Salicylic Acid For Treating Acne
Salicylic acid helps prevent acne by decongesting pores and gently exfoliating the skin — it's a multifunctional ingredient. "It is a fat-soluble beta hydroxy acid that penetrates pores to break down cellular debris and oil buildup, reducing and preventing blockages," Dennis Gross, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, told POPSUGAR. Its ability to penetrate deep into pores and dissolve oil buildup is credited to it being oil-soluble.
People who use salicylic acid can also see a boost in radiance because it chemically exfoliates the skin. Ted Lain, MD, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology, added: "Salicylic acid also acts as an anti-inflammatory ingredient, helping to decrease the redness and puffiness of acne blemishes."
Benzoyl Peroxide For Treating Acne
Benzoyl peroxide, on the other hand, attacks acne-causing bacteria to treat and prevent pimples. "Benzoyl peroxide is highly lipophilic, which allows the molecules to penetrate the skin surface and target the hair follicle," said Dr. Lain. While it does help exfoliate the skin and clear pores, that is not its primary activity.
Dr. Gross, who is admittedly not a fan of using benzoyl peroxide for acne, pointed out a couple of negatives about the ingredient. "It doesn't only kill p.acnes bacteria, it also kills good bacteria," he said. "Benzoyl peroxide is a free radical and actually damages skin while it clears acne. That means it injures normal skin cells and creates dryness, redness, and irritation all too often."