What is Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment?
If you have been shopping around for acne treatments, then this active ingredient is likely to have appeared a few times in your search. So, what is it? Wikipedia describes it as an “organic compound in the organic peroxide family” which isn’t really very helpful to us.
When it comes to acne treatment all we need to know is that Benzoyl Peroxide(BP) is an agent used in Acne Cream and Acne Gel to make them more effective at treating acne. The concentrations are at 2.5%, 5% and 10% and we’ll talk about the best one to use later (you might be surprised)
How does It Work?
There are three ways that Benzoyl Peroxide helps reduce the number of pimples that occur:
- First, it works as a skin peeling agent that means that more dead skin cells are removed and your skin increases its production (higher skin turnover). This in turn stops blockages and maintains cleaner pores.
- Second, once these pores are cleaner and less blocked, the acne cream or gel can than get further into the skin and kill more bacteria that cause infection and inflammatory acne.
- And last but not least, it helps to remove excess Sebum in the skin that is the main cause of acne.
Concentrations of Benzoyl Peroxide in Acne Treatments
The concentration levels are typically 2.5%, 5% and 10% so you would assume that the most effective method would be to go for the cream or gel that contains the most, right? Well, actually, in most cases the difference in effectiveness between the three concentrations was small and with a higher percentage came an increased chance of the negative effects. So with this information I would recommend trying a smaller concentration first so that the skin can develop a resistance to it and than increase to 5% and after a while to 10%. If you only have Mild Acne than 2.5% should be enough to control the symptoms (see the Do I Have Acne? page for more information)
In many cases Benzoyl Peroxide irritates the skin by over drying it and causing flaking. In a study done in 1977, 76% of people experienced “contact sensitization” (in other words irritation of the skin after the application of a cream or gel) when tested with 5-10% concentration. In rarer cases it can cause redness or a burning sensation. This irritation can be treated with moisturizers or avoided by starting off with a 2.5% concentration until you are happy that your skin is not overly sensitive to Benzoyl Peroxide.
The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Wash, Gel & Cream Products
A benzoyl peroxide face wash is a relatively new phenomenon in the ongoing treatment and maintenance of moderate cases of acne and other mild skin problems. Much like the similar glycolic acid products, through regular use these products can be effectively harnessed as an effective acne fighting solution because their key ingredients utilise what are known as keratolytic agents (just a fancy way of saying skin softeners).
By coupling BP washes with a regular facial cleansing routine you can have access to one of the most effective acne treatments available on the market today, all in the privacy of your own home.
So let’s take a look at just how this acne medication works to help create healthy younger looking skin…
How does It Work?
Benzoyl peroxide washes are so effective at ridding us of skin impurities because the active ingredient acts as a keratolytic agent which induces mild antibacterial actions deep within our skin cells. But what are keratolytic agents?
A keratolytic agent while sounding fairly complicated is actually quite a simplistic process.
Basically any ingredient is said to have keratolytic properties if it acts to soften and loosen the outermost dead skin cells on our body (epidermis), and help shed these cells to be replaced by newer reinvigorated and refreshed skin cells.
But lets back up just a short ways…before you can truly understand how benzoyl peroxide works to help clear acne you need to know how acne is formed.
How is Acne Formed?
Contrary to popular belief pimples are actually created in the deepest layers of our skin cells (the dermis) where hair follicles, blood vessel and other capillaries are located.
Now our bodies are continuously replacing old and damaged skin cells with new ones on a very regular basis.
However as we age this skin renewal process is slowed down due to excess sunshine, the environment, over cleaning of our skin and the slow down effects of aging and as a result our outer most layers of skin hang around longer and longer.
Because more and more dead skin cells are located on the body and they are taking longer and longer to be shed and replaced the possibility for acne increases.
Acne occurs because oil and dead skin cells become plugged inside our hair follicles, this leads to the formation of blackheads. Once a blackhead is formed it is only a matter of time before the normally harmless bacteria that normally reside in the hair follicle multiply and become a problem. As the bacteria multiplies the body triggers an inflammatory response which causes a large number of white blood cells to ruse to the area and voila a pimple is born!
So How does It Help Remove Blackheads, Pimples and Skin Conditions?
A benzoyl peroxide wash helps to decrease the likelihood and effect of pimples and black heads in two major ways…
- Firstly because it contains the keratolytic agent that helps promote the removal and regeneration of new skin cells you are immediately reducing the threat of dead skin cell build up and increased bacterial activity within the deep hair follicles.
- Secondly it actually fights off any increases in bacteria fund within the hair follicles. This in turn reduces the threat of the body triggering an inflammatory response which generates the white blood cells and leads to pimples
What are the Benefits of Using a Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash?
Now that you can understand the basics of how BP washes can help remove skin impurities and help manage the breakout of pimples and acne you can consider these other beneficial properties of using benzoly peroxide.
