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Benzoyl Peroxide for Oily Skin


Oily skin has both benefits and drawbacks. The oil acts as a built-in moisturizer, helping to protect your skin from dryness and wrinkles. On the other hand, excessive oil can clog the canals that bring the oil to the surface of the skin. Combined with bacterial activity and dead skin cells that get trapped in the canals, oily skin can lead to inflammation and acne.

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl peroxide is the product of combining benzoyl chloride, sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website. It's absorbed into the skin and breaks down to form benzoic acid. An over-the-counter medication, benzoyl peroxide is available as a cleansing liquid or bar, cream, gel or lotion. It's a commonly prescribed treatment for mild to moderate acne, as well as a bleaching agent.

Effect on Oily Skin

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this compound also reduces levels of P. acnes bacteria on the skin and sloughs of dead skin cells to prevent pimples. The main side effect of benzoyl peroxide is that it dries out the skin, which is part of its appeal for people with oily skin.


Benzoyl peroxide is usually applied once or twice a day, notes the National Institutes of Health website. However, the website recommends using it just once a day and to check for any skin reactions. Before applying it, wash the oily or acne-prone area with a gentle cleansing liquid or soap and gently pat your skin dry. Apply only a small amount of the product and use it as directed on the package, advises the NIH. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for more guidance. Expect results in about four to six weeks.

Side Effects

Besides making oily skin dry, benzoyl peroxide can also cause skin peeling, tingling and stinging. The National Institutes of Health recommends contacting your doctor right away if you develop burning, blistering, itching, redness, a rash or swelling.


Because benzoyl peroxide is also a bleaching agent, it can discolor your clothing, hair, pillowcases or towels. Wear old clothing when you put benzoyl peroxide on your back, chest or shoulders, advises the American Academy of Dermatology. Use white pillowcases and towels and tie your hair at night when you go to bed.

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