When some of the world’s most celebrated experts and publications say that there might be a connection between benzoyl peroxide and wrinkles, it’s cause for alarm for many of us worried about both acne and fine lines. As someone who relies on benzoyl peroxide products to keep my skin clear, I wanted to find answers that I could actually trust so I turned to famed dermatologist and founder of dermtv.com, Dr. Neal Schultz.
Can acne-fighting products with benzoyl peroxide cause wrinkles? No, they cannot. When benzoyl peroxide products are used properly and in a very light application, they will not cause wrinkles. If they are used too heavily they can over dry the skin and anytime the skin is over dried, existing lines and wrinkles will become more apparent, particularly fine lines. That’s the same reason that moisturizers help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The flip side of this is when using benzoyl peroxide you should also use a water-based, oil-free moisturizer just to help reduce any possibility of over drying by the benzoyl peroxide. Despite the fact that benzoyl peroxide is an oxidant (and we all know about the value of antioxidants in delaying premature aging), the oxidative abilities of benzoyl peroxide are not of a sufficient enough strength to act as an oxidant in the dermis and affect collagen, elastic tissue, or the glycosaminoglycans (hyaluronic acid); therefore, they cannot degrade skin and/or cause wrinkles. Lastly, for many different reasons benzoyl peroxide should only be used once a day, not twice a day.
Is salicylic acid as effective as benzoyl peroxide? No, it is not because benzoyl peroxide is both an antibacterial as well as an exfoliant. Salicylic acid is not an antibacterial and as an exfoliant in doses used in over-the-counter products (1/2% to 2%) it is not as effective of an exfoliant as is benzoyl peroxide.
If someone is worried about wrinkles, are there particular acne products that they should stay away from? I am not aware of any conventional acne ingredients that can actually cause wrinkles. Conversely, there are many acne-fighting ingredients (such as glycolic acid and retinoids) which can help to actually fix fine lines and wrinkles. You can shop for pro-aging oils here.