10 Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash & Cleansers for Acne Prone Skin – 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.
How to Use Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne:
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 of a successful treatment.
Possible side effects include:
- Extreme 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)
- Redness and skin irritation, bit of stinging if you have extra sensitive skin
Now for the catch-22: dry skin can clog pores and irritated skin practically guarantees breakouts in acne-prone skin.
Use a hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic moisturizer after application to counter the side effects and restore the skin’s pH.
Be sure to find a moisturizer that is gentle and won’t irritate your skin (opt for formulations for sensitive skin). Also check that it is lightweight and non-comedogenic so as to not further aggravate your acne.
If used in daytime, complement with a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Important Notes: It’s also 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 you 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.
For best results, do not use hydroquinone and benzoyl peroxide at the same time. (It’s a brightening/whitening ingredient. You can check the label of your other products if you’re not sure.)
You also 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.
Video: What is Benzoyl Peroxide? by Dr. Schultz, MD
Our recommendations for the best face wash with benzoyl peroxide are based on our comprehensive analysis of the product’s formulation, claims, value for money, and consumer reviews. We make an effort to be as objective as possible and give advice in good faith; however, our reviews may still contain conjectures and opinions based on our research and 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 a product that is 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.
Control Corrective Medicated Pumice Wash
This BP cleanser comes with circular jojoba ester granules to gently but effectively exfoliate pore-clogging oils and debris. The 2.5% benzoyl peroxide then kills any acne bacteria on the skin.
This process of physical exfoliation also prepares the skin to be more receptive to moisturizers, serums, and other topical products that come after. This is because you’re essentially removing the top layer of dead skin that would otherwise keep the product from thoroughly sinking in. Two birds with one (pumice) stone! XD
Speaking of pumice, the grains are very fine so it can hold up to its claims of not being harsh or abrasive. However, as with any cleanser that contains exfoliants, you might want to skip this if you have very sensitive skin or have cystic acne lesions. A better choice for you might be a combination of gentle cleanser + leave-on benzoyl peroxide instead.) That’s going to be physically less strenuous on the skin.
If you have oily, resistant skin that’s prone to breakouts; this may be a great fit for you.
Does Not Contain: Parabens, Synthetic Dyes, Petrochemicals, Phthalates, Triclosan
Best for: All skin types especially Oily & Acne-Prone skin with visible blemishes; looking for a deep cleansing BP face wash to remove excess oilCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
GlyMed Plus Serious Action Skin Wash
This 2.5% benzoyl peroxide cleanser blends the anti-acne power of benzoyl peroxide and the soothing, anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera.
This combination helps restore the skin’s healthy balance that would otherwise be extremely thrown off by BP. Aloe vera is one of the oldest medicinal plants known and has the same pH as human skin so it’s extremely healing and protecting.
It doesn’t do deep cleaning though, so if you have oily skin; you might be better off with a cleanser that doubles as an exfoliant. If you have normal skin that’s prone to breakouts, this should be right up your alley.
Best for: Unbalanced and problematic Acne-Prone skin; looking for an extra soothing, anti-inflammatory BP cleanserCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
Acnefree Oil-Free Acne Cleanser
This 2.5% benzoyl peroxide face wash has been reformulated a while back. It now has better texture, no more menthol, a bit thinner, and no more beads.
It also has a patented continuous-relief micronized benzoyl peroxide. This means that the molecules of the BP is smaller than average, making absorption faster and goes in deeper to treat acne. This feature is usually found in the more high-end lines so I’m a bit surprised that it’s in a more affordable brand.
It claims to reduce sebum but I can’t see anything in the ingredients or formulation that specifically addresses oil control so I’d take this with a grain of salt.
Overall, it’s their continuous-relief micronized benzoyl peroxide that makes it stand out among its peers. If you’re looking for a more an effective and affordable BP cleanser, you can’t go wrong with Acnefree. (Don’t forget to moisturize after! This can be super drying and irritating.)
Best for: All skin types with Acne-prone skin; looking for an affordable 2.5% benzoyl peroxide face washCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
Proactiv+ Skin Smoothing Exfoliator
This daily face wash is a 4-in-1 multi-functional marvel that comes in an airy and cushiony cream. It works as: a deep cleanser, a benzoyl peroxide medication, a glycolic acid toner, and a mild exfoliator. Surprisingly, it doesn’t contain the usual irritators that come with most multi-purpose cleansers. This has hardly any fragrance.
Exfoliation is done two-fold as both physical and chemical for a thorough deep clean. Glycolic acid works to loosen any dead skin cells so the tiny exfoliating beads can gently slough them off. This helps unclog pores and helps renew the skin for a smoother texture and healthier complexion. The 2.5% benzoyl peroxide is exclusively micro-crystalized for deeper penetration.
