Benzoyl peroxide is a very popular ingredient commonly used in over the counter acne creams, cleansers and other products designed to help clear up acne.
You can still find it in plenty of products over here in the US. However, the European Union has decided to ban the ingredient in products. So, is benzoyl peroxide safe? And does it have any side effects that warrant such a ban?
Here we talk about the reasons why benzoyl peroxide was banned, and why in my opinion, it’s one of the last things one should try on their skin if they’re trying to get rid of acne.
The reason behind the ban
Benzoyl peroxide is classified as a potential cancer causing agent in that it is suspected to be a free radical agent in producing the conditions necessary to get skin cancer. This means that topical application of benzoyl peroxide may actually cause cancerous tumors or lesions to grow in the areas where applied, especially if certain other conditions are present, like excess sun exposure or a genetic predisposition for skin cancer.
In fact, studies have shown that one single application of benzoyl peroxide produces a response in the skin that promotes uncontrolled and irregular growth of the skin cells. That’s pretty strong evidence that it’s a free radical generating ingredient, and really should simply just not be used in any case as there are plenty of alternative, safe remedies and much less harsh, skin damaging options to effectively treat acne.
Benzoyl peroxide is harsh
Growing up, I really didn’t like the harsh, drying and reddening side effects I experienced with benzoyl peroxide use. I avoided it and chose alternatives with salicylic acid instead, which is a gentler option for helping treat acne. I found that benzoyl peroxide based acne products really dried out and reddened my skin, and now that there’s been so much research (and readily available online), I know why now.
Benzoyl peroxide does have the ability to kill acne-causing bacteria, however it does it at the expense of drying out and irritating the skin in the process. There are PLENTY of highly effective topical ingredients that do the same job of killing this surface bacteria before it causes breakouts WITHOUT drying out and damaging the skin (and likely also ultimately causing premature aging in the process).
Plenty of effective, safer alternatives to benzoyl peroxide for acne treatment
The best acne solutions address killing the bacteria that infect the pores and cause flare ups, while also keeping the skin moist and smooth, as well as addressing inflammation and redness. Benzoyl peroxide is inflammatory by nature, so even though it kills bacteria, it also causes inflammation, which is why so many people experience flakiness and redness in the treated areas.
This is why our Acne Soap contains ingredients that do both. They kill the bacteria on the surface of the skin, and help penetrate the pores to get the gunk out of there too, while also providing soothing anti-inflammatory oils that calm redness and irritation.
It IS possible to help treat acne without destroying the moisture balance in your skin or promoting free radical damage, and this is the best way for everyone, from teenagers to adults, to treat their acne topically.