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When it comes to skincare, knowing where to start can be confusing.

In addition, treating acne or acne-prone skin that is either dry, oily, or combination is complicated. With so many products on the market claiming to effectively treat and even prevent acne, finding the proper skincare routine is a delicate balance.

So, in this article, we will walk you through how to pick the best products for you and your skin, while comparing two of the leading skincare brands for acne and acne-prone skin - Neutrogena and Clean & Clear.

Skip to "Overview" section

Skip to "Face Wash" section

Skip to "Scrubs" section

Skip to "Acne Treatment" section

Skip to "Moisturizer" section

Skip to "Final Thoughts" section

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What you need to know

Unfortunately, several products in both Clean & Clear and Neutrogena contain a range of ingredients that are concerning for skincare. These include ingredients such as Fragrance, Red 4, Alcohol, Yellow 10, PEGs, Talc and synthetic dyes.

The fragrance is difficult to define as brands do not have to list what the fragrance is or what ingredients it is made from.

Red 4 is a synthetic dye produced from petroleum, and Yellow 10 is a synthetic dye produced from petroleum or coal tar sources.

PEGs are known as human skin toxicants or allergens and are highly debated for their safety in cosmetics. As a result, you will find PEGs listed as one of the Dirty Dozen.

While these ingredients are considered safe and are FDA approved, acne-prone and sensitive skin may react to such ingredients.

Synthetic additives are regulated as safe for cosmetics. Yet, everything we use on our skin is absorbed into the body, so it is essential to consider if you feel these ingredients are suitable for you and your skin type.

If this has put you off (we don't blame you), find alternative brands to construct your skincare routine by checking out our other reviews

Otherwise, keep scrolling to learn more, starting with the fact that Johnson & Johnson have much to do with these misdeeds.

Johnson & Johnson

Neutrogena and Clean & Clear are owned by Johnson & Johnson. As the largest health care company globally, J&J remains at the top of the pharmaceutical list as a health care empire.

"Johnson & Johnson is one of the world's most comprehensive healthcare organizations and was formed in the USA in 1886. Our Family of Companies comprises more than 250 operating companies in 60 countries" - Johnson & Johnson

While the company owns numerous subsidiary corporations and brings in billions of dollars annually, J&J is also known for multiple public recalls and lawsuits. In fact, J&J has faced hundreds of thousands of lawsuits over claims of defective products. The subsidiaries often knew about the concerns regarding certain products yet sold them anyway.

Are Johnson & Johnson Cruelty Free?

Johnson & Johnson is not cruelty-free.

Animal-testing may be done with J&J suppliers, through a third party, or when animal testing is required by law in another country.

Certain products may be accidentally vegan, however, none of the products are certified vegan or cruelty-free.

Neutrogena

Owned by Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena is a science-driven skincare line known for its effective yet affordable products. Founded in 1930 by Emanuel Stolaroff, the brand was previously called Natone and was later named Neutrogena. Popular products include makeup removing cleansing towelettes, pore refining toner, ultra-gentle cleanser, ultra-sheer sunscreen, and the brand's famous transparent bar soap.

Clean and Clear

Previously owned and founded by Revlon over 60 years ago, Clean & Clear was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 1991. The brand then launched the Clean & Clear Advantage line for acne-prone skin and won numerous awards for its range of cleansers, scrubs, and moisturizers.

Contrary to popular belief, expensive does not always equal more effective. However, leading cosmetic experts say that the price of luxury skincare products will often increase due to expensive marketing campaigns, fancy packaging, and proprietary ingredients.

Neutrogena vs Clean and Clear Face Wash

Choosing the right cleanser is the first step in managing acne and acne-prone skin to ensure that the skin is cleansed yet remains hydrated. According to Derm Collective, "Acne facial cleansers are specifically formulated to reduce the risk of breakouts by removing the bacteria and excess oil that can cause breakouts. However, some cleansers can be too harsh and may irritate sensitive skin".

A cleanser that is designed for acne-prone skin can help to reduce breakouts. Furthermore, the cleanser can gently exfoliate the skin by incorporating key acne-fighting ingredients such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs).

Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser by Clean and Clear; cleanses skin and helps keep it looking healthy.

Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser by Clean and Clear

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Cleanses skin and helps keep it looking healthy.

What makes it special? Formulated for oily and combination skin, this cleanser features coconut oil-based surfactants to cleanse the skin of dirt and impurities.

Which skin types? For oily to combination skin types.

Find the best price on Amazon

Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Facial Cleanser by Neutrogena, a powerful acne treatment and cleanser combined.

Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Facial Cleanser by Neutrogena

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A powerful acne treatment and cleanser combined.

What makes it special? The Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Face Wash Facial Cleanser is an oil-free cleanser that focuses on the effects of Salicylic Acid to prevent future breakouts.

Which skin types? For oily, acne-prone skin.

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Neutrogena vs Clean and Clear Scrub

As we have mentioned, gentle exfoliation is also essential for reducing future breakouts.

Face scrubs and mild exfoliation target dull skin, dark spots, scarring, acne, and dryness when used correctly.

