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Salicylic Acid vs Benzoyl Peroxide: Differences, Benefits & How To Layer Them Together

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Salicylic acid belongs to the beta-hydroxy acid family of acids and has a mild exfoliating effect when compared to other skincare acids. Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin’s surface layers when applied topically. By dissolving the bonds that hold skin cells together, salicylic acid causes them to shed or peel. As the skin regenerates, it gets refreshed. Salicylic acid for acne is a popular skincare product!

BPO (benzoyl peroxide) is a non-prescription acne treatment that works by killing acne-causing bacteria in the pores. BPO is generally used as an exfoliant, promoting skin turnover and removing a combination of sebum and dead skin cells from the pores. Benzoyl Peroxide for acne is another popular topical treatment for acne!

Benefits of Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid has several benefits- 

  • It removes dead skin cells and blocked oils from the pores, preventing acne outbreaks. 
  • It has anti-inflammatory qualities and can exfoliate skin cells by breaking down intercellular connections. 
  • Due to its healing properties, dermatologists regularly employ salicylic acid to treat skin disorders such as acne, melasma, freckles, dark spots, acne scars, and sunspots. 
  • It can also help with dark circles, however, only a medical practitioner should administer Salicylic Acid usage near the eyes.

 

Benefits Of Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide has been shown to be beneficial in treating acne- 

  • It can penetrate deep into your pores and kill acne-causing bacteria.
  • Although some people might find this unwanted, Benzoyl peroxide can peel the outer layer of the skin which can help with acne spots.
  • It is great for treating mild and moderate acne.
  • It can also prevent antibiotic resistance.
  • Although both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can help with acne, benzoyl peroxide can show results way too quickly than salicylic acid. 

Two of the most well-known acne-fighting chemicals are Salicylic acid and Benzoyl peroxide. Both Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid help treat moderate acne and prevent future outbreaks and are widely accessible over the counter (OTC) but that being said they are still different in action. While benzoyl peroxide stays on the surface, salicylic acid functions as an exfoliator underneath the skin’s surface to target the root causes of acne. Benzoyl peroxide gives faster results but can cause skin drying. 

Both Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid are very effective OTC treatments, most effective for the treatment of acne. If blackheads or whiteheads are your main concern then Salicylic acid is a choice for you as it is the most effective treatment for blackheads and whiteheads. When used on a regular basis, this chemical may also help to prevent the formation of new comedones. On the other hand, Benzoyl Peroxide is most effective with active, inflamed pimples. Benzoyl peroxide is the most effective acne-fighting chemical available without a prescription, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It works well on pimples that are red and pus-filled (pustules). You can rub a pea-sized amount of these chemicals on your face separately and observe after 24 hours to decide which one treats your condition better.

Well, it’s highly advised to not use or layer Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl peroxide together. But one way of effectively and safely using them simultaneously is by applying them to different areas of your face. You can apply salicylic acid on your blackheads and whiteheads, while benzoyl peroxide could be used over inflamed, active acne.

Read the label or go through the ingredients of the product. Both Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide are explicitly mentioned if present in a product.

While salicylic acid is a mild acid, a patch test is always advised to see if it suits your skin or not-

  • Dryness: In case you feel it making your skin dry, use good moisturizers to counter it. 
  • Allergic reactions: In case of irritation, burning, or redness, stop using immediately! 

Benzoyl Peroxide on the other hand, though being more effective and showing faster results, has some side effects-

  • Dryness: It could make your skin extremely dry and flaky. 
  • Bleaching Properties: It also has bleaching properties and can bleach your clothes. 
  • Not Suitable for Sensitive Skin: If you have any underlying skin diseases like eczema, always consult a doctor before using any product containing Benzoyl Peroxide

Use pea-sized amounts of your desired chemical on the problem area only. While salicylic acid can be used all over the face, benzoyl peroxide should only be applied over the acne or acne spot that you want to be treated. Always do a 24-hour patch test before applying any skincare product.

When it comes to over-the-counter acne treatments, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are the two substances that work best to get rid of even the toughest zits. Salicylic acid for acne and acne-prone skin and Benzoyl peroxide for acne and acne-prone skin both work magically!  Both fight acne-causing germs and dirt, but that’s where the similarities end. Choosing the product that best suits your skin condition is necessary to get the best results. 

  • Which is better for sensitive skin? Salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide?

Salicylic acid is preferred for sensitive skin as it is milder.

  • Is benzoyl peroxide safe for pregnant women?

It’s not recommended for pregnant women to use any harsh chemicals without a doctor’s consultation. 

 

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