Can I Use Benzoyl Peroxide With Retinol In The Same Routine?

In the pursuit of clear, radiant skin, many individuals have encountered the formidable foe known as acne. Persistent breakouts tend to not distinguish between adolescents or adults, the struggle with acne being all too familiar among demographics. Fortunately, two powerful players in the world of skincare, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol, have long been celebrated for their abilities to combat acne and significantly reduce the signs of aging.

But what happens when you bring these skincare ingredients together? The dynamic duo of benzoyl peroxide and retinol can be a game-changer in any routine, addressing not only breakouts but also fine lines and wrinkles.

What is the purpose of benzoyl peroxide?​

Benzoyl peroxide is a commonly used medication in the treatment of acne. It is an antibacterial agent that works by reducing the number of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. These bacteria often contribute to the development of inflammatory acne lesions.

To combat the effects of these bacteria, benzoyl peroxide contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne lesions in some users. It is available in various formulations, including gels, creams, and lotions, and is typically used as a topical treatment (ranging from 2.5% to 10% in concentration). It is even available over the counter in lower concentrations and by prescription in higher strengths.

can you use benzoyl peroxide with retinol together in your skincare routine?

What is the purpose of retinol in skincare?​

Retinol is a form of vitamin A and is a powerful skincare ingredient with several beneficial purposes that make it a mainstay in skincare collections:

  1. Anti-aging: Retinol is well-known for its intense anti-aging properties. It encourages the reduction of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can also improve overall skin texture and firmness, giving the skin a more youthful look.
  2. Cellular Renewal: Retinol works to enhance skin cell turnover, resulting in the shedding of old, damaged skin cells more rapidly. This process results in a brighter complexion and smoother skin, and can even help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
  3. Acne Treatment: Retinol can also be effective in treating acne for some users. It can help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and regulate sebum production, making it an excellent choice for those with acne-prone skin.
  4. Prevention: Even if you don't have visible signs of aging, using retinol can help prevent them. It's often recommended as part of a long-term skincare routine to maintain youthful-looking skin. Starting as early as your mid to late 20s can be an effective anti-aging regimen in the long term.

Retinol can be a potent ingredient, and it may cause skin sensitivity, redness, and peeling when first introduced into a skincare routine. It’s typically advised to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase as your skin becomes accustomed to it.

What are the skincare benefits of using benzoyl peroxide?

There are several skincare benefits to using benzoyl peroxide, particularly for individuals dealing with acne-prone skin. Here are some of the known benefits of benzoyl peroxide when it comes to skincare:

  1. Treatment of Acne: Benzoyl peroxide is primarily known for its effectiveness in treating acne conditions. It works by reducing the number of acne-causing bacteria on the skin's surface, thus preventing and treating symptoms such as whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, and papules.

  2. Exfoliation: Similar to retinol,benzoyl peroxide promotes and accelerates the shedding of dead skin cells, which can help prevent clogged pores. This exfoliating action can lead to smoother, clearer skin.

  3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: As mentioned earlier, benzoyl peroxide contains anti-inflammatory capabilities that can help reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne. In addition, its inclusion into your routine can lead to the prevention of acne from occurring in the future.

  4. Versatility: Benzoyl peroxide is available in various formulations, such as gels, creams, lotions, and washes, making it suitable for different skin types and preferences.

  5. Efficient Results: Many people tend to see improvements in their acne within a few weeks of using benzoyl peroxide, making it a fast-acting option for managing acne.

what products can you find benzoyl peroxide in skincare?

Benzoyl peroxide is a cornerstone ingredient in the realm of acne-fighting skincare products. Commonly found in various formulations, its primary role is to combat acne-causing bacteria on the skin. One of the most prevalent products containing benzoyl peroxide is cleansers. These cleansers are designed to reduce bacteria on the skin's surface, preventing and treating breakouts. Beyond cleansers, benzoyl peroxide is also frequently incorporated into spot treatments, where its potent antibacterial properties can be directly applied to individual pimples.

