Before I was a freelance writer, I worked as a legal secretary for five years. While not the most stimulating job in the world, it paid well. For beauty product junkies, more disposable money often equals expensive beauty habits. I went to spas to get facials, used only high-end brands like Dermalogica and was a total drugstore snob.
But in my late 20s I started breaking out like crazy, and nothing, not even Retin A or Differin, seemed stop the zits. I bought ProActiv out of desperation and lucky for me, it actually worked.
When I quit my job last year to write full time, I had to find ways to save money. Spending $50 on ProActiv was no longer an option, so I looked for similar, cheaper products with the active ingredients in ProActiv’s cleanser, toner and repairing lotion.
After experimenting with different products for a few months, I found what worked best for me: washing with a gentle cleanser, using a toner with glycolic acid, waiting for 10-15 minutes and then following up with a benzoyl peroxide pad. I like to call this process a Poor Woman’s ProActiv. Using drugstore products can deliver similar ProActiv results and save you up to 30 dollars!
The products I use are:
1. Clean and Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin. I never liked the harshness of ProActive’s benzoyl peroxide cleanser, so I use this gentle wash. It removes makeup and cleans without leaving my skin feeling tight.
2. Neutrogena’s Pore Refining Toner. The first ingredient is alcohol, so it may not be suitable for really sensitive faces. My skin is pretty oily so I can tolerate it. After I apply the toner with a cotton ball I wait for 10-15 minutes to let my skin dry.
3. Stridex Power Pads. These 2.5% benzoyl peroxide pads are big, so I cut them in half and use one half in the morning and the other at night. This saves you even more money!
I can’t guarantee that what worked for me will work for you, so you may have to try different combinations to find your skin’s own version of Poor Woman’s Proactiv. Purchase your products from stores with a good return policy and keep your receipts in case they don’t work for you. And lastly, be patient. It may take a while before you find the right combination.