Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid: Which Acne Treatment is Right for Me?

Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid are well-known skin care ingredients for preventing and treating mild to moderate acne. In the right concentrations, they have been proved to clear acne and minimize future break outs. Which one is right for you ultimately depends on the type and severity of acne.

It actually is quite simple; Benzoyl Peroxide works better for inflammatory acne and Salicylic Acid works better for non inflammatory acne. Are you ready to break that down?

Ok so…

BENZOYL PEROXIDE (a known antimicrobial and keratolytic agent) works very well for inflammatory acne, which is acne characterized by redness, pus filled bumps or pimple like lesions (pustules, cysts and nodules). Benzoyl peroxide works by peeling away the dead skin to get rid of dead skin cells, excessive oil and trapped bacteria under the skin surface. Due to its drying nature, it is the preferred choice in treating mild to moderate acne in normal to oily skin types.
Side effects effects of Benzoyl Peroxide include redness, dryness, excessive peeling, stained clothing and hair. Its over use can stimulate conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis. One should start out using the compound sparingly initially, if there are no side effects, you may build up the frequency.

It generally isn’t recommended for sensitive and dry skin types however, the Obagi Clenziderm MD Therapeutic Lotion (which contains 5% benzoyl peroxide) has been found to have minimal side effects in even the most sensitive skin types.

SALICYLIC ACID works very well for non-inflammatory acne, which is mild acne characterized by blackheads and whiteheads. As the name suggests, this type of acne is NOT accompanied by inflammatory symptoms (like redness, swelling and pus formation).

Salicylic Acid is a chemical exfoliator and belongs to the Beta Hydroxy acid family. It works by dissolving and removing the dead layer of skin cells from the skins surface, this in turn keeps the pores clear and helps prevent new acne formation. Salicylic Acid is suitable for most skin types.

It’s strongly advised that no one allergic to aspirin uses salicylic acid. Sensitivity to salicylic compounds used in aspirin can result in hives, rashes, and angiodema. There can also be headaches, breathing issues, and other unpleasantries. Be sure to do a prior patch test and refrain from use if any adverse effects are seen.

A product that stands out amongst the rest in terms of safety and efficiency is the Obagi Clenziderm 3 step system. This gently cleansing formula is suited for different skin types, as well as those with severe and troubling acne.

Obagi ClenzidermMD

Obagi ClenzidermMD is a highly effective medical grade acne cleansing system, as it safely incorporates both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The use of both products simultaneously is exceptionally productive in fighting bacteria, reducing sebum production, and by clearing dirt and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.


The Obagi Clenziderm system is a safe, reliable and clinically proven three-phase application system. It starts with a Salicylic Acid Foaming Cleanser, followed by a Salicylic Pore
Therapy solution (for toning), and finally a Benzoyl Peroxide Therapeutic Lotion.


This treatment cleanses thoroughly, washing away impurities while leaving skin refreshed and clean. It effectively attacks acne-causing bacteria (P. acnes) deep in the pores. With results seen in as little as 2 weeks, the Obagi Clenziderm MD System is sure to eliminate acne at its source, keeping your skin cleaner, healthier and clearer for the duration of its use.


If you’re suffering from acne’s effects, give this product a try to see the results for yourself. Check out our products here.


The Aesthetic Physician is an Authorized Retailer of Medical grade products including Obagi Medical. Take a step towards clearer and healthier skin by contacting us for a complimentary Skincare Consultation.

The Aesthetic Physician


215 Presidential Blvd

Bala Cynwyd, Pa

(215) 205-6698

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