I’ve had acne on and off for over 10 years. To me, benzoyl peroxide sounds totally old school.
It reminds me of my teenage years when my (lovely) Mum returned from the pharmacy with a bottle of the stuff, hoping it’d help me clear up my acne-ridden skin.
But after a few days of me slathering tons of it all over my face, my skin ended up red-raw, sore, dry and peeling. Instead, I gave up on BP and focused on the (seemingly trendier) likes of salicylic acid and retinol.
Fast forward to my 29th year and – still struggling with hormonal acne – I decided to give it another go. Specifically, the Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash. Only this time, I’d use it properly.
This meant easing into it slowly to give my skin time to adapt, use the recommended amount (rather than half a bottle at the time à la teenage me) and use plenty of nourishing products alongside it.
First things first, how does benzoyl peroxide actually work?
Benzoyl Peroxide works to treat acne in 3 ways:
acnesupport.org.uk further explains that it ‘kills a certain type of bacteria called P. acnes, which is the main bacteria that is associated with acne.’
Does it have any side effects?
According to patient.info, yep. The most common benzoyl peroxide side effects are redness, skin peeling, dry skin, itching and irritation – no, thank you!
In my experience, there are steps you can put into place to reduce your chances of dealing with dry-as-can-be skin on BP, including:
- Working your usage up slowly (i.e. use it twice a week to start, then work your way up to every other day, until you can comfortably manage daily application)
- Working your contact time up slowly (i.e. start by leaving the wash on for just 30 seconds and gradually increase the time)
- Using it alongside hydrating products (I’d recommend a hydrating serum such as hyaluronic acid, followed by a good quality moisturiser such as CeraVe)
And do I need a prescription?
Nope! If you’re in the UK, you can purchase the Acnecide Face Wash online or in-store without a prescription.
Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash review
Did benzoyl peroxide do the trick, or did it turn my face into a sensitive, red mess like last time? Find out in my full Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash review.
Key product benefits & claims
Product: Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
Benefits & claims:
- Wash off medicinal treatment for blackheads and whiteheads
- Effectively kills up to 95% of spot-causing bacteria
- Contains microsphere technology to help absorb excess oil
- Releases glycerine to soothe and hydrate the skin
Price: £9.99 RRP but often cheaper on the Acnecide Amazon store
Suitable for: Mild facial acne
The texture & consistency
The Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash is a white cream with a thin, light texture. Weirdly, it actually feels slightly grainy to me, though not in a negative way.
It doesn’t lather or foam up at all, but still spreads fairly easily onto the skin. A little goes a long way, which is good, as you should really only be using a pea-sized amount of this product at once.
There’s no scent whatsoever, which I think is a good thing. Added fragrance = increase risk of irritation.
This time around, I’ve actually found the Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash helpful.
I used to struggle with random breakouts on my forehead (alongside the monthly hormonal jaw/chin/cheek breakout I get). But since using this consistently, my forehead acne has vanished entirely. Like, it’s completely gone.
In terms of my hormonal breakouts on the lower part of my face, they haven’t disappeared entirely. However, they’ve definitely reduced somewhat. I hope that, in time, they’ll clear up even more! I’ll make sure to update this page if that’s the case.
It’s worth pointing out that I’m using this alongside DIM supplements and tretinoin, but it’s the BP that really budged the forehead acne.
The Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash comes in a small, white, opaque bottle. You get 50g of product in the bottle, which in my experience, lasts around 2 or 3 months if you’re using a small amount daily.
The product comes out of the bottle with ease, even once you get to the end. I’m unsure if the bottle is recyclable (I hope it is, as I’ve been chucking it in the recycling when I’m done!) – but if it’s not, I hope that’s something Acnecide are proactively working towards.
Tips for using Acnecide 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
I’m convinced that the success and failure of benzoyl peroxide as an acne treatment comes down to how you use and how slowly you introduce it into your routine. Many people go too hard, too quickly, end up with dry and irritated skin, and quite prematurely.
So for the best results, follow these benzoyl peroxide tips:
1. Remember that it’s a treatment, not a cleanser
I know this sounds strange, considering it literally says ‘face wash’ on the packaging. But ultimately, this is an acne treatment with active ingredients, not an everyday cleanser.
If you wear makeup, I’d recommend using another cleanser to remove it thoroughly before using this face wash. This will help to ensure you actually remove all your makeup, but it’ll also help the benzoyl peroxide penetrate your skin more effectively.
2. Ease into it slowly
Unless you have very hardy skin, using this daily from the get-go is likely to lead to dry skin and irritation – which is exactly what happened to me back in the day.
The key is to start small. I’d recommend using it just once or twice per week to start with. See how your skin gets on, and gradually build up your usage until you can use it daily without irritation. This way, you can skip the irritated phase (it’ll make you want to quit entirely – trust me!) and enjoy the long-term acne-clearing benefits instead.
Even when you do begin to use it daily, I’d still recommend having the occasional ‘rest day’ where you treat your skin to a full day of hydrating products, with no active ingredients. This will help you keep your moisture barrier in check, which is key to preventing acne.
3. Use hydrating products alongside it
As you’ve probably gathered by now, BP can be pretty drying at first. But by using plenty of hydrating and nourishing products alongside this face wash, you can stop any dryness in its tracks.
Here’s a simple, budget-friendly routine to follow:
- Remove any makeup with a hydrating cleanser (PM only)
- Apply a pea-sized amount of the Acnecide Fash Wash all over your skin (avoiding the delicate skin around your eyes)
- Rinse off and pat dry with a clean towel
- Apply a hydrating serum, such as hyaluronic acid
- Seal in with a rich moisturiser (my recommendations are below)
- Finish with a good quality SPF (AM only)
My go-to moisturisers are CeraVe Moisturising Lotion, Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion or Eucerin DermoPurifyer Cream (the last option is particularly well-suited to oily, acne-prone skin). And if you’re looking for an acne-friendly SPF, the Acnecide SPF30 is brilliant!