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Post in Acne-Prone Skin

Acne Cleansing Bars

Which do you recommend for acne, sensitive and dry skin? The Drunk Elephant JuJu Exfoliating Bar 4 oz/ 120 g  or the fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar 7.1 oz/ 201 g ? I am in need of a good detox for acne and to unclog congested skin.

Re: Acne Cleansing Bars

Please only use the exfoliating liquid 2 to 3 times a week maximum. Or else you’re going over exfoliate. I know it says Twice a day, but don’t. Learn from my mistakes

Re: Acne Cleansing Bars

@Nourofmylife  One of those is a cleanser, the other’s a mask. 


Fresh Umbrian Clay Bar is just a clay mask in a solid block form. It will absorb excess oil and can help loosen blackheads. But it won’t do much cleansing, so you should use a cleanser first. Also, $42 is a lot of money for a fairly small block of clay. Were it cheaper, I’d consider it for myself. But I use better priced clay masks like The INKEY List Kaolin Mask 1.7 oz/ 50 mL . Cheaper still is the jar of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay ($7-8 for 15.5 oz) you’ll find at Target and drugstores. 

DE Juju is a manual exfoliating cleanser bar. It contains surfactants, so it’s a cleanser. It also contains some clay but, to get any oil-absorption from it, you’d have to let the lather sit on your face for a few minutes. You could use this on days you don’t use salicylic acid (BHA) or any other chemical exfoliant (AHA, PHA), but keep your total exfoliation frequency to 1-3 times a week. I wouldn’t choose this bar for my own skin because I’ve had bad reactions to 2 other DE cleansers, including Pekee Bar. But your experience may differ. If you’re skin-sensitive to coconut, avoid Juju. 

Other options to treat acne: 

Do you already use a BHA product? BHA gets down into your pores to attack acne-causing bacteria and clear out gunk, and it removes some dead skin cells from your face surface along the way. 

A couple of good BHA cleansers are Paula's Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Acne Cleanser 6 oz/ 177 mL and The INKEY List Salicylic Acid Cleanser 5 oz/ 150 mL . Let the lather sit on your face for 1-2 minutes, then rinse off. Use this type of cleanser 1-3 times a week. 

Even better is a leave-on BHA treatment like Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant 4 oz/ 118 mL or The INKEY List Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Blemish + Blackhead Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL.

Also consider azelaic acid, which attacks acne-causing bacteria and helps reduce dark marks left behind by acne. Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster 1 oz/ 30 mL and The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% 1 oz/ 30 mL are 2 good choices. You can use these daily, or even twice daily. You may want to patch test them first. 

Also: you can’t “detox” your skin. Skin is not a detoxing organ. (The liver is.) Toxins aren’t causing your acne; bacteria and dead skin cells (clogging your pores) are. And acne-causing bacteria is not a toxin. Just pointing this out because skincare brands like to use the scary “detox” word in marketing, even though it’s false marketing. Imagine how happy our liver and kidneys would be if they could take a break while topically applied creams/serums/cleansers/masks did all the bodily detoxification for them! 😂 

Re: Acne Cleansing Bars

@WinglessOne Thank you very much for giving a thorough explanation on this. I am looking into the Paula's Choice Mini Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant 1 oz/ 30 mL and the Paula's Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster 1 oz/ 30 mL . Do you think I can use them together or should I just stick to one. I was also looking into the Tata Harper Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum 1 oz/30 mL . I have tried this as a sample before and I found that it helped a lot with texture on the skin and drying active acne. Should I get the Tata Harper one with the Liquid Exfoliant or should I just stick to the Liquid exfoliant. I just need something to "deactivate" active acne and to help reduce acne spots, dark spots, and help even texted, congested skin. I thought the fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar 7.1 oz/ 201 g would do those things but not sure if I should get the mask bar with the exfoliant or something else?