The dual exfoliation comes as double-edged. This means the potential for over exfoliation for sensitive skins is two-fold as well. If you’re giving this a try, make sure not to scrub too hard to avoid this.
Non-greasy, Sulfate-free, Paraben-free, Non-comedogenic.
Best for: All skin types; Resistant, Acne-prone skin with dull, uneven textureCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
Vivant Skin Care – Benzoyl Peroxide 3% Exfoliating Cleanser, 8 Ounce
A little bump up in concentration at 3%, but not too far off.
It has all natural, renewable, and biodegradable cellulose buffing beads to help deep clean and flush out any impacted debris in the skin. It also helps refine pores and accelerate cell renewal to clear out acne with minimal scarring.
Best for: Combination to Oily skin, Acne-prone skin with large pores and prone to scarringCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
PCA SKIN BPO 5% Cleanser
PCA is a brand known for their corrective and potent formulations using alpha hydroxy acids. Exfoliants improve the health and appearance of skin by promoting cell renewal and prevent the buildup of dead skin cells.
This daily cleanser has a unique combination of 5% benzoyl peroxide and phytic acid (exfoliant) to gently eliminate existing and preventing future breakouts.
Gluconolactone is a calming, moisturizing ingredient that promotes a clear complexion. Botanical extracts soothe irritated and inflamed blemishes, allowing the skin to heal.
Free of potential irritants like synthetic dyes and fragrances. PCA SKIN® does not perform or condone animal testing.
Best for: All skin types with Acne-prone skin; looking for a BP cleanser with AHA to also correct dull & uneven texture, promote skin renewal, and gently exfoliate any excess buildupCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
Beauty Facial Extreme – Benzoyl Peroxide 5% Acne Cleanser for Face & Body
USP grade BPO wash that’s clinically proven to be non-irritating and safe for all skin types.
It’s formulated for use on the face and body, perfect if you also have acne on the back or other parts. Using BP daily can help not only in fighting current breakouts but also prevent acne bacteria from building up before they start.
It comes in a big bottle with a dispensing pump for convenience in the shower. Very creamy and lathers pretty well.
Paraben-free and Fragrance-free. Cruelty-free and not tested on animals. 30 Day Money Back Guarantee.
Best for: Acne-prone skin on the face, body, and back; looking for a BP face wash with a convenient pumpCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash by Harris Pharmaceuticals
This is the most popular ‘generic’ BP facial wash, with good reviews across the board.
I can’t quite get a hold of the ingredients from the manufacturer, but I did get a list from one of their distributors. It’s essentially a cleanser formulation + 5% BP. Pretty straightforward, so it should hold up to standard if you don’t have particular sensitivities or allergies. Just always make sure to follow up with a great moisturizer because this will very likely dry your skin without it.
Best for: Normal, resistant skin. If you’re looking for an affordable 5% benzoyl peroxide face wash without the bells and whistles, you can give this one a go.Check for discounts & other customer reviews
Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories B Prox Anti-Blemish Face Wash
DCL’s anti-acne formulation is a multi-tasker that aims to eliminate the cause, reduce the side effects, and prevent acne from coming back.
The 10% BP washes away acne-causing bacteria, while its detoxifying mineral-rich clay and plant extracts work to absorb excess oil and refine pore size. This helps prevent any future breakouts–a critical feature if you have oily skin.
It also has an Advanced Algae Complex that helps diminish the sensitivity that often accompanies the use of aggressive acne treatments, and Canadian Willow Herb to help visibly and dramatically reduce redness and soothe irritation.
All in all, a power packed product for those who would like their BP treatment done to the next level.
Dermatologist tested. Paraben-free. Non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic.
Best for: All skin types especially Oily skin with large poresCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
PanOxyl Acne Foaming 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
Another dermatologically prescribed product, this foaming wash would work well for normal skin.
Looking at the formulation though, there are a number of potential irritants present. If you have sensitivities or allergies to certain cleansers, I would stay clear of this one. It can also be drying, so always follow up with a very hydrating moisturizer.
Best for: Normal, resistant skin. If you’re looking for an affordable, standard BP face wash; this PanOxyl foaming wash may be the right fit for you.Check for discounts & other customer reviews
Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash
The only brand amongst all mentioned to has an EWG rating. This means that it is environmentally friendly, there are no harmful chemicals used, and there is very low chance of irritation or allergic reactions to any of their line.
Highest EWG safety rating of 1. No parabens, SLS, fragrance, or animal testing. 100% hassle-free guarantee.
Best for: Acne-prone skin on the face, body, and backCheck for discounts & other customer reviews
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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.
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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.
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