These Are the Best Benzoyl Peroxide Products for Acne-Prone Skin, Hands Down

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Best Benzoyl Peroxide Products

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

Anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of dealing with a major breakout situation is probably familiar with benzoyl peroxide; it tops the list of choice acne-fighting ingredients for several reasons. First and foremost, it inhibits the growth of p.acnes, the bacteria that causes acne, explains Chicago dermatologist Jordan Carqueville, MD. That’s impressive in and of itself, but the benefits don’t stop there.

“Benzoyl peroxide also reduces excess oil on the skin and removes dead cells that can clog pores,” she adds. This trio of attributes makes it ideal for those with inflammatory acne—red, painful bumps and blemishes. (FYI, if it’s just a few whiteheads and blackheads you’re dealing with, it’s probably not the best ingredient for you, since it can be quite drying.) “It can be very effective at both treating active acne lesions and preventing new ones, especially if you pair it with a retinoid and/or salicylic acid,” says Carqueville. The other nice thing? BPO, as it’s often called, comes in a host of different formulas and products, from cleansers to creams.

Ahead, the best benzoyl peroxide products that can help you achieve your clear complexion goals.

Our Top Picks
A little of this localized, lipo-hydroxy acid treatment goes a long way to exfoliate skin and clear out pores.
This cleanser uses benzoyl peroxide to penetrate deep into pores and clear out any bacteria and excess oil.
Unlike other masks, this one stays on all day and can even go under makeup.
This foaming cleanser contains 10% BPO, which makes it ideal for treating body acne.
If your skin is on the sensitive side, this gentle cleanser will hydrate and soothe while fighting acne.
Best Spot Treatment:
Glossier Zit Stick at Glossier.com
When big pimples come lurking, Glossier's zit stick will shrink them in only a few hours.
This one-stop skin clearing product, doubles as a moisturizer for dry skin with the added ingredient of benzoyl peroxide.
Prevent future pimples from forming with this clearing cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide.
This two-in-one product works both as a hydrating mask and a pore-penetrating facial cleanser.
This light lotion dries clear and matte and is gentle enough to be used twice daily to prevent breakouts.

Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Reduces excess oil

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

This is a top choice for New York City dermatologist Morgan Rabach, MD, who lauds it for pairing BPO with a lipo-hydroxy acid to help exfoliate the skin and clear out pores. Carqueville is also a fan of this dual-action and adds that it’s especially great as a localized treatment, given that it does have a slightly higher concentration of benzoyl peroxide. (To that point, many reviewers note that a little goes a long way, so one tube should last you quite a while.) As if that weren’t endorsement enough, this is also a team Byrdie fan favorite, including a go-to for Jessica Mahgerefteh, Byrdie’s Commerce Editorial Director.

Best Drugstore: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

Facial Cleanser by Differin
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Reduces excess oil

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

This formula boasts a 5% concentration of a micronized benzoyl peroxide meant to penetrate deep into pores, killing bacteria and absorbing excess oil. At the same time, however, it also releases a gentle moisturizer meant to help balance your skin and prevent unwanted dryness. Reviewers repeatedly note how well it’s helped clear their skin, and the affordable price doesn’t hurt, either.

What Our Testers Say

"I used the cleanser once a day for about a week, and during that time I didn’t experience any new breakouts, and the ones I already had seemed to clear up quicker than usual." — Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best Mask: Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-On Mask

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-On Mask
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Easily accessible at drugstores

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

This leave-on treatment has a gel-like texture and clear finish. So yes, it’s a mask, but one that you can apply and leave on all day, even layering moisturizer and/or makeup over it. (Although you should start to see some results in as little as four hours, according to the brand) It contains a 2.5% concentration of BPO, likely enough to be effective, but not so much that you risk unwanted irritation or dryness.

Best Body Wash: PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Moisturizing

  • Can be used on face and body

What We Don't Like
  • Can be runny

Rabach and Carqueville both recommend this cleanser for treating body acne on areas such as your back, chest, and booty (because yes, you can break out on your butt). Credit the foaming action, which makes it easy to apply all over these larger surfaces. It contains 10% BPO, which might be a bit too much on the face for some people, but is usually well-tolerated on the body, says Carqueville.

Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
What We Like
  • Non-irritating

  • Moisturizing

  • Gentle formula

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

Key Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) giving them a plumping effect.

If your complexion skews towards sensitivity, it’s important to proceed with caution when it comes to any kind of potent skincare ingredient, BPO included. That’s why we appreciate this formula, specially formulated to be ultra-gentle on skin. It has that acne-fighting benzoyl peroxide, yes, but it also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing niacinamide, and three different ceramides meant to keep the skin barrier healthy and intact (the secret to minimizing irritation.) It goes on creamy but transforms into a foam, you still get that satisfying lather and clean feel that’s lacking with many other cleansers geared towards sensitive skin.

Best Spot Treatment: Glossier Zit Stick

Glossier Zit Stick
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Contains other powerful acne-fighting ingredients

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

When a big ol’ pimple pops up at the least opportune time, reach for this guy. It pairs 5% benzoyl peroxide with tea tree oil and a less irritating derivative of salicylic acid, working to shrink your zit in just three hours, according to the brand. The convenient size and applicator make it easy to use anytime, anywhere; simply roll the antimicrobial stainless steel tip over said zit up to three times per day.

