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Introduced in October 1995, Proactiv or “Proactiv Solution” was designed as an all-in-one acne-treatment system. It was going to change the world of acne and make it easier to use an OTC (over the counter) solution.

With time, Proactiv MD has developed into one of the largest acne-related companies in the world and is appreciated for the work its done in dermatology.

This read is going to dig into one of the more important subjects that come along with this acne-treatment system and that would be its potential side effects. A prominent side effect that has made the rounds would be “face burning” and how it can become an issue for some.

Face Burning or Stinging with Proactiv Products

The sensation is cited as being “needling” as if something is prickling the skin. It is a sensation some individuals report after their initial use. Proactiv’s acne treatment system is built on the shoulders of an active ingredient called benzoyl peroxide and it’s designed to target natural oiliness in the skin. The ingredient is often found in other skincare products as well.

However, when this product is applied to the skin, a person may notice an immediate burning sensation. This sensation is caused by the benzoyl peroxide as it interacts with the skin and goes to work. Please note, the initial stinging is normal and shouldn’t be listed as a major point of concern. This is a simple side effect that comes with the use of this ingredient but in most cases, it will go away within a few minutes after rinsing. As a result, the skin will be left feeling smoother, healthier, and fresher than it was beforehand.

What if the face burning continues into the day and refuses to go away?

This is seen in a few odd cases that can have a different response to the acne-treatment system. If this unusual tingling sensation continues to occur at the treatment site (i.e. face) then it’s important to stop the product as soon as possible. The same applies to anyone that notices a change in the color of their skin as this can also be a sign of trouble if it continues for days.

In most cases, the face stinging or burning isn’t going to be a long-lasting issue and will go away in a matter of minutes. The same applies to anyone that is dealing with facial redness at or near the treatment site. If the face is red due to the benzoyl peroxide then it is okay to let it sit and make sure the skin is back to normal. Within a few minutes, the treatment site will be back to normal and might even be better in the short-term.


Face burning might also occur due to the result of using benzoyl peroxide on the skin. As the ingredient goes to work, it is going to have a unique impact on the face and this might include signs of peeling.

Please do not worry if this is the case!

Peeling is possible depending on how dry the skin is. This is a way to let new skin come through and get rid of the dead skin cells that are present. Proactiv’s acne-treatment system is a step-by-step solution and it is important to moisturize the skin as directed. This is one of the best ways to make sure the system works as it is supposed to and doesn’t leave the face burning 24/7.

Once the peeling has stopped, the skin is going to feel fresh and will not burn at all. This is when you will notice the change in your skin and how it feels to the touch. Continue to monitor the skin and if the facial burning persists then it is okay to stop the system until further notice.

Allergic Reaction

This is one of those cases that is incredibly rare but has to be kept in mind especially if the issue persists. There are certain individuals that might be allergic to one of the ingredients in the Proactiv acne-treatment system.

If that is the case, the skin might start to respond to the active ingredient and lead to facial burning. This is not a normal response especially if it is incredibly harsh and persistent. The best way to note this down is to see whether or not the burning worsens after washing away the product on your face. Does it get better as soon as the water hits the face or does it get worse with each passing minute?

If the skin is continuing to redden or burn then it is time to speak to a dermatologist and/or medical professional as soon as possible. This might be a case of a mild or severe allergic reaction to one or two of the ingredients.

Please note, this is not a normal response and is incredibly rare in Proactiv users. This is why the product is FDA-approved.

Consult with a Dermatologist

Just like any other product, Proactiv’s acne-treatment system (read our review of Proactiv products) has been designed by leading dermatologists. It is one of those systems that has been made to be safe, easy to use, and consistent. However, in the case you do notice long-term facial burning then it is time to focus on setting up an appointment with your dermatologist. He/she will be able to diagnose what is going on and whether or not it is okay to move on with the regimen. If not, then the dermatologist will be able to pinpoint what has to happen next.