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If you’ve ever struggled with acne, you know what a drag it can be on your overall self-esteem, wellbeing, and quality of life. Blemishes, black heads, and pustules are not just unsightly but they can be incredibly painful and cause infections that scar. Combating recurring acne, pimples, and pustules can feel like a full-time job and it can take years of trial and error to find products that work for you.

Clear skin can really only be obtained with a solid skin care routine, regular facials, a healthy diet, and exercise. For those who are acne prone or simply have excess sebum, you’ve likely tried products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what each ingredient has to offer on our quest for a reliable acne treatment.


This acne-fighting ingredient is known for soaking up excess sebum and lowering the bacteria count on the surface of the skin. Since 1934, benzoyl peroxide has been a star performer in the dermatology industry. Not only does it absorb oils, but its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties help break up dead skin cells that can smother the skin, causing a dull, lifeless appearance. Benzoyl peroxide works its way into pores, dissolving black heads and white heads alike.

Once benzoyl peroxide is applied, the ingredient begins to break down and release oxygen. This oxygen kills one of the main perpetrators of acne - cuti bacterium acnes. It takes out this bacteria on the spot instead of just slowing its growth like other bacteria-fighting agents and acne treatments are known to do. Over the counter products can contain benzoyl peroxide or you can consult a dermatologist to learn more.

cosmetic ingredients, acids, liquids with a pipette on a white background
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cosmetic ingredients in a laboratory including acne-fighting solutions on a white background


This acne-fighting ingredient is derived from Willow Bark and targets the cause of acne rather than fighting the bacteria itself. Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid that eats away dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, preventing these clogging molecules from falling into pores. Salicylic acid pulls double duty by removing surface oil and fostering a smooth, even texture. 


The most notable difference between these two acne-fighting ingredients lies in Benzoyl Peroxide’s antibacterial nature. Salicylic Acid does not have antibacterial properties which makes it less effective when combating pustules and subepidermal infections that stem from clogged pores.

Consequently, Salicylic Acid is much gentler on the skin than Benzoyl Peroxide. It also attacks black heads and white heads, working to quickly reduce the appearance of blemishes. Salicylic Acid’s anti-inflammatory properties quell puffiness, redness, and inflammation. This option is great for sensitive skin or those prone to dry skin. Salicylic Acid products are still great at treating acne but don’t require heavy lotions, creams, or moisturizers because they are typically less drying.


Benzoyl Peroxide has some side effects that include:

  • Bleaching sheets
  • Discoloring clothing
  • Causing sun sensitivities
  • Allergic reaction if prone to sensitivities
  • Dryness
  • Bleached facial hair or hairline

In small doses, Benzoyl Peroxide is less irritating but may not be a great option for those with extremely sensitive complexions. Despite the negative side effects, many dermatologists choose to prescribe products containing benzoyl peroxide because there are few reports of resistance to this antibacterial ingredient.


In many cases, Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid work very well together because one attacks the root cause of acne while another targets the symptoms. For example, using acne-spot treatments containing Benzoyl Peroxide after washing with a Salicylic Acid cleanser helps stop acne from forming and cure current breakouts.


Many dermatologists recommend using products containing one or the other in the morning and evening, respectively. Here are some general tips when implementing either or both of these ingredients.

  • Avoid using retinol-based products
  • Skip harsh exfoliants if opting for benzoyl peroxide as this can cause an increase in irritation, flakey skin, or even a severe allergic reaction.
  • Apply SPF daily before going outside
  • Use a hearty moisturizer after application
  • Start small and work your way up to larger concentrations if need be
  • Consult a dermatologist if any irritation, itching, flaking, or allergic reaction occurs

[ comfort zone ] crafts acne-fighting products that use salicylic acid to clear up blackheads, white heads, and blemishes, helping you achieve a 

radiant, blemish-free appearance. Our Active Pureness Corrector uses mandelic, glycolic, and salicylic acid to fight breakouts on contact. This spot corrector applied after a gentle exfoliant gel cleanser like the Active Pureness Gel Cleanser is an important step to an effective skincare routine. 


[ comfort zone ] products are so effective because they are backed by decades of research by scientists and dermatologists. We’ve tracked the results of hyaluronic acid moisturizers, studied the effects of natural retinol serums, and analyzed the efficacy of vitamin-based skincare products like vitamin C serum.

Our spa partners are equally as trustworthy and experts in their field. Use our spa locator to find professional treatments that enhance the benefits of your current skincare routine. It’s not enough to just include trending ingredients in our face washes, toners, and moisturizers. We prioritize using the most effective yet gentle ingredients in our sustainable skincare products that uplift your skin’s natural biome because your best defense is nature itself. 

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