Ever since Jack Breitbart, a scientist working at Revlon Laboratories, first synthesized benzoyl peroxide in a laboratory in the 1920s, it’s been one of the most frequently used and most popular topical ingredients in the acne treatment marketplace.
When it first came to market, benzoyl peroxide was considered a “cure-all” for acne problems, killing bacteria and reducing oil production, making it a double-whammy acne-fighting agent.Extensive testing has proven that benzoyl peroxide is generally safe to use when treating acne.
It does, however, have a number of side effects that can range from annoying to very troubling, particularly for those with sensitive skin. There are actually a number of acne treatment products that are safer, gentler and more effective than benzoyl peroxide, without the same harsh side affects.
Here are eight great reasons why you should avoid acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide and opt for gentler treatment options.
Can't distinguish between good and bad bacteria.
Genetics and hormones are the primary culprits behind acne. Other so-called “cofactors” or promoters of acne include stress, medications, diet, cosmetics and even pollution. Benzoyl peroxide is an effective antibacterial ingredient, so it quickly destroys bacteria, another underlying promoter of acne. Killing acne bacteria sounds logical enough, right? The problem is that benzoyl peroxide can't tell the difference between good and bad bacteria, so it attacks all bacteria equally. Elimination of the good bacteria that lives on your skin can actually leave you vulnerable to infections.
Can irritate your skin.
This is another instance of too much of a good thing. While excess oil creates an environment for acne to flourish, your skin requires a certain amount of oil to stay smooth and healthy. Benzoyl peroxide can dry out your skin and reduce its pliability to the point where it becomes, dry, flaky and irritated. Excess dryness can also form a barrier that prevents medicinal ingredients from penetrating the skin at all.
Can cause skin to age.
Facial wrinkles occur as you age due to loss of moisture and collagen, a protein that gives skin its firm, supple texture. When benzoyl peroxide strips oil from your skin, it becomes tight and brittle, with little to no give. Premature wrinkling can result with any existing wrinkles can appear more prominent.
Can bleach hair, clothing and fabrics.
As with all peroxides, benzoyl peroxide has strong bleaching properties, stripping the color of anything it comes into contact with, including hair, clothing, linens or furniture upholstery.
Can increase skin discoloration.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the process that leaves small brown spots behind after serious acne blemishes have healed. Inflammation from the blemish causes an overproduction of melanin, the same substance that causes skin to tan. Irritation from benzoyl peroxide can further aggravate skin, thereby increasing the inflammatory response along with production of melanin.
Can cause sun sensitivity.
Benzoyl peroxide can cause photosensitivity, which makes skin particularly vulnerable to the damaging rays of the sun. Without protection, your skin can be prone to sunburn, even to the point of blistering for those who are fair skinned.
Can prematurely age your skin.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that interact with stable molecules in a potentially damaging way. Benzoyl peroxide generates free radicals that can result in premature aging and a disruption of the healing process on the skin’s surface.
Not effective on severe acne.
Despite its strength, benzoyl peroxide works only on light or mild cases of acne. If you have more serious acne, using any treatment solutions containing benzoyl peroxide will be ineffective. Often times, poor early treatment results can lead to more frequent use of benzoyl peroxide, or a change to a higher concentration, both of which will only exacerbate the damaging side effects.
Fortunately, there are a number of acne treatments that effectively fight acne without the damaging side effects of benzoyl peroxide. ClarityMD is one such product that utilizes safe, naturally-powered ingredients, including bakuchiol and chamomile extract, to effectively eliminate acne. As always, talk to your dermatologist about other safer, gentler acne treatment substitutes for benzoyl peroxide.