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Benzoyl peroxide (Benzacne ingredient): what it is and how it works

The cult drug Benzacne owed its effectiveness precisely to benzoyl peroxide. Since its withdrawal, many damaging myths have arisen about this substance. Here we debunk them.

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Natalia Grajcar - Author
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Natalia Grajcar, founder of Natu.Care. She knows and understands the health issues of her readers and clients very well. She shares her experience and strives to create awareness about healthy living and mental health.

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Graduate of Journalism and Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw. Since 2017, he has been working with the biggest portals in Poland and abroad as an editor. Previously worked for 3 years in one of the leading pharmaceutical companies - he knows the health and beauty industry inside out. In his free time, he most enjoys playing tennis or skiing.

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Natu.Care Editor

Emilia Moskal specialises in medical and psychological texts, including content for medical entities. She is a fan of simple language and reader-friendly communication. At Natu.Care, she writes educational articles.

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Benzoyl peroxide (Benzacne ingredient): what it is and how it works
29 April, 2024
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Benzoyl peroxide has long been an ingredient in skincare products, especially those designed to treat acne. It has strong antibacterial, exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties, so it's no wonder it's so popular. 

But what exactly is benzoyl peroxide? How does it work on the skin? And, more importantly, how to use it effectively, minimising potential side effects? 

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In this article:

  • We will tell you what benzoyl peroxide is.
  • .
  • We will explain its properties and mechanism of action.
  • .
  • We will tell you how to effectively use benzoyl peroxide in your skin care routine.
  • We will explain its properties and mechanism of action.

See also:

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What is benzoyl peroxide?

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Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient in skin care products, mainly those designed to treat acne. It looks like a white powder, and is soluble in many liquids, but not in water. The main role of benzoyl peroxide is to kill bacteria on the skin, especially those that can cause acne. 

Alongside this, it also helps to reduce swelling on the skin and cleanse clogged pores by removing dead skin cells. Benzoyl peroxide can be found in various forms such as creams, gels and cleansers. It is usually applied directly to the skin affected by acne. It is a popular and effective treatment for acne vulgaris.

What effects did Benzacne ointment produce? The benzoyl peroxide contained in it destroyed the bacteria responsible for acne lesions, namely the anaerobic Propionibacterium acnes, as well as the cutaneous staphylococcus epidermidis. In addition, it reduced sebum production and facilitated the exfoliation of dead skin.

See also:

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How can benzoyl peroxide help with skin care?

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  • Can reduce inflammation and clear clogged poresand
  • .
  • Can reduce the number of acne-causing bacteria on the skin .
  • Can effectively reduce acne blemishes .
  • .
  • Combining benzoyl peroxide with other ingredients, such as adapalene, can make it even more effective and easier for external application .
  • .
  • Some people may experience dryness and irritation of the skin when using benzoyl peroxide therapy  - this may discourage regular treatment and negatively affect the results of the therapy .
  • .

What are the benefits of benzoyl peroxide?

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Benzoyl peroxide has several key benefits for the skin. 

  • Firstly, it helps kill bacteria on the skin, including those that cause acneand.
  • .
  • May reduce redness and swelling associated with acne 
  • Benzoyl peroxide helps unclog pores, which can help stop new acne blemishes from forming 
  • It can be combined with other skin treatments, such as antibiotics or anti-fungal creams, for even better results 
  • Special controlled-release benzoyl peroxide products can reduce skin irritation without sacrificing efficacy .

How to use benzoyl peroxide?

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Since you already know what benzoyl peroxide is and how it works, let's move on to the most important aspect: how to apply it to the skin. Follow these tips - it will help you achieve the best results while minimising potential side effects.

Choose the right product

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Choose a product designed for your skin type and the problems you face. Benzoyl peroxide comes in a variety of forms, such as face washes, gels, creams or spot treatments. Each type serves a unique purpose.

Facial cleansers

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If you have oily or acne-prone skin, a facial wash with benzoyl peroxide can be a great option. These products help to remove excess sebum. They can be used once or twice a day.

Gels and creams

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These are products to be left on the skin for longer. They allow prolonged contact of benzoyl peroxide with the skin. They are suitable for treating larger areas of acne and can be applied once a day.

Point treatments

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Point treatments are best for single pimples or small clusters of pimples. They usually have higher concentrations of benzoyl peroxide and should be used sparingly.

Start with a lower concentration

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Benzoyl peroxide products come in different concentrations, usually from 2.5% to 10%. To get the best results and minimise possible irritation, it is recommended to start with the lowest concentration. If your skin tolerates them well, you can gradually increase the concentration as needed. 

Apply basic hygiene and safety rules

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To effectively incorporate benzoyl peroxide into your routine skin care, follow these tips:

Clean your face

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Before applying benzoyl peroxide, make sure your skin is clean and dry. Use a gentle water-based cleanser without fragrance or dyes.

Apply a thin layer

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Use a thin layer of your chosen benzoyl peroxide product on acne affected areas. Excessive application can lead to excessive dryness and irritation.

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Be consistent

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Consistency is the key to visible results. Use the product as recommended on the pack, usually once a day, for best results.

Before use, do a patch test

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As with any new skincare product, do a patch test to check for possible reactions. Apply a small amount of benzoyl peroxide to the inner arm and wait 24 hours. If no irritation occurs, you can most likely use the product safely.

Keep your skin moisturised

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The use of benzoyl peroxide can cause dry skin. Ensure that your skin is properly hydrated by using a non-comedogenic moisturiser.

