Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask Review

I’ve been using anti-acne products with salicylic acid for so long that even though my all of acne never truly cleared up, I thought I had the problem under control and that any acne that resisted the acid was way beyond the aid of modern medicine/science/skincare. Then, four weeks ago I had a massive breakout, and I tried everything to get it to clear up. I mean all my usual treatments and then some. I used astringents, masks, creams, I even tried any combination of the three – it only seemed to exacerbate the issue. Then I went to my doctor and he recommended that I switch over to a product that used benzoyl peroxide instead of the more common salicylic acid.

I turned over every single bottle and tube in the acne treatments section of the skincare aisle – there were very few that didn’t list some percentage of salicylic acid and the only benzoyl peroxide one that I found that sounded perfect was the Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask. Who knew how hard it would be to find a benzoyl product!

Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask Review |

But, what is the difference between Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide? We can get down to the science here like how structurally the basic difference between salicylic acid and benzoic acid is the presence of hydroxyl (-OH) and other really cool chemistry tidbits that my science-y mom explained to me over the phone. But basically, benzoyl peroxide is essentially a combination of benzoic acid and oxygen – the benzoic acid acts as an exfoliant while the oxygen helps kill bacteria that contributes to acne. It’s a deep clean with the potential to dry out the skin, great for under the skin (and pus-filled) acne. Salicylic acid, on the other hand, is friendlier for those with sensitive skin and those who struggle with blackheads. It’s a gentler peeling agent without the bacteria-killing oxygen boost.

Salicylic Acid vs. Benzoyl Peroxide: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask Review |

Neutrogena’s Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask can be used as a daily cleanser or an intensive mask. Its active ingredient is 3.5% of benzoyl peroxide (1% over the purportedly effective 2.5% threshold) and the label warns against using it alongside an additional topical acne medication lest drying should occur. I love that it can be used as either a mask or basic cleanser – I’ve used it as both and since I started using it, my skin has looked better than ever!

It’s a no-frills sort of formulation – there are no beads or special oils, no fruits sprinkled on top, no pink splashes of something or other – it’s just a very plain product with very plain packaging, and it’s very effective. It’s a thick white cream, and you don’t need too much to get going. To use as a daily cleanser, you massage into a lather on your skin and rinse; to use as a mask, you apply a thin layer, wait five minutes, and rinse.

This is easily the most important part of my routine now. Clear skin is foremost in my skincare priorities and I really love how Neutrogena consistently is able to provide dependable and effective products. Since I’ve started using the cleanser/mask I’ve seen a significant reduction in my acne – and definitely less intense flare-ups whenever they occur.

The Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask retails at about $6.19 and can be found wherever Neutrogena products are sold. And as always, the information presented here is my opinion based on my personal experience – consult your doctor or dermatologist for skincare advice tailored to your needs. And let me know your experience with Neutrogena and what products you use to tackle acne!

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