If you’ve suffered from acne in the past or are currently experiencing acne breakouts, you’ve probably turned to benzoyl peroxide – the gold standard for treating acne.
Although benzoyl peroxide (BPO) works amazingly to reduce acne, a lot of people also experience a weird situation – benzoyl peroxide stops working.
There’s a simple explanation for why BPO could stop working on your skin. In this article, I’ll share with you what this is all about in more detail and what to do if it happens.
What is benzoyl peroxide?
Before I dive straight to the point, I think it’s important to go over what benzoyl peroxide is in the first place. This will give us an idea of what to look for in a working product and will help us build proper expectations.
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most effective treatments against acne of all types.
As an ingredient, it’s included in a lot of different skincare products, such as face washes, body washes, gels, and creams.
BPO acts on the surface of your skin, it’s a topical ingredient.
The compound doesn’t penetrate the deeper layers of the stratum corneum, where it can make structural changes or intervene in-depth. Instead, it eliminates the bacteria on the surface of the skin that is responsible for acne.
The way it reduces pimples is via the introduction of oxygen to the bacteria forming your acne. This way, the bad bacteria get eliminated from your skin, which effectively diminishes active pimples.
However, it’s important to note that this bacterial removal won’t magically stop acne breakouts from forming because other underlying reasons cause that bacteria.
Acne often results in inflammation that can slow the treatment. However, benzoyl peroxide also helps here, as it can dry the skin and help it peel faster. In the end, inflammation and blemishes are treated faster.
Usually, it takes about 12 hours for BPO to start working and provide some visible results – helping to diminish active pimples filled with puss.
However, don’t expect it to be a magic wand. It all comes down to how concentrated your solution is, how serious the acne is, how you use the ingredient and how consistent you are with it.
How do you know if benzoyl peroxide is working?
Is there a sure sign that benzoyl peroxide is working?
Well, because it kills acne bacteria instantly, you’ll notice a visible reduction in the number and severity of your pimples – as soon as the next day after using the ingredient.
But, as I explained above, don’t expect miracles – it will take some time for the substance to work its magic and leave your face acne-free.
Some people share that it has taken about 10 weeks for them to completely get rid of acne and see an improvement in their skin condition. I had to use a 5% benzoyl peroxide-based face wash for three months before I notice any significant improvement in my hormonal pimples.
Don’t be tempted to use more of the product (or more often!) than instructed, if you don’t see an instant result. Just be patient and continue using the benzoyl peroxide product consistently, as directed by the instructions.
Can your skin become resistant to benzoyl peroxide?
So what has changed if benzoyl peroxide stopped working?
Imagine you started using it, enjoyed all the results, and all of a sudden your skin stopped reacting to the ingredient (or so it seems).
Has your skin become immune to benzoyl peroxide?
No, the skin can’t become resistant to benzoyl peroxide.
This is because of the way that BPO deals with acne-causing bacteria – by introducing oxygen to it in the topmost layer of the skin. Therefore, the body nor the acne bacteria can’t get accustomed to the substance.
So why is benzoyl peroxide not as effective as before?
Earlier I explained that BPO doesn’t tackle the causes of acne, but only deals with already-existing pimples by removing acne-causing bacteria.
One of the possible explanations why benzoyl peroxide seems to have stopped working is that perhaps your acne condition worsened due to other factors. Acne is influenced by many different things, so if something triggers a flare of nasty pimples, it’s only natural for them to break through the benzoyl peroxide.
Maybe some of the foods that you consume are triggering severe reactions in the body, which result in more acne.
Perhaps you’re going through hormonal changes that are affecting your skin condition.
Or maybe you’re using certain products in your skincare routine that are purging you out.
Whatever it is, now is probably the best time to introduce another acne-fighting ingredient or to solve the underlying cause of these excessive spots.
Additionally, benzoyl peroxide could have stopped working because of changes in the ingredient itself.
BPO is an unstable ingredient, difficult to formulate.
It easily changes due to exposure to certain temperatures and moisture. For example, storing it in the bathroom is not a good idea at all. This could ruin the product and make it useless for your acne problems.
And last but not least, you might be using an expired product. Make sure to check the expiration date as well as the period-after-opening symbol.
What to do when benzoyl peroxide has stopped working?
If you’ve noticed that benzoyl peroxide is no longer working as usual, here are a few tips I’d recommend:
Buy a new product
Let’s assume that the reason BPO has stopped working is simply that it went bad. In this case, I’d recommend purchasing a new benzoyl peroxide product, which will certainly have the original effects on your skin.
Store your product in a cold and dry place to preserve it better
As mentioned above, warm temperatures and moisture can make benzoyl peroxide go bad. My suggestion is to always store it in a cool and dry place to make it last longer. If you have been storing your current BPO product in such an unfavorable place, assume it’s gone bad and buy a new one.
Try other actives in acne treatments
Suppose the reason why BPO isn’t’ working anymore is that your acne has changed or worsened. In that case, it will be more effective to introduce other acne solutions, like salicylic acid, AHAs, azelaic acid and niacinamide.
Remember, BPO deals with already existing acne in your skin, while BHAs, for example, will unclog your pores and help prevent acne lesions in the first place.
Consult with a specialist
In the case that your acne has become more serious, it may be time to introduce a stronger active treatment that can solve the underlying problem or try other strategies such as changing your diet and treating acne with proper nutrition. A dermatologist will be able to guide you on your acne-fighting journey.
I’d love to learn more about your experience with benzoyl peroxide! I warmly invite you to share your stories in the comments section below.
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