Read the Label: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel


Errata: Readers should note this column has been updated since it first appeared, with the correct ingredient listing and commentary; the previous version reviewed an incorrect ingredient disclosure; Cosmetics & Toiletries regrets the error.

A facial wash for oily skin, La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel is said to gently cleanse skin with its purifying foam, eliminating impurities and excess sebum, leaving the skin feeling clean and fresh.

Zinc PCA is included to reduce excess oil and shine, while citric acid gently dissolves dead skin cells. Consumers are instructed to use the product every morning and/or evening by wetting their face, taking a small amount of the gel and applying it, then working up a rich lather and rinsing well with water.

Label claims include: no parabens, no phthalates, formaldehyde-free, a soap-free formula, a refreshing gel texture, tested on acne-prone and sensitive skin, and non-comedogenic.

This column will review the ingredient listing for claims substantiation and functionality.

Editor's note: This article aims to provide an idea of the ingredients cosmetic manufacturers are using that could potentially support the stated product claims. Without specified use levels or access to clinical studies, the author is drawing conclusions based on speculation; albeit from years of clinical experience and, in some instances, evidence in the literature. The following is offered for your consideration and further verification.

Water Base

This cleansing gel is a water-based formula containing a surfactant system including sodium laureth sulfate and coco-betaine, the latter of which also improves foam and conditions skin.

Humectant and Skin Conditioner

Zinc PCA, the zinc salt of l-pyrrolidone carboxylate (zinc PCA), is a humectant and skin conditioning agent. It imparts astringent and antimicrobial properties for oily skin, and also has shown anti-aging properties in vitro. PEG-8 also serves as a humectant.


Citric acid serves as a chelating agent and buffer, and as noted above, aids in skin exfoliation. Phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol serve as preservatives, and the product also contains fragrance.


The ingredients appear to support the claims for reducing sebum and shine in oil-prone skin. In addition, its dermatologist-recommended status supports its approval for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

Ingredients: Water (aqua), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-8, Coco-Betaine, Hexylene Glycol,  Sodium Chloride, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Zinc PCA, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance (parfum).

Source: La Roche-Posay website

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