When I reviewed DermaHarmony 2% Salicylic Acid Bar Soap a few weeks ago, I lamented the challenge of finding a fragrance-free, dye-free salicylic acid cleanser other than CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser Review (which is not only a bit pricey but also doesn’t list the percentage of salicylic acid included in the formula). On Instagram, a few people recommended checking out Zapzyt face wash, and I’m glad that they did.
But first, let me take a moment to reflect on the problem that this face wash is designed to help address. A problem that hits us when we’re teens, and oftentimes affects us long after we’ve kissed our teens goodbye. I’m talking about acne, of course. Even famous people aren’t immune to it. Indeed, maybe acne helps give us more character. Indeed, could one dare to go so far as to guess that Trevor Noah is so successful not in spite of his experience with acne, but because of it? I’m not sure, but it’s interesting to ponder such questions, no?
Puberty was not kind to me. My acne was so bad that people used to ask what was wrong with me, like I'd had an allergic reaction to something. It was the kind of acne that qualifies as a medical condition. Acne vulgaris, the doctor called it. We're not talking about pimples, kids. We're talking pustules—big, pus-filled blackheads and whiteheads. They started on my forehead, spread down the sides of my face, and covered my cheeks and neck and ravaged me everywhere.
—Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
I thoroughly enjoyed Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime. I’m not a big nonfiction reader, but this memoir was so lively that it read like fiction to me (OK, so I just realized that it sounds like I’m calling him a liar, but that’s not my aim—believe me, this is a compliment because I normally much prefer fiction over nonfiction!). I admired how he didn’t hold back when talking about the most cringe-worthy phases of his life. This passage about acne really reminded me of my experience in high school. I had pretty bad acne on my forehead and cheeks, as well as on my back. Eventually it calmed down as I headed into college, and my 20s, but I’ll never forget the agony of trying a bunch of products and just not finding anything that worked. What made my problem even worse was that I was pretty sure that the acne products I was using were also aggravating my eczema because of the harsh ingredients they contained. Most acne washes are full of fragrances, dyes, and exfoliating “beads” that are meant to banish blackheads and the like. I found the world of acne products to be entirely disappointing.
I wish I had been able to introduce my teenage self to Zapzyt, but better late than never, I guess. According to the AAD, salicylic acid is helpful for improving inflammation and clearing up your pores. Plus, unlike the other top acne-fighting ingredient, benzoyl peroxide, it won’t stain your pillowcases, sheets, or clothes.
Zapzyt salicylic acid face wash ingredients
Active ingredients: salicylic acid (2%)
Inactive ingredients: water, disodium edta, chamomile extract, aloe vera gel, bioterge as-40, cocamidopropyl betaine, glucamate doe-120, glydant, sodium chloride
My dad’s review of the product, based on glancing at the ingredient list:
The only ingredient that I don’t like is sodium chloride (salt), it may irritate people who have acne, it’s better use another ingredient instead.
My dad thinks that sodium chloride (aka salt) might irritate people who have acne and/or sensitive skin, but otherwise he thinks it’s a good face wash. Sodium chloride is often used in cosmetics to help thicken formulas. Indeed, this face wash has a gel-like texture that feels almost like a hair gel. I like that in a liquid face wash, though—it’s hard to use a face wash that’s too watery, because it feels like it’s running right through the cracks of your hands.
Glydant, aka DMDM hydantoin
One interesting ingredient that almost escaped my notice on the list was Glydant. What the heck is it? Thanks to the internet, I’m now aware that Glydant is a commercial version of the preservative known as DMDM hydantoin. Historically I’ve tried to avoid this ingredient after encountering problems with it in Suave hair care products, most specifically Suave Professionals Sleek & Smooth Conditioner. This preservative is commonly known to cause contact dermatitis, but it’s less worrisome in rinse-off products like face washes and shampoos. Here’s a list of the other products I’ve reviewed/mentioned on this blog that contain DMDM hydantoin, if you’re curious:
- Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream
- Olay Complete All-Day Moisturizer
- Olay Ultra Moisture In-Shower Body Lotion
- Stridex Maximum Pads
- Stridex Sensitive Skin Pads
- Suave Silkening Lotion with Baby Oil
- Suave Essentials Daily Clarifying Shampoo
I’m not currently using any of these products, so that means my only exposure to DMDM hydantoin (or “Glydant”) is through Zapzyt salicylic face wash. So if I start to notice any sign of irritation on my face or hands, I’ll stop using this product. But for now, it seems to be working without irritating me too much. I always make sure to thoroughly rinse off every last drop of this face wash so that the residue doesn’t linger.
If you’re allergic to DMDM hydantoin, or suspect that you might be, then make sure to keep an eye out for “Glydant” in the future. It frustrates me how products are all able to use different names for the same things—it makes it much harder to keep track of what to avoid if you have sensitive skin.
Zapzyt salicylic acid face wash review
Zapzyt salicylic acid face wash is a no-frills cleanser—aside from 2% salicylic acid as the active ingredient, it contains just a few other ingredients that all have a purpose: aloe vera and chamomile extract to soothe the skin from any potential irritation, preservatives, thickeners (to add texture), and surfactants (to function as a detergent). It foams up pretty vigorously. I think you only need about a pearl-sized amount to cover your face and neck. To me, it doesn’t have any detectable scent.
At first, I used it morning and night, but that dried my skin out a bit too much, so I switched over to just using it at night. If you have dry skin you might want to just use it every other night. I actually found that this face wash was more successful than DermaHarmony 2% Salicylic Acid Bar Soap Review at treating the small acne I’ve been seeing along my jawline. My skin has become slightly smoother and my jaw is no longer home to any acne flareups.
I don’t know how I feel about this product just yet. I think it does serve as a decent face wash, but it’s a bit drying so I might switch over to using it every other night. I plan to continue searching for another salicylic face wash that’s fragrance-free and doesn’t contain DMDM hydantoin. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to use Zapzyt salicylic acid face wash until I’ve either emptied the bottle or experienced irritation from using it.
I would still love to find a salicylic acid face wash that doesn’t contain harsh preservatives, fragrances, or dyes, so let me know if you’re found one that’s affordable and meets all those criteria. I might give CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser another shot at some point, just to see if it’s worth the premium in price.