Can You Mix Salicylic Acid With Benzoyl Peroxide?

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You might be wondering: Can you mix salicylic acid with benzoyl peroxide? Will this improve skin problems like acne faster than using each ingredient separately?

Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide might raise some questions about whether they can be used safely in combination with other ingredients. Both are active ingredients that can be strong and may cause adverse reactions.

Although salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be fully used together, you have to be aware of the possible side effects which may occur. There are some benefits and risks associated with using this combination.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together. We will also explain how to combine these two ingredients to achieve the best results and avoid adverse reactions.

How Does Salicylic Acid Work?

Salicylic acid is a very basic ingredient with simple action, but with regular use, it can solve a number of skin problems.

Salicylic acid is a BHA and an oil-soluble agent that can penetrate the surface oil of the skin and penetrate deeper into the pores. Then it dissolves the mucus that consists of dead skin cells, white blood cells, oil, and other cellular debris that cause rigid blockage.

This allows our natural oil to flow freely out of the pores instead of getting trapped inside and causing problems like blackheads and acne.

Salicylic acid is an amazing ingredient. The only downside is that you need to keep using it to get results. Your skin will likely revert back to its old state after you stop using it for an extended period of time.

Benefits of Using Salicylic Acid

Some of the advantages of using salicylic acid are:

  • It may relieve inflammation of the skin.
  • It may reduce surface grease and cleans clogged pores.
  • It can make pores appear smaller and clearer.
  • It can even eliminate moderate to severe acne breakouts.
  • Dissolves blackheads and sebaceous gland filaments.
  • It may relieve inflamed cysts.

How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Work?

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common ingredients in skin care products used to combat acne breakouts. It is often found in cleansers, gels, and creams.

It is an industrial chemical belonging to the peroxide family, first produced in 1905 but not used in medicine until the 1930s.

Benzoyl peroxide also contains small molecules that penetrate deeper into the pores. But unlike salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide does not necessarily dissolve the dirt causing the blockage.

In contrast, benzoyl peroxide delivers oxygen to the skin pores to destroy the airless environment in which acne-causing bacteria thrive.

Benzoyl peroxide is also an excellent active ingredient for fighting acne, but it should not be permanently included in your skin care regimen.

Instead, it’s best to use it sparingly. Minimizing it slowly and eventually discontinuing it altogether when the acne has healed significantly.

This way, healthy bacteria get a chance to balance themselves and become helpful to your skin.

Benefits of Using Benzoyl Peroxide

Some of the pros of using Benzoyl Peroxide are:

  • Inexpensive
  • Accessible
  • Suitable for most skin types
  • Can be used to treat acne

How To Use Salicylic Acid With Benzoyl Peroxide?

Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be used together in a variety of ways.

You can use them in the same routine, one after the other, with a 3-5 minute break in between.

For example, you can apply a salicylic acid tonic to your skin. Then wait 3-5 minutes before applying a benzoyl peroxide gel or cream. Follow up with a touch of a moisturizer on top to prevent dryness.

You can also use benzoyl peroxide as a mask, leaving it on the skin for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off and following up with salicylic acid.

Finally, you can use benzoyl peroxide as a cleanser and then apply a salicylic acid product without rinsing.

The only combination I would advise you against is using cleansers with salicylic acid. These can be very drying to the skin and don’t do much else. Salicylic acid works best when left on the skin longer than you would normally leave a cleanser on.

Pros Of Using Salicylic Acid With Benzoyl Peroxide

Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be a great combination of active ingredients to help you get rid of acne in no time.

Both are potent ingredients with specific effects that complement each other in the fight against acne.

Salicylic acid dissolves the dirt that prevents the natural oil from flowing freely through the pores. At the same time, benzoyl peroxide oxygenates the clogged excretory ducts and gives them a good antibacterial boost while destroying the habitat of acne-causing bacteria.

Cons Of Using Salicylic Acid Mixed With Benzoyl Peroxide

Although the combined use of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be very helpful in eliminating acne, this combination is not without potential side effects.

When mixing salicylic acid with benzoyl peroxide, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Dry Skin

If your skin is dry, using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide at the same time may not be the best idea, as both ingredients can further dry out the skin.

If your skin is oily, that doesn’t give you the green light to slather it with drying ingredients. Excessive dryness can throw your skin’s functioning out of whack and cause it to produce more and more oil to compensate for the dryness.

So, keep an eye for excessive dryness when using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide together, and reduce use if it occurs.

Skin Damage

If the skin is not functioning optimally, it means that the skin barrier is damaged and cannot function normally.

The damaged skin barrier is often manifested by constantly irritated, reddened and inflamed skin.

Often it goes so far that even washing the face under running water becomes painful due to the severe burning sensation. The most common cause of a damaged skin barrier is excessive dryness and persistent irritation.


Sometimes peeling can occur when the skin gets used to the salicylic acid.

And while this is usually a normal reaction, you should be a little more careful if you want to add benzoyl peroxide to your salicylic acid product.

Watch for moderate or severe peeling and reduce or discontinue use if this is the case.