The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatments to Try Right Now
Dermatologists weigh on their recommended benzoyl peroxide products to fight acne and promote clearer healthy-looking skin.
What is benzoyl peroxide?
Benzoyl peroxide is a potent acne product that is extremely beneficial for inflammatory acne. “What makes this such a fantastic acne medicine is that it is bactericidal, which means that it kills the bacteria that cause acne,” explains Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, dermatologist at Vibrant Dermatology in Dedham, Massachusetts. “It also helps to remove sebum and dead skin cells from pores, which helps to treat whiteheads and blackheads.”
Dermatologists often prescribe benzoyl peroxide to be used in combination with other acne-fighting products, in order to reduce the risk of irritation that can sometimes be caused by using too much of benzoyl peroxide. Read on to find out which benzoyl peroxide products on the market today are top-rated by dermatologists. (Also, learn the skin conditions that look like acne but aren’t.)
A less-irritating scrub
From the company that took Differin Gel from prescription-only to over the counter, Differin Daily Deep Cleanser contains 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. “Benzoyl peroxide effectively treats inflammatory acne because it reduces a few factors that cause acne—oil production and the P. acnes bacteria,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. “What I like about this one is that BPO [benzoyl peroxide] at 5 percent is just as effective as BPO at 10 percent, but less irritating than the higher concentration.”
Good for dry and oily skin
Though on the pricier side, Obagi CLENZIderm MD Therapeutic Lotion BPO 5% contains more than just pore-clearing and blemish-busting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide. Joel Schlessinger, MD, dermatologist and RealSelf advisor, in Omaha, explains that it also contains hydrating ingredients, like squalane, that keep skin from becoming flaky and inflamed. He recommends it for dry skin types, as well as those with oily or combination skin.
(Also, check out the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin.)
A quick-use scrub
This product, Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser, contains 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, which, for those suffering bad bouts of acne, is ideal for both face and body. “While this or other washes may be called cleansers, they should be looked at as short-contact therapies,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai in New York City. “The product needs to touch the skin for enough time to allow it to penetrate to do its job.” He recommends applying this cleanser directly to the skin and singing the alphabet before rinsing. This will help ensure that it sits on the skin for long enough to exert its effect.
A spot treatment drugstore find
For another cost-effective option conveniently available at Canadian drug stores, try Clean & Clear’s Persa-Gel-5 which is a 5 percent benzoyl peroxide acne treatment.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo, avilable is a favorite of dermatologists, all because it contains 5.5 percent of micronized benzoyl peroxide in combination with lipohydroxy acid (LHA). “LHA is a cousin of salicylic acid, which helps exfoliate dead cells from the surface of the skin and remove excess oil,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “It also offers a skin-brightening and anti-aging benefit, so it serves many purposes.”
(Also, here are the best face masks for acne-prone skin.)
Treat body and facial acne
Available as both a creamy wash or a bar, PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Creamy Wash is beloved by dermatologists for its ability to treat both body and facial acne, as well as folliculitis, a common summer skin problem where tiny red bumps tend to crop up around hair follicles. “It comes in two strengths, 4 percent and 10 percent, and also comes in a large bottle or bar that is shower-friendly,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a dermatologist at Stay Skin Safe in Los Angeles. “Just be careful when rinsing it off with a towel, as it can bleach fabrics!”
For those needing a more potent option, Dr. Schlessinger recommends Replenix Acne Solutions Acne Wash 10%, which contains 10 percent benzoyl peroxide. “It makes for a highly purifying cleanser that aims to clear current breakouts while eliminating excess oil and bacteria,” he says. “Due to its high concentration of BPO, this cleanser is ideal for those struggling with adult and teen acne or those with excessively oily skin.”
Less drying, more hydrating
Glo Skin Beauty Clear Skin Spot Treatment features an advanced botanical formula containing just 2 percent benzoyl peroxide, which helps keep the skin hydrated. It contains a soothing complex of chamomile, cucumber, and rosemary extract and aloe vera, which work in conjunction to reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation, along with breakouts and clogged pores.
A two-for-one cream
For those concerned with increasingly visible fine lines and wrinkles, as well as hormonal breakouts (also known as adult acne), Jan Marini Age Intervention Duality topical cream is ideal. “This treatment not only contains the highest percentage BPO but also 1 percent retinol, which is a great combination not only for acne but also for signs of aging,” explains Dr. Schlessinger. “It is an over-the-counter alternative to Epiduo, a prescription product.”