Everything You Need to Know About Benzoyl Peroxide
Whiteheads? Blackheads? Inflamed, angry, clear-your-calendar-because-you’re-not- going-out-till-this-is-over cysts? Benzoyl peroxide is there for you. Whether alone or in combination with other medications, BP has been a mainstay of effective acne treatments for decades. How does the heavyweight champion of acne fighting remain at the top? It’s got undeniable chemistry.
Why It Works
Benzoyl peroxide is a keratolytic agent. That means it causes a peeling reaction in skin. This is one of the properties that makes it so effective in treating acne. The peeling action clears pore-clogging dead skin cells and removes impactions.
But it doesn’t just work on the surface. Benzoyl peroxide gets deep into pores where it releases oxygen to kill the bacteria that would otherwise feed acne and create inflammation.
It’s antimicrobial as well as antibacterial. What’s the difference? Antibacterial products kill bacteria. Antimicrobial agents prevent the spread of bacteria and fungi. So benzoyl peroxide speeds healing and prevents future breakouts.
Some anti-bacterial products can contribute to resistant strains of bacteria. Not so with benzoyl peroxide. After more than 50 years in widespread use, it remains as potent a bacteria killer as ever.
Benzoyl peroxide also has mild anti-inflammatory effects to reduce swelling and inflammation associated with acne.
How to Use It
The percentage of benzoyl peroxide in products ranges from a mild 2.5% to a more aggressive10%. For most people, a lower-range 3% provides the perfect blend of muscle and restraint.
Vivant makes a 3% BP Acne Wash and a 3% BP Exfoliating Cleanser. Both contain glycerin to help prevent over-drying of the skin. The wash is great for acclimating skin to benzoyl peroxide. The exfoliating cleanser provides a more aggressive treatment using smooth biodegradable beads. You may prefer using each on alternating days.
Use the benzoyl peroxide wash or cleanser twice a day. For a performance boost, make it part of your morning shower. Work the wash or cleanser into a lather in the shower and let it sit on your face while you complete the rest of your shower routine, then rinse away. You can also use it on your back and chest.
For very oily or resistant skin, couple the cleanser with Vivant’s 10% BP Gel Medication. Try it under a mask once a week for a little extra firepower against tough breakouts. The gel should not be used as a spot treatment, but rather applied over the entire face from hairline to just under the jawline.
Other Things to Know
People with sensitive skin may find benzoyl peroxide irritating and should start with a once-a-day schedule working up to twice daily. If irritation does occur, dial it back to every other day until your skin adjusts. Once your skin gets on board, increasing to 2 or 3 applications per day is pretty standard.
Benzoyl peroxide is not recommended for skin prone to hyperpigmentation.
Benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics, so be careful of your clothing and sheets if using it at night.
Benzoyl peroxide can make skin more sensitive to sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen and protective clothing outdoors and to avoid prolonged sun exposure.