[REVIEW] Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser (Before and After)

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Let’s face it: we’ve all used this cleanser at some point in our lives, the question is: Should we had?

  • Price (use this link): 7.97$

  • Texture: Gel

  • What you get: 9.1 Fl. oz / 269 mL

  • Cruelty-free: No


There are 3 versions of this product. Neutrogena is available in more than 70 countries and different demographics necessitate different marketing strategies. In terms of names there is the 1] Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser (Named as the Pink Grapefruit Acne Face Wash & Cleanser with Vitamin C & Salicylic Acid on their website), and there’s the 2] Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash. These products differ a bit in their formulation, but they are both marketed as anti-acne face cleansers and lists 2% of Salicylic Acid as their only active ingredient. They also look the same, and from my understanding, the first one is marketed towards US demographics while the second one towards Europe and Middle Eastern ones. The catch is that although there are two products, there’s actually a couple of different ingredient lists, only one for the Oil-free acne wash, but at least more than 2 for the visibly clear pink grapefruit one. This is annoying for consumers since you can’t be sure of which product you’re getting, but it’s a pretty common thing to find with products from brands as big as Neutrogena since they tailor their ingredients list to the regulations and preferences of different countries: European skincare formulation regulations ban or restrict a lot of ingredients and concentrations commonly used in the US for example.

[1]Oil Free Pink Grapefruit Acne Wash

Ingredients: [Salicylic Acid 2%] Water, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate (Surfactant/Cleansing), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Surfactant/Cleansing + Viscosity Controlling), Sodium Chloride (Viscosity Control), Peg-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate (Emulsifying), Polysorbate 20 (Emulsifying + Surfactant/Cleansing), Linoleamidopropyl Pg-dimonium Chloride Phosphate (Antistatic Agent), Propylene Glycol (Moisturizer + Solvent + Viscosity Control), PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate (Surfactant/Cleansing), ♦️Fragrance, Disodium Edta (Chelating + Viscosity Control), Benzalkonium Chloride (Preservative),  C12-15 Alkyl Lactate (Emollient), Polyquaternium-7 (Antistatic Agent), Sodium Benzotriazolyl Butyphenol Sulfonate (UV absorber), Cocamidopropyl Pg-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate (Surfactant/Cleansing + Emulsifying), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citric Acid (Buffering), Sodium Hydroxide (Buffering), ♦️Red 40,♦️ Violet 2.

📢Interesting Ingredients:

Salicylic Acid [2%]: A form of BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid). It is very well known and researched anti-acne and peeling agent that penetrates deep into the skin to break down the bonds between skin cells, dissolve skin debris within the pores, and also has anti-inflammatory properties

Ascorbyl Palmitate:

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract: Treats burns (Inhibits Thromboxane, which causes a restriction in blood supply to affected skin tissues) + Moisturizer (Mucopolysaccharides (water-binding) along with amino acids and zinc) + Wound Healing (Stimulates Collagen production pathways)+ Anti-inflammation (Magnesium lactate in the gel prevents Histamine production)

Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract: Antibacterial  + Anti-inflammatory + Wound Healing

Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract: Anti-inflammatory (Terpenes/Flavonoids/α-bisabolol inhibits inflammatory pathways) + Wound Healing

Citrus Grandis Fruit Extract: Acts as a preservative, but is not powerful enough to fulfill most standards of cosmetic preservatives need + Antioxidant + Contains Vitamin C

🤔Controversial Ingredients:

Fragrance: Potential to cause contact allergy

Red 40 (Colorant) + Violet 2 (Colorant): Some colorants can cause irritation to the skin (notably blue, yellow and red dyes)

[2] Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash:

There are different versions depending on where you live: Middle-East Version or Uk version or EU Version. From what I’ve gathered, the Pink Grapefruit line isn’t really available in South East Asia, instead, they have the Oil-Free Acne Wash which is the same thing but without the grapefruit extract. The annoying part is that even if you live in the UK or somewhere in the Middle-East, it’s not guaranteed that you’d buy the same version each time, depending on where you buy it from, the store/pharmacy you use might have different vendors, so when I bought this product in Brussels, I got the UK version, and checking it out here in Lebanon, I sometimes see the EU or US ones instead.

Depending on which version you buy, here are the things that differ from the US ingredient list above:

  • The addition of Alcohol Denat, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Parfum/Fragrance to the formulation.

  • The difference in ‘inactive’ filler/cleansing ingredients, notably Sodium Laureth Sulfate (not the same as the ‘hated’ sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

  • The concentration of Chamomilla Recutita Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, and Citrus Grandis Fruit Extract will either be higher than that in the US product, or these ingredients may not be present at all.

Concerning these ingredients:
Alcohol Denat + Isopropyl Alcohol + Parfum:

A lot of people assimilate alcohol and fragrances in skincare to dehydration and irritation. I would recommend that you watch this video: “Is Alcohol Safe in Skincare Products?” (by Liah Yoo, who worked at Korea's largest beauty company, AmorePacific and now also has her own brand: KraveBeauty) and consult the links provided in the info box which refer to published scientific studies and articles. The main point is: yes, alcohol and fragrance can be very stripping and irritating to the skin, but it all depends on how they are used and combined in the final formulation (their ratio, the reactions they have with other ingredients, etc…).


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Use daily.

Wet face.

Apply to hands, add water and work into a lather.

Rinse thoroughly.


