Benzoyl Peroxide vs Salicylic Acid and How to Decide Which Is Best For You

One question I always get when it comes to those who suffer from chronic acne is "which is better for healing acne, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid?" These two ingredients are best known for treating acne, but either or are "better." It all depends on your skin type and what type of acne you have. It's important to know how ingredients affect your skin, and what side effects each may cause.  

One of the best advantages people find with salicylic acid is that it can exfoliate the skin without causing inflammation and will calm any existing redness or irritation you may already have. If you have cystic acne or any other type of inflammatory acne, this is an essential active ingredient. Salicylic acid works to loosen the sebum that clogs pores, so if you have this type of acne, salicylic may be a better choice. Also, salicylic acid rarely causes other problems such as redness and peeling.  

Image voted best selling acne treatment by Allure magazine.  

Image voted best selling acne treatment by Allure magazine.  

The drawback of using salicylic acid is that some doctors have found that if you use this over an extended period of time it can cause damage to the skin and its cells. Although, others have have stated that the percentage of actual salicylic acid in most products is not high enough to cause serious damage. The only exception to this could be if you're using a prescription strength concentration of this ingredient. Remember it's always best to consult your doctor before trying a new product.  

Image salicylic cleanser

Image salicylic cleanser

Many medical professionals argue that benzoyl peroxide is the stronger of the two ingredients, as it fights all different types of acne. From cystic bumps, lesions, blackheads and whiteheads. Benzoyl peroxide also kills bacteria all along the surface of the skin and not just areas with acne. Another plus of benzoyl peroxide is that it tends to work more quickly, which may lead to faster results.  

However, there are some side affects you should watch for when using benzoyl peroxide, especially if you have sensitive skin. Benzoyl peroxide can cause redness, stinging, peeling and irritation to the skin.  

If you're still unsure about whether salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide is better for your skin, ask your doctor about which is better to treat your acne.  

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