Proactiv® faqs

Have questions? Need help?

We've assembled this comprehensive set of Frequently Asked Questions to help you get the most out of your Proactiv

Proactiv Products

Retinization is the adjustment period in which the skin becomes acclimated to a retinoid. During this time, skin may become irritated, resulting in dryness, scaling, redness and burning/stinging. These symptoms usually peak at the two-to four-week mark before subsiding but they can happen at any time depending on your skin’s sensitivity. Not everyone will experience these side effects and in clinical studies, average side effects were less than mild. Using a non-medicated moisturizer can help relieve the dryness associated with retinization.

It is important to keep using Adapalene Gel daily to achieve maximum results. Irritation usually begins to lessen after four weeks of continued, once-daily use. But if irritation is severe you should discontinue use and consult a health care professional.

Using a gentle cleanser and moisturizer is strongly encouraged to decrease dryness and other signs of irritation. Irritation may also occur if you’re using more than one topical acne product at a time. Avoid products containing harsh chemicals, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid or glycolic acid which may dry out skin and worsen irritation.

Retinization is the adjustment period during which your skin becomes accustomed to Adapalene Gel. Some users never experience retinization and in clinical studies, average side effects were less than mild.

Proactiv is for any teen or adult who struggles with acne-prone skin, mild to moderate acne, adult acne and/or hormonal breakouts. Proactiv can be used by men and women. Proactiv takes advantage of the latest skincare science to help clear acne, work to prevent future breakouts and give you great skin again and again.

An innovator in skincare technology, Proactiv offers three systems that use Combination Therapy to give you a comprehensive approach to skincare. Each of our multi-step systems help disrupt the acne cycle and deliver beautifully clear skin.

  • Our original acne treatment system, Proactiv® Solution delivers finely milled benzoyl peroxide deep into your pores to help stop acne-causing bacteria in its tracks and prevent new breakouts from forming. You can learn more about Proactiv Solution and review a full list of ingredients here.
  • Proactiv+® is the only acne treatment with Smart Target® Technology. Smart Target® Technology is an acne-targeting innovation that delivers 50 percent more of our prescription-grade acne-fighting medicine directly to the pore, where the acne starts, and away from the skin's surface. You can learn more about Proactiv+ and review a full list of ingredients here.
  • ProactivMD® is powered by Adapalene Gel 0.1%, the first retinoid ingredient ever approved by the FDA for over-the-counter treatment of acne. Now it’s available to you in new ProactivMD – no prescription required. The powerhouse retinoid works at a cellular level to clear up your acne and help prevent future breakouts. You can learn more about ProactivMD and review a full list of ingredients here.

Proactiv ingredients are a key part of what makes proactiv work for so many people. Each of the proactiv systems have a unique set of products formulated with powerful, effective ingredients tailored to fight the various types of acne and help visibly boost skin health.

  • Active ingredients in Proactiv® Solution

    Benzoyl peroxide 2.5% helps kill acne-causing bacteria and prevent new breakouts from forming by delivering oxygen into the pores making it difficult for acne-causing bacteria to survive.

    Glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, is a superpower exfoliator that helps your pores remain gunk-free and helps your skin retain moisture. As it helps shed dead skin cells, glycolic acid also helps improve the appearance of acne scars and dark spots.

  • Active ingredients in Proactiv+®

    Our prescription-grade benzoyl peroxide gets deep into your pores to kill acne-causing bacteria at its source while minimizing dryness and irritation.

    Salicylic acid helps prevent clogged pores by softening the top layer of skin, making it easier to remove dead and shedding skin cells.

  • Active ingredients in ProactivMD®

    Adapalene Gel 0.1%, the first retinoid ever approved by the FDA for over-the-counter treatment of acne, works at a cellular level to help clear up acne and prevent future breakouts.

    Skin Brightening Complex (made of kojic acid, licorice extract, bearberry, and sophora root) helps fade the appearance of post-acne dark marks.

    Hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant, alleviates dryness for softer, smoother looking skin.

The Proactiv systems treat mild to moderate acne. This includes everything from the periodic, hormonally triggered blemishes that affect many adult women to the all-too-common pimples, whiteheads and blackheads that can trouble teenagers for years. Teen acne lasts, on average, 5 to 7 years; adult acne can last 20-plus years. Women can experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their monthly menstrual cycle. It's these fluctuations, accompanied by an increase in hormones called androgens, that explain why adult women, beginning in their twenties, can experience a resurgence of their acne.

Because acne breakouts form silently under the skin, it’s important to use Proactiv daily to help break the acne cycle. Proactiv’s systems contain acne fighting ingredients which go to work early in the cycle to help prevent clogged pores and keep you from breaking out. Nothing can completely cure acne, but with the daily use of Proactiv you can help treat mild-to-moderate acne and prevent future breakouts. For more on how Proactiv can help break the acne cycle, click here or continue reading.

Your Proactiv systems should be used twice a day, morning and night. For all other Proactiv products, please refer to the instructions provided on the package.

