Benzoyl Peroxide – The Important Bits

Benzoyl Peroxide is an ingredient associated widely with treating acne alongside other popular ingredients like salicylic acid and retinol. It’s an organic peroxide that acts as a non-specific oxidising agent, and works by releasing oxygen on the skin to help destroy bacteria. It’s especially useful since it does not develop a resistance easily, and therefore can be used for a prolonged period of time compared with other acne combatting products.

It typically comes in the form of a gel and is used on direct patches of problematic skin. Its two main key features are its anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties – these help reduce bacteria on the skin and unclog pores. It is used as a targeted treatment or within a wash and is a key ingredient in the Obagi Clenziderm Set – our most popular acne treatment.

Benzoyl peroxide is found in concentrations between 2.5 per cent and 10 per cent. As with many full strength products a high strength of benzoyl peroxide will cause dryness and flaking of the skin as it combats infection. It is typically recommended to gradually increase the strength (unless using within the Clenziderm System) in order to allow your skin to adapt and reduce initial irritation that may lead to breakouts.

Despite Benzoyl Peroxide sounding like it may have ‘bleaching’ qualities, it does not cause skin lightening. However, it’s especially important for anyone with darker skin to begin with a lower percentage where possible. This is because any active that can trigger irritation or inflammation in high doses may increase risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

In regards to utilising this ingredient as part of your routine, it is best alongside salicylic acid for mild to moderate acne. Additionally, when combined with retinoids it can improve the treatment of acne lesions and preventing occurrence of new ones (it is unlikely to degrade any form of Vitamin A as previous research may suggest).

On the other hand, combining benzoyl peroxide with many other active ingredients can be potentially harmful and it is always best to discuss your regime with your practitioner (especially for those with sensitive skin). We recommend avoiding using benzoyl peroxide with any other medicines that may have drying or irritating effects on your skin, including alcohol-based skincare products. Equally, try to avoid strong sunlight while using benzoyl peroxide (everyone should be wearing SPF50 every day as standard!)

For more information please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!