Today's Ingredient Watch post is about benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient present in most over the counter anti-acne treatments. It is also used in skincare products, teeth whitening products and hair dyes.
Important Note: Let me just preface this post by saying I am not a dermatologist or medical professional. Within this and all past and future posts discussing beauty product ingredients, my aim is to collate and summarise information and present it in a way that is accessible and informative. I will always use the most reliable sources of information available to me, and attempt to present it in an honest and unbiased way. If you feel that any of my posts have incorrect information, or you believe there is something important to add, please don’t hesitate to let me know by leaving a comment or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is important to me that I get it right.
What does it do: Benzoyl peroxide does a number of things, including:
· Acting as a peeling agent or chemical exfoliant, it helps to lift the upper skin layers and increase the rate of skin turn over
· Clearing pores of dead skin cells, preventing blemishes caused by blockages
· Creating an oxygen rich environment within the pore, killing the bacteria that commonly causes acne
· Lightening and whitening teeth and hair
The Good: Benzoyl peroxide is very effective in preventing and reducing breakouts. By helping to remove the top layers of dead skin, it also helps to make the skin look more radiant and even.
The Bad: Most users experience dryness and mild irritation initially, which usually subsides in a week or two, while the skin acclimates. Other, more serious, but less common side-effects include burning, itching, swelling and peeling.
The Ugly: In the 1990’s benzoyl peroxide was thought to be a carcinogen, or cancer causing chemical. More recent studies have been unable to find evidence of this. The FDA in the US classifies it as a chemical safe and effective for over the counter topical treatments.
Some Considerations When Using: Benzoyl peroxide does irritate the skin. If you are new to using products containing the chemical, using lower doses (2.5% or less) to start with is advisable. If you experience mild skin irritation and dryness for more than two weeks, or moderate to severe irritation, cease using products containing the chemical.
How To Find It On The Label: As far as I can tell, it is simply labelled as benzoyl peroxide. If anyone knows of any other names or codes it is labelled as, comment below and let me know.