Your Top 5 Benzoyl Peroxide Questions Answered

April 20, 2021

Let’s face the facts: breakouts are normal. So is acne. One of your best bets for treating it? Benzoyl peroxide. The reality is, pimples are a part of life…for life. They’ll pop up here and there no matter your age. The key to clearer skin is learning about the ingredients and products that can help make zits disappear fast. Here’s a quick Q&A to help break down BPO.

Q: So, what is benzoyl peroxide?

A: Benzoyl peroxide is a widely used over-the-counter ingredient for treating acne. In fact, it’s the most common way to treat pimples. It works by killing acne-causing bacteria, unclogging pores, and fighting inflamed acne bumps. You can find it in the skincare aisle — no prescription needed. Benzoyl peroxide for acne comes in different forms. You could try a benzoyl peroxide cream or a benzoyl peroxide gel if you’re looking to add an acne treatment to your routine. Prefer a cleanser? Try a benzoyl peroxide wash that you can use every day, day and night. Most skin types can handle a twice daily BPO routine. But, sensitive skin may find it to be a bit too drying. If that’s the case, reduce your use to two or three days a week.

Q: Is benzoyl peroxide good for acne?

A: Yep! It’s definitely a power player when it comes to treating acne and helping prevent future breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide (and its range of strengths) is an ingredient that’s been tried and tested for many years. According to The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, this ingredient has been used as part of acne treatments for more than five decades. BPO creams and gels are considered some of the most effective acne-fighting products out there.

Q: How do we use benzoyl peroxide for acne?

A: It’s easy to add benzoyl peroxide to your skincare routine. Here are a few recommendations.

  • As a face wash: Gently massage the cleanser all over skin (avoid the eyes!). Let it work for 30 seconds or up to a few minutes for maximum effect. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a towel.
  • As an acne spot treatment: Dab a small amount directly onto the pimple after you wash your face. A little goes a long way. Allow it to fully dry before layering more products.
  • As a full-face treatment: If your acne is more than a few dots here and there, you can spread a thin layer of a BPO topical cream or gel over the entire affected area. Don’t rinse! 

We suggest starting with two days a week so your skin can get used to it. Also, be consistent. Using benzoyl peroxide for acne doesn’t just magically make it disappear. It takes some time for the results to show. Plus, sometimes acne treatments can make skin worse before it gets better. Patience!

Q: How about benzoyl peroxide vs. salicylic acid? What’s the difference?

A: Benzoyl peroxide for skin basically kills acne-causing bacteria deep in the pores. Benzoyl peroxide is a good choice if you have whiteheads as well as red, raised bumps.

Salicylic acid, which is found in white willow bark, is oil-soluble so it penetrates deep into the skin’s surface to help unclog pores. It works by exfoliating skin and sloughing off unwanted gunk like dead skin, dirt, and oil. This ingredient is good if you want to clear out your pores, such as when you have blackheads or whiteheads.

The best part? You don’t need to choose between the two ingredients. BPO and salicylic acid can work together to kill acne-causing bacteria and exfoliate skin. We recommend using a cleanser formulated with one active ingredient (either BPO or salicylic acid) and pairing it with a leave-on treatment containing the other active ingredient.

Q: Is benzoyl peroxide bad for skin?

A: Nope! Benzoyl peroxide is safe. Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide products come in a range of strengths. The mildest strength (or dosage), according to ScienceDirect, is BPO 2.5%. BPO 5% and BPO 10% are stronger. It can help to start slowly by using it a few times a week and then increasing depending on your tolerance

If you’re using it for the first time, it could make skin red or cause dryness or irritation when you first start using it. Over time, that should go away. Depending on the formula, benzoyl peroxide cream might stain clothing, towels, and pillowcases.

Ready to add a benzoyl peroxide power player into your skincare routine? Take your pick from these Clean & Clear® acne solutions with benzoyl peroxide.

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