Product Review: Proactiv Solution Green Tea Moisturizer

Reviews, Skin Care
Proactiv Solution Green Tea Moisturizer promises to soothe and hydrate skin.

For years I’ve seen the Proactiv commercials on TV with starlet after starlet talking about their skin issues and how it’s the brand that worked for them. But I’d never tried the product in so many of my friends’ skincare cabinet. So, I tried Proactiv Solition Green Tea Moisturizer ($17.90,, which promises to soothe and refresh skin with its blend of extracts and oils. I found that overall it’s a pleasant formula that absorbs easily.

Green Tea

Some green tea in Nanzenji's lovely tea room.
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant that also has acne-fighting potential. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t talk about a green tea moisturizer and not talk about green tea or mention the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate EGCG, which is what’s listed in the ingredients list. This polyphenol only comprises about half of the green tea extract in cosmetics, but that’s still enough to benefit from its anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties (On the Horizon). In one study, topical application of EGCG after UV-irradiation led to a decrease in oxidative stress and an increase in antioxidant enzymes (Carcinogenesis).

Green tea has also been testing as an acne treatment. In one study, it was found to help mild-to-moderate acne when applied topically at a 2% concentration (Journal of Drugs and Dermatology). EGCG has 5-α-reductase properties, which have anti-androgenic properties — researchers think this might help the hormonal causes of acne when topically applied (Lipids in Health and Disease, Correspondence). Another study showed that the acidic polysaccharide found in green tea worked as an anti-adhesive against skin pathogenic bacteria (Ji-Hye, et. al.).

Retinyl Palmitate

chemical structure of retinyl palmitate
Retinyl Palmitate is a weak retinoid — about 20 times weaker than retinol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Retinyl Palmitate — a combination of retinol and palmitic acid — is a form of retinol that’s about 20 times weaker than retinol, but it can still be effective. Because it has an acidic-to-neutral PH of range of 5.6-7, which means it works well with acidic ingredients like alpha-hydroxy and L-ascorbic acid (Journal of Cosmetic Science).

In studies done on the vitamin A substance, they’ve found that they do most of their work in the epidermis, followed by the stratum corneum, and then the dermis (Journal of Investigative Dermatology). About a month after opening creams containing it, retinyl palmitate starts to degrade.

[Read More: How Do Retinoids Work?]


Alcohol has a bad — but not necessarily warranted — reputation as an ingredient that dries out skin. But dermatologist and founder of Dr. Audrey Kunin explains that not all alcohols are drying and even those that are don’t necessarily dry the skin in beauty products in their concentrations.

This cream contains phenoxyethanol, but it falls pretty low on the ingredient list, which means there’s not a lot of it. In high concentrations, this alcohol can be drying, but Dr. Kunin explains that when there are minimal amounts of alcohols in a formula they’re likely there as a degreasing agent that makes for a better formula.

[Read More: The Most Misunderstood Skin Ingredient: Alcohol]


Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...
Parabens serve as preservatives that stop bacteria growth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 90% of all beauty and cosmetic products contain parabens as a preservative. Controversy started with the suggestion that parabens bind to estrogen receptors in MCF-7 breast cancer cells and the subsequent discovery of parabens in breast tumor samples (The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology). But in the breast cancer study, cells were exposed to thousands of times more parabens than are found in beauty products. Though parabens are found in breast tissues, it might make you feel better to know that no studies show higher concentrations in breast tumor sample than in other tissues.

In a study to test long term accumulation, scientists found that with regular application, there would be an increase of parabens accumulated in the skin for 24-hours, but there was no cumulative effect after 36-hours. This would suggest that parabens don’t accumulate in skin tissue after 36-hours. Finally, in 2005, the FDA stated that the concentrations of parabens in beauty products did not pose a logical risk (Formulation and Science).

[Read More: Are the Parabens in Skincare Products Really Bad for You?]

Personal Use and Opinion

Proactiv Solution Green Tea Moisturizer has a medium weight consistency and takes a little while to rub in, but once it sinks it there’s no greasy feeling, just a smooth texture. And skin doesn’t get too greasy through the day with use. It has a sort of floral scent that’s really nice. I’d love to see sunscreen in this product — retinyl palmitate is a weak retinol, but should still be worn with sunscreen — but the formula is light enough that you could layer a sunscreen overtop.

Bottom Line

Proactiv Solution Green Tea Moisturizer has green tea, which is a great antioxidant with acne fighting potential, as well as retinyl palmitate, a weak retinoid. Though it has alcohol and parabens, those aren’t necessarily bad. The low level of alcohol is likely there to improve the formula and parabens are generally considered safe in the amount that’s put in beauty products. This moisturizer is light enough to layer sunscreen overtop and I would very highly recommend that anyone who uses it does.

Product Rating: 7.5/10

  • High or optimized concentration of proven effective ingredients: 2/3
  • Unique formulation or new technology: 2.5/3
  • Value: 3/3
  • Sunscreen: 0/1


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