LaRoche Posay Effaclar Serum


5.00 out of 5

If you’ve tried everything for your mild to moderate acne, look no further than LaRoche Posay Effaclar Serum. This serum features 0.5% lipohydroxy acid (LHA), an ingredient that has been shown to act like all effective anti-acne agents combined, killing bacteria (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007); increasing cell turnover (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2009); and decreasing corneocyte adhesion (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002).

LaRoche Posay Effaclar Serum also boasts 7.5% of a glycolic acid “complex,” but as savvy FutureDerm readers know, 7.5% of a complex is not equivalent to 7.5% of an ingredient. But no matter — the true superstar here is the LHA, and it makes this product worth every penny. I recommend using it after a 10% salicylic acid cleanser, and before a retinol or glycolic acid moisturizer. (The low amount of glycolic acid here makes it fine for use with retinol, as the pH of this product is still rather neutral.) -Nicki Zevola


Why I Love This Product: The LHA

There are many different ways to treat acne:

  • Kill bacteria, P. acnes, which is responsible for acne, with oral and topical antibiotics and other chemical agents;
  • Increase cell turnover and exfoliation rates, which is often slowed in patients with acne;
  • Decrease the amount of skin cells that “stick” to one another, which causes the skin to hold onto old cells for too long (and clog up);
  • Decrease inflammation in the skin that is associated with acne.

LHA, or β-lipohydroxy acid, is an ingredient that has only been around for the past seven or eight years. It is exciting because it does all three of the above, killing bacteria (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007); increasing cell turnover (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2009); and decreasing corneocyte adhesion (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002).

Who is a candidate for LHA?

LHA is best for patients with mild to moderate, non-cystic acne. who have tried other agents like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide in the past without luck, or who are currently using these agents but still are experiencing breakouts. Those with cystic acne are not likely to be aided much by LHA.

What other ingredients can be used in conjunction with LHA?

FutureDerm readers will probably be happy to know that LHA can therefore be used with everything from acidic vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) to retinoids (for which esterification, i.e., activation occurs at pH 5.5-6.0). This is because LHA has a slightly acidic pH that is similar to that of normal skin (5.5) and does not require neutralization for activation within the skin.

If you want to introduce LHA to an existing regimen, the best way is with a full-strength LHA serum. I recommend using a 10% salicylic acid cleanser, benzoyl peroxide on-the-spot treatment, LHA serum, and glycolic acid or retinol moisturizer to treat acne nightly.

Bottom Line

Of the ingredients premiering on the skin care market in the past few years, I feel that LHA is one of the most exciting for treating mild to moderate acne. It can be used alone, as in the La Roche Posay Effaclar System, or in conjunction with other agents to treat acne.

How to Use

  • Use as a daily pore-refining, anti-wrinkle treatment serum.
  • First, apply only once every two days in the evening for one week. Afterwards, apply once a day in the evening. Avoid eye area.
  • Use 2-3 drops and gently massage on affected areas.


Water • Alcohol Denat. • Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid • Glycolic Acid • Diisopopyl Adipate • Propylene Glycol • Pentylene Glycol • Citric Acid • Ppg-26-buteth-26 • Peg-30 Glyceryl Cocoate • Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil • Sodium Hydroxide • P-anisic Acid • Capryloyl Salicylic Acid • Tetrasodium Edta • Polyquaternium-10.

Reviews (1)

1 review for LaRoche Posay Effaclar Serum

  1. Irene
    5 out of 5


    Hi Nicki,
    I have a question about this product. I have yet to use it but am contemplating purchasing it based on good reviews online (the system requires that I give a rating to post a review/question)!

    While I understand the benefits of LHA, I am a little hesitant about the product because denatured alcohol is #2 on the ingredients list.

    I understand that while SD/denat. alcohol is commonly misunderstood as a harmful ingredient, you also mentioned that it can also be beneficial when used in conjunction with other skin care ingredients ( However, in 2007, you also mentioned that when found high on the ingredients list denatured alcohol can be drying and irritating ( Would the same apply to this product? Or, is there some chemistry in the ingredients that mitigates the drying effects of alcohol? (I don’t plan on using the product alone but in conjunction with other moisturizing products, anyway).

    Also, is the high concentration of alcohol one of the reasons why pores appear smaller (because “alcohol makes skin cells temporarily swell, making the pores they surround look smaller” ( with this product, hence the “pore-refining” effect that the product claims to have? Or will the LHA, with continued use, produce true/lasting pore-refining effects because of its ability to increase cell turnover and exfoliation rates?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to clarify!! I’m otherwise excited to try a serum with LHA!

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