La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: How I Made It Work For Me

effaclar duo1

I feel like the Effaclar Duo has a very love/hate following.  On one hand, it definitely works to get rid of acne.  On the other hand, La Roche-Posay is usually a brand that caters to more sensitive skin and this is one product that has managed to irritate even my generally tolerant skin.

As I understand it, there are two versions.  The version sold in the US is more concentrated and meant to be used as a spot treatment; the version available in the UK and Europe is more dilute and can be used as a spot treatment or an allover acne treatment.  As I live in the US, I have the more concentrated version.

I would like to first say that it’s not the fault of the company for failing to mention that this is a very strong product.  It very clearly states on the back of the package “Do not use if you have very sensitive skin or are sensitive to benzoyl peroxide.”  It also goes on to describe some of the side effects that may occur, which ironically enough are the same effects people grouch about most in negative reviews.  It can cause dryness, itching, redness, flaking or peeling of the skin.  The instructions also clearly state that if you have any of these side effects to decrease frequency of use or use a lower concentration (i.e. mix with a moisturizer to dilute the formula).  Since it contains an acid exfoliant you also need to be sure to use sunscreen while using this product.

effaclar duo2

I have recently had quite an issue with hormonal acne from changing birth control types.  Now my acne is more severe and frequent, and I also get mainly deep cystic acne that can be very painful.  The worst spots for me are on either side of my chin and along my jawline.  I did a lot of research on products that could help to clear and calm my skin, and several dermatologist published videos on YouTube recommended benzoyl peroxide for cystic acne.  You can view the one I found most helpful here.

Now, to get a bit technical.  Benzoyl peroxide is a type of peroxide (it even says it in the name!).  Peroxides are a class of organic compounds that contain an H2O2 group in  the molecule.  They have a bleaching effect on organic substances, which include clothing and hair.  Benzoyl peroxide as an acne medication works in two ways:

  1. It is an antibacterial agent
  2. It also helps slough off the top layer of skin to allow the pus of the blemish to be pushed out of the skin

The other active ingredient in this treatment is LHA, which is an abbreviation for Beta-Lipohydroxy Acid.  It’s intended purpose is also to exfoliate the topmost layers of skin.  Given that this product packs a double punch in the exfoliation area, it’s no wonder that the skin can be easily dried out and irritated!

The cream itself is white and easily spreadable.  The packaging also comes with a very fine tip for dispensing.  I suppose it could be used to put the cream directly on a blemish, but for hygienic reasons I put a bit on my fingers and then apply it where it’s needed.

effaclar duo3

effaclar duo4

The product instructions include recommendations for reducing the strength of the product and the frequency of application, but I’ve found that decreasing the duration gives me the most benefits.  Instead of using this as a spot treatment I just it more as a treatment mask.  On clean skin I apply a thin layer to anywhere I have spots (basically where I would have a beard if I were a man).  If there are any really bad blemishes I’ll put an extra thick layer on top.  I leave it on for 5-7 minutes.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but for me any longer than 10 minutes and I risk having red patches that don’t go away until the next day.  I even set a timer to make sure I don’t overdo it.  After time is up I wash my face with my favorite cleanser and continue my skincare routine as normal.

After using this as a mask my skin feels noticeably smoother, and with regular use it reduces the amount of acne.  I find that using this as a mask helps to either draw a blemish out of my skin and come to a whitehead or it helps deep cystic acne to heal more quickly.  Because it can be drying I would also recommend a good moisturizer afterwards, even if you have oily skin.

For more information on acne and acne treatments, click here.

The Recap

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo is marketed as a targeted spot treatment for acne, but many users including myself have had negative side effects.  To eliminate the dryness and red skin that results from using this as an overnight treatment , I use it as a mask instead.  By decreasing the amount of time left on the skin I still manage to get the acne fighting benefits intended by the ingredients without any of that pesky irritation!

Product Rx:  Apply to clean skin, leave on for 5-7 minutes, wash off with cleanser, apply moisturizer.  Use 2-3 times per week.

Animal Testing: Yes, via Beautypedia on the Paula’s Choice wesite.  Although I am slightly confused by this because the L’Oreal Paris site states that they no longer test on animals and they own La Roche-Posay.


Price per Effaclar Duo, $36.95
1 oz $27.37 USD
100mL $92.38 USD

Have you tried Effaclar Duo? How did it work for you? Share in the comments!

2 thoughts on “La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: How I Made It Work For Me

  1. please help me, my GF used this to fight her acne problem and it left a big red painful spot on one of her cheeks where she applied the cream, we don’t know what to do..will it go away? I’m seriously worried that it might have made an irreversible damage. thanks


    • Hi, I’m so sorry and I hope you were able to get this resolved. I took a long break from blogging to finish up school and I haven’t been keeping up with things. Generally if you get a strong reaction after using a product the best thing to do is wash with lots of mild soap and water, and if possible apply a moisturizer that you know won’t irritate your skin. If things don’t start to clear up in a few days definitely call a doctor. The product could just be too strong for her skin or she could be allergic to one of the ingredients, but that would be for a doctor to determine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s