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Proactiv Plus vs Proactiv MD (The Definitive Guide)

So, you've decided you want to try one of Proactiv's best-selling acne treatments, but you can't quite figure out what the differences are? We've all been there, don't worry!

Come with us as we compare Proactiv Plus vs Proactiv MD side-by-side to help you decide which is right for you. Enjoy!

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Proactiv+ vs ProactivMD


Proactiv+ is a gentle alternative to the original Proactiv Solution, designed for sensitive complexions. This three-step routine features moisturizing and nourishing formulas to keep your skin hydrated. Micronized Benzoyl Peroxide is the star ingredient, which helps kill acne-causing bacteria in pores with minimal dryness and irritation.

Proactiv+® Skin Smoothing Exfoliator:

This gentle cleanser is designed to thoroughly cleanse your skin while removing pore-clogging impurities. The 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide in the formula works alongside Glycolic Acid to effectively eliminate acne-causing bacteria and promote skin renewal. Gentle exfoliating beads help to buff away dead skin cells, revealing a softer, more supple complexion. Ingredients like Butylene Glycol and Glycerin provide additional moisturizing benefits, ensuring that your skin remains hydrated and balanced.

Proactiv+® Pore Targeting Treatment:

This innovative acne treatment features encapsulated Benzoyl Peroxide with patented Smart Target® technology. This technology helps protect the skin's surface while delivering the acne-fighting ingredient deep into the pores, ensuring optimal efficacy. The 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide works quickly to kill acne-causing bacteria, and the inclusion of Sweet Almond Oil offers nourishing and moisturizing benefits to keep your skin feeling smooth and comfortable.

Proactiv+® Complexion Perfecting Hydrator:

This rich, nourishing moisturizer is formulated to leave your skin feeling smooth, bright, and radiant. It contains 0.5% Salicylic Acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that helps unclog pores and control oil production, while simultaneously providing gentle exfoliation. Ingredients like Allantoin, Squalane, and Sodium Hyaluronate work together to soothe, moisturize, and plump the skin, while botanical extracts such as Licorice Root and Scutellaria Baicalensis Root provide brightening and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Proactiv MD

ProactivMD is a powerful solution tailored for all skin types, especially those dealing with stubborn breakouts. The star of this regimen is Adapalene, a potent retinoid acne medication that penetrates deep into the skin, shedding dead cells and preventing new acne from forming.

ProactivMD® Ultra-Gentle Cleanser:

The Ultra-Gentle Cleanser is formulated to wash away dirt, oil, and debris while leaving your skin feeling soft and hydrated. Infused with soothing, antioxidant-rich Green Tea, this cleanser ensures that your face feels clean without being stripped or dry after use.

ProactivMD® Adapalene Gel 0.1%:

The Adapalene Gel 0.1% is a game-changer for those battling stubborn breakouts. Previously available only by prescription, Adapalene is a retinoid acne medication that works on a cellular level to clear skin. The first FDA-approved, over-the-counter topical retinoid for treating breakouts, this formula penetrates deep into the skin to shed dead cells, stop breakouts in their tracks, and prevent new acne from forming.

ProactivMD® Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer

This gel moisturizer is designed to smooth, soften, and restore your skin's moisture barrier while combating dryness for up to 8 hours. The Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer contains a "Skin Brightening Complex" to help fade the appearance of post-acne dark marks, as well as Hyaluronic Acid for hydration. It's also formulated to absorb excess oil, helping to mattify your skin and keep it looking fresh throughout the day.

The Verdict

The main difference between Proactiv Plus and Proactiv MD lies in the active ingredients in the treatment step. While both routines aim to combat acne, the choice between the two depends on your skin type and the kind of acne you're struggling with.

Proactiv Plus features benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl Peroxide is a powerful antibacterial agent that helps kill acne-causing bacteria in the pores. It can be quite potent, so it's a strange choice for a product aimed specifically towards those with sensitive skin. While the Proactiv+ formulation aims to minimize dryness and irritation, some sensitive skin types may still experience side effects like skin dryness, redness, or peeling.

On the other hand, Proactiv MD contains adapalene in its treatment, an effective retinoid acne medication suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Rather than killing bacteria, Adapalene works on a cellular level to clear skin and prevent new acne from forming. It may be a more suitable choice for those dealing with stubborn acne and inflammation.

Honestly, there's an argument to be made that the Proactiv MD trio is the better choice even for those with sensitive skin, but regardless of which you decide to choose it's essential to patch test any new products to ensure they're compatible with your skin type. Adapalene and Benzoyl Peroxide aren't very forgiving if your skin isn't a fan.

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