Additionally, for those battling body acne, body washes with benzoyl peroxide cater to larger areas such as the back and chest. Due to its potential drying and irritating effects, it's less common in products like toners or masks. Always approach benzoyl peroxide products with a bit of caution, as they can increase skin sensitivity, especially to sunlight.

can you use benzoyl peroxide with retinol in the same routine?

Many dermatologists advise against using benzoyl peroxide and retinol simultaneously because of their opposing properties: benzoyl peroxide acts as an oxidizer, whereas retinol serves as an antioxidant. This means that benzoyl peroxide can break down retinol, making it less effective.

In addition, benzoyl peroxide and retinol can both be irritating to the skin, especially when used together. This is because they both increase cell turnover, which can lead to redness, dryness, and peeling.

For these reasons, most dermatologists recommend avoiding using benzoyl peroxide and retinol at the same time. If you are using both ingredients, it is best to use them on different nights or at different times of day.

Here is a sample skincare routine that you can use if you are using both benzoyl peroxide and retinol:


  1. Cleanse your face with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser.
  2. Incorporate hydrating serums.(optional)
  3. Apply a moisturizer.
  4. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.


  1. Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser.
  2. Apply benzoyl peroxide spot treaments to the affected areas.
  3. Wait 30 minutes.
  4. Apply a moisturizer.

On Alternating Nights:

  1. Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser.
  2. Apply retinol to your entire face.
  3. Wait 30 minutes.
  4. Apply a moisturizer.


For desired results when using benzoyl peroxide and retinol together, skincare layering is key. It’s often best to apply the benzoyl peroxide cleansers/spot treatment in your daytime routine and retinol at night, as retinol causes increased skin sensitivity when it interacts with the sun.

It is important to start slowly with retinol and gradually increase your usage over time. If you experience any irritation, reduce the frequency of your usage or stop using the product altogether.

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Is benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid better?​

The choice between benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid depends on your specific skin type, the type of acne you're dealing with, and your individual preferences. Both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are effective acne treatments, but they work in different ways and have distinct advantages and considerations.

Benzoyl peroxide primarily functions as an antibacterial agent. It reduces acne-causing bacteria on the skin's surface and helps prevent and treat various types of acne lesions, including inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.

Salicylic acid, on the other hand, is a type of beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that penetrates the pores to exfoliate and keep them unclogged. It's effective at preventing and treating non-inflammatory acne, such as blackheads and whiteheads, by breaking down and removing the debris and sebum in the pores.

can you use benzoyl peroxide with facial serums?

Yes, benzoyl peroxide can be used alongside facial serums containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and peptides. Hyaluronic acid, known for its hydrating properties, can be especially beneficial when using benzoyl peroxide, as benzoyl peroxide can be drying to the skin.

Combining the two can help counteract some of the dryness associated with benzoyl peroxide treatments. Peptides, on the other hand, are primarily used for their anti-aging and skin-repairing benefits and don't typically interfere with benzoyl peroxide's action.

can i use benzoyl perioxide with niacinamide?

Yes you can. Common ingredients in skincare products that have different advantages are benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide. By specifically targeting the bacteria that cause acne, benzoyl peroxide is well-known for its ability to treat acne. Meanwhile, niacinamide, a type of vitamin B3, helps to lower inflammation, enhance the function of the skin's barrier, and minimise the appearance of pores. Combining them in a skincare routine is usually harmless.

Like with any skincare regimen, it's important to keep an eye out for any indications of discomfort and to think about seeking the guidance of a dermatologist for specific recommendations.

difference between using adapalene vs. benzoyl peroxide​?

Adapalene and benzoyl peroxide are both topical acne treatments but have distinct characteristics. While benzoyl peroxide focuses more on acting as an antibacterial agent, adapalene is a type of retinoid that works topically and also contains anti-inflammatory properties. It helps regulate skin cell turnover and prevents clogged pores by preventing the cells from binding together.

Some individuals may benefit from using both adapalene and benzoyl peroxide in their skincare routine. This combination can be effective for addressing various aspects of acne, targeting both the clogged pores and attributed bacteria. However, using both ingredients together can increase the risk of skin irritation, so it's essential to start slowly and monitor your skin's response. You may need to apply them at different times of the day or on alternate days.

What should you not use with benzoyl peroxide?

