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Is Cetaphil Really Good for Acne?

A person picking up Cetaphil from a grocery store shelf, wondering if it will be good for their acne.

Nothing will make you stock up on skin care products faster than a breakout. But what if one or more of those products can cause more breakouts? What if the cleanser or moisturizer that you’re using to take care of your skin is actually making your acne worse?

That’s why it’s a good idea to do your homework and really get to know the products you use in your skin care routine. What skin type are the products made for? What are the active ingredients? What does the manufacturer claim?

One of the most popular skin care brands is Cetaphil, which features a wide array of cleansers, moisturizers, and SPF products. But is Cetaphil good for acne, or is it making your acne worse? Read on to find out.

Cetaphil’s Company Claims

Cetaphil manufactures a full line of products for various skin types, including normal, dry, oily, and combination skin. Cetaphil heavily markets its products toward those with sensitive skin, or skin that’s more likely to be irritated by harsh ingredients, calling themselves “The Sensitive Skin Experts.”

Dermatologists often recommend Cetaphil products as effective options for gentle skin care. In fact, according to the manufacturer, Cetaphil is the number one doctor-recommended sensitive skin care brand.

The brand boasts scientifically developed formulas that can help improve the resilience of sensitive skin. Cetaphil makes these claims based on over 550 clinical studies conducted by dermatologists and other health care professionals, studying the effects of their products’ active ingredients on over 32,000 participants.


Ask the Users: Is Cetaphil Good for Acne?

We know the company makes big claims about the efficacy of their products, but how do the acne-sufferers who use the products feel? Is Cetaphil good for acne, according to consumers?

Definitely, yes. Cetaphil’s products have impressive reviews. The brand’s Daily Facial Cleanser rates 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and 81% of their reviews are five stars. Plus, this product gets 4.1 out of 5 stars for sensitive skin.

One user who ranked the product as “great for sensitive skin” wrote, “It exfoliates so well without leaving skin feeling tight and stripped and is very gentle.” Another user said that this Cetaphil product “hasn’t irritated or caused breakouts.”

However, there are more than a few unhappy customers who gave the product just one star. A majority of the one-star reviews claim Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Cleanser actually caused more acne breakouts. One user said it caused a cystic acne breakout, a severe form of acne that causes pain, inflammation, and potential scarring.

But another user who gave this product four stars said it actually helped with a cystic acne breakout, writing, “I use this twice a week and it has been very helpful for my cystic acne-prone skin. I highly recommend this product.” 

Anything you’re using on your skin for the first time can have a wide variety of effects, and it’s impossible to know exactly how your skin will react to a new ingredient until you try it.

Know the Active Ingredients

 Infographic: Is Cetaphil Really Good for Acne?

Knowing what active ingredients Cetaphil’s products include can help determine if Cetaphil is good for acne. The brand claims that each of their key ingredients is beneficial for various skin types and has many helpful effects, including preventing breakouts, healing existing blemishes, and reducing the appearance of redness and acne scars.

Here are a few common active ingredients in Cetaphil’s products and their acne-fighting properties:

Cetaphil’s ingredients are also hypoallergenic. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a company’s claim that their products are hypoallergenic means the ingredients have been proven to cause fewer allergic reactions compared to similar products on the market. 

However, it’s important to note that the FDA doesn’t actually regulate these claims. In fact, the FDA’s website states, “There are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term ‘hypoallergenic.’ The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean.”

What Does Science Say?

We know many of the active ingredients in Cetaphil products have proven benefits for acne-prone skin, and we know the company has conducted internal studies. But what does science say about using products like Cetaphil to manage breakouts? According to science, is Cetaphil good for acne?

One study published in 2017 examined the effects of Cetaphil moisturizers on atopic dermatitis, or eczema, which causes patches of skin to become inflamed, irritated, flaky, and itchy. The results can be applied to acne-prone skin, as well.

The study found that when combined with condition-specific treatments, Cetaphil’s moisturizers improved the skin’s overall condition. And well-balanced, healthy skin is less likely to experience acne breakouts.

Studies of specific active ingredients used in Cetaphil products have yielded similar results. For example, a 2017 review looked at the effects of niacinamide on acne breakouts by compiling relevant research. These researchers found that 80% of the studies that met their criteria showed positive results: Participants saw reduced acne breakouts when using either topical or oral supplements containing niacinamide.


Final Thoughts

Deciding which acne treatment option is right for you is a very personal choice. According to recent studies and user reviews, Cetaphil products might be a good option to manage acne breakouts, especially for those with other skin conditions like sensitive skin, allergies, or excessive dryness. 

But if you’re reluctant to gamble on topical ingredients, consider light therapy as a possible alternative treatment for acne breakouts.

Just like Cetaphil, light therapy is backed by science as an effective way to reduce acne-causing bacteria and heal skin faster. Light therapy treats current and future breakouts without using chemicals or other harsh ingredients, so it can be an excellent choice for sensitive skin.

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