Skin Matters

What's Better? Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide?

Let's find out which of these two powerful zit-fighting ingredients will take the crown!

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With all the anti-acne products available in the market today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused about which to use. But there’s no doubt about it: salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are two of the most effective (and affordable!) acne-fighting ingredients that you can find over the counter. But which one should you favor in terms of keeping your skin clean and clear? We pit them against each other, so we can settle this skin debate once and for all.

CRITERIA: ACNE-FIGHTING POWERS

Benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial agent, treats acne by getting deep inside the pore and killing the bacteria that causes the breakouts. Salicylic acid, meanwhile, works by dissolving the oil and dirt on skin, unclogging your pores in the process and reducing inflammation. In short, they’re both effective—but for different conditions.

Winner: It’s a tie! Benzoyl peroxide is best for spot treating and drying out large, pus-filled zits, while salicylic acid is the better option for blackheads and inflamed pimples in their early stages.


 

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CRITERIA: EXFOLIATING ACTION
Both ingredients stimulate exfoliation, so they can be considered as peeling agents. Benzoyl peroxide, however, is stronger, and can be severely drying or irritating especially for those with sensitive skin. (Symptoms include itching and redness, guys!) On the other hand, salicylic acid works more gently so you can use it more regularly, and actually has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce redness.
Winner: Salicylic acid

CRITERIA: BREAKOUT PREVENTION
While benzoyl peroxide can treat breakouts by eliminating bacteria, salicylic acid prevents breakouts from happening in the first place by dissolving the elements—excess oil and dead skin cells—that contribute to bacteria growth. This makes the latter the more ideal option for long-term use.
Winner: Salicylic acid

CRITERIA: ANTI-AGING EFFECTS
Due to its strong drying effect, benzoyl peroxide is not exactly recommended for mature skin since the increased dryness can make skin more susceptible to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Salicylic acid can also cause mild dryness, but this can easily be remedied with the use of a moisturizer post-treatment.
Winner: Salicylic acid

THE SCORE
Benzoyl Peroxide = 1
Salicylic Acid = 4

It's pretty clear: When it comes to acne prevention that's safe, soothing, and better for the long run, salicylic acid wins by a landslide. For best results, don't just use a salicylic acid product at the sight of a pimple. Add it to your daily routine—in the form of a facial wash—not only to treat zits, but also to eliminate excess oil, dirt, and grime, and ultimately score healthier, better-looking skin.

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PDS is the only specialty society in Dermatology recognized by the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP). PDS is not an endorser of any product found in the site.


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