Yes, you can mix salicylic acid with benzoyl peroxide, and in fact, doing so will improve skin issues such as acne much faster than using each ingredient individually.
However, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are two ingredients that often raise doubts about whether they can be safely used combined with other actives.
You may also hear some professionals advising against it; however, this is simply because both actives can be strong and cause unwanted reactions when used recklessly, so it’s a professional’s job to advise against it, especially when addressing a broad audience.
And while you can totally use salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together, you still need to be aware that potential side effects may occur.
Therefore, in this article, we will talk about the benefits and risks of using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together as well as how to properly combine these two actives for best results and no unwanted reactions.
How Does Salicylic Acid Work?
Salicylic acid is a very basic ingredient with a straightforward action but can help address several skin concerns with regular use.
Salicylic acid is a BHA and an oil-soluble ingredient that can cut through the superficial skin oil and travel deeper into the pores, where it will dissolve the gunk made up of dead skin cells, white blood cells, oil, and other cellular debris, that’s causing a stiff clog.
This will, in turn, allow for our natural oil to flow freely out of the pores instead of remaining stuck inside and causing issues such as blackheads and acne.
Salicylic acid is truly an amazing ingredient; however, the catch with it is that you have to continue using it to continue seeing results as your skin is likely to come back to the same old if you stop using it for a longer period of time.
Some benefits of using salicylic acid include:
- Instantly soothes inflammation on the skin.
- Cuts through the surface oil and deeply cleanses congested pores.
- Makes the pores appear smaller and clear.
- Can clear even moderate to severe acne breakouts.
- Dissolves blackheads and sebaceous filaments.
- Soothes deeply inflamed cysts and picked spots.
How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Work?
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common ingredients in skincare products designed to combat acne breakouts, and it is often found in cleansers, gels, and creams.
It’s an industrial chemical that belongs to the peroxide family of chemicals and was first made in 1905, but it didn’t come into medical use until the 1930s.
Benzoyl peroxide also has small molecules that travel deeper inside the pores, but unlike salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide doesn’t necessarily dissolve the gunk that’s causing a clog.
Instead, benzoyl peroxide carries oxygen into the pores of your skin to destroy the airless environment where the acne-causing bacteria thrives.
Benzoyl peroxide is also an amazing acne-fighting ingredient; however, it’s not something that should be a permanent step in your skincare routine.
Instead, it’s best to use it sparingly and slowly minimize and eventually stop using it completely when acne is significantly healed.
This is how you will give the healthy bacteria a chance to balance itself out and become commensal or even useful for your skin instead of hostile towards its environment.
Some benefits of using benzoyl peroxide include:
- It has a quick action against acne.
- It is fairly well tolerable by all skin types, including sensitive skin.
- It’s affordable and easily accessible to everyone.
RELATED: Best Products For Cystic Acne.
Benefits of Using Salicylic Acid With Benzoyl Peroxide
Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be a great combination of active ingredients to help you get rid of acne in a fairly short time.
Both are strong ingredients with specific actions that complement each other on the acne-fighting journey.
Salicylic acid will dissolve the gunk that’s preventing your natural oil from flowing freely through the pores. At the same time, benzoyl peroxide will infuse the clogged passages with oxygen and give it a good antibacterial boost while destroying the acne-causing bacteria’s place of living.
How to Use Salicylic Acid With Benzoyl Peroxide?
Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be used together in many different ways.
You can use them in the same routine, one after the other, with a 3-5 minute break in between.
For example, you can apply a salicylic acid toner on your skin, wait 3-5 minutes, and follow it up with a benzoyl peroxide gel or cream and a moisturizer on top to prevent dryness.
You can also use benzoyl peroxide as a mask that you can leave on your skin for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off and following it up with salicylic acid.
And lastly, you can also use benzoyl peroxide as a cleanser and follow it up with a leave-on salicylic acid product.
The only combination I’d advise you to avoid is using salicylic acid cleansers. These can be super drying to the skin and won’t do much else because salicylic acid works best when it’s left on the skin for longer than you would usually leave a cleanser.
Risks of Using Salicylic Acid With Benzoyl Peroxide
While using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together can be very helpful for getting rid of acne, this combination doesn’t come without potential side effects.
Here are a few things you should pay attention to when mixing salicylic acid with benzoyl peroxide:
If your skin is on the dry side, introducing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together may not be the smartest idea because both ingredients can further dry out the skin.
If your skin is on the oily side, this doesn’t give you the green light to go ahead and nuke it with drying ingredients as excessive dryness can throw your skin’s function off balance and cause it to produce more and more oil to compensate for the dryness.
Therefore, be mindful of excessive dryness when using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together and minimize use if it starts occurring.
Peeling can sometimes happen while your skin is getting used to salicylic acid.
And while this is usually a normal reaction, you should still be a bit more careful if you want to introduce benzoyl peroxide to your salicylic acid product.
Watch out for more moderate to severe peeling and minimize or discontinue use if this starts happening.
RELATED: How to Stop Your Face From Peeling?
Damaged skin barrier
When the skin doesn’t function optimally, that means the skin’s barrier is damaged and impaired of normal function.
Damaged skin barrier typically manifests itself as constantly irritated, red, and inflamed skin.
It often gets to the point where it will be painful to even wash your face with plain water due to the intense burning sensation, and the most common cause for damaged skin barrier is excessive dryness and prolonged irritation.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
The Acne Solution: Your Ultimate Guide To Flawless Complexion
A practical no-nonsense course showing you how to never have acne again, from a licensed Esthetician specializing in oily/acne-prone skin.