Can You Mix Benzoyl Peroxide With Retinol?

You may have come across these two powerhouse ingredients. Benzoyl peroxide is a topical acne treatment that targets acne-causing bacteria. Retinol interferes with the skin cell turnover rate and aids in improving acne, pigmentation, and aging.

While these two ingredients are wonderful on their own, benzoyl peroxide and retinol should not be mixed together.

When mixed, the efficacy of these ingredients becomes reduced. In addition, it can cause further inflammation and irritation in the skin. Continue to read below to understand each ingredient and why benzoyl peroxide should not be mixed with retinol.

Benzoyl Peroxide

As mentioned above, benzoyl peroxide is a topical acne treatment that specifically targets Propionibacterium acnes (now known as Cutibacterium acnes).

This bacteria is responsible for contributing to infections in the skin which cause acne breakouts.

When applied to the skin, benzoyl peroxide deposits into the outer layer of the skin.

Benzoyl peroxide is available in a variety of formulations, such as gels, creams, and face washes. You can use it as a leave-on treatment, which tends to cause more irritation in the skin.

When used in the form of a face wash, the benzoyl peroxide has less contact time with the skin and therefore, reduces the chances of harsh side effects.

Benzoyl Peroxide works in a couple of ways. It undergoes an oxidation reaction and breaks down keratin to unclog pores. It also has anti-inflammatory properties by interfering with neutrophils, which are inflammatory molecules.

To find out more about benzoyl peroxide, read this blog post all about this acne treatment.


Retinol is a popular ingredient that is found in a variety of lotions and creams. It has been shown to have many benefits when applied to the skin.

Retinol is a type of active ingredient. Active ingredients affect the cell turnover rate. This is the rate at which the skin sheds dead skin cells.

When it comes to aging and acne, a lot of it is caused by external damage, pollution, UV damage, loss of collagen and other types of inflammation-inducing substances.

Retinol is a type of Vitamin A that affects cellular processes when applied topically. Retinol binds to specific retinoid receptors on the surface of the skin.

When this occurs, retinols can induce cellular processes to begin repairing the skin barrier, improve collagen production, and repair photo damaged skin. It helps to shed skin cells that lead to clogged pores, and therefore reduces the chances of acne breakouts, irritation, and bumpy skin.

What Should You Not Mix With Benzoyl Peroxide?

In general, there are a few ingredients that should not be mixed with benzoyl peroxide. Since this is a topical acne treatment, it can have some side effects such as dry, peeling, or red skin.

The most important thing that you want to avoid is using any other active acne treatments that have similar side effects, such as redness and irritation.

Using multiple acne treatments at the same time will only cause more inflammation in the skin. These ingredients include glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, salicylic acid, sulfur, and any other acne treatments that contain high amounts of alcohol.

Since these ingredients cause side effects on the skin, pairing them with benzoyl peroxide will only dry the skin out further, and also cause dehydration and a damaged skin barrier.

Does Benzoyl Peroxide Deactivate Retinol?

Clinicians have seen that using benzoyl peroxide alongside a retinol acne treatment may cause the retinol to be degraded in the presence of benzoyl peroxide. It has been shown to actually inactivate retinol molecules when combined on the surface of the skin.

Can I Use One Treatment In The Morning and One At Night?

Using both benzoyl peroxide and retinol can greatly maximize your success of clearing your acne.

However, as I mentioned above, these two ingredients should not be mixed directly together as they will cause further irritation.

Separating your treatments between morning and night time skin care routines can be a great way to reduce the amount of irritation that may be caused from using them together.

Since benzoyl peroxide does not make your skin photosensitive, you can use this acne treatment in the morning.

With this being said, you do not want to combine any other acne treatments in the morning as well. Therefore, it would be more beneficial to use retinol in your nighttime skin care routine.

This way, your skin will have adequate time to recover between treatments. If needed, you can also reduce the amount of times that you are using these acne treatments.

You can alternate your use of benzoyl peroxide and retinol by using them on alternating nights. This way, it also reduces irritation and skin dryness.

Can You Use Benzoyl Peroxide With Differin?

Differin is a type of retinoid that it is specifically formulated for acne-prone skin. It is known as adapalene. It works by increasing the cell turnover rate. This is the rate at which dead skin cells are able to shed. It has a different mechanism of action than retinol, and it is able to be safely used in the presence of benzoyl peroxide as it does not get degraded by this acne treatment. Therefore, you can use these two together.

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