While benzoyl peroxide is effective for treating acne, there are certain products and ingredients you should avoid using alongside it to prevent potential skin irritation or decreased efficacy. Here are some products that shouldn’t be used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide:

Acne Medications: Combining multiple acne-fighting medications can increase the risk of skin irritation. Avoid using other topical acne treatments like salicylic acid, certain retinoids (such as tretinoin), and topical antibiotics at the same time as benzoyl peroxide unless specifically directed by a skincare professional.

Exfoliants: Certain exfoliating scrubs or brushes with abrasive particles can be too harsh when used with benzoyl peroxide. Avoid over-exfoliating, as it can lead to further skin irritation and sensitivity.

Alcohol Products: Skincare formulations containing alcohol can cause excessive dryness when used with benzoyl peroxide. When searching for skincare products, be sure to look for alcohol-free toners.

Facial Masks: Some facial masks, especially those with substantial acid ingredients, can be too intense when combined with benzoyl peroxide. Always check the ingredient list of your mask prior to applying.

Sulfur-based Products: Sulfur-based acne treatments should not be used in combination with benzoyl peroxide, as this combination results in dryness and irritation to the skin.

Vitamin C: Combining vitamin C serums with benzoyl peroxide can often result in decreased effectiveness of both ingredients. If you want to use both, apply them at different times of the day, such as vitamin C in the morning for an energy boost and benzoyl peroxide in the nighttime.

Does benzoyl peroxide come with any side effects?

Yes, benzoyl peroxide can bring some potential side effects along with it, especially if not used correctly or if your skin is prone to sensitivity. Common side effects of benzoyl peroxide may include:

  • Dryness
  • Redness and Irritation
  • Stinging or Tingling Sensation
  • Skin Sensitivity
  • Contact Dermatitis:

If you're new to benzoyl peroxide, begin with a lower concentration (2.5% or 5%) to reduce the risk of irritation. By introducing benzoyl peroxide slowly, you can then gradually increase the frequency of use once the skin has tolerated it for the first few days or weeks. Using a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer after the benzoyl peroxide has already dried will also help to counteract dryness and skin peeling.


Can you combine retinol with benzoyl peroxide? In general, experts advise against applying retinol and benzoyl peroxide at the same time, but the answer is yes—just not simultaneously. When utilizing both of them, it's ideal to apply them at separate times of day or on different evenings.

Benzoyl peroxide and retinol are powerful allies in the battle against acne, and when used wisely, they can help you achieve clear, glowing, and youthful skin. Before adding any new product to your routine, especially in conjunction with one another, it's advisable to consult with a dermatologist who can provide personalized guidance and recommendations based on your unique skin type and concerns.

With proper care and attention to your skin's needs, you can harness the benefits of benzoyl peroxide and retinol while minimizing any potential side effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can benzoyl peroxide remove a pimple?​

Benzoyl peroxide can be effective in helping to reduce the size and redness of a pimple and speed up its healing process, but it may not completely remove a pimple overnight.

Using benzoyl peroxide on a pimple can make the pimple less prominent, though it typically takes time for the pimple to fully disappear. The exact time frame can vary from person to person and depends on factors like the pimple's size, the severity of the acne, and individual skin characteristics.


The frequency at which it's okay to use benzoyl peroxide depends on your skin type, the product's concentration, and how your skin responds to the treatment. In general, you can use benzoyl peroxide every day, but it's preferable to start slowly and pay attention to how your skin reacts.

What not to mix benzoyl peroxide with?

  • Retinol

  • Tretinoin

  • Adapalene

  • Other retinoids

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

  • Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)

  • Vitamin C

  • Other acne treatments

These ingredients can deactivate each other, making them less effective. Additionally, mixing benzoyl peroxide with other acne treatments or exfoliating ingredients can increase the risk of skin irritation.

It is important to note that benzoyl peroxide can be used with other skincare ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and glycerin. These ingredients can help to soothe and hydrate the skin, which can be beneficial when using benzoyl peroxide.

If you are unsure whether or not it is safe to mix benzoyl peroxide with another skincare ingredient, it is always best to consult with a dermatologist.