Salicylic Acid vs Benzoyl peroxide: Which ingredient should you use to clear your acne?


We have all been victim to angry red bumps- acne, staring back at us in the mirror right before an important interview, a date, or a meeting. In the quest of finding the ultimate solution to your skin problems, you must have come across a million skin-care products usually consisting of the most common saviour ingredients — Salicylic acid and Benzoyl peroxide. The most common question that clouds one’s mind is, which ingredient should they use to get rid of those pesky zits?

Should they use Salicylic acid or Benzoyl peroxide?


Well, the answer to these questions depends on your skin type  and the kind of acne you’re suffering from 


Salicylic Acid For Acne: [Guide on How to Use Salicylic Acid] – bioClarity

What Is Salicylic Acid? 

Salicylic acid is an ingredient that you can find in a lot of skin-care products, be it a face wash, a mask, a cleanser, or even face oil. It is the most used ingredient to combat acne. According to cosmetic chemist  Randy Schueller, Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid derived from willow bark and it belongs to a class of ingredients called salicylates. “This structure is important because it makes salicylic acid more oil-soluble so it can penetrate the pores of the skin,” says Schueller. 

In simpler terms, salicylic acid is an ingredient that can penetrate deep into your pores to fight those pesky zits. This penetrating property is what makes it the most loved ingredient to fight acne, especially for people suffering from blackheads and whiteheads. 

“Once it has penetrated the skin, the acid part of the molecule can dissolve some of the intracellular ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together,” says  Schueller. Salicylic acid therefore not only penetrates deeply into your pores but also unclogs them, dissolves the debris, and soothes the skin by reducing inflammation. It also helps in exfoliating the skin and increasing cell turnover thereby increasing the rate of the healing process. 

Salicylic acid vs. benzoyl peroxide: Benefits and side effects
Medical News Today

What is Benzoyl peroxide?

Another important ingredient used in skincare products is Benzoyl  Peroxide. It is found in numerous over-the-counter products but it is not just limited to OTC skin-care products. Many prescription medicines used to treat acne also contain Benzoyl Peroxide as an active ingredient. 

According to the cosmetic dermatologist, Dr Chytra Anand,” BPO is a  topical medicated agent that can kill the p.acnes bacteria that can cause  acne.” 

Benzoyl peroxide attacks the bacteria that cause acne. It therefore also helps in reducing inflammation. Benzoyl Peroxide is usually prescribed to people who suffer from painful pustules that cause discomfort on touching. BPO can dry out the skin tremendously hence it is advised to use it only on the affected area in small quantities followed by a good moisturizer. 


What is Benzoyl Peroxide? | Kate Somerville
Kate Somerville

Difference between Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl peroxide: Acne 

The major difference between BPO and Salicylic acid is that Benzoyl peroxide attacks the bacteria that cause acne whereas salicylic acid penetrates the pores, unclogs, and exfoliates them eventually increasing the cell turnover and the healing pace. 


What should you use Salicylic Acid OR Benzoyl peroxide? 

Breaking it down in simpler terms, If you suffer from whiteheads or blackheads, you should use products containing salicylic acid so that it penetrates your pores and dissolves the debris that is clogging the pores. It also helps in treating hyperpigmentation and is also used in anti-ageing products as it increases cell turnover and rejuvenates the skin. 

Benzoyl Peroxide on the other hand is used to treat red, inflamed pustules that are often painful to the touch. It attacks the bacteria that cause these pustules thereby targeting the root cause of your acne.

 If used in moderation and according to the skin’s needs and the type of acne you’re suffering from, these ingredients can produce great results and help you achieve that flawless skin you have always longed for.


Also read: Fashion and clothing timeline through the historical lens

Like it? Share with your friends!