Benzoyl Peroxide is an excellent product for getting rid of acne. It does have minor side effects on the skin due to its medicinal nature but it seems to be an active ingredient in an ever-expanding product range on the market. The question that is increasingly being asked is how does benzoyl peroxide work? We’re here to answer that for you!
What exactly is Benzoyl Peroxide?
Benzoyl Peroxide is such a common ingredient for acne treatment products, that you can find it in any form, such as a face mask, cleansing gel, washes and even moisturizers. It is a non-prescription over the counter (OTC) drug for concentrations of 2.5%, 5%, 10%. Most people, however, think that the higher of concentration, the better results they will achieve. This is sadly not the case, due to Benzoyl Peroxides levels of oxidation and increasing concentrations can further irritate the skin.
What’s especially relevant is no matter how severe your acne, always be gentle in treating it. If lower concentrations of product do not work gradually build up to higher ones. This not only applies to Benzoyl Peroxide solutions but to other acne treatments.
How does Benzoyl Peroxide work?
- Benzoyl Peroxide neutralizes bacteria. Namely acne caused by Propionibacterium acnes (p.acnes) or staphylococcus epidermis. It helps to kill and limit bacterial growth.
- Benzoyl Peroxide provides oxidizing action, thus decreasing inflammation
- Benzoyl Peroxide removes dead skin cells that block skin follicles and begin the acne formation process. This is known as chemical exfoliation. We’ve written an article on physical facial exfoliation and back exfoliation for this purpose.
- It is an excellent option for those who have oily skin. Skin oil is broken down by Benzoyl Peroxide, due to its oxidising properties. Acne commonly develops when skin oils (sebum), together with dead skin cells form a plug of debris and toxins to block the hair follicle resulting in acne pimples and inflammation.
Common Benzoyl Peroxide Side Effects
- Mild stinging or burning
- Higher concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide can cause bleaching of hair or towels. This is largely nothing to be worried about as all peroxides do this.
- Heavy use of Benzoyl Peroxide can cause wrinkles, however, most people don’t need to worry about this
- Skin dryness and minor skin irritation. This is very normal to experience and is manageable in most cases.
- Flaky or peeling skin
Although some of these side effects seem serious, they are to be expected with the use of Benzoyl Peroxide due to its oxidation of the skin. To manage these symptoms it is advisable that you use a good moisturizer after using Benzoyl Peroxide.
5 steps to get the most out of Benzoyl Peroxide
To maximise the acne fighting effects of Benzoyl Peroxide, consider incorporate the following steps.
- Exfoliate beforehand. Although Benzoyl Peroxide provides excellent chemical exfoliation, any areas of your skin where there is an excess of acne-causing elements (sebum, bacteria, and toxins) won’t be removed thoroughly enough. Therefore it’s advisable to add a gentle exfoliation routine during or before using benzoyl peroxide. Don’t overdo it though!
- When using any benzoyl peroxide product, scale up the frequency and then the concentration. For example using a 2.5% face wash twice a day rather than using a 5% face wash once a day. This will be a little more forgiving on your skin and minimise unwanted side effects.
- Know what your skin type is, and moisturize for your skin type. We have a list devoted to this!
- Drink lots of water. Although drinking water doesn’t get rid of acne on its own, it does keep skin hydrated and gives your body an adequate medium to shuttle away toxins.
- Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.
Final Thoughts On Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide is by no means an absolute product for treating acne. It, like many others, has adverse yet manageable side effects. There are other alternatives like salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and even topical probiotics which on occasion can have similar side effects