La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser Review - The Acne Experiment

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser Review :: The Acne Experiment

On a day in mid winter, during a routine Target sojourn, I spot a huge bottle of cleanser by a fancy brand I've always been intrigued by, but never tried — La Roche-Posay. A wave of instant familiarity washes over me. Yes. This is the brand that uses magic water found only in a very specific region of France. The cleanser itself is non-foaming, but is still oil free, which is a surprisingly hard combo to find. My skin will absolutely tolerate it because it's practically the name of the product. And you can never get only what you came for when you go to Target...

This was a complete impulse buy. I never ever do this. I usually research products for weeks, then after buying it, it gathers dust on my vanity for months before I finally crack the seal. Not today, hags. I started testing this cleanser the day I brought it home.



  1. You know that feeling when you need to clean your face, but you can't?
  2. It's not because you're too tired.
  3. You're not sick or hungover.
  4. You have access to clean running water and are stocked with ample products.
  5. You have the ability to walk to the sink, turn on the water, lift your hands to your face, splash water on it, and go through whatever lathering/rinsing motions that regular people do.
  6. But you don't.
  7. Because you can't.
  8. Because your stupid dumb face breaks out whenever you wash it.
  9. With anything -- any cleanser.
  10. Any cleanser causes your pores to pucker and spew forth unmitigated bile.
  11. But you do it anyway.
  12. Time and time again you try anyway.
  13. Because adults wash their face with cleanser.
  14. And Caroline Hirons told you to.

I tested La Roche-Posay's Toleraine Hydrating Gentle Cleanser in the evenings, and followed it with my newly developed routine of Tretinoin (0.1%, every other day) and Jojoba/Tea Tree Oil (applied after the Tretinoin). I was at the tail end on my MetroGel + Doxycycline trial.

Before I get to the results, I'd like to discuss La Roche-Posay's "magic water." Thermal Spring Water is a fancy phrase for mineral water -- it's literally water with minerals in it. It comes from hot springs, but "thermal spring" sounds much more official than hot spring water. It's the minerals in the water that make it special. Rich people bathe in this shit.

According to La Roche-Posay's website, this specific Thermal Spring Water is rich in selenium, which is known for its antioxidant properties. La Roche-Posay's magic water comes from their very own springs in the town of -- wait for it -- La Roche-Posay, France. Now, this confused me because I could have sworn Avene had their own proprietary magic water. It turns out they do, and it's a little different from LRP's, because they get it from their very own springs in the town of -- wait for it -- Avene, France.

Anyway, Thermal Spring water is said to have soothing and healing properties. If you want to read more about it, I recommend heading over to Lab Muffin for a proper lesson.

In addition to the magic water, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser also contains a few notable ingredients: ceramide np, niacinamide. Ceramides help lock moisture into your skin, while niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) is a gold-standard anti-aging, anti-acne, and skin soothing ingredient. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the cleanser is non-foaming, making it ideal for dryer skin and a good choice for sensitive skin. Oh, and according to LRP, their magic water is "prebiotic" too; LRP markets it as being good for your skin's microbiome (ie your skin's natural balance of microorganisms/bacteria).*

This all sounds perfect for my particular brand of bad skin, especially because I'm convinced my microbiome is just thousands of tiny toddlers having simultaneous meltdowns. I started testing the cleanser everywhere except my chin.

My initial impression after the first night was that it might be too much moisture for me, although it did not make me greasy the way hyaluronic acid has in the past. I pressed on with the highest of hopes, but alas:

La Roche-Posay Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

It may not be apparent in the above pic, but I experienced some increased redness and bumps on my forehead. After one week, I was done :(

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

I didn't test the cleanser on my chin, but I'm including those before afters here, for the sake of science:

La Roche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Skin Cleanser Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

Don't worry, my nearly full bottle of magic water cleanser has since found a good home.

UP NEXT:  Lush Herbalism Cleanser


* I'm not clear on the veracity of terms like "prebiotic" when it comes to skincare. My gut (haha get it?) instinct is to chalk it up to marketing fluff. Either way, LRP's cleanser has enough other worthwhile ingredients to make it an excellent test subject.

PS: If you want to explore the exhilarating world of cleansers for acne, I have a thing for ya.

ALL Acne Experiment Posts are listed at The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Skin Cleanser Review :: The Acne Experiment
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser Review :: The Acne Experiment

All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment


  1. Normally I test during almost a month, and the cleansers that caused me bumps during the first 10 days were the ones that really worked after 3 weeks/1 month. ;)

    1. This opens up a whole new world of confusion ⊙_ʘ

  2. I have used this for a little over a year and I love it. I bought this though because my skin tends to be very dry and can't tolerate SLS. It is very gently, after a year and a half I do notice that I no longer have to rush and put on moisturizer like I used to, sometimes I fall asleep without even applying moisturizer. That would have never been possible before this cleanser.


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