Benzoyl Peroxide For Acne And Blackhead Treatment

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common ingredients found in acne treatments including ProActiv, Clearasil and Oxy, but what is it?  Benzoyl peroxide is a type of peroxide similar in chemical composition to hydrogen peroxide commonly found in first aid kits or your medicine cabinet.  There are numerous uses for this chemical, including acne and blackhead treatment.  If you are familiar with hydrogen peroxide you know that when you get a cut or scrape and you put hydrogen peroxide on the wound, it starts to bubble.  What is happening is the hydrogen peroxide is breaking down and releasing pure oxygen.  When the oxygen comes into direct contact with bacteria, the bacteria is destroyed.  Benzoyl peroxide functions in the same way, when it comes into contact with skin, pure oxygen is released.

But how does this help with acne and blackheads?

Acne forms when the pores becomes clogged and a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes  is able to multiply beneath the surface of the skin.  This bacteria is anaerobic, which means it thrives in an environment where no oxygen is present.  Are you beginning to see where the Benzoyl peroxide comes in?

When Benzoyl Peroxide is spread over an infected area pure oxygen is released into the pores killing the acne bacteria.  This bacteria cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.  This process also clears debris and other blockages from the pores thus clearing blackheads and preventing new ones from forming.

How to effectively use Benzoyl Peroxide:

Benzoyl peroxide is found in numerous over the counter formulas.  Products usually are made with different concentrations usually 2.5%, 5%, and 10%.  I personally have found great success using “Oxy Spot Treatment”  which contains 10% Benzoyl peroxide but I’m sure many of these products are effective.  It is recommended on the product to use a thin layer several times a day, but I do not follow these specific directions for several reasons.

The first being that the Oxy product is a white cream which drys and the face leaving a white coating that is very noticeable, even when using a thin layer.  I personally would rather not walk around in public with white stuff caked on my face, so I only use this product at night before bed.

Second, I had read a while back that one of the main reasons some people did find benzoyl peroxide to be effective was because they did not use enough.   Ever since then I use a generous amount when applying it to my face and have had great results.  Now it is very important that if you are going to deviate from the directions as far as the quantity and frequency of application, that you proceed slowly.  Increase the amount a little bit at a time and see how your skin reacts.  I do not use this product all the time,  maybe for a few days if I see my skin is starting to breakout.  You may need to use less to get the same results that I do.  This is a powerful chemical that can leave the skin red and irritated if too much is used.  I think that I avoid this because I do not use it all the time.  This is what works for me, finding what works for you will take some experimentation.

Does benzoyl peroxide exfoliate the skin?

I have done some research and it seems as though benzoyl peroxide is not considered an exfoliate.  I happen to disagree with this from personal experience.  After using the Oxy cream I have found that my skin is sometimes left dry and slightly irritated, similar to a mild sunburn.  I do this deliberately because I find it more effective to use more of the cream then recommended, the irritation is very mild.  What I have noticed is that after showering the next day and removing the dried up cream, my skin looks much brighter and youthful, just like after I use an exfoliating agent.  Now I know this is not scientific, but It seems logical that if the skin is drying up that much, skin cells are being shed.  This would fall into the category of chemical exfoliation.

Applying Oxy Spot Treatment:

-Wash the face using warm water and a good face wash

-Thoroughly dry the skin

-Apply cream to finger and begin working into a section of the skin in small circular motions.  Continue this process until all areas that you want to treat are covered.

-Allow 20 minutes for the cream to dry


-As with any new product, start off with a very small amount to see how you react.  You may be allergic or overly sensitive in which case you may choose not to use this or at the least avoid some painful unsightly reactions.

-When using benzoyl peroxide it is best to avoid unnecessary sun exposure.

-Be aware that any product containing benzoyl peroxide can bleach hair or fabrics.  So avoid getting any product in your hair and be aware that if your using it before bed to use an old pillow case.  I have several pillow cases that have bleach marks all over them because of this.

-If excessive dryness or flaking occur scale back the amount used and the frequency of application.


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