I’ve always preferred the natural alternative and religiously avoid chemicals in my food, body products and water, but when my acne was really bad and I was having trouble getting rid of it, I resorted to putting a strong chemical on my face – Benzoyl Peroxide (BP).
At the peak of my skin condition when I was at a complete loss as to what to do, I did hours and hours of research on acne treatments and BP just kept coming up. I even went to the library and read some journals written by dermatologists, and BP was written as the ‘gold’ of acne treatments. I wasn’t particularly comfortable about putting such a strong chemical on my face but all of these resources promised that it would give me beautiful clear skin so I decided to go for it. I just ignored the fact that it kept bleaching my towels even after I’d washed and rinsed my hands.
A couple of weeks into using the BP, my skin started to get dry. And then it got dryer and dryer until I had to greatly reduce the amount I was using and paste as much moisturiser and oil as I could onto my face to get rid of the flakiness and tight skin. It was really horrible. My acne was improving but my skin started looking tired and old because it was so dry. Even worse was that I couldn’t wear my makeup, because girls we all know what happens when you put makeup on dry skin …not a good look.
There is a very large and very successful website, acne.org, which is focused on Benzoyl Peroxide and its use to clear up acne prone skin. The videos and resources on the site are quite good and do an excellent job at convincing you that BP is the miracle acne cure. The message boards are also great and are packed full of acne sufferers. This is all good, however, I don’t think the creator of acne.org has the best interest of acne sufferers in mind. Yes, BP does clear up acne in a lot of cases, but the side effects just aren’t worth it, it’s not a good idea to use such a harsh chemical for such a long period of time, and most importantly – it is not solving the actual cause of the acne itself. You need to consider why you’re getting acne, then work on fixing that. If you just try and clear the spots, you’ll most likely continue to get the problem until you finally fix the cause.
Underneath the dry skin I started to develop cystic acne. I’d had a few cysts before but on the BP they were getting worse. I think all the dry skin must have started plugging up my pores really badly. The BP was doing a good job at keeping the acne under control but my pores kept plugging up so I think there was a bit of a battle going on with my clogged pores and the BP trying to fight them.
I persisted with the treatment for about two months until I’d just had enough. I realised that while the BP could clear my skin by a good 95%, I would always have that last little bit of acne simply because of the dry state of my skin, and my skin looked like $%^%$. Resources all over the net claimed that the dryness would eventually go away but there was no way I was waiting. I followed all of the tips and techniques that I found in resources and forums but none of them did a good enough job at getting rid of my dry skin. I’m 28 and I started to feel like I was looking somewhere in my 30′s. Dry, flakey and red skin looked worse than the actual acne that I had.
In addition, resources on the net also claimed that you shouldn’t go off the BP because your acne would come back. I didn’t like this at all. It was difficult for me to put such a strong chemical on my face in the first place, let alone use it for an indefinite period of time. I really feel sorry for people that have a need to apply peroxide onto their face every single day. Your skin is a massive living organ that soaks in everything you put onto it. My face is too close to my brain to consider putting peroxide onto it.
So, I went off the BP and now my skin has cleared and it wasn’t because of any harsh chemical that I put onto my face. It did take almost a week though to get rid of my dry skin. Quite honestly, I’m now of the opinion that using antibiotics is less harmful to your body because you don’t use them ‘forever’ nor does it appear to have the same side effects and possible permanent harm that BP has. Antibiotics are not that great for you but in comparison, I think BP is a lot worse. Here’s why …
Why Benzoyl Peroxide Is Really Bad
- Dries out most skin types, and in some cases excessive dryness and flaking.
- Stains your towels, even after you’ve washed and rinsed your face and hands.
- Can bleach your eyebrows and hair.
- Can cause increased redness and irritation.
- Removes the top layer of skin, which also decreases the sun protective effect (roughly SPF 3), making you more susceptible to sun damage.
- Benzoyl peroxide used to be labeled as a category 1 acne treatment product by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), then they changed it to a category 3 product which means the safety is unknown. At this point in time, it still remains under that category.
- Repeated sun exposure or BP use generates free radicals that damage the skin’s structure and cellular DNA, resulting in premature aging of the skin.
- Because BP generates free radicals it interferes with and slows the healing process. The red and brown marks that are a part of the acne healing process may last weeks longer when BP is a regular part of the daily regimen.
- The product is tested on animals.
And this is also quick shocking information …
BP has been linked to cancer for a number of years and many research journal entries state "benzoyl peroxide is a free radical-generating skin tumor promoting agent." Performing a word search of the words "benzoyl peroxide cancer" in PubMed in the National Library of Medicine produces 102 articles from medical publications dealing with research aspects of BP and cancer. About two-thirds of the research supports linkage between BP and skin cancer.
"In 1995 the FDA changed benzoyl peroxide from a Category I (safe) to a Category III (safety is uncertain) ingredient and stated this action (56 FR 37622) was based on new information that raised a safety concern regarding benzoyl peroxide as a tumor promoter in mice…" Additionally the FDA charged manufacturers with the responsibility of providing this information to consumers so they could make educated decisions. Many manufacturers and product marketers have not provided this information so consumers can be advised of the potential dangers.
Now that I’ve done research as to why Benzoyl Peroxide is so bad, I can’t believe I even considered putting it onto my face. I had a moment of desperation where diet and natural treatments didn’t seem to be working and I was getting really impatient. With the knowledge I have now, I would never have taken it, I would have resorted to the natural treatments I use now. Worst case, I’d go on a course of antibiotics.
Look out for Benzoyl Peroxide in any acne treatments or washes that you use. Proactiv solution contains a lot of BP and so do most over the counter acne treatments.
Not sure what else to do? You’re better off sticking to natural products, using the oil cleansing method, following a really healthy diet, exercising and doing relaxation techniques every day, and finding out the root cause of your acne and treating that with natural supplements. If your acne is severe, then consider taking antibiotics or the contraceptive pill if you’re female.
I hope this post has helped someone to consider not using Benzoyl Peroxide.