The 10 Best Benzoyl Peroxide Products, According to Dermatologists

Acne, meet your match.

best benzoyl peroxide products including JORI, Jan Marini, and La Roche-Posay products
(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve had the pleasure of dealing with acne (sarcasm very much intended), then you’re probably familiar with an ingredient called benzoyl peroxide. It’s the main character in some of the best spot treatments, cleansers, and even lotions because it's basically a p.acnes-fighting superhero. “Benzoyl peroxide is perhaps the best ingredient we have to treat red, angry pimples,” explains board certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. “It works by lowering levels of acne-causing bacteria, reducing inflammation in the skin, and helping to open up the pimples themselves.” 

All sounds pretty good, right? That’s why we did our due diligence, a boat load of research, and a slew of product testing to identify the best benzoyl peroxide products on the market. From effective spot treatments to rinse-off washes, keep scrolling to shop the best products. 

What to Look for in a Benzoyl Peroxide Product?

Percentage of Active Ingredient

When you’re shopping for a benzoyl peroxide product, you’ll notice that almost every product identifies a certain percentage on the label, typically ranging from two to 10 percent. That begs the question: Which percentage is ideal? “More is not necessarily any better,” says Dr. Zeichner. “In fact, the higher the concentration, the more likely the product is to cause irritation. Studies have shown that 2.5% benzoyl peroxide is as effective in treating red, angry pimples as 5% or 10%, but less irritating.” 

Delivery Method

The best benzoyl peroxide products can be broken down into two camps: Wash-off formulas or leave-on formulas, which are designed to sit on the skin for an extended period of time. While the latter is going to provide more continuous treatment, a wash is a great option for acne management, a body treatment, or for anyone who experiences irritation with leave-on formulas. 

“Washes are a great option, especially if you are treating large surface areas like your chest and back,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Even though these products are called washes, they really should be used as short-contact therapies. I tell my patients to apply them in the shower, and let them sit on the skin while they sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to themselves. This allows enough contact time for the benzoyl peroxide to get into the skin.” Because a cleanser is a short-term treatment, a higher concentration (closer to 10 percent) is going to be ideal to maximize benefits. 

The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Products

The Side Effects of Benzoyl Peroxide

While benzoyl peroxide is one of the best ways to treat acne, it’s not without side effects—it can cause red, itchy skin. “True allergic reactions to benzoyl peroxide are quite rare, and most reactions are caused by direct irritation, either because too much was used or too high of a concentration was applied,” explains Dr. Zeichner. To keep irritation to a minimum, he recommends using no more than a pea-sized amount of a leave-on formula for your entire face. It’s also key to use a moisturizer that’ll keep skin hydrated and balanced during an acne treatment. 

If irritation with a product continues or gets worse, make sure to consult with a board certified dermatologist. 

Meet the Dermatologists

Dr. Joshua Zeichner
Dr. Joshua Zeichner

As the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology, Dr. Zeichner has a broad interest in medical and cosmetic dermatology as well as clinical research. His specialty is the treatment of acne, as well as the cosmetic rejuvenation of the aging face. Dr. Zeichner treats general skin conditions, including eczema, rosecea, psoriasis, and skin cancer. In addition, he is well-versed in the use of Botox and dermal fillers, as well as lasers and chemical peels.

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Dr. Anna Karp, DO

Anna Karp, DO, is a board-certified dermatologist at the Skin Institute of New York (SINY®). Dr. Karp specializes in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology, and she treats adults and children at SINY’s® three offices in New York City’s West Village and Bay Ridge and Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Karp is a native New Yorker, growing up on the South Shore of Long Island. After graduating magna cum laude with her bachelor of arts degree in Biology from the State University of New York at Binghamton, she went on to earn her medical degree from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. She then completed dual residencies in Family Medicine and Dermatology at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, New York. During her residency, Dr. Karp presented at a number of local and national conferences, and she published several articles in peer-reviewed journals. She also served as Chief Resident during the final year. Dr. Karp is an active fellow and member of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, and the American Medical Association. As a highly skilled dermatologist, she focuses on providing the highest level of individualized and compassionate care to all her patients.