Most mild to moderate cases of acne can be treated effectively with drugstore cleansers and ointments.
The strongest and most effective over the counter acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide.
- 1 Editor’s Choice: The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Washes & Cleansers
- 1.1 Control Corrective Medicated Pumice Wash
- 1.2 GlyMed Plus Serious Action Skin Wash
- 1.3 Acnefree Oil-Free Acne Cleanser
- 1.4 Proactiv+ Skin Smoothing Exfoliator
- 1.5 Vivant Skin Care - Benzoyl Peroxide 3% Exfoliating Cleanser, 8 Ounce
- 1.6 PCA SKIN BPO 5% Cleanser
- 1.7 Beauty Facial Extreme – Benzoyl Peroxide 5% Acne Cleanser for Face & Body
- 1.8 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash by Harris Pharmaceuticals
- 1.9 Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories B Prox Anti-Blemish Face Wash
- 1.10 PanOxyl Acne Foaming 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
- 1.11 Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash
How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Work?
Benzoyl peroxide works to both prevent and treat inflammatory acne (cysts, red pimples, and zits) and non-inflammatory (blackheads and whiteheads).
It has 3 major acne-fighting actions:
- It’s a very effective exfoliant – it clears pores of clogged oils and dead skin which are the root causes of blackheads and whiteheads. This exfoliation action also expedites cell turnover, which helps heal the spot.
- It’s anti-bacterial – by releasing oxygen, which is lethal to the p. acne bacteria.
- It promotes wound healing – by attracting macrophages and histiocytes (types of white blood cells that protects the body from infection) into the wound.
Jump to: How to Use Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne
Video: What is Benzoyl Peroxide? by Dr. Schultz, MD
What You Should Know Before Using Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne
- Be aware of its potential side-effects – Before including this in your regimen, you need to be aware of its possible side effects. This is crucial because expecting these and knowing how to deal with it head-on is one of the keys to a successful treatment. Possible side effects include:
- Skin dryness – If your skin is sensitive or isn’t resistant enough, it can start to crack and peel off in blotches (Sounds scary, I know! But stay with me here). This means your moisture barrier can be compromised.
- Redness or skin irritation – including a bit of stinging if you have extra sensitive skin. If left unaddressed, dry skin can clog pores and irritated skin can practically guarantee breakouts in acne-prone skin. The solution? Our #2 tip below!
- Use a hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic moisturizer after application. This is to maintain the integrity of your moisture barrier and restore the skin’s pH. the right moisturizer will help to fully counteract any of the above-mentioned side effects. Just be sure to find one that is gentle and won’t further irritate your skin (opt for formulations for sensitive skin). Check that it is lightweight and non-comedogenic so as to also not aggravate your acne. If used in daytime, complement with a broad spectrum sunscreen.
- If you’re new to benzoyl peroxide, start with the lowest % strength and work your way up. – It’s important to acclimatize or let your skin adjust when incorporating any new product. Your safest bet is to start with the lowest % strength, using it once every other day. Gradually increase usage to 2-3 times daily or as needed as you go on. You can work your way up in % or frequency when you feel like your skin needs and is prepared for it. If any dryness or peeling occurs, reduce the frequency or % strength.
- Do not use hydroquinone and benzoyl peroxide at the same time. – This is a popular brightening/whitening ingredient. You can check the label of your other products if you’re not sure. If you’re looking for a great alternative for irregular pigmentation, Vivant Skin Care 8% Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Serum works amazingly for all skin tones.
- Set your expectations. – You need to set your expectations when using over the counter products like these. I’ve had acne since my teens until well into my twenties and have tried almost every acne product I can get my hands on in hopes of finding that miracle product that will end my suffering. (I know this sounds overly dramatic but when you’ve had acne for more than a decade, ‘suffering’ and ‘agony’ really isn’t an exaggeration.)
Benzoyl peroxide has been very effective for me but it is by no means a cure-all. If you’re suffering from persistent acne, its best to undergo a program that will help you get to the root of the problem and address the causes. Acclaimed programs like Mike Walden’s Acne No More can be a great start.
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Product or service details are collected directly from the manufacturer and other reputable sources during the time of this review. We try to keep on top of new formulations when we can and update our data accordingly.
Recommendations are based on our research, results, a comprehensive analysis of the products' formulation, claims, value for money, and other consumer reviews. We make an effort to be as objective as possible and give advice in good faith; however, our reviews are 100% honest and therefore may still contain conjectures and opinions based on our personal experiences.
