Salicylic Acid Vs Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne – Which One Works Better?

There are hundreds of acne products out there to choose from, but there are really only 2 different acne-fighting ingredients: salicylic acid (SA) and benzoyl peroxide (BP). You may have already tried one or both of these products, but you want to know which one is actually proven to work better, and how much you should use.

The most effective product for you will depend on whether the active ingredient is BP or SA, what the percentage of the active ingredient is (5%, 1%, 2%, or 10%), and your skin type (oily, normal, dry, sensitive). This article will help you to discover which combination will work the best for your specific skin type.

Salicylic Acid to Treat Acne: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

  • Works as a long-term acne cure. Unlike BP, your skin will not grow “used” to SA and your acne will not slowing start coming back, as long as you continue use.

  • Heals acne breakouts that are frequently caused from the over-drying of BP.

  • Gentle and non-drying. SA is perfect for those who have very sensitive skin that is prone to dryness.

  • Completely natural and safe. SA is a naturally-produced chemical derived from plants. It is completely safe to use and is easy on the environment.

  • Its not always strong enough for every acne sufferer, especially those with overly oily skin. If you have severe acne, it might not be your best option.
  • It can make you break-out if you have just switched from being on BPO, especially if you’ve been on BP long-term. Break-outs can be moderate to severe, and they will last about 2 weeks before you start getting clear again. Not cool.

Benzoyl Peroxide to Treat Acne: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  • Clears up acne temporarily for most users, and fast.
  • Great for spot treatment to reduce healing time by up to half.

  • Not a long-term solution

  • Will bleach (stain) your pillow, sheets, clothing, etc. This is because the chemical is so strong! I have ruined many pillows by slathering BP on my face right before bedtime. Do you want something that strong on your face?

  • Acne breakouts ALWAYS come back. Always. You might see success with BP for 2 weeks, 1 months, or 3 months – but the acne will be back to haunt you. This is because Benzoyl Peroxide is unnatural and harsh. It shocks your skin, which is what creates the illusion at first that it is working so well – but then your body goes into overdrive to make up for the loss of oils on your face by producing up to 5X as much oil as normal. This leads to BAD breakouts and cystic acne.


Okay, so which one should I choose?

Which one?Knowing which kind of acne product you should use is easy once you know 2 things:

1. Your skin type
2. What is causing your acne in the first place

Finding out your skin type is easy, does your skin tend to be oily, dry, average, or sensitive? These are the 4 main acne-prone skin types, so choose the one that fits you best.

Finding out the cause of your acne is a little more difficult, but simple once you ask yourself the right questions. Go here to take a 15 question quiz (free and no registration required) that will assess the cause of your acne.

Tips to Use These Ingredients

May Irritate Skin

Both SA and BP are harsh chemicals for the skin. You will want to know how your skin reacts to them before applying them.

The best way to know if either of these products will prove irritating to your skin and thus increase the already present redness, is to test treat an area with a product who active ingredient is either SA or BPO. This can usually be inconspicuously performed if you select an area close to your temple or hairline, that way if there is a severe reaction to the product, the results are not located in the middle of your face. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when applying these products to obtain optimal results.

The last thing you want is to treat your entire face only the create a rash.

Is it Safe Using Combination of Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide Together?

The simple truth of the matter is that you should use both types of products on your skin. The argument of which is better is mostly invalid because they do different things. Your specific condition may lend itself to one over the other, but there is no way to know without trying both.

Breakouts are commonly a product of two thing happening. One, dead skin cells either partially or completely block a pore. The oil from the sebacous gland builds up, forming a whitehead or blackhead. Two, bacteria on our skin live on the oil, and survive in a no oxygen condition. This causes a immune response and inflammation, resulting in a zit.

SA exfoliates the skin. It penetrates clogged pores and removes the clog. This allows to oil to escape the pore. For this reason, SA treatments are best applied to your entire face.

BPO kills the bacteria. It quickly breaks down into oxygen destroying the bacteria. For this reasons, BPO is best used on existing zits. Apply it after cleaning the skin with Salicylic Acid

For Dry Skin

With both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide undesirable side effects usually consist of excessive drying of the skin. Products containing either of these are usually designed to dry out acne in order to minimize its appearance, among other things. In some cases the skin becomes over dry and can begin to peel and flake or show other signs of irritation.

Usually this often occurs when applicants have become to zealous in the application. More often than not, treating the skin with these products should be done once or twice weekly rather than nightly, if a mild irritation occurs with frequent use. If you lessen the use of the product and irritation continues or worsens, you likely need to try another method.

Drink Water

The best way to enhance the effectiveness of any acne product however, is to treat the problem from the inside while you continue to use whatever topical application you have chosen. Drinking plenty of water helps your body effectively flush out toxins through the urinary tract, rather than through the skin.

Eating a high-fiber and water dense diet that is packed with fresh vegetables and fruits will provide you with a glowing complexion and the best possible results for your external treatments.

Read: Benefits of SA for Age Spot Remover