Benzoyl Peroxide vs Mandelic Acid: Two Top Acne Fighters Face Off
In corner number one, the all-star heavyweight, benzoyl peroxide. In corner number two, the challenger, triple-punch mandelic acid. Which is the top acne fighter? Spoiler alert: it depends on your skin.
Benzoyl peroxide is the name everybody knows because it’s a sure-fire solution when it comes to clearing skin. It works by releasing oxygen into the pore to kill acne bacteria. At the same time, the benzoic acid in the BP gets to work on exfoliating, that is, unplugging pores, clearing away dirt, oil, dead skin, the stuff of impactions and bumps. Light peeling and sometimes drying, often occurs along with the process, which can be irritating to sensitive skin.
Just because it’s the best known, doesn’t mean it’s the best for your skin. A little like an overzealous nightclub bouncer, BP can sometimes bounce a little too hard. If your breakout includes the sort of tender-to-the-touch bumps that stay just beneath the surface, inflamed whiteheads, or blackheads, the anti-bacterial, pore-scouring strength of Benzoyl Peroxide is your top contender. For sensitive skin, or lighter breakouts, BP may be more muscle than you need. BP also tends to hyperpigment dark skin tones.
A side note, benzoyl peroxide can bleach sheets or clothing.
Clinical Mandelic Acid
This naturally derived AHA is unique among alpha hydroxy acids. In addition to exfoliating and unclogging pores, it also has potent anti-bacterial properties making it a great choice for acne. Derived from almonds, mandelic acid has a larger molecular structure than other AHAs, which means it doesn’t penetrate as deeply. So it’s less likely to cause irritation than popular counterparts like glycolic acid. It’s anti-inflammatory and a melanin inhibitor, which means mandelic acid helps to reduce redness and scarring. It helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles. While not as well known as benzoyl peroxide, mandelic acid is a serious contender as a powerful, less irritating acne fighter with additional benefits for aging and discoloration. For sensitive or darker skin tones, mandelic acid is the clear winner.