You can spot conceal the occasional small blemish, but what happens when your face is effected by full-blown acne? Many have struggled with acne at some point in their lives and the common misconception is that acne is something you will grow out of. Acne can affect anyone at any age for a large variety of reasons. Some face hormonal acne while others may have painful cystic acne. If you are taking the fight against acne into your own hands, you probably already know the two major over-the-counter medications used in acne treatment: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. However, what you may not know is which medication is the correct one for your face. Vine Vera Skincare did some digging to discover how each of these acne medications work and how to tell which one is right for your skin.
Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial and a keratolytic, meaning that it dissolves keratin. Acne can be caused by a bacteria, P. acnes bacteria, which can not survive in environments that are oxygen rich. When benzoyl peroxide makes contact with your skin, it transforms into oxygen and benzoic acid. The oxygen attacks and destroys bacteria causing acne while benzoic acid makes skin dry and peel. As the skin becomes dry and peels, the skin is exfoliated and the plugs of dead skin cells are removed from your pores. Benzoyl peroxide can be incredibly powerful, which may irritate sensitive skin and cause redness, dryness or skin flaking.
Benzoyl peroxide is sold in a variety of concentrations, the highest being 10%. However, studies have shown that the 2.5% concentration of benzoyl peroxide is just as effective as a 10% benzoyl peroxide treatment and the 2.5% concentration will be less harsh on the skin than a higher level of benzoyl peroxide. Generally, benzoyl peroxide is most beneficial for people struggling with whiteheads. Benzoyl peroxide should be avoided by those with extremely sensitive or already dry skin.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) produced from the bark of willow trees. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid does not kill any bacteria. On the skin, salicylic acid corrects any abnormal shedding of skin cells and penetrates deeply to unclog pores and exfoliate the skin. Salicylic acid is also an anti-inflammatory, meaning that it can be good for reducing redness. Salicylic acid helps remove debris from pores and often provides less irritation than benzoyl peroxide.
Concentrations ranging from .5% to 2% are the most commonly used in salicylic acid acne products. Often, salicylic acids is most effective for those who have issues with blackheads and spots of inflammation. Salicylic acid is generally used by those with mild to moderate acne, oily or red skin and tends to cause much less irritation or dryness than benzoyl peroxide
Both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are both effective acne treatments, though each works in its own unique way. These acne fighters are available in a large assortment of skincare products from spot care creams or gels to cleansers and moisturizers. It is important to remember that both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid must be used continually, even after acne has cleared up. Discontinuing the use of these products will result in the return of acne. If you are still on the fence about whether benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid is best for you, or if you suffer from severe acne, it’s a good idea to head to your doctor or dermatologist to find out which medication will be most beneficial to your problem.