Let's start by discussing salicylic acid, an ingredient found in detergents, masks, oils, moisturizers, and more. According to Corey L. Hartman, MD, FAAD, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid derived from willow bark. ""Salicylic acidacid penetrates through the lipid layers between skin cells and into pores to clog them, dissolve skin debris, reduce skin inflammation, and treat acne papules and pustules, "he explains."
Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, a Miami-based dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta says salicylic acid is the only beta hydroxy acid (others like lactic acid and glycolic acid are alpha hydroxy acids). "Of all that hydroxy Acids, Salicylic acid is the best means of penetrating deep into your pores, so it's very effective at extruding dirt and oil buildup both in the pores and on the surface of the skin, "she says.
"Benzoyl peroxide is a peroxide that has antibacterial, irritant, keratolytic, anti-inflammatory, and comedolytic properties," explains Hartman. "It is a mainstay of acne therapy and has been part of dermatological care for decades."
It differs from salicylic acid in that it does not exfoliate the skin. Instead, it offers powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it targets directly the bacteria that cause acne to break out in the first place. According to Ciraldo, benzoyl peroxide kills P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne.
You can tell which ingredient your skin needs by looking at the type of breakout. Since salicylic acid is an exfoliating acid, and thus dissolves pore-clogging residue, Hartman says that "it works best on blackheads and whiteheads," although "it's also great for aging skin, photodamaged skin, and uneven skin tones affected by hyperpigmentation." "
According to Ciraldo, benzoyl peroxide "works best on red, inflamed acne lesions because the inflamed acne lesions are those where P. acnes overgrowth occurs." This is different from whiteheads and blackheads, which are clogged pores without much bacterial growth.
To sum it up, if blackheads and whiteheads are the curses of your existence, reach out for a product that contains salicylic acidThis will break up the pore-clogging residue and increase cell turnover, revealing clearer, smoother skin. When you're dealing with angry, red, and sore acne, reach for a product that contains benzoyl peroxide. It will kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce existing inflammation.
Both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are not without their drawbacks. Let's talk about salicylic acid first. "When the concentration of Salicylic acidacid If the frequency is too high or the frequency of use is too high, it can cause irritation and excessive skin dryness, especially in people with naturally dry skin, "Hartman explains. You may find that you are using the ingredient excessively if you are peeling, reddening or notice irritation or itching.
Benzoyl peroxide dries even more than salicylic acid. "It should therefore be used with caution, if at all, in people with dry skin, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis." It can also prove irritating which is why you should slowly introduce it into your routine. "Benzoyl peroxide has been shown to be irritating, especially in patients with darker skin tones," says Hartman. "It can also bleach clothing and should be used with caution to avoid damaging fabrics. Hands should be washed thoroughly after applying to the skin."
None of the ingredients should be overused if there is a risk of irritation and dryness. However, when used sparingly and deliberately, both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can prove effective in fighting acne.
Next: I spiked this random ingredient into my skin care regimen and my acne went away
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