All the Buzz Around Benzoyl Peroxide
Let’s face it...whether it’s a stubborn pimple or a big breakout, we’ve all dealt with acne at some point or another. Yet, as common as acne is, finding something that works can sometimes be a struggle. That’s where we come in. Meet benzoyl peroxide, one of the most effective over-the-counter acne treatments available in the market.
Before you get intimidated by its name, you should know that this dermatologist-approved ingredient has been used to treat acne for more than 60 years. So chances are, benzoyl peroxide has been around longer than you have. If you’re straddling the fence on whether or not to try it yourself, tune in as we break down everything you need to know.
What Is Benzoyl Peroxide?
Benzoyl peroxide is an organic acid in the peroxide family that can be found in creams, gels, lotions, foams, and even in pad form. While not as well-known as its fellow acne fighter, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide has been proven to be equally effective. The reason why benzoyl peroxide is such a successful acne treatment is due to its keratolytic, moderate comedolytic, and antibacterial properties—which include the reduction of Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus on the skin.
At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Say what?” In simpler terms, benzoyl peroxide is helpful for treating acne because it doesn’t just kill the bacteria that contribute to acne, it also helps prevent breakouts and clear out clogged pores. Since clogged pores are what cause breakouts in the first place, eliminating the source of the issue ultimately eliminates the issue altogether. At least that’s the goal.
Another great benefit about benzoyl peroxide is that unlike antibiotics, bacteria cannot easily develop a resistance to it. This means that you can use it for a longer length of time, if necessary.
How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Work?
Now that we’ve shared how this powerful ingredient works at a high level, let’s dive into the details. The key to clear skin always starts with washing your face, as you want to reduce dead skin build-up as much as possible. However, for most, just washing your face isn’t enough to keep acne at arm’s length.
Benzoyl peroxide is an acne-fighting essential because it breaks down into both benzoic acid and oxygen when applied to the skin. The role of the benzoic acid is to kill acne-causing bacteria beneath the skin, while the oxygen helps to reduce redness and inflammation. This is very important to note because it’s pretty hard for bacteria to thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. In fact, once oxygen reaches your pores, it is way less likely that you’ll experience bad breakouts.
Need a quick overview? When used properly, benzoyl peroxide prevents breakouts and works best on those stubborn red, pus-filled pimples. It also removes excess skin cells and dead skin to keep your pores and your skin clear. Basically, it works miracles and it’s definitely worth giving it a shot.
Tips for Trying Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is often used in conjunction with other acne treatments such as topical antibiotics or retinoids because it can be drying to the skin. For this reason, many dermatologists recommend starting with a low concentration of benzoyl peroxide and then gradually increasing it until you find a level that works best for you. Here are a few more tips to try out:
- Take it slow: When trying out new skincare, you should always introduce it gradually, and benzoyl peroxide is no different. Apply it every other day for a week or two, which allows your skin to adjust to the product. Once it has adapted, you can work your way up to a more potent formula daily.
- Say yes to SPF: In general, it’s recommended that you wear sunscreen daily. However, when using benzoyl peroxide, it’s even more important because this ingredient does make your skin more sensitive to the sun. The more protection you have, the better.
- Moisturize to the max: Because benzoyl peroxide can be drying, applying a moisturizer in the morning and at night is a must. If you need help finding the perfect product, try AcneFree Oil-Free Hydrating Moisturizer UV 30, which works as a 2-in-1.
- Know when to say no: Remember, because it takes time to clear any acne-causing bacteria, you should be prepared to give this ingredient some time to work. With that said, if at any time your skin begins to feel dry or irritated, you should take a break or stop using the product altogether.
What’s the Perfect Percentage of Benzoyl Peroxide?
You can find benzoyl peroxide in concentrations between 2.5% and 10%. Deciding which one is right for you really depends on your skin type. If you’re trying to treat more severe acne, you need a maximum strength acne fighter like our Severe Acne - Benzoyl Peroxide Deep Cleansing Foaming Wash. Formulated with 10% benzoyl peroxide, this fast-acting treatment fights active blemishes and prevents new ones from forming. If you’re experiencing mild acne, our Oil-Free Acne Cleanser, formulated with 2.5 % benzoyl peroxide, is the perfect solution for you.
Of course, we haven’t forgotten about the occasional stubborn pimples. If you always seem to get an acne breakout before a big day, try our Terminator 10 as a spot treatment.
No matter which option you choose, be sure to monitor your skin closely. While the process looks and feels different for everyone, we promise it feels good to finally take the first step towards achieving blemish-free skin.