Benzoyl peroxide may be a popular choice for treating acne, but its harsh reputation both attracts and discourages new users from making it their preferred treatment.
A powerful drug, it has the ability to dry out blemishes in a flash, but the high dosages that help teen skin quickly clear a couple of zits can damage the dryer, thinner skin of adults. The problem is compounded when adults use benzoyl peroxide over a longer period of time, which is often needed because adult acne tends to last longer than teen acne.
But just because most acne products are made for teens doesn't mean adults should give up on it. After all, the ingredient gives troubled skin a three-tiered kick, killing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and helping to unclog blocked pores. Its blunt approach makes it extremely successful, penetrating deep into the skin to prevent the trouble before it starts.
Why so many side effects? Dryness, flaking, and irritation is most likely to occur when too much product is applied or too strong a dose is used. Take a stroll down the skincare aisle and it’s easy to see how people shopping for an acne treatment could be conflicted by the variance in dosages.
Like most things in life, moderation is key and smaller doses applied over a longer period of time prove more efficient than one big, shocking blast. Research has shown again and again that products containing 2.5 percent are just as effective, while also much less irritating to the skin.
That being said, the skincare market is saturated with creams and washes boasting high concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, ranging from 5 to 10 percent.
These intensive treatments are designed to treat teenage skin, which is generally thicker, more oily, and prone to acne that resolves relatively quickly. Using these products on adult skin is likely to cause a less-than-positive reaction, proving too harsh for mature skin that naturally tends to be drier and more sensitive.
Up to 25 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience acne flares past high school graduation and studies claim the prevalence is growing. Many adults in their 30s and 40s report suffering from breakouts or full flare-ups, but the skincare market still tailors their treatments to the younger crowd.
Adult skin requires a gentler, longer-term treatment that won’t exacerbate the damage. That's why new products, like the Acne Control Complex from Arithmetic contains a low three percent dosage—just enough to combat acne, while not waging war on the skin. Combine a benzoyl peroxide treatment with a smart skincare routine, including an SPF moisturizer, and you'll be on the right track for a clearer complexion.