La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: My Thoughts

French pharmacy skincare brands are increasingly available on the high street. With the likes of Avene and Nuxe hitting shelves across the UK and the sudden surge of interest in products such as Caudalie’s Eau de Beauté Beauty Elixir and Bioderma’s Crealine H2O Micelle Solution, both of which received enormous hype in the beauty blogging community, a spark of interest, excitement and promise has been ignited in the brands manufactured by our friends from across the Channel.

Paraben free and containing all the usual suspects such as Salicylic Acid and Glycerin, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo promises to help purify the skin, unclog pores, and protect against breakouts developing. Pores are purified, imperfections are reduced. Skin looks clearer and smoother. Both the box and tube itself suggest applying the gel-like product all over the face morning and/or night, and the gel makes, according to the scientists at La Roche-Posay an excellent make-up base. Perfect eh?

I introduced the Effaclar Duo into my night skincare routine as one of the last products I apply before bed. I chose not to apply it in the morning as I prefer a simpler routine as I feel using a number of products may be too much for my skin and interfere with makeup and its potential longevity. That said, I am glad I kept usage to a minimum and I dread to think what state my skin would be in if I hadn’t.

When you first apply the Effaclar Duo there is a definite tingling feeling, as though the product is truly working. And I believe that it was actually working. At first I was pleased with the results. I applied a small amount to my nose, which can close up appear congested, and my jawline, where I have been unable for years to achieve smoother looking skin due to underlying pimples, and after continued use I noticed some definite improvements. Though I cannot confirm it was solely responsible for a noticeable shrinkage of my nose and cheek pores I did feel as though, in conjunction with my current routine, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo was performing well. My pores were shrinking and small persistent underlying jawline pimples were gone within a couples of days, revealing clearer smoother skin.

Feeling very pleased with the product and filled with naivety over the following evenings I smothered more and more product over my entire face, hoping to see positive results.

One night the tingling sensation I experienced turned into a rather painful burning one, which had to be treated with a cold flannel and aloe vera. I stopped using the gel for a few evenings in order to let my skin ‘recover’ and then began applying much less product in the days to follow. Having worked wonders on my jawline Effaclar Duo has turned the rest of my face into (what I can only describe as) an ‘after’ photo from my high school science textbook documenting the effects of heroin addiction… essentially, it was covered in sores. After using this for about a week and a half on my congested areas and as a direct spot treatment I had eight visibly sore looking pimples on my face. What was once a tiny barely noticeable imperfection above my left eyebrow was now what a loved one refered to as, a “chemical burn.” Not the look I think anyone wants to purposefully achieve. Ever.

I understand that with clearing the skin, things are going to get worse before they get better as you effectively have to purge all impurities and unclog any congested areas, this means that spots and blemishes are going to occur, and you need to be prepared. However the Effaclar Duo caused a breakout of about five spots on my chin which then turned into horribly sore flaking scabs and in the places where I used the gel as a direct spot treatment it appeared to completely strip my skin, leaving the appearance of raw and tender looking flesh. Although my skin in sum is not perfect, by any means, I have never experienced more than two spots at one time. Eight was traumatic to say the least.

La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo retails for £13.00 in Boots.

The purpose of this post is not to wholly deter anyone from purchasing the Effaclar Duo, it is to offer my experience of using La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo. There are hundreds of reviews online which present positive representations of the product yet I had to dig a little deeper to find those who shared my experience. The Effaclar Duo is, for my skin (which is combination-oily) far too harsh for liberal usage. (NB neither the box nor tube suggest an amount which should be applied to the skin) I would not recommend applying this product both morning and night and would suggest a light application. If you do experience any kind of burning sensation or notice some rather angry looking pimples, personally, I would stop using it on the problem area and allow your skin to recover with a healthy dose of moisturiser (and/or a cold flannal and aloe vera).

The Effaclar Duo has not discouraged me from using other products from La Roche-Posay as I believe, in spite of my experience, they are an excellent brand and it is worth checking out their products and the rest of the Effaclar line, in particular the Effaclar Mat, a sebo-regulating moisturiser which combats shine and enlarged pores. I just think the Effaclar Duo wasn’t for me.

Though my experiences were most certainly mixed there are plenty others who swear by the promises Effaclar Duo makes. I will definitely have to think about whether, once my skin has fully recovered from its effects, I will use La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo again. In all honestly, I don’t think I will. I am grateful to this product for clearing the skin on my jawline and will perhaps, one day, apply it there again, but I don’t think I’ll get much more use out of it than that.

Have you used La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo? What were your thoughts?

This is my first review so if you’re reading and found it helpful, or not as the case may be, let me know.



  1. Kheee

    Hi! I also think that Effaclar Duo is to aggressiv to your skin. Try Effaclar K, which is not as aggressiv as Effaclar Duo. The Duo one, is for really bad skin, while the K one is for little areas to put on, or for a few spots. I have done a lot of research about these product, because I wanted too also purchase a few items. So I haven’t purchased or tried them yet… But I’ll give it a try! I really found your review helpful, thanks for sharing!

  2. Alice

    I wish I had found your blog before, because the same thing happened to me, i still have the scars that this rash of pimples left on my skin 😦

  3. anon

    The exact same thing has literally just happened to me with the Effaclar Duo. How did you then treat your skin to clear the sores? My skin basically looks like it’s been burnt. 😦

  4. LUCY

    Thank you so much for being honest about this aggressive product! I have a sunburn mark now where my skin has obviously peeled and will no doubt scar. I think there’s way too concentrated an amount of Benozyl Peroxide here that’s harmful, especially combined with the LHA acid.

  5. Julie

    Did the areas that appeared burned go away? I have what looks like burns on my face which is hot and also has a burning sensation which im sure has been this product and im worried it will not go away and i also suffer from hyperpigmentation and that it has made this worse and will take longer to fade

  6. Nikki

    Hi! I have used the product too (I’m facing some acne and pore problems but they’re not that serious) and I would say your description about its effects on your skin matches up with my own experience pretty much! After some days of continuous using of the product my face was “burnt” especially above the eyes and my skin looked so damaged!! I remember the first time I used it (and a couple of days afterwards) I did get that “tingling-burn” sensation on my skin but just like you I thought that the product was “working”. Anyway, I stopped using it for a very long time after the effects of it on my skin. I now use it very rarely and apply it on specific areas on my face especially when I have a really bad pimple or pore that doesn’t go away after a couple of days. I don’t know if my skin is just too sensitive to products like this or if it was a type of allergic reaction to it..

  7. Jill

    Same thing happened to me! Started with 0 zits and after one week, 5 inflamed zits at once :,( my “chemical burn” is on my right forehead. Made my skin uncomfortable earlier, so i washed it with water and cetaphil cleanser and applied some raw honey.

  8. Mandy

    Effeclar due ruined my skin,
    It’s been two years now and all my face is full of pores which I’ve never had before.

  9. Nat

    Hi, I tried the product about 5 days ago. Thankfully I only applied it to a few areas, not my whole face. By the next day the areas to which I had applied it (small spots on neck, chin – then inner elbow to test) became red and extremely itchy and this lasted about 4 days. Now the areas are quite dry. I am 46years old so perhaps its too harsh for my aging skin. However, I’ve never ever experienced an allergic reaction to a skincare product before.
    My 12yo daughter also used it (all over her face!) and experienced no discomfort apart from some tingling for a few minutes after applying. Thank goodness! I will however, suggest she only use it on spots as I am a little concerned about the strength of the ingredients.
    So my advice is to try it on a few small areas first to prevent an extremely itchy and red face in case you’re allergic.

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