How, when and where to use Benzoyl Peroxide

We get a lot of people asking us for details on the ingredients we use - namely the active ingredients that are the most effective in fighting acne like benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Hmmm... we thought - this would make a fantastic blog post! So here we go - we will start with Benzoyl Peroxide.

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl Peroxide is an organic compound in the peroxide family. It is one the most important organic peroxides due to its vast number of uses. In fact, benzoyl peroxide has been listed in the World Health Organizations List of Essential Medicines.  Wow! Most of you know that Benzoyl Peroxide is a key ingredient in a lot of topical acne medications.  But you may not be aware of some of its other uses.

  • To bleach hair
  • To whiten teeth
  • To bleach flour
  • As an oxidant in organic chemistry
  • In the creation of resins
  • To remove stains on vinyl dolls

Clearly this is a potent ingredient.  And obviously - as some of you might have already experienced - it is a great bleach. But why is it effective in helping acne-prone skin?

Why is Benzoyl Peroxide effective for helping acne-prone skin - How does it work

If you are like us, we like to actually know WHY something works. Not just hear that it works and accept it at that. We all have heard that Benzoyl Peroxide is one of the most common acne-fighting ingredients used in anti-acne topical products. But why is it one of the most effective compounds in fighting acne?

Benzoyl Peroxide (commonly referred to as BPO) has a bactericidal effect on Propionibacterium acnes - a bacteria associated with acne. The great thing about BPO, unlike some other ingredients, is that it does not induce antibiotic resistance. But what does it DO? BPO unclogs skin pores and per the above, stops bacteria from growing. When bacteria conversely DOES continue to grow, the result is acne pimples and cysts.  And we don’t like that!!  Benzoyl Peroxide is also an oxidizer  - so it will detach glue attachments that hold dead skin cells inside the hair follicles, allowing those cells to come out - and prevent new pimples from forming!

Side Effects of Benzoyl Peroxide

But is there any reason you SHOULDN’T use benzoyl peroxide to combat acne? Well, most people find only that it helps their acne tremendously.  That said, there is a segment of the population that has a benzoyl peroxide sensitivity - and for those people, well, it is not the best solution.

How do you know if you have a sensitivity to benzoyl peroxide? Well, if you are unsure, the best bet would be to do a spot test - put a dab on your face for 30 minutes and see what happens. If nothing happens, then you are fine. If you feel tingling or stinging where you put the benzoyl peroxide, or if your skin starts to feel warm, then yes, you have a sensitivity to it and you should not use it topically. If you aren’t sure after the first test, you should increment the time with the BPO on your skin. Apply it to the same area every day for 30 minutes for a few days, then one hour for a few days, then two hours for a few days. That would be a sure fire way to know if you are allergic. An alternative for those with sensitivities to BPO would be either productst that use glycolic or salicylic acids or a product that uses sulfur. We will review those ingredients in the coming weeks here on this page.

Who should use Benzoyl Peroxide?

Most people who come to us are desperate to clear their skin. They have tried all the *big names* out there to little to no avail. The main problem, we have found, is that the brand name companies have one goal: sell product.  What they fail to recognize is that if they sell the WRONG product to a person, that person thinks the entire product line doesn’t work. So they come to us begging for help, answers.  They don’t know what ingredients they should look for in a product, which products will work best for their skin etc. So we decided to break it out for anyone who is confused.

Should you use Benzoyl Peroxide on your skin?

If you have big, fat pimples, use it. If you have hormonal breakouts or stress induced breakouts which include whiteheads, blackheads and cystic acne - use it. It is aggressive and powerful and will be your best bet in fighting that acne. If you only have blackheads and occasional small white heads then BPO might be too much treatment for your complexion.  If this is you - you could opt for a aggressive treatment using a product with glycolic or salicylic acids. DON’T use it if you have a sensitivity to it (obviously).  If you have severe acne AND a sensitivity to BPO (see above), then there are other strong treatments out there that can clear up your skin as well, such as products that use sulfur. (if this is you, give us a call - we will get you on the right track).

How to use Benzoyl Peroxide

DON’T wear BPO in the sun because it causes a chemical reaction, resulting in a burn. It can make your skin hyper-sensitive to the sun. DON’T wear it when you are sweating because it can have a reaction to your sweat and make your skin irritated. BPO tends to bleach pretty much every fabric it comes in contact with, so when you ARE wearing it, try and keep it off your clothes or wear clothes you don’t care about (or that are white).  When you apply it, it can travel about 1 inch on your skin - so when you apply it, make sure you keep a good radius from your eyes - you do NOT want it to get in your eyes. It also travels through other products - so for example if you are wearing eye cream and it comes in contact with that, it can travel through that much further than it would without additional products. BPO is very strong - especially Ninja’s because we don’t add any interfering oils to our products - so it requires anyone who wears it initially to build up their tolerance to it by applying the medication for longer and longer periods of time until they can wear it over night.  

For more information, please see our application instructions here.

Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up
Message Us