About Effaclar Serum
Brought to you by La Roche Posay, Effaclar Serum’s fragrance- and paraben-free formula promises to deliver a blend of highly concentrated, fast-absorbing ingredients that can help visibly tighten pores, boost radiance and smoothness, and refine skin texture.
At the center of this formulation is an AHA-Glycolic Complex, along with micro-exfoliating LHA, that should be used once every two days in the evening, during the first two weeks. After this, you’ll be able to apply two to three drops daily and massage into skin.
Even when maintaining realistic expectations, most of us still hope that one anti-aging formula or another will help bring our skin back to life, and perhaps turn back the clock a couple of years.
But will Efficlar’s glycolic acid formula deliver on its promises? What are customers and skin experts saying about the product? Should you also consider the competition?
Over the next few minutes, we’ll walk you step-by-step through everything we learned during our research. At the end, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about whether or not it’s worth placing an order.
What Does Glycolic Acid Have to Do With Reducing the Visible Signs of Aging?
Whether you’re rubbing your face with soap and water, a washcloth, powered spinning scrubber, specialized cleanser, or anything else, one main goal is to remove the old skin cells sitting on the skin's surface. As a consequence, the younger cells underneath are revealed, leading to a smoother, more radiant appearance. This process is known as exfoliation.
And one of the most common methods of chemically (versus mechanically) exfoliating skin is through the use of glycolic acid, which Teen Vogue’s Deanna Pai explains “dissolves the dead skin cells that cause dullness and dry skin. By eating away the superficial layer of the skin, it can also lighten dark spots and, even minimize sun damage.”
As alluded to on the Effaclar website, glycolic acid is part of a larger classification of chemicals known as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). According to Truth In Aging, AHAs are some of the most common ingredients found in chemical peeling beauty products, whether masks, creams, serums, and so forth, which work by ‘un-gluing’ dead skin cells so they can be rinsed away.
“In addition to being deeply penetrating, cleansing, and exfoliating,” they explain, “topical application of glycolic acid has been shown to be an effective anti-ager: reversing sun damage (such as mottled pigmentation), stimulating collagen and elastin production, quickening cell turnover, increasing skin's thickness, firmness & hydration, and smoothing rough and wrinkled skin.”
Outside of glycolic acid, what else will you find in Effaclar’s Serum?
Taking a Closer Look at Pore-Refining Anti-Aging Serum’s Ingredients
Based on the label shown on the Effaclar website, their Serum contains the following:
Water, Alcohol Denat., Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Diisopropyl 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
According to Truth In Aging, as well as other sites like EWG.org and PaulasChoice.com, the majority of these ingredients (several can serve more than one purpose) work as:
- Solvents (denatured alcohol, diisopropyl adipate, pentylene glycol)
- Emulsifiers (PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil)
- Buffering, cleansing, and conditioning agents (hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid, propylene glycol, PPG-26-buteth-26, PEG-30 glyceryl cocoate, sodium hydroxide)
- Fragrance (p-anisic acid)
- Preservatives (tetrasodium EDTA)
- Film formers (polyquaternium-10)
As we outlined in the previous section, though, glycolic acid has been shown to work as an effective exfoliant, and citric acid and capryloyl salicylic acid is used for the same purpose, in this instance.
Do these ingredients necessarily make Effaclar Serum the best option for you? We’ll get to this in just a moment, but let’s first discuss important topics like potential side and effects and price.
Will Effaclar Serum’s Ingredients Cause Side Effects?
When used in 10 percent or lower concentrations, WebMD reports little-to-no side effects for Effaclar’s ingredients, other than occasional, temporary irritation and redness, especially for those with sensitive skin.
However, they emphasize that all AHAs can cause sensitivity to sunlight, so you’ll want to apply an appropriate sunscreen to avoid damaging your skin.
As always, it’s also a good idea to speak with your dermatologist before using a new skincare product, who can advise of potential side effects based on your specific diagnosis.
How Much Does Effaclar Serum Cost?
One bottle (30 ml) of Effaclar Serum is priced at $44.99, plus $5-$8 for standard S&H, depending on your order total.
Customers can choose a one-time order, or join the company’s Auto Refresh program and receive one, two, or three new bottles each month, including free shipping. The credit card on file will be charged accordingly.
All La Roche Posay products come with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H, which you can request by calling customer support at 800-560-1803.
What Can We Learn From Effaclar Serum Customer Reviews?
There were 14 customer reviews on Effaclar’s website for their Serum at the time of our research, who gave the product an average rating of five stars. Common compliments related to improved skin appearance (increased radiance, decreased acne) and pleasant sensation.
Across more than 100 combined reviews on Amazon, MakeupAlley, and Dermstore, the Serum had a slightly lower average rating of four stars, with many of the same compliments. Complaints frequently referenced no results, high price, and skin reactions (increased acne, irritation/redness).
However, from a professional perspective, Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia pulled no punches when writing that Effaclar’s Pore-Refining Serum is “overpriced, poorly formulated,” and that its four to five percent alpha hydroxy acid (glycolic acid), and less than one percent beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) content, isn’t mild and “won’t smooth your complexion.”
In the end, “while AHA and BHA can be excellent for removing built-up layers of dead skin cells accumulated due to sun damage or oily skin,” they write, “this isn't a product to consider for this important skincare step.”
As a company, La Roche Posay is part of the L’Oreal Group, which held an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and 20 closed complaints as of 10/25/17. These appeared to revolve around everything from sales and support issues to side effects and problems with the Rewards Program. In each instance, a company representative responded with a resolution.
Are There Other Glycolic Acid-Based Beauty Products?
Based on the exfoliating effectiveness of glycolic acid and other AHAs we discussed earlier, it probably comes as no surprise they’re available in hundreds—perhaps thousands—of different anti-aging creams, lotions, serums, and formulations competing directly with Effaclar Serum.
And based on what we learned from searches on popular online marketplaces like Amazon, Google Shopping, and Walmart.com, the majority of these appear to fall somewhere between $10 and $60. Most also featured 10 percent or lower glycolic acid content. Is it possible to make an informed decision among all these options?
Again, the first person you should speak with is your dermatologist. They’ll talk with you about your concerns, run the appropriate tests, and recommend the most relevant treatments based on your diagnosis.
While you’re waiting for your appointment to roll around, be sure to read AHA or BHA: What’s The Best Chemical Exfoliant For Your Skin Type. There, we outline that AHAs can help attract moisture, so they might be a preferred exfoliant for those with dry skin. However, glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure among AHAs, so it also has the highest chance of irritating skin.
So, if you have sensitive skin and want to stick with an AHA, you might prefer formulations that use lactic acid or mandelic acid instead. Or, make sure that you apply a calming serum and/or moisturizer immediately after using glycolic acid to reduce irritation. If you don’t have especially sensitive skin, micellar water might work as a substitute.
Our Final Thoughts About La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Serum
Despite the fact that prices are at the upper end of the spectrum compared to other AHA anti-aging products, Effaclar Serum had a mostly positive online customer reputation at the time of our research. The company also stands behind their products with a 30-day money back guarantee, which should be long enough to find out if it delivers value in line with its price.
Again, just make sure you speak with your dermatologist before placing an order, as they can provide a personalized, science-backed recommendation as to whether or not Effaclar Serum—or AHA products in general—will deliver the most bang for your buck.