If you’ve ever dealt with acne in your life, you know that treating it is a painful process. Aside from religiously doing your research to find out what products work best for your skin type, it can be quite costly as well.

Whether you’re reaching for drugstore or high-end skincare, you might have encountered an ingredient that’s always common in acne-fighting products: benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide for acne is a well-known skincare ingredient that’s not actually new. It’s a reliable antiseptic frequently used by dermatologists since the 1950s. It’s a really powerful ingredient, but it is important to know exactly how to use benzoyl peroxide and incorporate it properly into your current skincare routine.

If you’re a skincare enthusiast looking for the deets on how benzoyl peroxide works to get rid of acne and when to use it, keep reading!

Benzoyl peroxide for acne: why is it effective?

how to use benzoyl peroxide - toner

Since acne is mostly an inflammatory skin condition, benzoyl peroxide works well to unclog pores and reduce the appearance of red spots. It’s also an antiseptic so it effectively kills the bacteria on the surface of the skin.

Whenever we talk about combating acne, we often look at two important factors: eliminating acne-causing bacteria and soothing inflammation.

Considered one of the most effective over-the-counter acne-fighting options, benzoyl peroxide does precisely these. It breaks down oxygen on the skin to reduce the proliferation of acne-causing bacteria, while combating inflammation that’s responsible for triggering the unsightly redness of acne.

Does benzoyl peroxide work on all skin types?

how to use benzoyl peroxide face wash

For most, using benzoyl peroxide for acne is a great way to treat it while preventing future breakouts, but some skin types react better to wait than others. Some of its side effects include irritation, redness, dry skin, and even allergies for those with sensitive skin.

People with oily skin might not be hurt by this, but to those who have extra-dry skin, it’s highly advisable to incorporate intensely moisturising skincare products to your routine to fight the dryness effect while you’re using benzoyl peroxide for acne.

When should you use benzoyl peroxide?

how to use benzoyl peroxide daily routine

In its nature, benzoyl peroxide is perfect for treating active acne and preventing them from coming back. So if you’re having breakout, benzoyl peroxide is a great treatment to cure it fast. Since it’s one of the most powerful actives to get OTC, you can easily get it from any drugstore’s skincare aisle.

How to use benzoyl peroxide for acne?

Benzoyl peroxide for acne skincare products are widely available over the counter. They can be found in spot treatments, toner, facial wash, etc. If your condition requires a higher strength formulation, you can refer to a dermatologist to give you a prescription.

Paula’s Choice Clear Extra Strength Anti-Acne Treatment 5% Benzoyl Peroxide

Use benzoyl peroxide as a toner

Use benzoyl peroxide as a toner

Toner works as a topical treatment, and what’s great about benzoyl peroxide in toner form is that you have more control over where you wanna apply the product on your skin. This process is more ideal for those who experience dryness when using this active ingredient.

To apply it safely, get a cotton ball and add a small amount of toner until it’s damp. Press (not drag!) the cotton ball on the affected areas of the face and let it dry.

Retails for RM115.

Paula’s Choice website

Glossier Zit Stick

Use benzoyl peroxide as a spot treatment

Use benzoyl peroxide as a spot treatment

Benzoyl peroxide works its magic by eliminating bacteria from clogged pores. Clogged pores are where cysts and acne symptoms show up, so by using a spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide, you’re specifically targeting the exact spot where the bacteria is.

To apply spot treatment safely, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat it dry. Since benzoyl peroxide spot treatments usually come in gel form, use your fingers to put a thin layer on the affected areas.

Retails for RM103. Check the link below for the latest promotion.


CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Use benzoyl peroxide as a face cleanser

Use benzoyl peroxide as a face cleanser

Using a benzoyl peroxide face cleanser is an effective way of keeping bacteria-causing acne at bay. Cleansers that contain benzoyl peroxide can also be used on other parts of the body to fight concerns like back acne – they’re not just suitable for the face!

To apply benzoyl peroxide face wash safely, wet your face first then put a small amount of product on your hands. Smooth the product on your face and don’t leave it on for no more than one to two minutes.

Rinse your face with water thoroughly and pat dry.

Retails for RM95.


What kind of benzoyl peroxide product should you use?

The kind of benzoyl peroxide product you use depends on your skin condition.

Have mild acne? A gel that contains 5 per cent benzoyl peroxide will work.

Seeing whiteheads? Face washes are going to help prevent them from turning into acne.

However, if your acne condition is more severe, benzoyl peroxide may not be able to work on its own and has to be used as a part of other prescribed treatments such as a topical retinoid or antibiotic. Note that these are clinical treatments that need to be prescribed by a dermatologist, so discuss with yours for the most appropriate protocol.

Tips on how to use benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide can be a really effective acne treatment, as long as you stick to the long and arduous process. To make your whole journey with benzoyl peroxide easier, here are some tips on how to use benzoyl peroxide so you won’t suffer from the common usage pitfalls.

1. Never forget your sunscreen

Benzoyl peroxide can be quite lethal on your acne, but it can wear out your face’s ability to protect itself from sun damage! During use, you might notice that your face will be more prone to sunburn, so don’t forget your sunscreen!

Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, oil-free, and breathable enough to use every day. Not only will you get your acne cleared, you’d also be protecting your skin from premature ageing!

2. Keep it away from your hair and fabrics

Benzoyl peroxide has an ability to stain everything it touches, including your hair and every kind of fabric, including your shirt and face towel.

To prevent this from happening, there are a couple things you can do. First, always wash your hands after using any product containing benzoyl peroxide.

If you use any lotion or cream containing this active ingredient, let it dry completely before changing your clothes or lying down on your bed at night. You don’t wanna ruin your favourite pillow!

If you have dark hair, you might also need to keep your hair back because BPO can cause bleaching on your hairline.

3. Moisturise daily

Since drying and flakiness are the most common side effects of using benzoyl peroxide, it’s extremely important to minimise the damage by using moisturiser every day. Prolonged use of this active ingredient may cause your skin to burn, flake, and peel, especially if you already have dry skin to begin with.

But even if you have oily skin, moisturisation is still essential. If you’re looking for recommendations, consider investing in one of these 25 best moisturisers for oily skin.