Proactiv vs. Unblemish: What Works Best for Acne?

is proactiv or unblemish better

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There’s a staggering amount of skincare products designed to help clear the skin off acne, all with varying results. Of course, a lot of these products don’t have superior efficacy and are simply creams put on the market to help placate people’s insecurities about having acne. 

However, some options frequently show themselves as the clear choices of the industry and are far from being snake oil.

Two of such products would be the Proactiv line of skincare products and the Unblemish line. The manufacturer Rodan and Fields makes both. What’s the difference, and which is the better choice for those who want to fix their acne issues?

That’s exactly the focus of this article.

These are two different product lines that work in different ways. The intricacies of both should tell you which treatment is better for you. We’ll first start by explaining both products individually, comparing the two, and then finally explaining the better choice.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Proactiv

proactiv acne treatment

The main ingredient in the Proactiv MD skincare treatment is salicylic acid (read our ProactivMD review), which helps two-fold by unclogging pores, as well as to correct any abnormal skin shedding that can be contributing to the development of acne.

Proactiv has a three-step process in which the skin is first cleansed, then toned, and finally, the last treatment helps to remove any extra chemicals left on the skin from the previous two treatments.

A sixty-day supply of Proactiv will typically cost about $60.

Proactiv is one of the most well-known and best-selling acne control regimens of all time because results can be seen on many different skin tones and skin sensitivities.

The entire process is simple and easy to adhere to, and with a price of about $1 a day, it’s hardly cost-prohibitive.

In comparing these two acne-fighters, Proactiv is the cheaper, and in our opinion, better option. If you ready to finally say goodbye to your acne, then it’s time to check out Proactiv.

2. Unblemish


The method of action for the Unblemish line of facial cleansers is through a sulfur-based treatment.

There are four different steps to go through to complete the daily routine associated with Unblemish, and each makes use of several cosmetic and medical ingredients to work through the biological processes that contribute to acne.

Instead of being entirely acne-based, Unblemish also brands itself as a comprehensive facial routine. Unblemish uses mainly sulfur and other ingredients to unclog pores, and keep the skin clear of blackheads, whiteheads, and other acne-related structures.

A supply that lasts anywhere in the realm of 60-90 days in total costs approximately $200.

Unblemish was created as an alternative to Proactiv that works through an entirely different mode of action for those who don’t want a salicylic acid-based treatment.

It’s worth noting that Unblemish is over twice as expensive as Proactiv for the treatment regimens of the same length.

Is Proactiv or Unblemish Better?

First off, the Unblemish procedure is substantially longer and more labor-intensive than with Proactiv. A single application of Proactiv takes approximately 3-5 minutes, going through all of the three steps.

Unblemish has a total of four steps, and each should take at least a minute of your time, with the final time to complete all steps being about double that of Proactiv.

We personally find the extra step of Unblemish to be a bit excessive. Proactiv is already fairly complex with three different products to apply to the skin. T

he four characteristics of Unblemish take things a bit too far.

Faster Results with Proactiv?

Next, results are seen from Proactiv within four to eight weeks, while Unblemish takes about six to eight weeks before any meaningful results can be seen.

This may be because Unblemish is slightly milder than Proactiv or their ingredients might simply not be as effective.

Each ingredient that goes into Proactiv has been carefully selected and has long track records of efficacy for acne treatment.

In fact, most commonly found acne treatments make use of the ingredients found in Proactiv, as opposed to those found in Unblemish.

Interestingly enough, promotional material from Rodan & Fields actually implies that people should try Proactiv first, and then try Unblemish should they not respond adequately to Proactiv.

How effective acne treatment is can be determined by lifestyle, age, genetics, and about half a dozen other factors.

It seems that even straight from the manufacturer, it looks like Proactiv is the first-line treatment while Unblemish is a second-line treatment.

Another interesting tidbit is that individuals with darker skin don’t seem to get the results they want from Unblemish.

There are actually reports of a lowering of their satisfaction with the cosmetics of their facial appearance after using Unblemish.

Proactiv, on the other hand, is well-tolerated by individuals of all skin types. Among those with sensitive skin, Unblemish tends to be better tolerated as the sulfur-based cleanser is milder, but many Proactiv users choose to follow up their regimen with a moisturizer to balance out Proactiv’s slightly drying effects.

Price Comparison: The More Affordable Option?

The price point isn’t in Unblemish’s favor either. With a sixty-day supply of Proactiv costing a mere $60, while a sixty-day supply of Unblemish costs $200, Unblemish is soft on the face but hard on the wallet


From comparing these two products, it’s blatantly obvious that Proactiv is the superior choice. It works faster and costs a fraction of the price.

The fact that it requires fewer steps that take less time also make it much easier to stick to the program, and fully integrate it into your skincare routine. Unblemish also has the unfortunate distinction of not being particularly excellent among all types of skin.

More people report incompatibility with the ingredients inside Unblemish than with Proactiv, which is interesting as Unblemish is supposedly milder.

If you want quick and easy results with a proven system that won’t break the bank, Proactiv takes the cake by a wide margin.

That’s all there is to it, really. It’s recommended that people only seek out Unblemish if they haven’t had the results they’d have preferred from Proactiv, and are willing to pay a premium to see if this other product line works well for them. For 90% of people, Proactiv is the easier, cheaper, and more effective choice.

Ready to put the power of Proactiv to work for you?