How to Skip Dryness and Skin Irritation When Using Benzoyl Peroxide to Clear Adult Breakouts

Posted on June 23, 2015 by Rachel Duran

Rachel DuranBenzoyl peroxide is one of the most powerful acne-fighting ingredients available. Mentioning it may trigger memories of flaky, irritated skin and bleached pillows. But even if you’ve had problems with this ingredient in the past, with proper use it’s possible to harness its power—and avoid painful side effects. Here’s how.

Use a Low Dose

Many benzoyl peroxide products come in concentrations of five or even 10 percent. But for adults, benzoyl peroxide works best when it’s used at lower dosages. Our Acne Control Complex ($30 + Free Shipping) was optimized specifically for adult skin and contains the ideal dosage: three percent. That makes it perfect for long-term use on dry and sensitive skin.

Start Early

As soon as you start to feel a new pimple coming on, start using a benzoyl peroxide product right away. Whether you get your dose of benzoyl peroxide in a cleanser, from a spot treatment, or both, applying small amounts early helps get the breakout under control.

Don’t Use Too Much

No need to be over-do it. Most people go for a powerful punch and assume that applying heaps of product will knock out their zits and pimples. But too much force can stress out your skin and cause redness and irritation.

In fact, whenever you start using a benzoyl benzoyl peroxide product, use a tiny amount over over a small area of your skin. Then wait a couple of days and slowly build up to daily use over several weeks. 

Let It Dry

After you apply a product, always let the ingredient dry before running off to work or bed. Benzoyl peroxide has been known to bleach dark fabrics. Be sure to apply the benzoyl peroxide after you pull that favorite sweater over your smiling face.

Be Careful with Other Products

Be gentle—and mindful. To reduce your risk of drying or peeling, try to avoid other products and situations that may irritate your skin, including soaps, antiaging products, and makeup that contain alcohol, medicated cosmetics and contact with direct sunlight. Always wear SPF sunscreen and moisturize morning and night.

Follow Through

After four to six weeks of using a product regularly, you should notice improvement in your overall skin tone and clarity. But give any new skincare product several months of consistent use before switching or giving up on it.

Give It Time

We’ve all learned that acne products don’t work overnight—no matter what the ads say. And as adults, our breakouts tend to last longer, too. That’s why we need to address our problem with a more grownup approach: with consistently smart skincare practices and a dose of patience, benzoyl peroxide can help most people get breakouts under control.

Reap the Benefits

From whiteheads and blackheads to full-on breakouts, benzoyl peroxide has proven to be an effective treatment for all kinds of acne. Its blemish busting properties include bacteria-killing, unclogging pores, calm inflammation, and prevent future irritation.


  • Rachel Duran is an editor at Arithmetic
  • About Us: Arithmetic is a new skincare company focused on helping adults achieve clear, healthy skin



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