Maintain precautions

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When using benzoyl peroxide, the following precautions should be kept in mind:

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Side effects

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While using benzoyl peroxide, temporary dryness, flaking and redness may occur. If these symptoms worsen or do not subside, discontinue use and consult a dermatologist.

Allergic reactions

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Although rare, benzoyl peroxide can cause allergic reactions. If you experience swelling, itching or severe redness, contact your doctor immediately.

Physician.

Sun exposure

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Benzoyl peroxide may increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. Always wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.

Sunscreen should be worn at all times.

Fabric bleaching

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Keep in mind that benzoyl peroxide can bleach some fabrics such as towels, bedding and clothing. Allow the product to dry completely before contact with these fabrics.

As with the use of any other cosmetic, carefully monitor your skin's reaction and consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns or questions.

Are there any risk factors associated with the use of benzoyl peroxide?

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The use of benzoyl peroxide in skin care products is associated with possible side effects and adverse reactions:

  • Typical problems may include skin irritation, dryness, itching, burning and rednessand. These side effects often depend on how strong the product is, so using a less concentrated formula can help reduce themand
  • Benzoyl peroxide can also cause flaky skin 
  • .
  • In some cases it can even lead to scarring . Scarring resulting from the use of benzoyl peroxide has been identified in one study as one of the causes of emotional disturbance that study participants began to experience 
  • Some studies suggest that benzoyl peroxide may potentially facilitate skin cancer formation and damage DNA .

If you are using benzoyl peroxide, it is imperative that you are aware of these risks and stop using the product immediately as soon as you observe side effects and adverse reactions .

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How to dose benzoyl peroxide correctly?

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    .
  • The appropriate dose of benzoyl peroxide depends on the specific product and the severity of the skin problem. 
  • .
  • One study on acne treatment used a pump dispenser to achieve a constant dose (0.5 ml) of a combination of adapalene 0.1% and benzoyl peroxide 2.5% with each useand
  • Another study used 5% and 10% concentrations of benzoyl peroxide with high efficacy to prevent the growth of a specific type of bacteria 
  • Determining the optimal dose for general purposes may require further research. 
  • .

If you are using benzoyl peroxide, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions or the information on the leaflet. This way, you will use the right amount of product and reduce the risk of side effects.

What substances can be combined with benzoyl peroxide to achieve better results for the skin?

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There are several other ingredients that can be combined with benzoyl peroxide to enhance its benefits for the skin. 

  • Benzoyl peroxide in combination with triethyl citrate and ethyl linoleate has been shown to be more effective in improving overall skin health and appearanceand.
  • .
  • Some healthy fats, such as 15-OHEPA, DGLA and EPA, may work in synergy with benzoyl peroxide and fight acne-causing bacteria even more effectively 
  • Other substances to consider in combination with benzoyl peroxide include: retinoids, light exfoliants, liposomes, jojoba oil and clindamycin 
  • .
  • These mixtures can improve acne treatment, moisturise the skin, reduce irritation and generally lead to better results .

FAQ

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. Can benzoyl peroxide bleach fabrics?.

Yes, benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics. Be careful when reaching for clothes and towels when using products containing benzoyl peroxide.

. How many times a day can I use a benzoyl peroxide medication?.

Apply benzoyl peroxide medicine once or twice a day, as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the pack.

How many times a day can I use benzoyl peroxide medicine?
. Is benzoyl peroxide on prescription?".

Some benzoyl peroxide preparations are available without a prescription, while others, with higher concentrations, require a prescription from a doctor.

. What not to combine benzoyl peroxide with?.

Do not combine benzoyl peroxide with medications containing tretinoin, isotretinoin or salicylic acid products to avoid skin irritation and dryness.

. What are the alternatives to benzoyl peroxide?.

Alternatives to benzoyl peroxide include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, retinoids, antibiotics in cream, gel or oral form, and laser therapy. Consult your doctor, who can help you choose an appropriate alternative.

. What do dermatologists recommend for acne?.

Dermatologists recommend individualised treatments, usually including drugs containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids, antibiotics, hormone therapy or laser therapy. For best results, consult individually.

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. Why was Benzacne withdrawn?.

The withdrawal of Benzacne from the Polish market was due to the manufacturer's decision and related to business and marketing issues, not to the safety of use or product performance. Other benzoyl peroxide products are still available.

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Sources

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. See all.

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Meet the team
Natalia Grajcar - Author

Founder of Natu.Care

Natalia Grajcar, founder of Natu.Care. She knows and understands the health issues of her readers and clients very well. She shares her experience and strives to create awareness about healthy living and mental health.

Witold Tomaszewski - Reviewed by

Doctor of Medicine

Verified by an expert

Doctor of Medicine, food and pharmaceutical law expert and experienced medical professional.

Michael Tomaszewski - Edited by

Editor

Michael Tomaszewski

Graduate of Journalism and Artes Liberales at the University of Warsaw. Since 2017, he has been working with the biggest portals in Poland and abroad as an editor. Previously worked for 3 years in one of the leading pharmaceutical companies - he knows the health and beauty industry inside out. In his free time, he most enjoys playing tennis or skiing.

Emilia Moskal - Fact-checking

Natu.Care Editor

Emilia Moskal specialises in medical and psychological texts, including content for medical entities. She is a fan of simple language and reader-friendly communication. At Natu.Care, she writes educational articles.

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