Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne VS Salicylic Acid for Acne

a woman suffering from acne is looking at herself in the mirror

Acne Breakouts


When it comes to skincare and finding the skincare products you look for the right ingredients that are best for fighting acne. The two best ingredients that are evergreen in any product that helps in getting rid of pimples and acne breakouts are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.  These two skin care product helps in reducing acne-causing bacteria. These ingredients are present in many products like cleansers, exfoliators, etc. 

Benzoyl Peroxide VS Salicylic Acid

Let us find the difference between the two ingredients:

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid for skin is being used widely for more years than benzoyl peroxide. These ingredients target the pimples and acne on the face. Salicylic acid has beta-hydroxy acid that works by going deep into the skin and getting mixed with other things that clog pores before it leads to breakouts. The things that get mixed into the pores may be the excess oil or dead skin cells. Salicylic acid has an anti-inflammatory property that helps in reducing the redness of the skin. Salicylic acid cream and salicylic acid gel are used for treating acne breakouts.
Salicylic acid is best for treating blackheads and whiteheads. These ingredients help in preventing the formation of future comedones.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an organic acid that is used for the treatment of acne for more than 50 years. It also has antimicrobial properties that lower the acne-causing bacteria that are called P acnes that develop on the skin. But applying benzoyl peroxide cream or benzoyl peroxide gel may cause skin irritation more than salicylic acid. If the concentration of benzoyl peroxide is higher it may cause redness and peeling of the skin.

Difference between salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide

The main difference between the two is in their reach as salicylic acid helps in eliminating dirt from the clogged pores. Whereas benzoyl peroxide for skin helps in killing the acne-causing bacteria. Both the ingredients help in fighting acne make the skin clear and glowing. Benzoyl peroxide is the most effective acne-fighting ingredient that can be used without any medical prescription, according to the American Academy of paediatrics and is more effective on pus-filled pimples known as pustules.

Side effects of these ingredients

The side effects of the ingredients vary from product to product but these salicylic acids and benzoyl peroxides are safe for everyone. A person who is usually allergic to aspirin must avoid using salicylic acid. Both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide may cause dryness and irritation while first use as allergic reactions to these ingredients is very rare, but if the allergy persists you must always consult the doctor and take his advice.
Some side effects of salicylic acid include:

  • Excess oil secretion blocks the pores
  • Dryness 
  • Hives
  • Peeling of skin
  • Itching
  • Stinging and tingling sensation

As benzoyl peroxide causes more dryness of the skin, it is not considered safe for sensitive skin and can lead to severe irritation. If you have the conditions like eczema, seborrheic acid and psoriasis, always consult the doctor before using benzoyl peroxide.

How to choose the best ingredient for yourself?

  • Always select the product depending upon the type of acne you have as salicylic acid is more beneficial for blackheads and whiteheads whereas benzoyl peroxides work better on pustules.
  • For severe breakouts, benzoyl peroxide is more effective than salicylic acid as it provides better spot treatment of acne instead of taking several weeks.
  • As benzoyl peroxide causes stains on the skin and clothes, using benzoyl peroxide must be avoided during daytime as sweat can transfer the stain to the clothes and apply salicylic acid instead.
  • Benzoyl peroxides are not meant for sensitive skin and they may irritate the skin while salicylic being milder will not affect the sensitive skin.
  • The instruction is always provided with the ingredients and this may cause other underlying diseases.

How to use salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxides containing products?

It is never recommended to use products containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxides in your skincare routine. Both the ingredients should not be used in all the products that you use like toner or moisturizer. Using this ingredient for every product of skincare can cause your skin to dry out and cause more acne breakouts. Hence it is also very important to use sunscreen whenever you step out to direct sun exposure as it can cause acne to worsen more and cause skin scarring and early ageing of the skin.

Salicylic acid can be used in many forms in creams, face wash, astringents and other over the counter products as it is very gentle on the skin and can be used twice a day. Here is one of the best anti-acne gels available online by Saturn by GHC containing salicylic acid that helps to clear out the acne and give your face a vibrant look.

Benzoyl peroxide can cause more skin irritation and dryness when applied in high concentration instead of less concentration. This ingredient may also be used twice a day after cleansing and toning of the skin. Apply only once if this ingredient is new for you to use.

Take Away

Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are the ingredients that help to clear out acne and prevent future breakouts. If you have any allergic reactions to any of the ingredients always seek help from the dermatologist and then apply.