry all are singing its praises.

Consumer Reports tested Proactiv along with two other acne treatments.

"All of the products evaluated contain benzoyl peroxide. That's one of the best over-the-counter options for most people," Dr. Orly Avitzur said.

Proactiv, a three-step treatment, costs around $40 for a two-month supply. AcneFree, also a three-step treatment, goes for half, or about $20. Oxy Maximum, a single-step wash, costs far less -- around $5 for a two-month supply.

"We had more than 80 volunteers, with moderate to severe acne, use one of the treatments twice a day for eight weeks," Dr. Avitzur said.

Medical professionals documented the volunteers' skin condition throughout the testing. The results? You might call them a wash.

"As far as acne reduction, there was no statistical difference between any of the products," Dr. Avitzur said.

None of the volunteers saw their acne wiped out completely no matter which product they used. But most did have fewer blemishes.

Well, Proactiv isn't quite that simple if you order online. After a month you're automatically billed for a three-month supply at almost $60, plus $7.99 for shipping and handling. And you'll keep getting billed until you cancel. So Consumer Reports says try Oxy Maximum and save yourself a lot of money.

Consumer Reports also tested two quick treatment devices for red acne blemishes. Unfortunately, the Zeno Hot Spot and a product called No!no! Skin only eliminated about 13 percent of red blemishes in the tests. And they're pricey at $40 and $180.

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