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Everything You Need to Know about Benzoyl Peroxide

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

This hero ingredient can help you break up with breakouts

Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is a colorless to white crystalline organic compound that acts as a non-specific oxidizing agent. In simple terms, it works by releasing oxygen on the skin to help destroy bacteria. It is used as a bleaching agent and medically as an antibacterial and keratolytic agent and a peeling agent. It is antimicrobial, increases cell turnover, reduces bacterial count, clears up existing acne, and prevents future breakouts.

Why is benzoyl peroxide good for acne?

All the best acne treatments work through multiple actions and benzoyl peroxide is no exception. it’s antiseptic, meaning it reduces the number of bacteria on the surface of your skin. It’s anti-inflammatory too (ideal for opposing acne, which is an inflammatory skin condition) and it helps unclog pores. In practical terms, this means it reduces the appearance of angry red spots and prevents new ones from appearing.

Benzoyl peroxide is considered one of the most effective over-the-counter choices for reducing acne-causing bacteria and for combatting the inflammation that acne triggers It can work quickly to get acne under control because it breaks down to oxygen on the skin, reducing the proliferation of the type of bacteria (known as C. acnes) that plays a key role in most forms of acne.

What to know about using benzoyl Peroxide

Expect to be a bit dehydrated or feel dry.

Benzoyl peroxide can be extremely irritating and drying. During the initial weeks, you may experience some dryness, redness, itching, flaking, tightness, or mild peeling. This is temporary and will subside as your skin adapts. Those who can push through the initial dryness and light flaking will see the fastest results. However, if you are uncomfortably dry or have a dark skin tone, let us know. We can offer some helpful tips for getting through the dry phase.

BPO should be used over a gel hydrator in the PM

We have found the best success with using benzoyl peroxide in the evening, over a light gel hydrator. This is because moisturizers, traditionally used int he daytime, interfere with the efficacy of benzoyl peroxide and can cause it to migrate as well.

Avoid your eye area

Do not use benzoyl peroxide on your neck or eye area as it can over-dry and irritate the delicate tissue in these areas.

No eye cream should be used in the PM

Do not use eye cream or moisturizer around the eyes as the benzoyl peroxide will migrate through the cream and cause irritation and possible swelling. Pillow cases should be changed regularly to avoid eye issues as well.

Avoid Traditional Moisturizers at night- use a gel hydrator in PM

Traditional moisturizers cannot be used under or over benzoyl peroxide. They interfere with efficacy and cause the Acne Med to travel into the eye area. Those that need extra hydration in the PM should use a water-based hydrating gel or serum under your Acne Med.

Our favorite hydrating gels to use under Acne Med:

Wash off benzoyl peroxide each morning

Do not wear benzoyl peroxide when you expect to perspire. If you plan to exercise, engage in physical labor, or be outside in the sun, be sure to fully remove your Acne Med to avoid irritation.

BPO will bleach fabric

Benzoyl peroxide will bleach fabric, so we suggest using white towels and linens when using your Acne Med. We also recommend wearing an old t-shirt to bed if you are using Acne Med on the body. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands following each application to avoid bleaching towels.

Allergic reaction

Allergies to benzoyl peroxide are rare but do occur occasionally. Dry skin does not constitute an allergic reaction. An allergy is characterized by itching, swelling, or burning associated with a rash similar to a mild case of poison ivy dermatitis. If you are experiencing unusual irritation or an allergic reaction occurs, stop using Acne Med and contact us immediately.

Use consistently

If you choose to skip a day or two or only spot treat, this break in your treatment gives a chance for acne to form. You will NOT achieve clear skin if you skip your home care treatment plan or you spot treat.

Avoid spot treating

While spot treating can be effective for those who are mildly blemish-prone, those with inflamed acne must use benzoyl peroxide serum over the entire acne-prone area, every day. This is what will help prevent future breakouts.

Apply SPF

Benzoyl peroxide increases sun sensitivity, so it is vital to add sun protection into your daily routine.


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