Due to my passionate love of aerobics class I often work up a sweat. I purchased these two Neutrogena products (Oil Free Acne Wash and Body Clear Body Wash) in hopes of fighting the resulting breakouts. Ultimately I found that 2% salicylic acid is not the right blend for me; a product with 5% benzyl peroxide busts my breakouts a lot more effectively. After I’d had these two bottles in my shower for a few weeks I noticed something odd: the ingredients are nearly identical. Check them out for yourself (click for a larger image).
I know some beauty experts say that when you’re assessing a product you should look at the first five ingredients, as they are the most concentrated and thus most effective. Odd, then, that to find a difference between the body and face wash I had to read through sixteen ingredients before the seventeenth was unique: iron oxide appears only in the body wash. Iron oxide is most commonly used as an earthy pigment, so I’m guessing that here it serves to dye the body wash rather than deliver any body benefits. A few ingredients later the face wash features its own unique ingredient- polyethylene- which is probably in there to keep the mixture from separating (so why isn’t it in the body wash too?).
On Drugstore.com the suggested retail price for the body wash, which comes in a 250-ml bottle, is $7.99. The suggested retail price for the face wash, which comes in a 125-ml bottle, is also $7.99. Do the math. The face wash costs double the body wash, and the only difference is a little iron oxide and polyethylene!
In late 2012 I wrote to Neutrogena, using the form on their website, to ask about how these two products are different and whether a bit of iron oxide and polyethylene is really worth double the money. I did not receive a response.
I would never tell someone who is having success using these products to stop buying them. But I would tell all brainy beauty consumers to do their homework. Read the ingredient lists and compare the price per milliliter when purchasing products. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be suspicious when you don’t receive a response!