Thanks again,


Re: Acne Cleansing Bars

@Nourofmylife  You can use BHA and azelaic acid together. In fact, the Paula's Choice Azelaic Acid Booster contains 0.5% BHA which, for some people, might be a low enough BHA dose for daily or every-other-day use. You can also use the Paula's Choice Azelaic Acid Booster with that Tata Harper AHA/BHA serum. 

I have both the PC and The Ordinary azelaic acid treatments, and I alternate them throughout the week. I use a different PC BHA exfoliant (Paula's Choice CLEAR Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid 4 oz/ 118 mL ; I couldn't tag it earlier when I was on my phone) 1-3 times a week, then apply an azelaic acid treatment to either my whole face (excluding eyelids) or to the entire area of my face that has acne. Example: if I have 1 or 2 pimples on my forehead, I apply azelaic acid to my entire forehead, not just on the acne spots. 

Though I use the PC CLEAR BHA exfoliant, the Skin Perfecting BHA exfoliant's also very good. I just personally prefer the CLEAR one for my particular skin issues. Most folks love the Skin Perfecting BHA exfoliant. 

Before you buy a full bottle of the Tata Harper, maybe try to get a sample of it so you can patch test it with the Paula's Choice BHA? Both products used together might be too much for your skin to handle—not so much because of the "natural sources of AHA and BHA," but more because of the acidity of citrus fruit extracts. If your patch test results in no bad reaction, then introduce both products one at a time to your face. By that, I mean pick one product and use it for 2-3 weeks. Once your skin's used to it, then introduce the second product. 

I looked at the Tata Harper serum's ingredients and I don't see salicylic acid listed. Instead it contains willow bark, which is not the same thing as salicylic acid. When applied topically, willow bark extract can't do what salicylic acid does. So, I highly doubt this serum does anything to degunk pores. 

I also see fruit extracts listed instead of actual AHAs, so I'm not sure this Tata Harper serum's as effective as a true AHA exfoliant. Lemon and orange extracts are on the ingredients list; those could be oils taken from lemon and orange peels, or they could be some other type of extract. (I wish TH was more specific about it.) Citrus oils are quite acidic, especially lemon oil. Things that are very acidic can be as bad for skin as things that are quite alkaline (like baking soda). I don't know how effective the citrus extracts in this serum are at removing dead skin cells compared to a true AHA like glycolic acid or lactic acid. I do know how irritating they can be for some people's skin. 

All this rambling is me thinking aloud about whether or not it's a good idea to use the Tata Harper serum plus a true BHA exfoliant (like the Paula's Choice BHA exfoliant). Since you've tried a sample before and it helped your skin texture, perhaps it's a good fit for you. It'd be wise to patch test it (on your inner arm or wrist, or maybe one small area of your lower jaw) with the PC BHA serum before trying to use both products together on your whole face. 

The Fresh clay bar, or any clay mask that doesn't contain an acne-bacteria fighter, won't do what BHA and azelaic acid can do. Clay won't reduce dark spots or even out skin texture. That doesn't mean clay is useless. It's a very nice weekly mask for oily skin. I have mostly-dry combo skin, so I use clay mostly on my oily zone—though I do sometimes use it on my whole face. Clay will absorb excess oil and can help loosen blackhead plugs. It's a good supporting ingredient for acne, but it's not a star player, so you'll definitely want to use something alongside it like like BHA, azelaic acid, and possibly other things I didn't mention in my first post: benzoyl peroxide and retinoids (adapalene, tretinoin, retinaldehyde, and retinol); those additional ingredients can be irritating to skin, but they're great for acne control. 


See if BHA, azelaic acid, and maybe clay work well for you. Give 'em a month, since results can take time and none of these ingredients/products are overnight miracles. If you find your skin needs more help, then consider benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid. You can also ask a dermatologist or your primary care doctor for acne solutions. Tretinoin's available by prescription only, and there's Rx-strength adapalene (vs. OTC adapalene like Differin and La Roche-Posay Effaclar); a derm might prescribe one of those, or even an oral medication if it'll help your skin. A derm can also guide you toward some good OTC options. 

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