There are many ingredients in skin care products that can help fight acne, but few work as quickly and effectively as benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide kills acne bacteria upon contact, and since it is not an antibiotic, bacteria cannot become resistant to it. That means that you can use benzoyl peroxide every day and never have to worry that it will stop working.
One of the best ways to incorporate benzoyl peroxide into your daily acne-fighting regimen is to use a benzoyl peroxide wash every morning and evening. While creams containing benzoyl peroxide that you leave on your face also work well, they can dry out your skin.
Since benzoyl peroxide kills acne bacteria very quickly, many people find that they can keep their acne-prone skin completely clear just be using a benzoyl peroxide wash every day and don’t even need to combine it with a leave-on acne product.
However, stubborn cases of acne can benefit from both a benzoyl peroxide wash and a leave-on acne remedy, and the power of the two combined can wipe out even the most stubborn acne.
For the best results with most benzoyl peroxide washes, massage the wash into your face for 60 seconds. Taking just a minute to massage the cleanser into your face can help ensure that even the most stubborn acne bacteria are killed.
Which benzoyl peroxide wash should you try? Here are the best benzoyl peroxide washes, their advantages and disadvantages, and which skin types they are best for. Once you learn a little about each one, pick the one that sounds most suitable for your skin!
1. Derma Topix Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Wash
This benzoyl peroxide wash is very powerful. It contains 10-percent benzoyl peroxide, which is the highest percentage of the acne-fighting ingredient you will find in any cleanser available without a prescription.
This is a non-foaming cleanser with very few ingredients, which makes it a great option if you want a strong, basic BP wash that is unlikely to contain any of your unknown acne-triggers or plant extracts you may be allergic to.
Contains olefin sulfonate, which is a surfactant that helps provide a deep clean. Carbomer provides a great “slip” that makes the wash easy to massage on your face.
- Powerful, basic acne cleanser that does a great job at killing acne bacteria.
- It is great for stubborn back acne.
- Large 8 oz. bottle will last a long time.
- The product’s high percentage of benzoyl peroxide can make it a little harsh for sensitive skin.
2. Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body & Face Wash
This body and face wash is also super-powerful with a full 10-percent benzoyl peroxide. It is also non-foaming and has a bare bones ingredient list that is great in an acne produce; the fewer the ingredients, the less likely a product is to contain an ingredient that you may have an unknown sensitivity to.
While not certified organic, if you are looking for a BP cleanser with all-natural added ingredients, then this is a great option. This product is also 100-percent cruelty-free and not tested on animals. In addition, it made in the USA and comes in recyclable packaging.
The additional cleansing agent in this is Cocamidopropyl Betaine, which is very gentle and derived from coconuts.
- Great option if you are eco-conscious.
- Large, 8-oz bottle with handy pump.
- No parabens.
- A bit pricier than the Topix wash.
- Can be a little harsh for sensitive skin.
3. PanOxyl – 4 Acne Cream Wash 4% Benzoyl Peroxide
While this acne wash contains just 4-percent benzoyl peroxide, many people find it very effective. In addition to benzoyl peroxide, it contains both glycolic acid and lactic acid. Both of these ingredients exfoliate your face and remove the dead skin that can end up clogging your pores.
This creamy wash also contains several moisturizing ingredients, including glycerin and cetearyl alcohol, making it a great option if you have acne and dry skin.
- Gentle, yet effective option for sensitive and/or dry skin.
- Exfoliates and kills acne bacteria.
- Cetearyl alcohol is slightly comedogenic, but it does not cause everyone to break out. If you have a known sensitivity to this ingredient, then try another option.
4. Dr Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Medical Acne Wash
While this is another powerful 10-percent benzoyl peroxide wash, it is created with micro-benzoyl peroxide that the company states is less irritating than typical BP. This is another good basic, powerful acne wash that is a good option if you find other high-strength benzoyl peroxide washes a little irritating, yet have stubborn acne that doesn’t respond to gentler formulas.
