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Got a pimple? Benzoyl peroxide can help. A common ingredient in over-the-counter acne treatments for nearly half a century, benzoyl peroxide boasts powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The science behind how it works is actually pretty cool: When applied to the skin, it releases oxygen into the pores, killing acne-causing bacteria below the surface. It also exfoliates, increasing the turnover rate of skin cells to clear up unsightly spots, and can help reduce the redness and soreness of a zit.
Benzoyl peroxide is typically found in concentrations ranging from 2.5% to 10%, and the higher the concentration, the greater the potential for your skin to feel dry and irritated. Besides some minor skin irritation, benzoyl peroxide has another slightly annoying side effect. Like the peroxide you use to lighten your hair or whiten your teeth, benzoyl peroxide is a bleaching agent. Your safest bet is to stick to white towels and pillows while treating acne with benzoyl peroxide products.
Here are the top benzoyl peroxide products you can buy right now for clearer skin in a jiffy.
Best Overall: PCA Skin Acne Cream
With nearly 100 five-star reviews on Dermstore, this acne cream is a consumer favorite for quickly clearing away pimples and preventing new ones from forming. In addition to 5% benzoyl peroxide, the spot treatment is formulated with lactic acid, which prevents dryness and flakiness by exfoliating dead skin cells and replenishing moisture to the skin. Tea tree oil, a natural antiseptic, works in tangent to help keep your complexion clear.
Best Budget: Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-on Face Mask
Fight stubborn spots with a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide treatment that acts like a face mask, penetrating the skin and killing acne-causing bacteria beneath the surface. The gel formula dries clear, so you can wear the full-face treatment underneath moisturizer or makeup. While it’s gentle enough to use up to three times a day, you should start seeing your pimples retreating in about four hours.
Best Face Wash: Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser
Frequently recommended by dermatologists for acne-prone skin, this 10% benzoyl peroxide face wash cleanses the skin while also treating and preventing pimples. Don’t worry about rinsing away it’s blemish-fighting benefits. The cleanser is formulated to penetrate the pores, depositing medication at the source of your acne for long-lasting treatment. Made with mineral oil and menthol to help moisturize and calm the skin, it’s also gentle enough to be used every day.
Best Body Wash: PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash
This 10% benzoyl peroxide cleanser is a favorite of dermatologists for treating and preventing acne on body as well as the face. It foams when lathered, making it easy to spread across larger surface areas like the chest and back. Apply to wet skin and gently massage for one to two minutes before rinsing. Just remember to wrap yourself in something white when you step out of the shower or risk bleaching your colorful towels!
Best Moisturizer: Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion
Dryness is a common side effect of benzoyl peroxide, but your chances of parched skin are slim when you use this super hydrating moisturizer. Ideal for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin, this creamy lotion features 5% benzoyl peroxide to fight acne-causing bacteria and reduce excess oil production plus 2% soluzyl technology to deliver the medication into your pores. Pimples are healed, future breakouts are prevented, large pores are minimized, and skin feels supple with continued use.
Best Spot Treatment: Glossier Zit Stick
Zap your zit anytime, anywhere with this cleverly packaged purse-friendly treatment stick. A combination of 5% benzoyl peroxide plus tea tree oil and capryloyl salicylic acid kills the acne-causing germs, reducing the size of your pimple in just three hours. In a clinical trial, four out of five subjects reported that swelling was completely eliminated and more than half of their pimples were erased after 24 hours. Apply up to three times a day by rolling the antimicrobial stainless steel tip over the zit and watch it dry to an undetectable translucent finish.
Best for Sensitive Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action
A unique formulation of 5.5% benzoyl peroxide and lipo-hydroxy acid, this non-drying spot treatment zaps acne deep in the skin while exfoliating the surface. Fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic, it’s safe for sensitive skin yet strong enough to target blemishes, blackheads, and whiteheads alike. Reviewers noted that a little bit goes a long way, so the small tube should last you a while.
Our writers spent 1 hour researching the most popular benzoyl peroxide products on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 11 different products overall, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers and read over 6 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.