Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid for Acne - Mario Badescu Skin Care
Acne Skin Care - Mario Badescu Skin Care
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Acne Treatment Center

Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid for Acne

Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide are two of the most popular ingredients for treating acne effectively; they each work in different ways on the skin to help prevent acne.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) derived from the bark of a willow tree. It is “keratolytic” (keratin-dissolving) which is the technical term for exfoliating ingredient. It actually can penetrate into the pore to dissolve dead skin cell build up and encourages the shedding of the top layer of skin which prevents the pores from becoming congested.

It is known that .5% -2% concentrations of salicylic acid are effective at clearing mild to moderate acne effectively without over drying the skin. It does, however need to be applied even after the acne has cleared to continue its exfoliating and pore clearing benefits. In some skin creams for dry or mature skin, salicylic acid is used in lower concentrations as an exfoliating ingredient to increase the efficacy of active ingredients.

Since salicylic acid can be slightly drying to the surface of the skin, it is advised not to use it along with topical acne prescriptions or aggressive cleansers and astringents. For the best results, a balanced acne regimen with moisturizing and soothing products is recommended along with salicylic acid products. Pregnant and nursing women should check with their physician about using salicylic acid since it may be inadvisable to use during pregnancy.


Acne is caused by the P.acnes bacteria, which cannot live in the oxygen-rich environment provided by Benzoyl Peroxide. It is also a “keratolytic” to help prevent clogged pores.

Depending on the severity of acne and the sensitivity of the skin, it is used in concentrations of 2.5, 5, and 10%. Benzoyl Peroxide can be found in many over the counter creams, gels and lotions as well as in stronger prescription products. After acne has improved, product usage is still necessary for preventative reasons.

Benzoyl peroxide products should be discussed with your physician if you are pregnant or nursing. It can also bleach fabric so it’s best to protect your clothing and linens when using products with this ingredient. Side effects range from mild to severe dryness, peeling and swelling; careful selection of other skin care products should be made so as not to increase the severity of these effects. It should not be used in conjunction with any acne prescriptions to avoid drying and irritating the skin.

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