Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are both well-known acne fighting ingredients. Both of which can be regularly found formulated in over the counter products as well as prescription blends. With a variety of skincare products available, you will find it an easy task to find the right formula for you and your skin.
However, with such potent ingredients, there are some common side effects connected to these powerhouse actives. Not to worry as we will cover this in today’s blog post, and with any luck, we will also answer the question, can you use benzoyl peroxide after salicylic acid?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s first have a brief recap of these ingredients and the benefits they deliver to the skin.
What is benzoyl peroxide?
Benzoyl peroxide is the most potent and effective acne fighting ingredient. You’ll often find that it’s used as a prescription as many find this strength to be the most effective at combating any concerns with breakouts and blemishes, especially those that are large, red, and swollen. The way that benzoyl peroxide works differently to salicylic acid is the fact it combats the bacteria found on the skin that can form frequent breakouts and flare-ups in acne.
The main downside to using such a potent ingredient, is the risk of causing your skin some unwanted irritation, especially if you have a sensitive skin type. To avoid severe irritation, it is advised to not use benzoyl peroxide if you suffer from the following conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis. I suggest you consult with a doctor before introducing anything new into your skincare routine.
What is salicylic acid?
The most used beta hydroxy acid, BHA, salicylic acid is one of the most potent chemical exfoliants. Compared to other acids, it’s oil soluble and works deeply into the skin, reaching the bottom of the pores and unclogging them of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, and other impurities.
Salicylic acid is proven to have the best results with whiteheads and blackheads. With continuous use you’ll find maintaining your skin clarity is easy and effective, thanks to the acid sloughing away dead skin cells, and ridding the skin of dirt and bacteria. The downside to this spot banishing acid is its tendency to cause itchiness, stinging, tingling, and peeling of the skin. You will also find that if overused or applied incorrectly, salicylic acid can strip the skin of all oil leaving it feeling uncomfortable and severely dry. This will lead to the skin overproducing sebum (the natural oil in the skin) which results in even more breakouts.
What goes on first benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid?
The general rule of thumb when using skincare products is to start with the thinnest consistency and work your up to the thickest. This will determine which ingredient will be applied to the skin first. To keep your skin happy and healthy, it’s best to wait about 10-15 minutes in between applications as this allows the skin enough time to rebalance and the pH levels to settle, ready for the next step in your routine.
Another way of using both ingredients in your routine is alternating the time of day you apply them to your skin. Many users favour applying salicylic acid enriched toners during your morning routine, opting to follow this with benzoyl peroxide serums to work in the evening. Ideally, you’re better off using potent ingredients during your evening routine as there is less risk of them encountering free radical damage and exposure, such as exposure to UV rays and pollution.
Should I use salicylic acid before benzoyl peroxide?
Well, it’s down to your skincare product, as I have already mentioned about applying your skincare routine from thinnest to thickest consistency. It is considered safe to use salicylic acid before benzoyl peroxide, ensuring you are confident in applying them the correct way and have built a skin tolerance.
If you have any concerns, you aren’t sure of the best way of using your products, consult with a doctor or dermatologist. You can also check out our dedicated blog post about whether you should use benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid first.
Can you use salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide for acne?
Yes, absolutely! Both ingredients are highly effective at treating acne and many find teaming them together deliver impressive results.
You’ll often find that salicylic acid is the most used out of the two ingredients, due to it being more readily available in over-the-counter formulas. Benzoyl peroxide is often suggested my dermatologists to tackle mild to moderate acne and blemishes. For more severe acne teaming both ingredients are the ultimate power duo but is something that requires time and commitment. This is because you are at risk of stripping the skin of essential sebum and can cause extreme irritation, so ensure you build your skin’s tolerance to these ingredients. You can expect to start seeing improvements in your skin clarity after 2 months, but if you suffer from the smallest irritation, stop using your products and seek medical advice.
How long should I wait to apply moisturiser after benzoyl peroxide?
After applying products enriched in benzoyl peroxide, it’s best to wait for the product to absorb fully into the skin before using a moisturiser. For an added boost, it’s thought handy to opt for a moisturiser that contains a hydrating ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid to help lock moisture into place. You should also double check the moisturiser formula contains non-comedogenic ingredients as this would be counteractive. Instead, gel-based moisturisers will not only keep the skin hydrated, but you will also apply a physical barrier on the surface of the skin. This will help with extra protection for the skin preventing any free radicals, bacteria, and every day impurities absorbing into the skin.
Is salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide better for hormonal acne?
When treating hormonal acne, benzoyl peroxide is considered the superior ingredient due to its ability to target, larger papules on the chin, cheek, and jawline. You will also find, that out of the two ingredients, benzoyl peroxide contains anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties that salicylic acid is lacking. Benzoyl peroxide can work deeply in the skin by destroying any bacteria and excess sebum that can clog the pores and cause inflammation.
There you have a little more detail about using benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid to combat acne. Don’t forget, if you have any further questions, come, and follow us on Instagram.