It’s important to know that as with any product (especially cosmetics), what may be perfect for you may not be right for the next person. So as much as we want to guarantee that these will be everyone’s next holy grail, results can still be affected by individual factors like your current skin condition, the environment you’re in, use of the product, reaction to your other skincare, and so on. For best results, make sure to choose products that are suited for your skin type and skin issues.
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Editor’s Choice: The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Washes & Cleansers
These are our choices for the best face wash with benzoyl peroxide based on formulation, our experience, value for money, specifications, and consumer reviews over the years.
Make sure to choose one that is most suited for your skin type and condition.
|wdt_ID||Brand / Product Name||Benzoyl Peroxide Strength||Additional Benefits||Best for (Skin Type & Condition)||Product Image||Jump to Review|
|1||Control Corrective Medicated Pumice Wash||2.5%||Deep cleaning with jojoba ester granules. Eliminates bacteria, oils & cellular debris. No parabens, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, triclosan.||All skin types; Resistant, Acne-prone or with visible blemishes.|
|3||GlyMed Plus Serious Action Skin Wash||2.5%||Soothing, anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera.||Unbalanced and problematic Acne-Prone skin.|
|4||AcneFree Acne Cleanser||2.5%||Patented continuous-relief micronized benzoyl peroxide.||All skin types; Acne-prone skin.|
|5||Proactiv Skin Smoothing Exfoliator||2.5%||4-in-1 multi-functional daily face wash with glycolic acid and exfoliating beads. Non-greasy, sulfate-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic.||All skin types; Resistant, Acne-prone skin with dull, uneven texture.|
|6||Vivant Skin Care BP 3% Exfoliating Cleanser||3%||All natural, renewable, and biodegradable cellulose buffing beads. Non-comedogenic, cruelty-free.||Combination to Oily skin; Acne-prone skin with large pores and prone to scarring.|
|7||PCA SKIN BPO 5% Cleanser||5%||Benzoyl peroxide + phytic acid (exfoliant). Moisturizing, soothing botanical extracts. No synthetic dyes, cruelty-free.||All skin types; Resistant, Acne-prone skin with dull, uneven texture.|
|8||Beauty Facial Extreme – Benzoyl Peroxide 5% Acne Cleanser for Face & Body||5%, 10%||Formulated for face & body. Paraben-free, fragrance-free, cruelty free.||Acne-prone skin on the face, body, and back.|
|9||5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash by Harris Pharmaceuticals||5%, 10%||Simple, affordable benzoyl peroxide face wash.||Normal, resistant, acne-prone skin.|
|10||Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories B Prox Anti-Blemish Face Wash||10%||Detoxifying mineral-rich clay to absorb excess oil and refine pore size. Plant extracts to reduce sensitivity and soothe redness & irritation. Dermatologist tested. Paraben-free. Non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic.||(Very) Oily, Acne-prone skin with large pores.|
|11||PanOxyl Acne Foaming 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash||10%||Simple, affordable benzoyl peroxide face wash.||Normal, resistant, acne-prone skin.|
Acnefree.com. (2017). Acne Treatment Products – AcneFree.
Adapalene/benzoyl peroxide clearly superior in facial acne. (2007). Inpharma Weekly, &NA;(1617), p.14.
Alvarez, O. (1983). Benzoyl peroxide and epidermal wound healing. Archives of Dermatology, 119(3), pp.222-225.
Cohen, H. (1975). Benzoyl Peroxide Gel in Acne Treatment. Archives of Dermatology, 111(11), p.1535.
Colman, G. and Roenigk, H. (1978). The Healing of Wounds in the Skin of Piglets Treated with Benzoyl Peroxide. The Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology, 4(9), pp.705-707.
Control Corrective. (2017). Professional Clinical Skin Care since 1997.
DCL Skincare. (2017). Professional Skin Care Products for Healthy Skin – DCL Skincare.
Del Rosso, J. and Zeichner, J. (2016). Advances in Acne Management, An Issue of Dermatologic Clinics. 1st ed. Saintt Louis: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Evidence for the Use of a Benzoyl Peroxide Wash in Acne. (1984). InPharma, 441(1), pp.15-15.
EWG. (2017). EWG.
Extreme, B. (2017). Beauty Facial Extreme.
Harrispharmaceutical.com. (2017). Generic Dermatologicals – Harris Pharmaceutical.
Glymed Plus. (2017). GlyMed Plus.
Panoxyl.com. (2017). PanOxyl | Acne Treatment with Benzoyl Peroxide Formula.
Pcaskin.com. (2017). Skin Care Products.
Vivant Skin Care. (2017). Vivant Skin Care.