Adding a scrub to your skincare routine can keep your skin soft smooth and may help to minimize breakouts, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.

Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub by Clean and Clear; exfoliates deep down to pores and refreshes skin.

Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub by Clean and Clear

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Exfoliates deep down to pores and refreshes skin.

What makes it special? Clean & Clear claims this product to be its number 1 scrub for gentle exfoliation. It has been formulated to suit all skin types and works to treat blackheads and open pores. The scrub can be used daily, both morning and night, to buff dead skin cells and leave skin feeling soft and smooth.

Which skin types? For oily to combination skin.

Find the best price on Amazon

Pink Grapefruit Acne Wash Scrub by Neutrogena; powerfully clears blemishes and blackheads with maximum strength Salicylic Acid.

Pink Grapefruit Acne Wash Scrub by Neutrogena

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Powerfully clears blemishes and blackheads with maximum strength Salicylic Acid.

What makes it special? Similar to the cleanser, this scrub also contains 2% Salicylic Acid plus vitamin C to cleanse and exfoliate the delicate skin on your face. It has been designed specifically to treat acne and acne-prone skin without drying or causing irritation.

Which skin types? For acne-prone skin.

Find the best price on Amazon

Neutrogena vs Clean and Clear Acne Treatment

You can effectively support your skin during flare-ups and unwanted breakouts with a spot treatment. Spot treatment is typically in the form of a gel, cream, or patches, each containing active ingredients that reduce the size and severity of a pimple.

If you get to it fast enough, it can help to reduce the breakout within 24 hours and leave the area with minimal redness and scarring.

Acne Spot Treatment Gel Cream by Clean and Clear, the unique formula exfoliates and quickly helps purify skin.

Acne Spot Treatment Gel Cream by Clean and Clear

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

The unique formula exfoliates and quickly helps purify skin.

What makes it special? Designed to treat blemishes, this spot treatment is an oil-free gel that works by exfoliating and purifying the skin. The gel can be applied under or over makeup and can be used anytime you feel it is needed. The invisible gel makes it easy to apply. The fast-acting Salicylic Acid gets to work quickly on minimizing the appearance of spots.

Which skin types? For acne-prone skin.

Find the best price on Amazon

Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Treatment by Neutrogena, a benzoyl peroxide acne treatment that works wonders.

Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Treatment by Neutrogena

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Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

A benzoyl peroxide acne treatment that works wonders.

What makes it special? In contrast to the Clean & Clear spot treatment, the Neutrogena treatment uses Benzoyl Peroxide as its active ingredient. The formula claims it will start working within 2 hours of application and features the maximum strength of 10% Benzoyl Peroxide. This treatment can be used up to 3 times a day, through the active ingredient may cause sun sensitivity and irritation.

Which skin types? For acne-prone skin.

Find the best price on Amazon

Neutrogena vs Clean and Clear Moisturizer

Finding the right moisturizer for acne-prone skin serves two roles; regulating oil production and ensuring the skin stays hydrated. If you use the wrong products for your skin type to treat your acne, the skin can become damaged and dry, so replenishing your skin is essential.

A good moisturizer for blemishes is a lightweight formula that is certified non-comedogenic and free from additives, fragrance, and parabens. By ensuring the ingredient list is safe for acne, you can relax, knowing the product will be less likely to cause further breakouts.

Essentials Dual Action Facial Moisturizer by Clean and Clear; this oil-free formula leaves skin feeling soft and smooth every day.

Essentials Dual Action Facial Moisturizer by Clean and Clear

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

This oil-free formula leaves skin feeling soft and smooth every day.

What makes it special? A key factor in reducing breakouts is using a gentle, oil-free moisturizer. This dual-action moisturizer helps prevent blemishes while keeping the skin soft and smooth. It is considered safe for sensitive skin and is fragrance-free.

Which skin types? For oily to combination skin.

Find the best price on Amazon

Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer by Neutrogena; provides 24 hour hydration without clogging pores.

Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer by Neutrogena

SHOP Check price on amazon.com

Our rating: ★★★★★

Price: $$$$

Provides 24 hour hydration without clogging pores.

What makes it special? Finishing up with another product featuring Salicylic Acid, this moisturizer is oil-free and non-comedogenic. It contains 5% Salicylic Acid to treat acne and is recommended for daily use, up to 3 times per day.

Which skin types? Formulated for blemish prone skin.

Find the best price on Amazon

Neutrogena vs Clean and Clear Conclusion

If you are searching for a clean, vegan, organic product, Neutrogena and Clean & Clear probably are not ideal for your skincare routine. While the brands both hold claim to creating acne fighting skincare lines, there are a number of ingredients that are known to be harsh on the skin included in a range of their cleansers, scrubs and moisturizers.

If you are dealing with acne or have acne-prone skin you may be able to tolerate the active ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid and find you are satisfied with the results. Furthermore, the lower price point does make both Neutrogena and Clean & Clear an affordable drugstore option.

This post was written by guest author, Cherie Julie, and edited by Calum Torrington.

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