Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide: Which Is Best for Blackheads?

By | May 30, 2016

Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl PeroxideBlackheads are a common skin condition that affects millions of people. They can appear suddenly overnight and affect your complexion. In general, the nose and chin are prone to blackheads. Also known as open comedones, these unsightly spots occur as a result of bacterial growth. They are often mistaken for dirt. If left untreated, blackheads can spread and form pustules or papules.

Fortunately, these small black bumps can be successfully prevented and treated. Proper skin care is essential. Most products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide may help reduce blackheads. Almost any acne treatment is going to have one or the other. These two ingredients share many similarities but work differently. Choosing one depends on your skin type and individual needs.

What Are Blackheads?

Before buying a new skincare treatment, make sure you understand what blackheads are. These bumps occur in the first stage of the acne formation process. A comedo is a non-inflamed acne lesion that reaches the surface of your skin and opens up. If it stays beneath the skin, it produces a whitehead. When exposed to air, the sebum changes its color to black or dark brown. Some blackheads are dark in color because the thinner lining of the hair follicles produce pigmentation.

Blackheads affect both men and women, regardless of their age or skin type. They usually develop during the teenage years and stay a long time beneath the skin. Some people are more prone to this condition than others. Scratching, picking, or pressing of these lesions may cause scarring and infections.

Although there is no permanent cure for blackheads, you can prevent them by using quality acne products and taking good care of your skin. Simple lifestyle changes, such as avoiding heavy creams, keeping the skin free of bacteria through proper cleaning, and removing your makeup at bedtime, can reduce the formation of blackheads. Ideally, use non-comedogenic skin care products and mild soaps.

Is Salicylic Acid Effective for Blackheads?

Salicylic acid is one of the most commonly used ingredients in acne treatments. It can be a lifesaver for people plagued by blackheads. Classified as a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), it removes dead skin cells and fights inflammation. This compound is derived from aspirin and helps reduce large inflamed spots. It’s ideal for sensitive and oily skin.

Most OTC acne treatments contain 0.05 to 2 percent salicylic acid. Compared to other ingredients, this compound is gentler and can be used on highly sensitive skin. When used regularly, it unclogs pores and helps reduce the abnormal shedding of cells. The only downside is that it doesn’t stop bacterial growth, which is one of the primary causes of blackheads. Some experts claim that prolonged use of salicylic acid can damage skin cells. Others are saying that the amount of salicylic acid in acne treatments is too small to cause serious problems.

We recommend Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant as the formula contains a balanced 2% salicylic acid and the brand is well trusted.

How Good Is Benzoyl Peroxide for Blackheads?

Another ingredient found in acne treatments is benzoyl peroxide. This substance is more powerful than salicylic acid and fights acne, whiteheads, and blackheads. It also can kill bacteria and penetrate the deeper skin layers.

Compared to salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide produces faster results. Most users report improvements in skin appearance within seven to ten days. This ingredient exfoliates dead skin cells and helps reduce excess sebum. It also destroys P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne. Most skin treatments contain up to 10 percent benzoyl peroxide.

Despite its efficiency, this compound can dry your skin and make acne worse in some people. If you have sensitive skin, think twice before using benzoyl peroxide. To reduce its side effects, you should only apply it to the affected areas. Be aware that this ingredient can bleach fabrics and clothing on contact.

We recommend’s tried and tested benzoyl peroxide treatment as this product is quality tested and contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is suitable for blackheads and acne. Click here to buy at

Which One Is Right for You?

Salicylic acid works by removing dead skin cells and excess oil. Benzoyl peroxide does the same, but it also kills bacteria. Both products have pros and cons. When choosing one, consider your skin type and severity of acne or blackheads.

In general, benzoyl peroxide is effective for pus-filled pimples and large cysts but may cause severe irritation and dryness of the skin. It’s not the best choice for adult acne. Additionally, the increased dryness can increase the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Some people also develop flaking and redness.

Salicylic acid is safer, but less effective for severe acne compared to benzoyl peroxide. Over time, it can make your skin dry due to its exfoliating effects. This ingredient works best for treating blackheads.

The only thing you can do is to try both products and see how your skin reacts. It’s recommended first to use an acne treatment based on salicylic acid. Unless you have severe acne, it should do the trick. If blackheads persist, switch to benzoyl peroxide.

Alternatively, some products, such as the Exposed Skin Care Treatment contain both products within one formula, allowing you to experience the best of both worlds.

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