Getting the Most Out of Your Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment

Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) can be a very effective treatment for mild to moderate acne, but only if you use it correctly. Here’s what you need to know about getting the most out of your benzoyl peroxide treatment.


When should I apply benzoyl peroxide?

In most cases, you should apply your BPO treatment twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. It is often necessary to continue with maintenance treatment, in which one application per day may be enough to keep your acne in check.

How do I apply BPO?

  1. Wash your face: After gently splashing lukewarm water on your face, use your fingertips to lightly rub a mile soap or gentle cleanser (like Dove, Neutrogena, or Clearasil) over your skin. Make sure the cleanser does not include salicylic acid.
  2. Apply the BPO: Use your fingertips to gently massage the benzoyl peroxide into your skin. Make sure you apply enough of the medication to cover the entire are that you are treating, not just the individual acne lesions.
  3. Rinse: If you are using a benzoyl peroxide wash, finish by splashing your face with warm water, and patting your face dry with a soft towel. If your treatment is leave-on, do not wash your face.

Initially, benzoyl peroxide may cause slight redness, itching, and peeling, but this means it’s working. While you want a treatment that is comfortable to apply daily, it must be strong enough to be effective- if you’re able to wear BPO overnight for the first two weeks without any irritation or peeling, consult with your doctor about using a stronger formula

Click here for more details on treatment instructions.


  • Give up too quickly. BPO doesn’t work overnight, and some side effects are normal. Give your skin a few weeks to adapt to the active ingredients in BPO to avoid extreme dryness, redness, and itching.
  • Spot treat.  Benzoyl peroxide can be used as a spot treatment, but it’s most effective when used as a preventative measure over all acne-prone areas.
  • Use pore-clogging moisturizers. BPO needs to be able to penetrate your pores, so be sure to use moisturizer labeled as non-comedogenic.
  • Over treat. Stick closely to your treatment plan to avoid adverse reactions.

If you’re using prescription medication:

If you’re using a prescription medication in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide, there may be a few specific instructions to follow. Below are guidelines for the common practice for BPO use, it’s always important to listen and follow your doctor’s instructions carefully for best results.

(If you’re not using prescription medication, you can skip to the next section.)

  • Topical retinoids:
    • Examples: tretinoin (Retin-A), adapalene (Differin), and tazarotene (Tazorac)
    • Guidelines: Don’t apply at the same time as retinoid. Use BPO when you wake up, and apply the retinoid before bed.
  • Topical antibiotics:
    • Examples: clindamycin
    • Guidelines: Apply benzoyl peroxide to your skin first, and follow with clindamycin.
  • Oral antibiotics:
    • Examples: doxycycline and minocycline
    • Guidelines: Review you doctor’s instructions to see if you should use BPO once or twice a day. Both BPO and doxycycline can make you more sensitive to the sun, so make sure to apply sunscreen of at least SPF-30.
    • Read more about benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics here.

Bottom line:

When used correctly, benzoyl peroxide can be a primary treatment for mild acne, but also an essential part of combination therapies that include prescription medications. If you’re considering prescription medication, consult with a dermatologist, who will help determine the best treatment plan to alleviate your acne issues.

About us: YoDerm is the only way to get a prescription medication safely and legally online. Each of our dermatologists are board-certified and will treat your acne within 24 hours. If you’re struggling to get clear, click here, and let us help.


  1. “Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne.”, 09 May 2012. Web. <>.
  2. “Benzoyl Peroxide Topical.” WebMD, n.d. Web. <>.
  3. Thiboutot, Diane, Harald Gollnick, Vincenzo Bettoli, and Brigitte Dréno. “New Insights into the Management of Acne: An Update from the Global Alliance to Improve Outcomes in Acne Group.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 60.5 (2009): S1-S50. Web. <>.
  4. Gollnick, H. “Management of Acne*1.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 49.1 (2003): S1-S37. Web <>

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