This Neutrogena acne face wash comes with an uplifting blast of grapefruit. It contains MicroClear® technology and salicylic acid to help clear breakouts. The maximum strength formula developed with dermatologists in Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit contains 100% naturally derived grapefruit extract plus Vitamin C.

  1. With naturally derived Grapefruit, Vitamin C, and Salicylic Acid, our oil-free face wash starts working instantly to clear breakouts and even the marks they leave behind: First of all, there is no grapefruit in these products. There is Citrus Grandis, which is an ancestor of the Grapefruit and is actually called a Pomello (Citrus Paradisi is the nomenclature for Grapefruit). And while Pomelo does contain Vitamin C, it is present in very low concentrations and it is unclear whether or not its form is stable. So it won’t ‘clear breakouts and the marks they leave behind’ in any way, it might act as a preservative at best, and a miscellaneous marketing strategy at worse. As for the actual Vitamin C used in this product, which is entitled Ascorbyl Palmitate, it’s an unstable form that oxidizes when exposed to light, so it also won’t magically clear your marks or breakouts either as it’s not a potent form and is only present in the formulation to add to the marketability of this product. The only thing that’s an actual active ingredient in this face wash is the Salicylic Acid, as it has data to back up its anti-acne claims and is present in high enough concentration (the maximum you can get over-the-counter). While Salicylic Acid has a high chance of clearing out your breakouts (if you want to know how, make sure to read the in-depth ingredient list above), it is not usually used to clear out the marks they leave behind, you’d be better off trying a product which inhibits melanin productions like the SKIN&LAB Red Serum or an enzymatic/chemical exfoliating one (I can’t recommend one yet). That being said, the clearing out won’t be ‘instant’ as claimed.

  2. With maximum strength Salicylic Acid, this unique formula powerfully treats and helps prevent breakouts—even blackheads: Won’t add much to what I said above, Salicylic Acid has been shown to reduce the number of blackheads on skin in a clinical evaluation, but the evaluation was sponsored by Neutrogena, and the concentration present is not disclosed… Regardless, if blackheads are of a concern, you’re better off investing money into the Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment Mask or the RIRE All Kill blackhead Remover Stick instead.

  3. It eliminates oil and dirt, as well as rinses clean without over-drying: When it comes to potency of cleansing, this is a great cleanser as it will get rid of the majority of oils and dirt, as you can see from the below picture, it even almost got rid of waterproof makeup. The over-drying claim depends on what type of skin you have, I personally did not experience a notable drying effect, and it left my skin feeling comfortable, which is quite the accomplishment for a product that cleanses this well.

  4. See clearer skin in just 1 week: While there is no consensus on how long Salicylic Acid takes to work, most dermatologist site a minimum of 4 weeks to start seeing effects, so 1 week is a bit of an exaggeration, you probably won’t see any results that soon (I haven’t either)

  5. MicroClear® technology: Check out this post by Neutrogena, which vaguely explains the concept behind it, essentially this ‘technology’ is a combination of emollients, surfactants and cleansing agents which ‘‘prepare the skin to receive salicylic acid under good conditions: so that it can act deeply in the pores and release all its efficiency to help get rid of spots.’’. It’s clinically tested, which basically only means that it’s tested: that’s it. I personally couldn’t find any hard studies or research to back up any of the claims related to this combination of ingredients and this is probably another case of miscellaneous advertising.


Do not buy this product before reading this part: The Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash seems to be a hit or miss with most people. You’ll see some folks raving about it on Youtube while others seem to get rashes and triggered acne because of it. I think the reason is that this cleanser contains Salicylic Acid, which is great at fighting acne, but it also has some potentially sensitizing ingredients like the Citrus Grandis Fruit Extract which contains aromatic compounds, the Fragrance (note that the fragrance concentration is even higher than the Vitamin C), the colorants, and also the presence of harsh cleansing agents like Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate. Each of these sensitizing ingredients could be okay on their own in a cleanser (I’m not a fragrance hater in cleansers), and at lower concentrations, but this is not the way they are incorporated into this formulation. Most anti-acne face wash don’t have these ingredients, they might have at most some fragrant compounds, but they are usually in extremely low concentrations at the very bottom of their list.

The aim of any skincare product formulated for acneic skin should take into consideration the fact that acneic skin is compromised skin. It naturally is more prone to irritants and sensitization, and as such, products should not contain the number of sensitizing and harsh ingredients present in this Neutrogena formulation. People whose skin will react positively with this cleanser probably posses a stronger skin type, people whose skin react negatively are either allergic or sensitized to the some things in the formula.

Note: The product’s instructions say to use this everyday, if you are intent on buying it, at least DO NOT use it everyday.

This isn’t the worst acne cleanser in the entire world, as it might actually work with your skin, but there are other cleansers out there, in the same price range, with the same beneficial ingredients, present in the same concentrations, but without (or at least less) of the potentially irritating ingredients in their formulations. Check out this post to see which products would be more suited for your acneic skin : [10] Anti-Acne products that actually work + A Skincare routine. Even if the Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash has worked for you in the past, please bear in mind that some ingredients can be sensitizing in the long run, which basically means that as you use them, your skin could develop an irritating reaction to them. So would I recommend this product? if this was 2009 maybe, but now there are better alternatives out there, so no.

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  1. 50% chance of fighting your acne

  2. Smells really nice


  1. 50% chance of ruining your skin

🔻Score: 2/5 --- the 2 is for the 2% Salicylic Acid, otherwise I’ll pass.


+Yesstyle: If you use my code: DEWILDE you can get up to 5% off on any Yesstyle purchase at checkout

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