Regimen Review: Thoughts After 6 Years of Using it

by | Last updated May 20, 2020 | Acne, Reviews | 40 comments

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Being that I used the Regimen for approximately 6 years, I think I’m the perfect candidate to review it and give some insight on what I like about it, and what I think could be improved upon.

Don’t believe I used it for 6 years? Here’s a photo of all the empty containers I’ve collected thus far. regimen 6 years

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And that isn’t even all the containers! I couldn’t find a few of them, but you get the point.

In case you’re wondering — no, I’m not a hoarder. I simply take photos of everything for documentation purposes. Throughout the years I’ve grown sick and tired of “beauty gurus” trying to sell people quick fixes and “overnight” success.

Hint: there is no such thing. Read my article about how to treat acne to find out why.

You gotta admit, it’s also oddly interesting that these same people always claim they once had “terrible skin” without providing proof. I on the other hand lived through the struggle, and had skin affect my life in more ways that I wish it didn’t.

acne before and after

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get into it.

What is the Regimen?

It’s basic 3 step approach to clearing acne involving a cleanser, treatment, and moisturizer step. Realistically, a regimen set up in this fashion can clear up 90% of people. The trick however, and where most people fail, is not using the right products tailored to their unique skin. More about this in a bit.

The Cleanser. cleanser

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A very basic and mild formula. Throughout the years this has remained one of my favorite cleansers for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s pH balanced, which is incredibly important for overall skin health. Don’t know why? Read my guide: Why the pH of Skin and Products Are Crucially Important.
  2. It cleanses the skin well without over drying the face. By the way, you should NEVER have the squeaky clean feeling after a cleanse. If you do, you need a new cleanser. Avoid that feeling at all cost. Don’t know why? Again, read my article on pH to find out.
  3. There isn’t anything unnecessary in this cleanser. No benzoyl peroxide, no salicylic acid, no sulfur etc. These ingredients can be beneficial but they are generally less effective in face washes.

The Treatment. treatment benzoyl peroxide

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The cornerstone of the regimen, and what’s really pulling the weight in terms of clearing acne. This is just a very basic 2.5% benzoyl peroxide gel.

In my opinion, this is the strongest topical acne treatment available today. And most dermatologists agree, considering it’s the second most prescribed acne medication in the world, with its uses dating back 50 years. (12)

Benzoyl peroxide is an organic compound with very strong antibacterial properties, capable of reducing acne-causing bacteria by 97.5% in just 5 days! (3)

It’s also a very effective keratolytic and comedolytic agent. (4, 5) Those are just the fancy science terms for saying it sloughs of dead skin and unclogs pores. And unlike antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide doesn’t cause bacterial resistance overtime. (6, 7)

However, it does come with the major caveat of being super irritating. For example, it increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, in addition to often causing dryness, peeling, or red skin. (8, 9)

All the more reason you need to be using a moisturizer that will repair damage done to the moisture barrier and acid mantle. (More about this in the next section.)

Something I really appreciate about the benzoyl peroxide, is it’s cost effectiveness. This is unmatched in the skincare market. I have yet to find another benzoyl peroxide as cheap as this one considering how much product you actually receive. The researches and skin experts at Paula’s Choice agree, concluding that an 8 oz bottle of this stuff should last you upwards of a year. (10)

As an aside, some people are a little hesitant about using benzoyl peroxide because of its potential to induce free radicals, but in all honestly if someone needs it to clear their acne then so be it.

For many people, this is the only thing that works. And in my opinion, the potential atrophic scarring and chronic inflammation acne may cause is far more damaging longterm than any nefarious effects of benzoyl peroxide.

However, if you’re deeply concerned about the side effects of benzoyl peroxide, make sure to check out my article on how to reduce its irritation. There are some awesome tips in there!

All in all, I think the Treatment is solid as hell and probably the best benzoyl peroxide available today.

The Moisturizer. moisturizer

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And this is where it all goes downhill…

Ever wonder why the moisturizer has appallingly bad reviews? There are two reason:

1. Moisturizers are the most subjective part of a skincare routine, so it’s harder to reach a broad consensus across a large group of people.

