Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid are both proven Acne busters. But, is one better than the other? What do they do? Read on to find out how these popular Acne products help clear your skin, what some downsides can be, and which products we recommend.
As you likely witness everyday, the skin care market is flooded with products advertised to clean clogged pores, remove oil build-up, get rid of blemishes, blah blah blah. With SO many options, it makes knowing which ingredients to look for especially important. In order to be the most informed consumer you can be when it comes to what to put on your face, learn more about two top Acne product picks, Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide.
Salicylic Acid: Pros
Salicylic acid can exfoliate the skin as well as decrease inflammation. The cells in the lining of the hair follicles of people with acne tend to multiply quickly, and stick to one another. Salicylic acid works by dissolving this cement that holds those sticky cells together in the clogged pores. Most effective acne treatments can make skin a bit red and inflamed while the skin adjusts to them. This ingredient is unique because it’s very effective at fighting acne, but it has a soothing, calming effect on skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of this ingredient are not surprising, given its close chemical relationship to one of the most well-known anti-inflammatory drugs available, acetylsalicylic acid (also known as aspirin!).
Salicylic Acid: Cons
Problems can arise when high concentrations of salicylic acid are applied to a large area of skin for a long period of time. When this occurs, something called salicylate toxicity can occur. That being said, the concentrations of salicylic acid found in over-the-counter products designed to treat blemishes (and the dark marks they leave behind) are too low to cause trouble. Some over-the-counter wart treatments, on the other hand, have much higher concentrations of salicylic acid, so you wouldnt want to spread those all over your body! Levels of salicylic acid found in products designed to clear your complexion are usually very well tolerated. They almost never cause irritation or peeling when used once or twice a day.
Salicylic Acid: Recommended Products
“Blemish + Age Defense” serum (from SkinCeuticals) is one of our best-selling products, and for good reason, it is great defense against acne! Although inappropriately named (in our opinion) this Salicylic Acid based product does wonders for banishing Acne. Because of its exfoliating properties, it technically will help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. However our patients love this product because of it’s impact on Acne. When first using it, your skin might tingle when applied. After a few days though, your skin adjusts and tolerates well. It can easily be used with other acne products, and is safe to use even during the day. This is by far and away our favorite salicylic acid product, both in terms of our opinion, and patient feedback/demand.
Benzoyl peroxide is a very powerful ingredient that is effective against all kinds of acne lesions (blackheads, whiteheads, and big red pimples). It is bactericidal, meaning it
kills bacteria, rather than simply slowing down growth. It also works very quickly, improving acne as early as five days after starting treatment. Its a great treatment for acne, and available in many forms and strengths.
One thing to watch out for with benzoyl peroxide is that it can bleach dark fabrics. (Be wary of going to sleep on those black pillow-cases, and just use your light colored ones instead!) It can also cause drying, peeling, and redness if its not delivered in the right amount, or used in conjunction with the right products. (If irritating dryness occurs, don’t hesitate to apply a gentle moisturizer! Often, this supplies all the relief your skin needs.)
Benzoyl?Peroxide: Recommended Products
Benzoyl Peroxide is such a useful anti-acne agent that we have incorporated it into two of our own private-label products. Since it can be formulated in a variety of strengths and delivery methods, we currently have it available in the form of a night treatment (read more here) and as an extra-strength body wash. (Used as a body-wash, you can prevent and clear acne anywhere; back, chest, shoulders, etc. Some utilitarian patients even convert this into an all-in-one wash, and use it for their face too.)