La Roche-Posay: The “Actives” List

There aren’t many brands available in U.S. drugstores that have a fashionable french pharmacy feel.  La Roche -Posay is one of them.  From the clinical white tubes with the blue and black lettering, to the economical, yet sleek packaging – there just seems something very cool about these products.  Fortunately, they are effective AND cool.

1. La Roche-Posay Active C Eyes, 0.5 oz for $40.95

I purchased this after I learned about how L-ascorbic acid is one of the few ingredients that can generate collagen in the skin, aside from acting as an antioxidant and repair previous damage to skin cells.  This is, essentially, an anti-wrinkle treatment for the eye with 5% L-ascorbic acid.  It has a nice smooth texture, and it sinks right into the skin.  However, this is not very moisturizing, so if you do need more moisture then you do need to layer another product over this.  If your under eye skin is severely dry, or irritated, do not use this.  I tried using this over skin that had been Retin-A bombed and it stung like hell.  There are real actives in this.  One of the awesome things about this product is that it can double as a facial moisturizer in a pinch for normal to oily skintypes.  I have used this in the gym, when I realized I did not bring anything moisturizing for my face.  This is a repurchase and this is my third tube.  It is incredibly portable and it does last a long time.

Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Ascorbic Acid, Canola Oil, Sodium Citrate, Dimethicone Copolyol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Disodium EDTA, Citrus Amara, Flower Extract, Methyparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben

2. La Roche-Posay Effaclar K, 1.01 0z for $29.95

The Effaclar line is La Roche-Posay’s answer for adults who are still experiencing oily skin and breakouts.  It is formulated to be gentle on adult skin with none of the typical irritants found in stronger teenage skincare acne products.  I find this to be true with the all of the Effaclar products I have used in this line.   The Effaclar K treatment tube is a silky feeling serum-cream that immediately sinks into skin without irritating it.  This is largely in part to the use of caprylol salicylic acid which is gentler than salicylic acid, but operates in a similar fashion, without sinking as deep into the pores.  This product also has a weaker form of retinol that will not irritate the skin.  I find that this is effective on mild to moderate superficial acne, but not that effective on cysts.  It can be used to purify the pores and prevent mild superficial acne.  I have purchased this product twice.  I use this when I need a break from the Rx retinoids, and during the day time.

Ingredients: Other Ingredients: Water, Isononyl Isononanoate, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ammonium, Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Octyldodecanol, Zinc PCA, Sodium Hydroxide, Retinyl Linoleate, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Cetyl Alcohol, Pentaerythrityl, Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Fragrance.

3. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment, 1.35 oz for $36.95

I saw this wunderkind combo advertised in a fashion mag editorial and I knew I would have to give it a try.  I remember a long time ago reading about how salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide should not be used together -as in the same product – because they can be both drying and irritating on the skin.  Therefore, together, super harsh.  When I was younger, benzoyl peroxide was highly irritating on my skin and burned me so I did not use it.  However, as an adult, for some reason, I can use low strengths of benzoyl peroxide, probably because of gentler formulations.  La Roche-Posay figured out a way to use benzoyl peroxide with a chemical similar to salicyclic acid, capryloyl salicylic acid.  Effaclar Duo combines 5.5% micronized benzoyl peroxide with 0.4% lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA), otherwise known as capryloyl salicylic acid.  This has a more drying texture than the Effaclar K that is most appropriate for night time use.  Effaclar Duo is effective on mild to moderate acne, but not cystsm, but it is only really effective on existing acne.  Between the Effaclar K and this, I actually prefer the Effaclar K, but benzoyl peroxide is useful to quickly kill bacteria in the skin.  However,  I have read that long term use of benzoyl peroxide can have a damaging effect on the skin. This is a dermatologic debate and I have read both sides.  I don’t use benzoyl peroxide that often and the new generation of benzoyl peroxide is far gentler than the stuff from 10 years ago.  So I do use, but sparingly.

Ingredients: Water, Isostearylalcohol , Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Silica, Carbomer, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract.

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Toner Astringent Lotion, 6.76 oz for $22.95 (Not shown above in collection post)

Not pictured above with my current stash is the Effaclar Toner Astringent Lotion.  Despite having very oily, acne prone skin, I have never really been a fan of astringent toners.  I have read enough dermatologist interviews in fashion magazines to know that most astringent toners for oily skin are very drying and can actually kick up oil production in the skin, and dermatologists generally discourage their use.   However, I did experiment with toners, occasionally.  I will admit that the strongest reason I purchased this bottle was because I thought the liquid was blue.  Something about blue or green colored liquids, or creams, always get me.  I was disappointed when I found out the liquid is clear and that it is the bottle that is blue.  Anyways, this is one of the best toners I have used because it is not drying, and gives a refreshing feel to skin.  This has the capryloyl salicylic acid which refines the pores, as mentioned before AND it also has salicylic acid, which provides a deeper clean, along with citric acid, for even further purification.  I liked using this bottle and it is a repurchase.  Currently, though, I have put a foot down and will only repurchase after I have finished my OTHER toners.

Ingredients: Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycerin,sodium Citrate, Propylene Glycol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium EDTA, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid, Salicylic Acid, Fragrance.

In general, I find the La Roche-Posay Effaclar and Active C line very efficacious with low, but effective levels of actives that will not irritate normal-sensitive skin.  The Effaclar line in particular is non-drying and gentle while providing purification of pores to prevent mild to moderate acne, and removing supericial acne quite well.  This is not a substitute for Rx retinoids if your acne is more severe.  However, it can be used, in my experience, in conjunction with RX retinoids if you have oilier, more resistent skin, as a day time treatment (Effaclar K), or used on breaks from Rx retinoids (Effaclar K and Effaclar Duo).



  1. I am really curious about that Active C eye cream. I’ve seen it at my local CVS, but I was hesitant to try it as the only other LRP eye cream I’ve tried sucked BAD and also smelled a bit like feet :/ This one sounds great though–I don’t mind that it isn’t intensely hydrating because I can always layer something over it, but I like the sound of all that L-ascorbic acid. The Effaclar Duo I also have. I would have liked it more if I was not already prescribed Epiduo gel (which handles breakouts like a CHAMP. Seriously, I was experiencing a weird recurrence in my acne about a year ago that NOTHING would help. Finally I was prescribed Epiduo and it got rid of the stubborn acne in about a week flat. Amazing!). It’s still a great product though–quite gentle. I like to use it as a double-whammy on large zits after I’ve already applied my Epiduo. Or I use it for the rare case of bacne (gross–I know)

    • Totally check out Active C eyes. Forgot to mention that it is cosmetically elegant. Feels nice but not for very dry eyes. I have only ever tried epiduo samples…I think because Differin was so mild I never bothered and went hardcore with retin-a and tazorac. BP is very effective against acne vulgaris – mild suckers. I wish that was all I needed. Silly hormones. Crazy how you can get acne but you have to combat the “right” cause to get rid of it. I don;t know what s worse – acne or wrinkles…

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