Benzoyl Peroxide: How We Love to Hate You

Posted on August 30, 2013 by Rachel Duran

People who have battled adult acne are familiar with one of the most common pimple treatments, benzoyl peroxide. This powerful ingredient is more effective than many prescription drugs — but it can also make your skin burn, flake, and peel, side effects that cause many people stop using it before their acne has resolved.

If you've had a failed relationship with benzoyl peroxide, new products and a few usage tips can minimize its unwanted effects, making now the time give this acne-fighting ingredient a second thought. Here’s why.

Hello, again

Study after study points to benzoyl peroxide's ability to kill both the surface and follicular bacteria and yeast that can cause angry red pimples, whiteheads and blackheads. It doesn’t merely slow down its microscopic prey. Benzoyl peroxide actually mows them down like the Grim Reaper of topical acne medications.

It also turns over new skin cells which lowers the likelihood of clogged pores. This ingredient can improve zits and blemishes in as few as five days—but it's great for persistent acne, too.

Old faithful

The safety of using it in creams and gels has been well-established and some studies even indicate that benzoyl peroxide is as effective as antibiotics in dealing with acne. Plus, because it isn’t an antibiotic, benzoyl peroxide can be used longer and can’t cause bacterial resistance during treatment. 

Side effects

OK, now we remember why our relationship with benzoyl peroxide soured. It caused our skin to dry, redden, itch and peel. Oh, and it bleached a few favorite towels and turtlenecks, too. We’ll never get those shirts back, but we with a bit of planning we can get the benefits of this drug without its downside.

For the dryness and redness, a little bit of pain will probably pass within a few days. But it's best to not trigger irritation in the first place. Avoid products that promote fast results and maximum-strength dosages.

Try a dosage of 3% or less. Low-dose benzoyl peroxide has proven nearly as effective as higher dosages but with significantly fewer side effects. And if you have dry skin, keep it well moisturized.

Fabric bleaching happens most frequently on colored cottons. Try using benzoyl peroxide products at night and wear white bedclothes. Or apply the product after pulling on that favorite sweater. 

Stay the course

With low-dose, long-term use, benzoyl peroxide is incredibly effective for controlling adult acne. Try sticking with a routine that includes it for at least three months. If standard products still seem too harsh, especially for dryer adult skin, consider a product such as our Arithmetic Acne Control Complex.

Our product's lower concentration of benzoyl peroxide still kills bacteria with a vengeance, but it's designed to help you avoid irritation, and redness. Even better, it contains natural moisturizers to hydrate and soothe your skin and make you look your best.

Benzoyl peroxide is something people think they don’t like, but they probably just haven’t had a good product. Now that one is available, we suggest giving the drug another try. 

  • About Arithmetic: We're a new skincare company focused exclusively on adult acne. Check out our Acne Control Complex.

Posted in acne, acne control complex, adult acne, benzoyl peroxide, benzoyl peroxide cream, flaking, itching, pain, peeling, persistent adult acne, redness, side effects


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