Benzoyl peroxide. If you’ve ever had acne, there’s a fair chance you’ve heard of the stuff. Used all over the world for decades, it’s an absolute powerhouse ingredient that kicks acne bacteria’s butt. Loads of brands use it as a key ingredient, such as Acne.Org. Their ‘Treatment‘ is brilliant, and it works. If you need to slap a lot of BP all over your mug then it’s the way to go. Problem is… it’s online. Cue Benzac AC.
In Australia, you can quickly and easily grab this stuff off just about any Priceline shelf. Other retailers such as discount chemists and Chemist Warehouse are bound to stock it too. Produced by Galderma, a company which prides itself on skin care innovation (but not on an updated, functioning website apparently), Benzac AC is a brand I have used for years. The active ingredient is benzoyl peroxide, a tried and true method of killing off acne bacteria. Whether I’ve had a tiny little zit, or a huge blind pimple slowly building under my skin, this stuff has been my saviour.
The Benzac AC 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Gel is my go-to. I don’t know why it’s called a ‘gel’, because the consistency and appearance is far more like a cream. Regardless, this is the stuff I’ve used for years to wipe out my pesky spots. Using a 5% benzoyl peroxide solution is optimum – going lower may not be effective, and going higher is superfluous. The product design is great, as it’s easy to squeeze, and gravity will always drag the last drops to the end of the tube. Personally, I like to apply it to my skin using a cotton-tip (or q-tip, for my American friends), in order to avoid touching my skin as much as possible. The aim of the game is to reduce bacteria, after all!
A few extra points about this specific product:
- The price can range from around $15-$19 for only a 50g tube. While this is fine for mild acne, you may find yourself going through it at an insane pace for more moderate or severe spots. That’s ridiculous, and is the greatest negative of what is otherwise a fantastic product. So look out for sales, such as Priceline’s 40% off skincare sales and stock up!
- Avoid simply spot-treating. Topical acne treatments work best if you apply them not only to the spot, but to the wider area too. Again, you want to kill as much bacteria as possible, so keep working on getting that entire perimeter clean!
- You will likely bleach towels, pillow cases, clothing and possibly more while using this product. Be aware, and try not to use all the best linen in the house.
- It’s best used once a day, at night. And if you spend any time outside, remember to slip, slop and slap. Your skin can become extra sensitive to the sun when using benzoyl peroxide, and a good quality sunscreen can save your skin from getting damaged.
Now, let’s have a brief chat about another Benzac AC branded product: their 5% benzoyl peroxide wash.
Due to having so many feels from their ‘gel’, I naturally figured that their wash might be a decent method to ween myself off the nightly application routine, while still keeping my acne at bay. Hmmm… unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case.
I didn’t experience any kind of excessive redness or drying of my skin like they predict to happen, but this is likely due to my skin simply being used to benzoyl peroxide already. I mainly use acne washes during my morning skin care routine, so while you can use this twice a day if you want/if needed, I only used it during the morning, for about 3 weeks.
I followed the instructions, washing for 30 seconds before rinsing, and it felt just like a regular gentle cleanser. Sometimes cleansers can cause a mild tingly sensation, or make your skin feel tight. The Benzac AC wash doesn’t do that. It feels more like a smooth, gentle formula, similar to Cetaphil cleansers, and leaves no tightness in your sin afterwards.
After 3 weeks, I decided that while this thankfully didn’t cause me to have significantly more acne, it didn’t seem to be doing a crash hot job of stopping my spots, either. Now, I’m really not a fan of chopping and changing routines, but after 3 weeks of use, it’s pretty easy to determine whether something is working or not. Your skin has had time to become used to the new product, and it should be reacting favourably by this time. After many, many years of using acne-related products, I have a fairly good sense of when a product is, or isn’t working. In this case, my reaction was… neutral. Nothing much changed! And ultimately, at almost $20 a bottle, that’s just not good enough.
My perspective on skin care has always been that using a mix of natural and man-made chemical products is perfectly fine. Some people may be turned off using benzoyl peroxide due to some of the side-effects (bleaching clothes and dry, red skin being the main ones); however, it’s undeniably one of the only ingredients that actually works. But, not every benzoyl peroxide product is going to be 100% effective, as I found out. Perhaps it’s my skin type, but I can’t deny my disappointment in the result from the Benzac AC face wash. It’s expensive, and I was hoping for way more bang for my buck. But… that gel? Yes! I give it two thumbs up and a big fat grin. It’s never let me down! It’s like my not-so-secret weapon, and it’s a major work horse. If you need something to get your acne under control quickly, then this is absolutely worth the price. It’s been a part of my skin care routine for years, and while I am using it less and less, I know it will always have my back.
Note: as far as I know, this is not a cruelty-free or vegan product line. As I am moving towards a full CF & V lifestyle, posts on products such as these will be rare.