What Is Benzoyl Peroxide? Plus, 5 Best Benzoyl Peroxide Products For Acne

Last modified: Friday, May 17, 2019

Daisy Marie Clay

Author: Daisy Marie Clay

Benzoyl Peroxide is a popular ingredient, and anti-bacterial agent used in acne treatments. One of the most popular ingredients and treatments today, what exactly is benzoyl peroxide and should you use it?

Also known as dibenzoyl peroxide it was first produced in 1905 and has been used medically since the 1930s. It is available over-the-counter due to its approval as a medication.

While it may be combined with salicylic acid, adapelene and clindamycin, we want to focus on benzoyl peroxide itself and focus on what you really need to know.

What Is Benzoyl Peroxide & How It Works

Benzoyl Peroxide is an ingredient used for industrial usage and acne treatment.

Its main acne usage and success comes from the fact that peroxide based chemicals are extremely effective at killing bacteria. Since a lot of acne is caused by bacteria it has been extremely effective for a lot of acne sufferers.

Specifically, it has a bactericidal effect on propionibacterium bacteria which is associated with acne.

What Are The Benefits Of Benzoyl Peroxide

The main benefits of benzoyl peroxide come from its anti-bacterial properties, however it also has uses in teeth whitening and bleaching.

There is also some evidence to suggest that BP (Benzoyl Peroxide) has some anti-inflammatory properties which could also explain effectiveness in acne treatment.

Best Way To Use Benzoyl Peroxide

The best way to use benzoyl peroxide depends on the product, but most products will advise you to apply it topically to the effected area of skin.

It should be used in combination with a good moisturizer as part of a good skincare routine. This is because it has slightly drying effects. Adding in a moisturizer with an SPF is a good idea since most acne treatments can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

How To Choose Benzoyl Peroxide Products

One of the first things you should know about BP is that the percentages and strengths are quite important.

Some products contain strong percentages, but this is generally quite damaging to your skin. In fact I would recommend never using above a 5%. If you have sensitive and dry skin I would recommend using a 2.5%.

So does it really matter which product you choose?

The short answer is yes, and it depends on your skin type.

Oily Skin:

If you have oily type skin then a benzoyl peroxide gel might be better for you. Gels don’t moisturize the skin as much, and are non-comedogenic which is great for acne.

Dry Skin:

If you have dry skin you can use a benzoyl peroxide lotion. These lotions have moisturizing ingredients and stay on the skin slightly longer. So as long as you cleanse well afterward and re-moisturize these should be fine.

Combination Skin:

You can use a mixture of the products already mentioned, as sometimes your skin might be going through a dehydrated phase or a more oily phase. You might also have combination skin that means some areas of your face would need a gel and other parts need a lotion.

Sensitive Skin:

If you have sensitive skin then you should opt for benzoyl peroxide cleansers. Cleansers don’t stay on the skin as long, but you’ll still get some of the benefit without the harsher effects you would maybe experience with a gel.

5 Best Benzoyl Peroxide Products To Treat Acne

Paula’s Choice Clear Extra Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment

This light lotion is a 5% BP Product by Paula’s Choice. It includes a number of other good quality ingredients including allantoin to help reduce redness and soreness of pimples.

paulas choice benzoyl peroxide treatment

PCA Skin BPO 5 Percent Cleanser

This benzoyl peroxide product comes in the form of a cleanser. It’s our top pick for the best benzoyl peroxide cleanser and the 5% strength brings it in line with our Paula’s Choice pick. So if you’d rather have a cleanser instead of a lotion, this one is for you.

PCA Skin BPO 5 Percent Cleanser

Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel-Lotion

This product by clinique comes in the form of a gel-lotion which is great for those with oily or combination skin. As this is supposed to be an emergency solution product, it also contains caffeine and green tea extract to help add anti-oxidants and shrink pimples as quickly as possible.

clinique acne emergency product

DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5% Acne Treatment

This 5% BP product is one of the best we’ve come across. It focuses relentlessly on anti-bacterial properties, including tea tree oil to supplement a more healthy 5% Benzoyl strength. If your acne is mainly bacterial, this one is for you.

best anti-bacterial acne treatment

Vivant Skin Care BP 3% Exfoliating Cleanser Acne Treatment

This product makes the list because it’s a great gentle foaming and exfoliating cleanser. It contains a milder 3% strength of benzoyl peroxide which will be great for those with sensitive skin or those looking for continuing with benzoyl peroxide but at a less extreme strength after getting things back under control.

Vivant 3% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment

Possible BP Side Effects

Some of the possible side effects of benzoyl peroxide include;

  • Skin Irritation
  • Skin Dryness
  • Skin Photosensitivity

All of these potential side-effects can be avoided if you are using the right strength percentage, and the right product for your skin type. You should also be taking precautions and utilizing a good skincare regime…

If you do these things you should be able to avoid all of the listed side-effects. For a full list of side-effects always make sure you read the label thoroughly as some products contain other ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe To Use Benzoyl Peroxide When Pregnant?

It is unclear if it is safe to use BP when pregnant. So always consult your doctor/gp and if you want to be safe and not sorry, I’d suggest giving it a miss personally.

Is It Safe To Use Benzoyl Peroxide On Anti-Biotics?

Benzoyl peroxide is safe to use in conjunction with anti-biotics.