- It actually kills the bacteria responsible for causing acne
- Acne does not become resistant to the benefits and properties of benzoyl peroxide
- Benzoyl peroxide can can boost the effectiveness of other medications used in conjunction with it to treat skin conditions
- It is available in handy washes and bars that can be used to replace you pre-existing soap
Instructions for Using Benzoyl Peroxide in your own Skin Care Regime
If you decide to use a benzoyl peroxide wash or similar product to complement your current skin care regime you should follow closely the instructions found on the product.
However the following is a rough guide of how most BP washes can be used to achieve reductions in the severity and break out of acne and other mild skin related problems.
- Step 1: Wash your face with a facial cleanser making sure to remove all oils, dirts and other contaminants
- Step 2: Dry your face with a clean towel ensuring not to touch your skin with any dirty nails or other contaminating objects.
- Step 3 (Optional): Apply a skin toner to your skin to help unclog pores and revitalise your skin cells.
- Step 4: Prior to going to bed for the night, apply to your face, forehead, cheeks, nose and chin a small amount of your chosen wash. If you have any overly troublesome acne areas (for example your T-zone) apply a little extra peroxide wash to these places.
- Step 5: When you wake up in the morning ensure that you remove the wash with a facial cleansing product and remove with a splash of lukewarm water.
- Step 6: Apply a mousturiser to your skin, this will help ensure that your skin does not overly dry out due to the use of the peroxide wash.
- Step 7: Using these treatments will increase your sensitivity to the sun and other elements. Ensure that you plan adequately for your daily activities by including sun screen and other SPF protectors that you may need.
Precautions when Using Benzoyl Peroxide to Treat Acne and Skin Conditions
Benzoyl Peroxide treatments have been well documented to clean out dead and clogged pores and can be a feasible alternative for those with sensitive skin that will not handle harsher treatments. However BP washes and treatment are not for everybody!
Be very careful with any pre-existing medical conditions when using this product on your own skin. We recommend consulting your local physician before trying any new products to ensure that it is safe to use in your own personal circumstances.
More specifically benzoyl peroxide wash should not be used in the following circumstances:
- If your skin becomes excessively irritated, red or peeled please consult a skin care professional
- Do not apply to the eyes, eyelids, inside of the nose or mouth…if accidental contact occurs consult your local physician immediately
- In the case of being pregnant or breastfeeding
- In the use of young children. If your young child has any skin problems take them to a qualified skin care professional for assessment
How to Choose the Right Benzoyl Peroxide Product for Your Skin…
When considering your own skin care needs it is important to think about short term, mid term and long term strategies. BP washes fall in the category of a short term beautification strategy.
These types of skin care products should be used each day in conjunction with a well rounded complement of other skin care product to be truly effective as part of your own skin care regime.
You may also want to check out our extensive articles on glycolic acid and related glycolic acid products that can be used to complement your existing skin care regime.
Key Tips When Using a Benzoyl Peroxide-Based Acne Regime
Is there an acne regime you should be following? What can you do on a daily basis to sort out your acne properly and permanently?
There are a bunch of different articles, websites, advisories and other tidbits about how you should be dealing with your acne, but is there some regime you can follow on a daily basis to actually deal with your acne effectively?
I’ve had the problems of trying a variety of acne products, from medicated washes to various lotions and gels. I was also afraid that I was going to need some prescribed medication, which could lead to nasty side effects.
Without doubt, I believe you need to get into a routine and stick with it. A lot of curing acne is about your state of mind. Frankly there will be a lot of medications you may have lying around that simply don’t work or at least won’t work for you. Forget them. Don’t worry about what money you may have spent on them. You need to ensure that you’re in the position of trying something that will give you success in your acne program, not something that simply uses up old product lying around.
Try and find a good, gentle gel – it may (preferably) be natural-based gel or something with around 2.5% benzoyl peroxide content. When you start using a good gel you should start seeing some good results but bear in mind that this does not mean that you’ve completed your regime and can go ‘acne-free’. What happens is the acne (if you’re using benzoyl peroxide gel) will dry out your acne so you need to keep using it.
Also, you need to let your skin get used to using the gel, whatever the content may be. Take things slowly and get used to it. Don’t rush things and alter any BP if you think the skin is becoming irritated by using it. Remember that your aim is to rid yourself of acne and while you want this done as quickly as possible you still have to be sure that you’re not creating problems for your skin in the process.
Try not to constantly check yourself in the mirror. If you have breakouts during your treatment then you must maintain what you’re doing rather than becoming agitated and stepping up the program.
You need to know too that your skin’s not going to look great the moment you start. There may well be (and probably will be) active acne and quite possibly peeling and redness. Your skin will also be more dry and the likelihood is that it will get worse before it gets better.
However you can use moisturizers and cleansers to help reduce the skin problems you may be experiencing and I recommend a number of natural cleansers and moisturizers on the site.
And you need to make sure that you’re not using other acne treatments if you’re using BP. These can make your skin problems considerably worse, particularly as BP will deactivate various topical products so you must not use them at the same time.
If you want any acne face wash then my recommendation is always to try something natural, but certainly try something that is unmedicated if you’re on a BP-based regime, like Dan Kern’s regime, for instance.
You need to stick with your plan. So do it. And keep motivated!