The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Washes
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Benzoyl peroxide is a broad-spectrum antibacterial ingredient that targets acne-causing bacteria and clogged pores, but it can also potentially cause dryness and irritation, dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Libby tells Elite Daily. Because of this, Dr. Libby says that the best benzoyl peroxide face washes contain a lower percentage of the ingredient (even concentrations as low as 2.5% can be effective, she explains), while stronger, 10% benzoyl peroxide cleaners are best reserved for your body. If you have sensitive skin in particular, Dr. Libby advises looking for face washes that contain moisturizing ingredients to offset any potential irritation.
Use your face wash once or twice a day, and to give the active ingredient enough time to work, lather up, then leave the cleanser on your skin for one to two minutes before rinsing it off, advises Dr. Libby. Don’t use a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide on top of another benzoyl peroxide product, as doubling up can lead to dryness and redness, though she says it’s okay to use products that contain other acne-targeting ingredients, such as beta-hydroxy acids or alpha-hydroxy acids.
To shop the best benzoyl peroxide cleansers, keep scrolling; then, pick out one of the best moisturizers to use with benzoyl peroxide. While you’re at it, you may want to pick up some benzoyl peroxide-resistant towels, too, since the ingredient — just like bleach — can cause white stains.
1. Doctor’s Pick: Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
“My favorite BP cleansers are PanOxyl's benzoyl peroxide washes, both the 4% Creamy Wash and the 10% Foaming Wash. The 4% is my first-line recommendation for those with acne as it targets acne-causing bacteria, reduces oil, and unclogs pores, all which treat and reduce acne breakouts,” says Dr. Libby. “The 4% Creamy Wash is also pH-balanced and is formulated with humectant and emollients moisturizers like glycerin and dimethicone to nourish the skin and minimize irritation,” she adds, while noting that she likes the PanOxyl 10% Cleanser for treating body acne.
2. Best Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
If you prefer a foaming cleanser, try this best-selling face wash from CeraVe, which balances out 4% benzoyl peroxide with the gentle moisturizing properties of glycerin, barrier-strengthening ceramides, calming niacinamide, and hydrating hyaluronic acid. The formula is free of fragrance and SLS, so it’s a safe choice for sensitive skin types, though note that people with dry skin may prefer a creamy cleanser over a foaming one.
3. Best Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash With AHAs
If you find higher percentages of benzoyl peroxide too strong for your skin, start with the lowest effective level and see if it’s enough to keep your skin clear without causing any redness or irritation. Acne Free’s Oil-Free Acne Cleanser contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, the lowest of all the cleansers on this list, so it’s a good bet if 4%-plus washes were too strong for you. Additionally, it contains the AHA glycolic acid to double up on the complexion-clearing ingredients, while ceramides and glycerin are included in the formula to help prevent dryness.
4. Best Extra-Strength Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
On the other end of the spectrum, Differin’s Daily Deep Cleanser contains 5% benzoyl peroxide and is, along with the PCA Skin cleanser below, the strongest cleanser you’ll find on this list. Though it also contains glycerin for moisture, this the best pick for people with oily, acne-prone skin who aren’t prone to dryness or skin sensitivities. If you’re looking for a good moisturizer to use with this cleanser, Differin also makes excellent day and night creams.
5. Best Luxury Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
In the prestige beauty category, there’s PCA Skin’s BPO 5% Cleanser — one of the rare luxury benzoyl peroxide cleansers out there. It contains soothing botanicals like chamomile, aloe, and cucumber to counteract any reactivity that can occur with benzoyl peroxide, as well as two mild acids — gluconolactone and phytic acid — that work to gently exfoliate and brighten skin.
Dr. Tiffany Libby, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist