benzoyl peroxide

Ingredient Spotlight: Benzoyl Peroxide

July 14, 2020

This is modern medicine’s biggest contribution to the fight against acne.

Ask your neighborhood pharmacist for over-the-counter acne medication and chances are, you’ll get benzoyl peroxide in some form. A chemical compound used to treat mild to moderate acne, it comes in either pure gel format, or as an active ingredient mixed in with products like face and body cleansers, creams, lotions, or ointments.

Benzoyl peroxide — along with salicylic acid — is a standout ingredient for fighting acne. Here’s a quick list of what it does:

It kills bacteria on the skin

Acne occurs when the excess oil and dead skin cells clogging the pores become a breeding ground for bacteria. Being a powerful antibacterial agent, benzoyl peroxide is the perfect counter-attack for that! It works by bringing oxygen deep into the skin pores to kill bacteria right at the source.

It works as an exfoliant

As it gets rid of bacteria,  benzoyl peroxide dries the skin, which then results in micro-peeling. This isn’t really cause for alarm, as it’s perfectly normal, especially in the early stages of acne treatment. However, it’s important that exfoliation is rounded out by hydration and moisturization so that the skin cells can regenerate.

It helps unclog the pores

Benzoyl peroxide doesn’t stop working after it eliminates bacteria. It opens up the pores to allow for deeper and more thorough cleansing. When the sebum and dead cells are cleared out of your pores, you don’t just treat acne — you prevent it, too!

It decreases inflammation

A result of killing bacteria and unclogging pores, benzoyl peroxide soothes inflamed skin, reducing soreness and redness with continued use.


The chemical is used for purposes other than acne treatment, like bleaching hair, teeth whitening, and stain removal. So while it’s generally safe, you still have to be really careful when you use it, especially in higher concentrations.

Since it’s an active ingredient, benzoyl peroxide can cause irritation when applied on broken skin or when it comes in contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. And although it’s not common, it can trigger an allergic reaction (in which case one should immediately stop using it).

As effective as benzoyl peroxide may be, it’s not the only thing your skin needs to effectively treat and prevent acne. It takes a stack of acne-fighting and skin-nourishing ingredients to do the job — and finding the perfectly-balanced ratio can be tricky. SMACNE takes the guesswork out of that, so try it free for a month (you just have to cover $7.95 for shipping) and watch your skin get better!

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