When it comes to treating acne, there are few ingredients as powerful and effective as benzoyl peroxide. Trust me, I’ve dealt with breakouts on and off for years, and I always come back to benzoyl peroxide when my acne starts flaring to help get things under control. You can get benzoyl peroxide in an prescription form (which is usually the case if you’re dealing with severe acne), but for anyone with mild to moderate acne, you can try a ton of different over-the-counter products, from creamy cleansers to spot treatments, all with varied strengths of BP. But before you start slathering on the wrong formula or concentration, allow me to explain what exactly makes benzoyl peroxide a dermatologist favorite.
Is benzoyl peroxide good for your skin?
If you have acne, yes! Benzoyl peroxide kills p.acnes (the bad bacteria on your skin that’s responsible for breakouts), help minimize oil production, sheds pore-clogging dead skin cells, and helps reduce the redness and swelling associated with inflammatory pimples. Basically, it helps target all the main causes of acne to get your skin clear. That being said, it’s also known for being drying and pretty strong, which means if you have hypersensitive skin and/or dry skin, you’ll want to start slow (every other day, max) and low (thin layers, low percentage).
What kind of acne is benzoyl peroxide good for?
Benzoyl peroxide is able to treat all kinds of acne—including blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, and cysts—but it’s especially great for inflammatory cystic acne (aka those red, angry bumps). Side note: If you’re using a benzoyl peroxide product on your blackheads and whiteheads and it isn’t working, consider trying a salicylic acid product or a retinoid treatment instead.
What percentage of benzoyl peroxide is best?
Benzoyl peroxide products come in different strengths—from 2.5 percent to 10 percent—but know this: a higher concentration doesn’t necessarily mean better results. According to studies, 2.5 or 5 percent benzoyl peroxide often works just as well as 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, just with fewer irritating side effects. So, as a rule, always start off with a low dosage, and work your way up if your skin can tolerate it and/or needs it.
Got all that? Good. Ahead, I’ve rounded up the 12 best benzoyl peroxide products to try right TF now.
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Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
You prob know Differin for their derm-favorite adapalene gel acne treatment, but, TBH, this benzoyl peroxide face wash is just as powerful when it comes to clearing up breakouts. It contains a micronized form of benzoyl peroxide, which is able to easily penetrate pores, absorb oil, and kill acne-causing bacteria while you wash your face.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide Cleanser + Mask
Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask
You can use this hybrid 3.5 percent benzoyl peroxide treatment two ways: as a daily cleanser or as an intensive face mask. Wash with it morning and night (or just once a day for dry skin) to clear blackheads and whiteheads, or use it twice a week as a deep-cleaning and shine-controlling mask for up to five minutes.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide On-The-Go Spot Treatment
Glossier Zit Stick
Thanks to its hands-free and mess-free stainless steel applicator, this benzoyl peroxide spot treatment from Glossier is perfect for treating breakouts on the go without spillage. Just click the pen a few times to dispense the product and dab it on your zit up to three times a day, either under or over makeup.
This Max Strength Benzoyl Peroxide Spot Treatment
Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10
This drugstore benzoyl peroxide spot treatment from Clean & Clear is a classic, but be warned: It is strooooong—so use it sparingly and don’t mix it with other acne treatments (like salicylic acid or retinoids). Packed with 10 percent benzoyl peroxide (the highest amount you can get OTC), it quickly penetrates pores to heal existing zits and prevent new ones from forming.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide Moisturizer
Obagi Clenziderm Therapeutic Lotion
Benzoyl peroxide is notoriously drying, but when it’s used in this moisturizer, you won’t have to worry as much about flakiness. The lightweight lotion contains 5 percent benzoyl peroxide to kill off acne-causing bacteria, plus moisturizing squalane to leave your skin soft and hydrated—not over-stripped.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide Serum
Urban Skin Rx Clear Complexion Acne Serum + Spot Treatment
This benzoyl peroxide treatment can be used as an all-over serum or as a targeted spot treatment depending on what your skin needs. It uses 7.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, plus exfoliating glycolic acid and anti-inflammatory arnica to reduce p.acnes, nix dead skin cells, and soothe redness and irritation all at once.
Best Gentle Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment
Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment
Give this gentle benzoyl peroxide treatment a try if your acne-prone skin is also sensitive. It contains 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide along with skin-soothing plant extracts (like allantoin and bisabolol) to clear up breakouts while reducing redness and inflammation.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide for Body Acne
Proactiv Skin Smoothing Exfoliator
This benzoyl peroxide exfoliator legit does it all. The creamy formula deep-cleans skin, eliminates dead skin with little tiny exfoliating beads and glycolic acid, and kills bad bacteria with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide. Rub it over your shoulders, back, butt—wherever you get body acne—let it sit for 30 seconds, then rinse.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide Lotion
Kate Somerville Anti Bac Acne Clearing Lotion
Twice daily, smooth a little bit of this lotion over clean, dry skin to help get rid of everything from stubborn blackheads to red, angry pimples. The 5 percent benzoyl peroxide formula is time-released to be ultra-effective at zapping zits, yet gentler on skin.
Best Benzoyl Peroxide Body Wash
SLMD Skincare BP Body Wash
Best Gentle Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
If your skin is on the dry and/or sensitive side, this is the benzoyl peroxide face wash for you. The creamy cleanser uses 4 percent benzoyl peroxide to eliminate breakouts, plus hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing niacinamide, and three different kinds of ceramides to strengthen your skin barrier and prevent dryness and irritation.
Best Fast-Acting Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Spot Treatment
In addition to 5.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, this non-drying acne treatment contains exfoliating LHA (lipo hydroxy acids) to help speed up the zit-shrinking process. You can use a thin layer all over your face or in certain areas as a spot treatment to minimize blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts in as little as three days.
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