Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide

I originally wrote this for some of my esthetician colleagues.  I hope you enjoy it!

I have read recently, and have attended lectures where benzoyl peroxide is discouraged from use. It is alleged that BPO is detrimental to the skin.  It is said that this ingredient thins the skin.  It dries out the skin.  It compromises the barrier function of the skin. It makes the skin photo sensitive.  It can make your Langerhan Cells go dormant. Let us all remember that ACNE is what BPO is used for in esthetics. So what is the TRUTH?  Part of the truth is that those discouraging its use have an agenda that has nothing to do with the health of the consumer’s skin!  Their agenda is all about selling their touted acne product.  By discouraging the use of BPO, they can then come in and save you with their acne product.  Please keep in mind why we use BPO.  It is for acne sufferers.  Newsflash: It is supposed to dry out the skin…of an acne sufferer.  It is supposed to increase turnover rate of epithelial cells, thereby peeling the skin and promoting the resolution of comedones…in an acne sufferer.

I believe it is unethical to frighten consumers from using a product or ingredient unless there is credible scientific reason to support such a claim.  Some claims use studies whereby a 40-50% solution of the ingredient is used on mice ears or cheeks.  No one uses a concentration that high for acne.  Water is a life-sustaining substance, but too much water can kill you.  Please keep in mind BPO is not used on normal skin.  It is used only during the time one suffers with acne.  When we break a bone, we wear a cast to help the bone heal properly.  When the bone is healed, the cast comes off.  It is no longer needed.  It’s the same with BPO. 

While we wait for new and wonderful discoveries derived from microbiome and epigenetics studies, let’s cease from discouraging consumers from using a perfectly effective, readily available, (and affordable for almost anyone!) helper in the war against acne.  In a proper, non-comedogenic formulation, and a properly designed acne regimen, BPO plays a part in clearing acne vulgaris.   That's the key, 'properly designed’!  A well-trained esthetician, who has certification in caring for the health and beauty of acne sufferers, designs the acne regimen.  The acne sufferer is also using antioxidants, proper acne-safe moisturizing agents, and the correct sunscreen…ALL while getting the skin clear.  As a well-trained acne esthetician, I know how to teach my clients how to use BPO as ONE component of an effective acne regimen, to mitigate every one of those supposed “bad” issues BPO is accused of.  If we were in a court of law, I’d defend my client, in this case BPO, and the jury would have to find my client innocent of all charges.

I love attending educational lectures and conferences because even if I don't agree with their philosophy, it challenges me to be a better esthetician. I research as to why certain ingredients are being included in a product or protocol and if the company that I am partnering with is the very best for my clients.

When we understand that acne includes symptomatic discomfort, scarring, emotional and psychosocial self-isolation, workplace embarrassment, and potential psychiatric disturbances including depression and suicide, we need to really think about how we, as estheticians can help those who suffer. We have a unique opportunity to help those who suffer with acne.  Let’s do so with compassion, thoughtfulness, and knowledge.