My Plan to Wean Myself Off Benzoyl Peroxide

by Kate on May 13, 2012

in Acne, Health, Healthy Living, Natural Beauty, Simple Living

After a great deal of research I have solidified my plan to wean myself off Benzoyl Peroxide.

First, some background: I’ve been following the acne.org regimen which involves applying Benzoyl peroxide to any acne-affected areas twice a day every day. I’ve been very grateful to find products that have given me control over my skin and have, as promised, cleared it completely. In fact, despite my reasons for wanting to go off the regimen, I would still recommend it to anyone with moderate to severe acne as I would argue that long-term low self-esteem from acne is more damaging than most of the negative side effects of Benzoyl peroxide.

That said, Benzoyl Peroxide is known to cause free radicals in the skin. Free radicals are what lead to skin cancer. Yikes! Besides cancer, free radicals also contribute to aging. I’ve noticed since using the Benzoyl Peroxide, my skin has taken on a somewhat pale and sallow appearance. It doesn’t have that glow that my natural oils give me.  Six months ago I would have said, “who cares, acne looks worse than pale and sallow.” But I recently did attempt to go off BP and within a few weeks I had my natural glow back and remembered how lovely it was. Unfortunately the acne came back too, and as I’m getting married in a month and a half, I didn’t want to take any risks with my skin leading up to the big day.

Here’s what I think I did wrong when weaning off BP and how I plan to correct it when I try again after my wedding:

1. Quit Too Fast: I set out with the intent to gradually decrease my BP applications to once a day, then every other day, then every third day, and so on. But I guess I got excited about my initial “glow” and basically quit cold turkey after 2 weeks. Next time around I will commit to weaning off gradually.

2. Inconsistency with Replacement Products: I probably was only off the BP for two months total, and during those two months I used: AHA, tea tree oil, oil cleansing method using jojoba and tea tree oil, Manuka honey, Dr. Bronner’s tea tree oil soap. It’s very easy when you’re not on a “regimen” to freak out and try a bunch of different products. There’s nothing worse for acne. You’ve got to pick a single regimen of probably no more than 3 products and stick to it for at least 8 weeks, maybe a full 3 months before you can even have the slightest sense of whether this regimen is working for you. Why? Because initial breakouts are so common when changing products. You’ll know it’s an initial breakout that will be followed by clearing if you suddenly start breaking out in places and in ways that you don’t normally. If by 2 months after using the products you’re not experiencing lessened breakouts and some clearing, then it may be time to move on to something else.

3. Need to Find the Right Products: Wouldn’t it be nice if I could know what would work now? Unfortunately there’s no big online forum of hundreds of thousands of users who’ve had success with a particular organic acne regimen like there is with the acne.org regimen. (Or if there is, please let me know ASAP!) So what do I have to go on? A hunch and limited past experience.

So here’s my plan (it’s almost there–still wavering between Manuka honey and tea tree oil):

Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil seems to help keep me clear when added to the regimen. It’s known to help balance your skin’s natural oil production and has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, so I definitely want to include it in my regimen moving forward. **It’s important to get organic, cold-pressed jojoba oil–the one in the picture at the top of the article would fit the bill. It’s available on Etsy, but a quick Google search will yield others as well.

Manuka Honey: Honey has great anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory products and has been a long time natural acne remedy.  Manuka honey is like the Rolls Royce of honey when it comes to acne fighting properties. If you search “Manuka honey and acne” you’ll find lots of great testimonials. Seeing the success others have had, I’m strongly considering using it. My only drawback is the stickiness, plus the Manuka honey wouldn’t linger on the skin because you’d have to wash it off (I would use it like a mask and follow up with oil cleansing using Jojoba). I tend to think to fight acne you need acne fighting ingredients on your skin at all times.

OR

Tea-Tree Oil: 5% Tea-tree oil has been proven in multiple clinical tests to be as effective as Benzoyl peroxide in treating acne, it just tends to take a bit longer to work. So I’m thinking what would be easiest is, as I reduce my applications of BP, I could just replace them with a 5% tea tree oil solution. That said, when I’ve used tea-tree oil in the past I really couldn’t stand the smell and neither could my fiance. Before I quit my natural skin care attempt I tried mixing 95% jojoba oil with 5% tea tree oil and that seemed to mask the smell well enough so I might try AM and PM oil cleansing with that solution. But it still wasn’t perfect–if anyone has suggestions let me know!

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mari February 23, 2013 at 12:06 am

Hi,

I’ve read your posts about BP and weaning off product use. I too have been using the Acne.org regimen, not in it’s entirety. I use BP at least 6 times a week (maybe skip a day here and there) and I use the regimen cleanser and an Aveda moisturizer that my skin loves. I too have noticed dryness, dullness and overall lack of natural “glow” and health to my face since being on BP. I would hate to depend on this product into my adult life. I want to wean myself off and I’m curious how your experience was? Did you replace treatment with anything? Would love as much advice as you can offer from your experience as I embark on a mission to restore my face’s natural state :)

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Kate March 8, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Hi Mari,

I would say it was definitely touch and go weaning off the BP–and I actually got pregnant about 6 months after I started trying to wean off so with all the hormone changes it’s just tough to say.

My acne since I got pregnant has been sort of ridiculous and I’ve using a glycolic acid 10% solution and it has really helped. You might first switch off the BP cream to a BP cleanser (and definitely still follow with a moisturizer). The cream is going to be more irritating long term since it stays on your skin for much longer. Since you always rinse off a cleanser, it’s not as irritating and your skin doesn’t absorb as many chemicals. Maybe try that and see if you stay clear. If so, then try alternating the BP cleanser with a 10% glycolic acid solution and then just gradually wean off the BP wash (using every night, then every other, then every 3rd night, and so on.). Hope that helps! Let me know what you end up doing!

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Melissa June 18, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I know this post was a bit ago, but I think it’s very important to note that these suggestions or regiment changes are just topical and are NOT going to make your acne go away. They are simply suppressing it while you are using the product. Finding a great skincare routine that is organic and natural is difficult but important…more important though (if you are looking to get radiant skin) is to try and heal from the inside out. Changing your diet (sometimes drastically), drinking lots of water, and getting adequate rest is best. What you put in your body counts for a whole lot more than what you are putting on it! I know this is easy to say, but harder to accomplish, as I am also a BP user and searching for a way to get off of it (why I am on this site in the 1st place), but thinking about the problem of acne holistically is helpful in the mission to rid my life of it!

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Kate June 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

So so true!! It’s so important not to ignore the internal causes. I’m about 7 months pregnant now and my skin couldn’t be more perfect (and I’m not even using any topicals at all–I hardly even wash my face) so I’m pretty sure my hormones and immune system are the cause of my acne (when Im not pregnant). But that’s not to say your diet can’t have drastic effects on your hormones and entire system–it definitely can and does. Even when I wasn’t pregnant I definitely saw tremendous relief of my acne when I avoided sugar/white breads/basically anything that causes your blood sugar to spike. What dietary changes have you found helpful?

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