By Dr. Sarah Khan, resident pharmacist for DietsInReview.com
College can be some of the best times of your life: the parties, dating, making new friends and having more independence. You’re an adult now, and I’m sure you were hoping you would leave behind those embarrassing zits from high school, but for some, the added stress can keep you from clear skin. Many college kids are turning to a popular treatment system called Proactiv, but does it work?
Why am I breaking out?
So you’re finished with puberty…doesn’t that mean you are done with acne too? Unfortunately, no. There are many triggers that can make pimples much more prevalent. Oil-based cosmetics, and beauty products are a culprit for blemishes along with dirt, cooking oils in the air, prescription drugs like steroids, and hormonal changes.
There are a couple of myths that we should clear up. First, washing your face more frequently will not prevent zits from appearing. The other myth is that eating foods like chocolate or greasy fast food have a tendency to cause eruptions on your face. So far, neither have been proven to be true. There has been some evidence that may prove that diets high in carbohydrates and sugars that raise the blood sugar are more likely to cause those unsightly bumps and blemishes, so it might be worth considering not eating that extra piece of pizza or that endless pasta bowl at Olive Garden.
Some of the reason why you are breaking out you can also blame on your parents. There appears to be a hereditary link between parents and children having acne but the severity of the acne is on an individual basis.
What can Proactiv do for me?
Proactiv is promoting a couple different product lines but I will focus on their three-step system, which includes a cleanser, moisturizer and toner. The cleanser is oil-free and contains benzoyl peroxide which is pretty much the gold standard for acne treatments over the counter. It reduces inflammation in areas where bumps may appear and also causes the skin to peel or exfoliate. It helps to reduce resistance from the bacteria P. acnes which can be the cause of some peoples’ acne. When benzoyl peroxide is combined with an oral or topical antibiotic this can fight P. acnes from both sides. It is also in the Proactiv moisturizer which is probably where people would gain the most benefit. Both the cleanser and moisturizer contain 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and may cause some initial redness and scaling. Usually this will go away in a couple of weeks.
Benzoyl peroxide may also stain clothes or pillows so keep that in mind when applying the moisturizer. The toner has glycolic acid as its active ingredient which is an alpha-hydroxy acid. It naturally helps the skin to exfoliate. It is much milder on the skin than benzoyl peroxide and can be found in chemical peels.
As a poor college student, is Proactiv worth the money?
You have a decision to make. Invest in Proactiv or buy some coverup at your local cosmetic store. Investing in the health of your skin is the way to go. You’ll save money over time and hopefully have less scars and damage from acne down the road. Having healthier looking skin is shown to improve self-esteem and may even help you to feel more confident to ace that exam, presentation or that first date.