- 100-day money-back guarantee.
- Mid-range in price. Large, 8-oz bottle with pump.
- Many find it less irritating than other 10-percent strength BP washes.
- No full ingredient list available.
5. Clean & Clear ADVANTAGE 3-In-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
This cleanser combines the bacterial-killing power of 5-percent benzoyl peroxide with another ingredient commonly used to treat acne called zinc lactate. Dermatologists often recommend washes that contain zinc to help combat acne that is caused by fungus. If your acne is predominantly around your hairline, then it may be fungal, and the zinc in this product will be a great addition to your skincare routine.
In addition, it contains microbeads that exfoliate your face as you massage the cleanser in. This removes dead skin and gives your face a fresh glow. Several moisturizing ingredients, including petrolatum and glycerin, help prevent skin dryness.
- Very affordable.
- Great combination of ingredients that target several types of acne.
- Scented and contains menthol.
- Both can irritate sensitive skin, but fortunately, there is very little of both in the product.
6. Derma Topix Benzoyl Peroxide 5% Wash
Topix offers several formulations of benzoyl peroxide acne washes, and this version is a great addition to their line. Just like their 10-percent BP wash, this formula contains only five non-comedogenic ingredients.
However, it is created with just 5-percent benzoyl peroxide, which makes it more suitable for more sensitive and drier skin types than the 10-percent formulation.
- Same large 8 oz bottle as their 10-percent wash.
- Very few ingredients and all are non-comedogenic.
- No moisturizers or skin soothing ingredients.
7. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Benzoyl Peroxide
If you love using a face wash that lathers, then you will love this benzoyl peroxide wash. There are very few other benzoyl peroxide cleansers on the market that lather, and some people enjoy foaming cleansers.
While this wash contains 10-percent benzoyl peroxide to kill acne bacteria, it also has several other beneficial ingredients, just like their 4-percent creamy wash.
Glycolic acid and lactic acid exfoliate dead skin cells on your face that can enter your pores and clog them, and added moisturizers, including glycerin and cetearyl alcohol, restore moisture to your skin.
- Good option if you have dry skin but feel you need the power of a 10-percent strength benzoyl peroxide wash.
- Foaming action that is rare in benzoyl peroxide washes.
- Smaller 5.5 oz bottle.
- Adding moisturizing ingredients can trigger acne in some people, but not all.
8. Derma Topix Benzoyl Peroxide 10%, Benzaderm Wash with Aloe Vera
While the other two Derma Topix benzoyl peroxide washes on the list are formulated exactly the same aside from the percentage of benzoyl peroxide in them, this one has different additional ingredients.
The number two ingredient on the list, which means that there is a very high percentage of the ingredient, is aloe vera. Aloe vera is very soothing to the skin, and it is also non-comedogenic. That makes this formula a better option for sensitive skin than their more basic formula.
- Aloe vera soothes sensitive skin as powerful 10-percent BP formulation kills acne bacteria.
- 7.75 oz bottle is slightly smaller than the 8 oz bottles their original formulas come in.
- No added moisturizers, so still not the best option for dry skin.
9. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser
Like the Clean & Clear ADVANTAGE face wash, this acne cleanser combines the acne bacteria killing power of benzoyl peroxide with the anti-fungal power of zinc lactate. It also contains menthol, which provides a refreshing smell to the formula.
However, this acne wash contains double the benzoyl peroxide, and BP makes up a full 10-percent of this formula. In addition, unlike the Clean & Clear ADVANTAGE, Neutrogena Rapid Clear contains no microbeads.
This formulation contains several moisturizers, including petrolatum, cetyl alcohol, and glycerin.
- A great option if you like Clean & Clear ADVANTAGE face wash formula, but want a more powerful formula.
- Very affordable.
- Zinc lactate can help you get rid of stubborn hairline acne.
- Moisturizers are great for dry skin.
