Benzoyl peroxide is a chemical compound that oxidizes on the skin, releasing oxygen to destroy pore-clogging bacteria. It is anti-inflammatory, comedolytic, and anti-bacterial meaning it decreases skin inflammation, opens the pores, exfoliates the surface layer of skin, and removes excess sebum. These properties make it a powerful acne-reducing agent.
Benzoyl Peroxide: A Brief History
In dermatology, benzoyl peroxide was first used as a healing agent in 1929 for wounds and burns. It was officially approved for the treatment of acne in the US in 1960. However, over time benzoyl peroxide acquired a bad reputation. Benzoyl peroxide purchased from the drugstore or pharmacy could result in a lot of irritation and various reactions. Some people would get redness and flare-ups while others didn’t experience any negative side effects.
Formulation Efficacy of Benzoyl Peroxide
Dr. Zenovia’s acne topicals are formulated with ultra-micronized benzoyl peroxide. Given benzoyl peroxide’s negative association with bleached pillowcases and irritation, Dr. Zenovia would like to touch on manufacturing topicals with this acne-fighting agent. “With skincare, it is important to note that just because two products list the same ingredients, that does not mean they are formulated equally”. Dr. Zenovia shares that “ingredient lists never tell the full story. The way ingredients are manufactured, and the quality of the raw materials used affect the quality of the finished product”.
For example, our Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cleanser is formulated with 10% benzoyl peroxide, a high percentage of this active, but it won’t give the skin a reaction because it’s been combined with a redundant antioxidant pathway that inhibits free radicals and soothes the skin.
Benzoyl peroxide is a very powerful antioxidant and can be irritating because it’s an acid (oxide). However, by infusing our benzoyl peroxide with a collection of antioxidants and soothing emollients, your skin won’t react negatively to the higher percentage. “Benzoyl peroxide is too powerful if it’s delivered alone or has cheap raw materials, but by mixing ultra-micronized benzoyl peroxide with a powerful phytoestrogen known as Geinstein, the skin is protected and soothed,” Dr. Zenovia shares. Our benzoyl peroxide will not bleach darker skin tones. Dr. Zenovia recommends letting the product dry fully for at least 30 seconds before moving on to the next step in your skincare routine.
Incorporating Benzoyl Peroxide into Your Skincare Routine
For cleansing the face, Dr. Zenovia's 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cleanser deeply penetrates the skin to remove buildup from clogged pores and eradicate blemishes. As a wash-off treatment, it is infused with a powerful, yet gentle dose of ultra-micronized 10% benzoyl peroxide to eliminate any possible irritation.
For spot treating, Dr. Zenovia's 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Spot Treatment is a clinical-grade hormonal acne solution that targets flare-ups whenever they strike while helping to reduce any redness or irritation. This spot treatment is formulated with medical-grade bakuchiol and aloe vera to help soothe acne-prone, sensitive skin.
Benzoyl peroxide is highly effective at helping to get rid of dead skin cells and excess oil. Such effects may lead to skin dryness and peeling. Dr. Zenovia, therefore, recommends gradually introducing this ingredient into your routine and building up the frequency of usage over time. If excessive dryness or irritation occurs, reduce application.
Additionally, Dr. Zenovia recommends keeping the skin hydrated with a soothing moisturizer. Even oily skin types require moisture! Oil-free moisturizers are great for patients that have excessively oily skin and are producing ample sebum and excessive oils. “If you wash your face in the morning and by the early afternoon you can swipe your nose and you’re oily, that means you have oily skin,” says Dr. Zenovia. “Oily skin is producing those natural oils and stimulating the sebaceous glands, so you don’t really need additional oil in your products. However, if you have skin that tends to be dry, flaky, or irritated (or if you have a rosacea component to your skin where it's inflammatory with a bunch of little red bumps), you could probably benefit from oil in your moisturizer and skincare topicals."
Note from Dr. Zenovia: Mild acne and non-inflammatory acne can be treated with over-the-counter topicals containing active ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide. However, it is important to consult a board-certified dermatologist for more severe acne cases such as cysts or if acne persists after trying at-home treatments for a few months.