Acne-Prone Skin Skincare

The Best Over the Counter Benzoyl Peroxide for the Face

The Best Over the Counter Benzoyl Peroxide for the Face – 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.

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:

  1. It’s a very effective exfoliantit 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.
  2. It’s anti-bacterial – specifically against acne-causing bacteria, p. acne.
  3. It promotes healing – by supplying oxygen to the skin.

It comes in varying strengths and can be found in ointments, gels, creams, cleansers, and lotions

Before including this in your regimen however, you need to be aware of its possible side effects including:

  1. Extreme skin dryness – If you use it as a spot treatment, the skin surrounding the spot will start to flake off. If you use it all over the face, your skin will start to crack and peel off in blotches (sounds scary, I know!)
  2. Redness and skin irritation

Now for the catch-22: dry skin can clog pores and irritated skin practically guarantees breakouts in acne-prone skin.

The solution?

Use a gentle cleanser before application to avoid further irritations and after application, use a hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic moisturizer to counter the side effects and restore the skin’s pH.

Use a gentle cleanser before application to avoid further irritations and after application, use a hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic moisturizer to counter the side effects and restore the skin’s pH.

This is a very, very crucial step — after applying benzoyl peroxide, let is absorb for a few minutes and follow up with a gentle and deeply hydrating moisturizer. Moisturizing is truly not optional if you want to have clear and healthy skin. We want the benefits of benzoyl peroxide, not any of its side-effects.

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.

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 and Acne Remedies Guide can be a great start.

If you’re suffering from severe 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 and Acne Remedies Guide can be a great start.

Video: What is Benzoyl Peroxide? by Dr. Schultz, MD

Step 1: 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide

When using as a topical treatment, ie. lotions, ointments, gel, etc., always start with the lowest concentration to allow your skin to adopt to the medication.

This is one of the key steps that most people easily overlook, which causes the misconception that the product isn’t working whereas it was just used incorrectly.

Use a small amount once a day, every other day for the first two weeks and gradually increase dosage in the succeeding weeks.

You need to observe your skin for any stinging or severe redness. This usually means you need to step back lower either the dosage or frequency of use.

Paula’s Choice Clear Acne Treatment Regular Strength with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide for Moderate Acne

One of the products from Paula’s choice that is truly outstanding based from my experience. It’s a soothing, weightless lotion that is safe for sensitive skin. It also leaves a matte finish, perfect for those with oily skin.

This can be used as a spot treatment and can last for well over a year if you only have occasional breakouts. If you’re using this in conjunction with their anti-acne skincare line, apply this as the last step of your routine, ie. after your moisturizer.

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2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide Dr Song Acne Gel Treatment Lotion (8 oz)

This product comes with a very generous 365 money back guarantee (talk about confidence!) and an excellent customer service (had a problem with their shipping which they sorted immediately). It comes in gel form so it’s quickly absorbed by the skin.

It also has very few ingredients which help reduce the possibility of any irritations.

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Acne.org 8 oz. Treatment (2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide)

One of the few that is used not just as a spot treatment, but all over the face. It is step 2 of acne.org’s, famous 3-Step System. Below is a video from the developer himself on how to apply the treatment. Recommended if you have constant breakouts in large areas.

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Video: Applying Acne.org Benzoyl Peroxide on The Acne.org Regimen

Step 2: 5% Benzoyl Peroxide

If the 2.5 formulation is no longer cutting it and you feel like you can opt for a stronger concentration, you can step up to 5%.

This works best on large, inflamed cystic acne.

After going through 2.5%; your skin should have acclimated to the medication, making it safe for you to use this daily.

Apply it every night before bed and your acne should start to subside in about 2-3 days.

If you can avoid picking on the bump, it will eventually flatten and not leave any physical scarring. 🙂

M.A.D Skincare Blemish Repelling Gel Benzoyl Peroxide 5%

A lightweight gel with anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera and green tea to soothe redness and irritation. As this is a stronger dose, it’s mainly used as a spot treatment.

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Perrigo Benzoyl Peroxide 5%

Doctor prescribed, and a must have in your shelf if you have inflamed, cystic acne. The tube is large will last you a very long time. This is a strong formulation with can very well irritate your skin so make sure to use this in moderation at first until your skin gets used to it.

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Benzoyl Peroxide Wash 5% 5oz Bottle by Harris

A very gentle cleanser despite its concentration, that it can be used by people with sensitive skin. You can use this regularly to keep breakouts at bay.

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Step 3: 10% Benzoyl Peroxide

The 10% concentration is the strongest you can get without a prescription.

Move onto this if you can consistent, inflamed acne or would like to keep breakouts at bay.

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash – 10% Benzoyl Peroxide

Another dermatologically prescribed product, this foaming wash works well for the face and on body. The high concentration can be very effective but make sure to hold back at the first sign of redness or irritation. As always, follow up with a great moisturizer. It helps keep breakouts at bay with regular use.

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Vivant Skin Care BP 10% Gel Medication

Vivant has been around for years and provides custom solution depending on your skin’s needs (try their customer service, it’s amazing). This invisible gel is very absorbent and is made using the highest grade raw materials. You can use it to spot treat and curb acne that are just below the surface.

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10% Generic for Oxy-10 Balance Acne Treatment Medication Maximum Strength Gel

Oxy-10 was previously a prescription topical medication for acne. This is very strong and drying so make sure to use a hydrating moisturizer after. The consistency is a little thicker than the usual gel but it still dries quickly and shouldn’t slide off even in your sleep. The package comes with several tubes which can last you a very long time.

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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. They also have a proprietary formulation for their benzoyl peroxide that allows it to be pulled almost immediately into the pores upon contact.

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Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Paula's Choice CLEAR Acne Treatment Regular Strength with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide for Moderate Acne - 2.25 oz, 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide Dr Song Acne Gel Treatment Lotion (8 oz), Acne.org 8 oz. Treatment (2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide), M.A.D Skincare Blemish Repelling Gel Benzoyl Peroxide 5%, Perrigo Benzoyl Peroxide 5% Large 90 gram Tube of Acne Treatment Gel, Benzoyl Peroxide Wash 5% 5oz Bottle by Harris, PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash - 10% Benzoyl Peroxide, 5.5-Ounce (156 g) Tubes (Pack of 3), Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Generic for Oxy-10 Balance Acne Treatment Medication Maximum Strength Gel 1.5oz, Vivant Skin Care BP 10% Gel Medication, Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash
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