- Also contains menthol and fragrance, which some people find irritating to their skin.
- Cetyl alcohol and a surfactant in the formula, laureth-4, are both slightly comedogenic.
10. Acnefree Oil Free Acne Cleanser
With just 2.5-percent benzoyl peroxide, Acnefree Oil Free Acne Cleanser is a great option if you have found other BP cleansers too harsh or drying.
Along with a low-concentration of benzoyl peroxide, this cleanser is also filled with skin soothing and moisturizing ingredients that can also help combat redness or dryness that can occur in sensitive skin when using a BP wash.
Skin-soothing ingredients include bisabolol, sea whip, and chamomile extract. Moisturizing ingredients include glycerin, stearic acid, and cetyl alcohol. Radish root ferment filtrate and ginger root extract are two other great additions to the formula, and both are antioxidants that help protect your skin form free radical damage.
- Extremely affordable.
- Gentle, yet still powerful. Skin soothing and moisturizing ingredients make this a great formula for sensitive and dry skin types.
- Large 8 oz bottle.
- While a great moisturizer, stearic acid is slightly comedogenic and can trigger breakouts in some.
- Longer ingredient list means a higher potential of the formula containing an unknown allergen of yours.
Once you choose the benzoyl peroxide wash that you think is most suitable for your skin type, it is important start slowly if you have never used a benzoyl peroxide wash before.
Start by using it once each day, such as just in the evening, and using a gentle non-comedogenic cleanser that doesn’t contain BP in the morning.
Whenever you are using benzoyl peroxide in your skincare routine, whether is is a face wash or leave-on formula, it is very important to use a sunscreen during the day time.
Benzoyl peroxide makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, and you don’t add a sunscreen into your skincare routine when using benzoyl peroxide, you can get sunburned much more easily.
Once your skin has adjusted to your benzoyl peroxide wash, you can begin using it every morning and evening if you feel you need the extra acne-bacteria killing step in your routine.
While some people can get rid of their acne by just using a benzoyl peroxide wash twice a day, not everyone can. If you find that after using your BP wash twice a day for about a month you still have acne remaining, then follow these tips to further combat your acne problem:
1. Make sure your makeup isn’t causing your breakouts.
If you wear foundation and/or face powder, then try going a few days without it to see if your skin clears up. If it does, then that does not mean that you have to stop wearing makeup altogether, but it does mean that the current product you are using is not right for you. Dermatoligists typically recommend that acne-suffered wear powdered mineral foundations, because they are less likely to trigger acne breakouts than liquid or cream formulas.
2. Add a gentle liquid exfoliator into your routine.
While some BP washes contain exfoliating ingredients, many don’t. Even if your formula does contain glycolic acid or lactic acid, it is only left on your face for the short period of time you are cleansing, and unlike benzoyl peroxide, many exfoliating ingredients need more time to do their job thoroughly.
A great additional product to add to your routine after your BP wash has begun to help you get rid of your acne is a liquid exfoliating toner that contains salicylic acid. Glycolic acid and lactic acid remove more dead skin cells from the surface of your skin than they do inside your pores; salicylic acid penetrates much deeper into your pores to unclog them.
3. Consider cutting dairy out of your diet.
If you are eating or drinking something that is causing your acne, then even the best skincare routine can have difficulty keeping the acne away. Many people find that their acne clears up when they stop drinking milk and eating dairy products, and cutting them from your diet for just a week can help you determine if they are a problem for you or not.
4. Apply a leave-on benzoyl peroxide cream or gel after your toner.
If your BP cleanser and exfoliating toner still don’t eliminate your acne completely, then ending your skincare routine with a leave-on benzoyl peroxide product. While you may be tempted to to with a powerful 10-percent leave-on product, start with just a 2.5-percent BP formula to avoid drying out your skin unnecessarily.
In fact, many studies have compared the effectiveness of 2.5-percent benzoyl peroxide creams to 10-percent creams and have found that many people have just as much success with the 2.5-percent formula as they do the 10-percent formula without dryness the stronger formula can cause.