Yes. It's important to use your Proactiv system as directed. The steps work synergistically, each building from the previous step, to address skincare and the complex condition of acne. Remember, acne is not curable, and it is chronic, so continued daily treatment is necessary to prevent breakouts.

Results will vary. Everyone's skin is different and, for some people, it may take longer than others to see results.

For a week-by-week guide of what results you should expect with your Proactiv system, click on one of the links below:

Acne is not curable, but it is treatable, controllable and preventable. If Proactiv is working, keep it up! There is no limit to the length of time you can use Proactiv. If you discontinue Proactiv, your blemishes are likely to return because the key causes of acne are hormonal and genetic. Teen acne lasts, on average, 5 to 7 years; adult acne can last 20-plus years.

Yes. We have products designed specifically for treating body acne available for purchase in our member catalog.

If pregnant or nursing, or planning to become pregnant, ask a doctor before using Adapalene.

Side effects are usually mild and may include drying and irritation in some users. To test for an adverse reaction to your Proactiv system, apply the products to a small patch of affected skin during the first three days. A small group of people may be hypersensitive or allergic to active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or adapalene, which are in some of the Proactiv products. If you are one of those people, you should not use a product without first discussing use with your healthcare provider. For a full list of product ingredients, please refer to the product packaging.

For side effects specific to Adapalene Gel, please see retinization for further details.

Stop use and ask a doctor if irritation becomes severe, or you have symptoms of an allergic reaction (such as itching, rash, hives, swelling of the lips, eyelids, and shortness of breath).

Yes. Proactiv products are designed for acne-prone skin. No matter your ethnicity or skin type – dry, oily, combination, normal or sensitive – Proactiv will have the right combination of products for you.

Yes, you can use other skincare products with most Proactiv products but please be mindful of a few very important issues. First, be certain that any product you apply to your skin is labeled "non-comedogenic" which means it is designed to not clog pores. Second, the Proactiv systems are designed to preclude the need for additional skincare products, such as an added moisturizer.

If you are using the ProactivMD system, please note that the FDA has not approved use of Adapalene Gel in combination with other acne drugs, including those containing benzoyl peroxide. Take care using Adapalene Gel in conjunction with abrasive cleansers or products with drying effects, which may worsen irritation. We recommend using Adapalene Gel only with other ProactivMD products. 

If you suffer from a skin condition in addition to acne, we recommend talking with your skincare professional before trying any acne treatments.

No, unfortunately, Proactiv is not designed to help with existing scars. Our best recommendation for treating existing scars is to see your dermatologist. Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, your dermatologist can offer safe and effective options for your acne scars.

No. We suggest that you consult a dermatologist or physician for severe cystic or nodular acne. Generally speaking, the more advanced cases of cystic and nodular acne – large, deep, painful bumps filled with blood and pus that can linger under the skin's surface for weeks or months – are the most likely to scar. It's especially critical to take all possible measures to manage this condition.

Proactiv Membership

As a Proactiv subscription member, you’ll enjoy a long list of benefits from below-retail pricing to convenient delivery right to your door, special promotions and insider access to our latest product launches.

Once you’ve ordered your Proactiv skincare kit, there’s no need to continuously reorder product. We’ll deliver your full-size products to your doorstep automatically, on your desired schedule, at a price that’s below retail.

To review all of your orders and track the delivery dates, login to your online Proactiv account and go to Order History.

As a Proactiv member, you can track your shipments, change your shipping frequency or customize the products you want to receive in your next kit by logging in to your online account here.

You can also call us at 1-800-309-4796.

Yes. As a Proactiv member, you’re invited to shop our full catalog of products at our members-only discount. Plus, you may enjoy additional product promotions just for being a member.

If you are not a Proactiv member, you can purchase individual Proactiv products at one of our authorized retailers.

You can cancel future shipments by logging in and chatting with us online or by calling Customer Care at

To return your products, place the merchandise in a box with your original invoice and send it to us. If you don't have your original invoice, please make sure to include your name and shipping address, as you believe it appeared on the invoice. Please allow 1 to 2 billing cycles from the day you return your package for your account to be credited.

All returns and exchanges should be shipped to:
1560 Stateline Rd E
Southaven, MS 38671

With every purchase on, you enjoy a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you are not absolutely delighted with your clear skin and radiant new complexion, you are welcome to return the containers – even if empty – within 60 days of receipt for a complete refund of your purchase price (less S&H), no questions asked.

Approximately 3-4 weeks after your introductory kit is shipped, we will automatically send you a new 90-day supply. Then we’ll keep sending you a new 90-day supply approximately every 12 weeks after that.

Instead of one big bill for your 90-day supply, we break it up into three smaller payments, to be charged to the credit card provided at the time of purchase approximately every four weeks. You can also make a single payment for your 90-day supply if that’s more convenient for you.

Through your online account, you can adjust how often you receive new kits – from as soon as four weeks to as infrequently as 20 weeks. You can also make your payment arrangements and cancel or customize future shipments at any time by logging in and chatting with us online or by calling Customer Care at 1-800-309-4796.

You can always access your billing and shipping information by logging into your Proactiv account.