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Does it Work Wednesday

ProActiv vs. Acne Free

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Does it Work Wednesday
ProActiv vs. Acne Free
By: Lauren Keith

The popular ProActiv Acne treatment has been around for years, but it recently got some added celebrity power.  However, there's an off-brand on the market that claims it works "significantly better" than ProActiv.  This Does it Work test pits ProActiv against Acne Free to see which one truly does work better.  Two teenagers from New Madrid help me with this test.

Elias Hunter of New Madrid is 17-years-old and doesn't get caught up in appearances, but he admits he'd like to look his best in his upcoming senior picture shoot.  He's hoping the Proactiv Acne system will clear up his skin. It promises to treat and even prevent future pimples, with actress Vanessa Williams and now, Jessica Simpson and P Diddy plugging the creams.  So, will it work for Elias?

ProActiv is a three-step system. First, Elias uses the renewing cleanser, although he prefers just plain ole' soap and water.

"A little abrasive but normal," he says as he uses the cleanser.

Next, he wipes on the revitalizing toner. Before we get to the third and final step, we decide to give the bonus facial mask a try. The instructions tell you to use the mask at least two times a week, but at this point in the process, Elias is about ready to wash off ProActiv for good.

"Three steps too many!" he laughs.

He waits ten minutes for this mask too harden, before he can wash it off.

"Anything for beauty, right?" I ask Elias, as he laughs. 

Now for the final step. Elias rubs on the repairing lotion; it's an acne-fighting moisturizer.  Elias promises to use the 3-step cleaning process two times a day for the next few weeks. He'll also use the mask.  To make things a bit more interesting, younger brother, Hunter, decides to try the over-the-counter version of a similar product.

"I've been wanting to try it," says Hunter.

He's talking about the Acne-Free system, which claims to work better than ProActiv. Let's see.I catch up with the Borton boys three weeks later.

"My face is a little clearer than normal," says Elias.

"I started seeing results quickly," says Hunter.

So, which is better: ProActiv or the Acne Free system? It's close, but both boys say Acne Free works better.

"Well, I think it actually was. It's cheaper and they give you more," notes Hunter.

He's right. ProActiv costs about $26, with shipping and handling. Plus, the starter kit is a lot smaller than the bottles in the Acne Free system, which you can buy in stores*and* for seven dollars cheaper than ProActiv!  Acne Free costs $19 at Wal-Mart.

Here's the other thing with ProActiv.  When you buy it, you're also automatically signing up  for the "Clear Skin Club" membership.  The company won't sell you the starter kit without this membership.  That means, one month after you buy ProActiv, the company will send you another shipment and charge your bank account another $26.  That's handy if you like the product, not so much if you don't. So, it is up to you, to cancel that *before* another shipment comes.   ProActiv clearly warns you about this, but it's worth noting, so you don't forget. Now it's time to hand down some grades.

We take a look at Elias's "before and after" shots while using ProActiv.  There are still some blemishes, but his skin does appear somewhat smoother.  However, he's not a fan of the three-step program.

"Just too much of a hassle," he says.

As for Hunter, he really likes the Acne Free system.  His "before and after" shots don't show a dramatic change in three weeks, but his skin is notably clearer.  He's also not a fan of the similar three-step process with Acne Free.

"I'd give it a B minus," he says.

I'd have to agree. The Acne Free system didn't give us excellent results, but it's cheaper than ProActiv.  Acne Free gets a "B-".  And with its average results, the more expensive ProActiv gets a "C" on this Does it Work test.

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