5. A weekly clay mask can be very beneficial for oily skin.
Acne occurs when acne bacteria, dead skin cells, and sebum (skin oil) all mix together in your skin pore and clog it. Your pore then becomes inflamed due to your body trying to get rid of the clog, and that causes blemishes.
If your skin is still very oily even when using benzoyl peroxide washes and other treatments, then a weekly clay mask can further help reduce the oiliness of your skin. The clay goes on wet, and then as it dries, it sucks the oil out of your pores.
6. Drink green tea.
Many acne-sufferers report that their acne either became more manageable or went away altogether when they started drinking green tea every day. Green tea is filled with powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation in all organs of your body.
Since acne is an inflammatory response in your body, drinking green tea can reduce inflammation in your skin and prevent those clogged pores from becoming full, inflamed acne blemishes.
7. Change your pillowcases every night.
It may sound too simple, but just changing your pillowcase every night can help you get rid of your acne. No matter how clean and bacteria-free you keep your face, all of your hard work can go to waste if you lie down on a dirty pillowcase at night.
8. Back acne often needs more powerful treatment than face acne.
If you suffer with back acne and are using the same skincare routine to help manage it as you are your face, then realize that the skin on your back is much thicker and can handle more powerful acne medications than your face can.
That means that if even if you have managed to get rid of your facial acne by using a 2.5-percent or 5-percent benzoyl peroxide wash, and the same formula is not working on your back, then it is a good idea to try a full 10-percent BP wash on your back.
Also, while 10-percent benzoyl peroxide creams are typically too harsh for facial use, you may be able to use them on your back without irritation and to finally get rid of those annoying back blemishes.
9. Use special treatments for red marks left behind by acne.
Once you have perfected your acne-fighting routine and have finally begun to see great progress in your skin, you may fear that the red marks left behind after your acne is erased are there for good.
Don’t worry, because those red marks are simply PIH, which stands for post-inflammatory pigmentation, and will go away on their own over time. However, you can help them fade more quickly by dabbing a product made specifically for post-acne red marks on them every day.
Ingredients that are great for speeding up healing of those marks include glycolic acid and niacinamide. Glycolic acid causes your skin to release dead surface skin cells and replace them with new, healthy cells much more quickly.
Niacinamide doesn’t exfoliate your skin, but it has been shown in studies to help erase all types of skin pigmentation faster when applied to the skin every day.
10. Chemical peels can help heal deep acne scars.
While most acne doesn’t leave lasting scars, severe cystic acne can. If you notice indentations in your skin after your acne heals, then also don’t worry, because there are treatments that can help smooth out the surface of your skin.
One way to help cystic acne scars heal is to visit an esthetician or dermatologist to obtain a chemical peel. There are several types of chemical peels, and some are much stronger than others. Your esthetician or dermatologist will recommend one that is the right strength for you.
You may have to go back for several peels to smooth out deeper scars, but in the end, once the scars are gone, they will be gone for good!
If you have acne on your face or body, then use this guide to the best benzoyl peroxide washes of 2016 to help you find the right wash that will kill acne bacteria as you cleanse your face.
Remember that the key to success when using any benzoyl peroxide wash is to massage it into your damp skin for at least one minute. Also remember that while milder cases of acne can be completely eradicated by using a benzoyl peroxide wash, to get rid of moderate to severe acne, you will likely have to add a salicylic acid toner and leave-on benzoyl peroxide product into your routine after your skin has adjusted to your benzoyl peroxide wash to clear your acne up completely.
If you are trying a benzoyl peroxide wash for the first time, start with a low-strength formula, such as the 2.5-, 4-, or 5-percent benzoyl peroxide washes, and start by using it only once per day.
Once you know that your skin can handle the product, then begin using it twice a day, and eventually add other acne-fighting steps into your skincare routine if you need them!