A pH balanced cleanser and treatment step are fairly standard parts of a skincare routine, and their outcomes across many different skin types are predictable. Moisturizers — not so much.


Part of the reason is that there isn’t much research on different moisturizers. You will find it very hard to come across studies focusing solely on one brand or lotion. And if you do find them, they’re generally funded by the same skincare companies trying to profit from those products.

I would say that finding the right moisturizer is the hardest part about a skincare routine intended to treat acne. If you have one, you are golden, and already more than halfway there!

2. The moisturizer formula isn’t that impressive.

Let’s take a look at the full ingredient list.

Water, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Methyl Gluceth-20, Squalane, Saccharide Isomerate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Olivate, PEG-12 Glyceryl Distearate, PEG-23 Glyceryl Distearate, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

  • Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (a.k.a Jojoba Oil)

A plant oil characteristically similar to human sebum. In comparison to other oils it has a very long shelf-life, which makes it a convenient ingredient to formulate into cosmetics. (11) It’s an effective emollient that’s been shown to increase skin suppleness by about 50% after a single application.

  • Squalane

An oil with excellent emollient properties.

  • Sodium Hyaluronate

Another humectant that functions the same way as Squalane. However, this one is way more powerful and capable of holding up to one thousand times its water weight! It’s so effective at hydrating, it often causes a “plumping effect” that reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and shallow atrophic scars, in addition to speeding up the wound healing process.

Related reading: Hyaluronic Acid for Skin: Literally EVERYTHING You Need to Know!

  • Licorice Root Extract

A plant extract that’s gentle and calming to the skin. It helps treat hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the production of melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color), and is good for red or sensitive skin.

  • Panthenol

A.k.a. pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5. It increases skin hydration, enhances barrier function, and may be an effective treatment for dermatitis. I’ve also had experience with this in case you don’t know what it looks like.

dermatitis acne

  • Tocopheryl Acetate

Better known as vitamin E. An antioxidant with some minor ability to treat hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase. Studies on mice have also shown it helps heal wounds.

The Takeaway.

So overall, it’s a decent formula but not nearly potent enough to counteract the irritating effects of benzoyl peroxide. To really address these potential adverse side effects (dryness, peeling, redness), you should be looking for a moisturizer that has skin-identical and repairing ingredients. In other words, something that will go a long way in maintaining the health of the moisture barrier and acid mantle.

In my opinion, I think people should avoid the moisturizer altogether, and opt out for something way better like CeraVe PM or CeraVe Cream. I have done extensive reviews on a lot of the CeraVe products, and even wrote a buyer’s guide about their top four moisturizers.

All of them have skin identical and repairing ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, and hyaluronic acid which will go a long way in counteracting the side effects from benzoyl peroxide.

And no, I’m not sponsored by CeraVe. But let’s be real, if they’re reading — yo, HOOK IT UP!

Because the skin may become excessively dry on the regimen, CeraVe Cream (full review) and CeraVe PM (full review) are great options.

And last but not least, I don’t like the moisturizer because the application of it is awful. Just awful. Check out what I mean. moisturizer on moisturizer spread moisturizer feel on skin

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it literally leaves you looking like you have jaundice (yellow skin), and like you’ve been working a couple overnight shifts as a fry cook. :p

Be warned, this stuff makes you look like an oil slick. It never seems to sink in (especially with the amount Dan recommends you use), and leaves behind the worst yellow residue on the skin. Not something I found enjoyable at all.

Summary. regimen review

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The cleanser and treatment step are great! I can’t recommend them enough. In my opinion, they are very solid products and will do a lot in maintaining the skin’s healthy pH and treating acne. To this day, I still think the Benzoyl Peroxide is unmatched in the skincare market in terms of its efficacy and cost effectiveness.

But the moisturizer…. well, that has some serious flaws. I don’t find the ingredient list all that impressive and useful for counteracting the irritating effects of benzoyl peroxide, and the application of it is simply awful.

I think people are way better suited looking at different options for face lotions. I highly recommend CeraVe Cream or CeraVe PM as an adjunct to the regimen.

Welp, that does it for this review! Hope you’ve enjoyed it and found it useful. The regimen saved my ass a teenager when I was going through acne, so give it a shot.