Does Proactiv clear up acne, and is it worth the cost?

Consumer Reports tests Proactiv

Americans spend almost $400 million a year on over-the-counter acne treatments.

No doubt you've seen the star-studded ads for one: Proactiv. But star appeal aside, is it the best choice?

"That's why I use Proactiv. Because there's no way I'm going to let a bunch of zits get in my way," says teen pop star Justin Beiber in Proactiv ads.

Bieber's not the only young celebrity pushing Proactiv. Avril Lavigne, Julianne Hough, and Katy Perry all are singing its praises.

You may have seen the commercial, it says, "Take action yourself. Be Proactiv."

Our partners at Consumer Reports tested Proactiv along with two other acne treatments.

"All the products evaluated contain benzoyl peroxide. That's one of the best over-the-counter options for most people," said Dr. Orly Avitzur of Consumer Reports.

Proactiv, a three-step treatment, costs around $40 for a two-month supply. Acne-free, also a three-step treatment, goes for half - about $20.

Oxy Maximum, a single-step wash, costs far less - around $5 for a two-month supply.

"We had more than 80 volunteers with moderate to severe acne use one of the treatments twice a day for eight weeks," said Dr. Avitzur.

Medical professionals documented the volunteers' skin condition throughout the testing. The results? You might call them a wash.

Dr. Avitzur says, "As far as acne reduction, there was no statistical difference between any of the products."

None of the volunteers saw their acne wiped out completely no matter which product they used. But most did have fewer blemishes.

Well, Proactiv isn't quite that simple, if you order online. After a month you're automatically billed for a three-month supply at almost $60 plus $7.99 for shipping and handling. And you'll keep getting billed until you cancel. Consumer Reports recommends you try Oxy Maximum and save yourself a lot of money.

Consumer reports also tested two quick-treatment devices for red acne blemishes. Unfortunately, the zeno hot spot and a product called no! No! Skin only eliminated about 13 percent of red blemishes in the tests. And they're pricey at $40 and $180.

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