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How Do Proactiv and Neutrogena Acne Treatment Systems Compare?

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I like to review and compare body products to help other customers make informed purchasing decisions.

Proactiv and Neutrogena are both leading brands in the skincare industry, and each offers a line of products that promises to alleviate acne. But how do these two acne management systems compare? Learn more about both brands, the products they offer, and how well they work below.

The Neutrogena Complete Acne Therapy System and the Proactiv 3-Step System contain the following products.

Neutrogena and Proactiv Acne Treatment Products

Neutrogena Complete Acne Therapy SystemProactiv 3-Step System

Skin Polishing Acne Cleanser

Renewing Cleanser

Acne Control Lotion

Revitalizing Toner

Oil-Free SPF 15 Lotion

Repairing Treatment

My Experience With Both

Both Proactiv and Neutrogena declare that acne is a genetic and hormonal condition often exacerbated by stress. From my personal experience, I would definitely agree that hormonal changes at the onset of menstruation do increase acne breakouts. I also concur with Proactiv and Neutrogena about the genetic correlation, since almost everyone on my mother’s side of the family has flawless skin, and my paternal grandfather and his offspring all have acne-prone skin.

I have had a moderate degree of acne since the onset of my teenage years. I have been to many dermatologists and tried many products before discovering Proactiv. I never thought my skin could be close to how it was during my pre-teenage days again.


During the first week of using Proactiv, I recall having a provoked breakout and extremely dry skin. Many articles that I read stated that breakouts are normal, as the treatment starts off by extracting all of the oil and bacteria from your skin to its surface. For the dry skin, reviews stated that I should decrease the amount of Proactiv Revitalizing Toner which I did. In a nutshell, Proactiv worked out well. After about two years of everyday use, I decreased my Proactiv usage from daily to every other day to once a week to not at all.


For about three years after I stopped using Proactiv, my skin was very clear. A few months ago, however, I started getting some breakouts again. I was about to stock up on my Proactiv supplies once more when a friend of mine suggested using the Neutrogena Complete Acne Therapy System. I have been using it for about five months now. During my use of this system, I experienced the same initial skin dryness and breakout as I did when beginning the Proactiv system. There is no toner in the Neutrogena treatment system, but the cleanser and the acne-control lotion do seem to have drying properties.

How Did the Two Product Lines Compare?

Generally, the Neutrogena products are different in consistency from the Proactiv products. What I can say however, is that after five months of use, the results for me have been the same as when I used Proactiv—my skin is clearer and the breakouts have subsided. What I like about the Neutrogena System is that it comes with an oil-free lotion that soothes the skin when it becomes too dry. While using the Proactiv system, I had to purchase a separate lotion to soothe my skin when it became overly dry.

Below, I have compiled a table of some of the similarities and differences I have noticed between the Neutrogena Complete Acne Therapy system and the Proactiv 3-Step System.

Features of Proactiv and Neutrogena Systems

Product FeatureNeutrogena Complete Acne Therapy SystemProactiv 3-Step System

Exacerbated acne at the onset of use



Initial drying out of skin



Benzoyl Peroxide active ingredient









Repair Treatment



Soothing Lotion






Purchased at most local Pharmacies



The Takeaway

I will conclude by saying that in my experience, both the Proactiv 3-Step System and the Neutrogena Complete Acne Therapy System have done wonders for my acne. What’s the huge difference? The price! The Proactiv system is about twice the price of the Neutrogena system.

It is unfortunate that these products do not work for everyone—having acne can really take a toll on one’s self-esteem. I think there is a product out there for everyone though; I had to go through several products myself before trying Proactiv. If neither of these products works for you, do not give up on finding something that does. When you do find a product that works, it will be well worth your time and effort. Good luck!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


gis_r07 (author) from Boston, MA on April 02, 2011:

Thanks for requesting some votes for my hub ripplemaker. I am very humbled to have one of my hubs selected for hubnuggets.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on April 02, 2011:

Talking about acne..groan...some of mine have popped up the past months...and it can be disturbing. Many acne treatment does cause this dryness during the first weeks. I hope to gain my clear skin soon.

Well, goodbye acne and hello the Hubnuggets nomination! Yes this hub has been selected and voting is up for everyone! Check it out now.

Please join the Hubnuggets fun! and participate in the Hubnuggets forum too!

gis_r07 (author) from Boston, MA on March 20, 2011:

Thanks Eric!

Eric Prado from Denton, Texas on March 20, 2011:

Awesome and informative hub! I will vote up and follow. =)