Best Moisturizer: Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion

Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Moisturizing

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

Those who are always looking for ways to minimize the number of steps and products in their routine will appreciate this one-stop skin-clearing shop. There’s 5% benzoyl peroxide in this lightweight, double-duty moisturizer, which absorbs quickly yet still feels hydrating. Use it once daily, topping it with sunscreen if you’re applying it in the AM.

Best Cleanser: Glytone Acne BPO Clearing Cleanser

Glytone Acne BPO Clearing Cleanser
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Moisturizing

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

Using a face wash with benzoyl peroxide daily is an easy way to try to prevent future pimples from popping up and keep skin clear. Use it just once daily, alternating with a more mild cleanser, to minimize the likelihood of dryness.

Recite the alphabet as you apply it to ensure the active ingredient has enough contact time with your skin to do its thing.

Best Two-in-One: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser Mask
What We Like
  • Effective without over-drying

  • Refreshing feel

  • Reduces excess oil

  • Works as a cleanser or mask

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

“This is a great product because you can use it as either a mask or a cleanser,” says Rabach. If your skin is super sensitive or you’re trying to ward off future breakouts, use it as a cleanser. Otherwise, leave it on for five minutes as a mask (bonus points for the refreshing cooling sensation it delivers). Carqueville also likes this formula, noting that it contains 3.5% benzoyl peroxide, a good potency for use on the face.

Editor's Pick: Paula's Choice Skincare CLEAR Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide

Paula's Choice CLEAR Extra Strength Skin Clearing Treatment
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Clears pores

  • Moisturizing

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

If your skin is a bit problematic or you’re just trying to keep it clear, this is a great option to add to your routine—just ask Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould, who says it's super effective. The featherweight lotion dries clear and matte and can be used on either face and/or body. It’s effective but gentle enough to use twice a day, thanks to the addition of soothing plant extracts meant to combat the dryness the benzoyl peroxide could cause.

Best Extra-Strength: Clean & Clear PERSA-GEL10 Acne Medication

Persa Gel 10
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Easily accessible at drugstores

  • Few inactive ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

This boasts the highest concentration of benzoyl peroxide that you can get without a prescription, 10%. That can be a lot for some, so start by using it only once a day; you can gradually work up to three times daily if your skin can tolerate it. It’s also a good move to save it as a treatment for the smaller areas where you’re prone to breakouts, think the chin or forehead, versus applying it all over your face.

Best for Dry Skin: Kate Somerville Anti Bac Acne Clearing Lotion

Kate Somerville AntiBac Acne Clearing Lotion
What We Like
  • Strong formula

  • Soothing ingredients

  • Reduces excess oil

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

In case we haven’t made it clear by now, dryness is one of the most common side effects that can come with using benzoyl peroxide. That’s why we appreciate that this has a unique delivering system that gets the ingredient into affected areas, without overdrying it. There are also ceramides to minimize water loss and further keep skin hydrated.

Final Verdict 

Because it helps to combat blemishes in several different ways, benzoyl peroxide is a fan-favorite acne-fighting ingredient among dermatologists. The La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo is a great BPO product to try, a great spot treatment. Shopping at the drugstore? Pick up the Differin Daily Deep Facial Cleanser for Acne-Prone Skin, a great daily cleanser, or the Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-On Mask, a clear mask that can be layered under makeup. Generally speaking, benzoyl peroxide can be a potentially-irritating ingredient for those with sensitive skin, but the CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser combines it with plenty of soothing and hydrating ingredients to mitigate the likelihood of irritation.

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What To Look For in a Benzoyl Peroxide Product

The concentration of benzoyl peroxide

Not all products are created equal. Benzoyl peroxide is most often found in concentrations ranging from 2.5% to 10%. Since the ingredient may be drying, it’s always best to err on the lower side and gradually work your way up.

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

Meet the Expert

Jordan Carqueville, MD, is a Chicago-based dermatologist and dermatopathologist. Specializing in both cosmetic, surgical, and general dermatology, she frequently treats acne patients. Dr. Carqueville is also a Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Cook County Hospital.

 

Morgan Rabach is a board-certified dermatologist, the co-founder of LM Medical in New York City, and a media expert on all things skin. She’s also an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Fun fact: She’s legitimately allergic to benzoyl peroxides, so she relied on expert input, lots of product reviews, and input from family and friends when writing this article.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Yang Z, Zhang Y, Lazic Mosler E, et al. Topical benzoyl peroxide for acneCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;3(3):CD011154. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011154.pub2

  2. Lubart R, Yariv I, Fixler D, Lipovsky A. Topical hyaluronic acid facial cream with new micronized molecule technology effectively penetrates and improves facial skin quality: results from In-vitro, Ex-vivo, and In-vivo (open-label) studiesJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(10):39-44.

  3. Levin J, Momin SB. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients?J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(2):22-41.

  4. Spada F, Barnes TM, Greive KA. Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin's own natural moisturizing systemsClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018;11:491-497. doi:10.2147/CCID.S177697

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