Benzoyl peroxide causes dryness. There is no way around it. And while the drying and peeling effect of benzoyl peroxide is part of what makes it incredible at clearing acne, the dryness it leaves behind must be put in check for the skin to remain balanced and clear. We’ve been on the topic of how to cope with this dryness for a while, but we haven’t addressed specifically what chronic dryness is and what it does to the skin. Once you understand it, you may see more clearly why it is absolutely essential to keep your skin hydrated.

In short, chronic dryness signals the immune system that irritation is occuring. The body responds to chronic dryness as it does to any irritation. The murky process can be tough to understand, even for modern scientists, so let’s take a look at it from another point of view.

dryness and irritation

Our main characters:

Madge: This is YOU. You are the owner of the club.

Dryness: One of benzoyl peroxide’s effects on the skin. Benzoyl peroxide and its effects are necessary for clear skin, but when dryness is allowed to become chronic, irritation will follow.

Okay, let’s imagine your skin is a dance club. [Yeah…we’re going there…why not]

All the cool, laid back skin cells are at the club. The music is smooth, and the cells are groovin’. Everybody’s got rhythm. There seems to be just the right amount of cells on the dance floor all night. It never gets too crowded, and everyone is in a good mood.

Then, in walks Dryness. He always comes to the club. Shortly after he arrives, he starts drinking. Once he starts drinking he loses his rhythm and starts stumbling around the dance floor, bumping into the other cells. They get out of the groove too. Everybody starts to get irritated. Somebody calls the cops. A ton of cops arrive and turn off the music. The beat screeches to a halt, and everybody stops dancing and instead just start standing around. The club stops being fun. It gets ugly in there.

This is an extremely old-fashioned town. [Yeah…we’re going even further with this…] The law in this town is that anything that even irritates people is a huge deal. It’s strict. Doing anything that irritates other cells ends up with somebody calling the cops, and the cops respond hardcore every time.

Madge (YOU), the owner of the club, decides that this is getting old. She’s tired of this one irritating drunk guy ruining the night. She makes a new rule that he’s allowed to come, but after 15 minutes, he gets only water to drink.

The moral of the story: Dryness will show up at the party, but he needs to be watched closely and after 15 minutes he needs to be chilled out. In other words, after you apply benzoyl peroxide, you’ll experience dryness. It is always going to be there. But keep an eye on your dryness and after 15 minutes, be sure to apply plenty of moisturizer to make sure the dryness doesn’t become chronic and turn into irritation. It’s a common misconception that dryness is good for acne. It can even seem to make common sense. But you will find that the opposite is true. Hydration prevents irritation, and helps keep you clear. The next time you think to yourself, “I’ll go light on the moisturizer,” think twice. Be generous with moisturizer and your skin will be clearer for it.

(Note: The above story & moral is simplified and dryness is mentioned after applying benzoyl peroxide. However, as many of you note, after washing your face you also experience dryness. Your cleanser does not produce the majority of this dryness, assuming you are using a gentle cleanser. Rather, the dryness is mainly from you being on a benzoyl peroxide regimen. The same advice applies. 15 minutes after applying benzoyl peroxide, be generous with moisturizer and get your skin back into balance.)


Leave a Reply

  • M

    Adorable and helpful as well! Can’t wait for my new 16 oz moisturizer to arrive.

  • Kristina

    But what should we do if even 3 pumps of moysturizer + jojoba does not deal with dryness? I am on regimen for more than a year and I am still extra dry and peeling… The feeling is horrible.

  • John

    All do respect Dan, I totally disagree. I believe that using moisturizer is a no- no for acne prone skin. Believe me, I’ve learned this through a ton of trial and error. moisturizer= acne!!

  • admin

    Kristina: Try 4 pumps.

    John: Could be your moisturizer? Over and over I see that when people use plenty of a good moisturizer they get and stay clearer.

  • Shawn

    best mositurizer iv ever used even without the joboba oil. Uv answered my prayers, couldnt be happier.

  • Chris

    Hi Dan
    Really useful post, thanks for all the advice. I was wondering if you could do an update on exfoliation – looking at the forums lots of people like myself don’t have dryness because of moisturiser, but still have flaky peeling skin. Jojoba oil helps, but isn’t a solution. Is gentle exfoliation (maybe with a washcloth) too irritating?

  • John

    Tried over at least 50 different moisturizer’s Dan. They all clog pores!!!! Not saying that your regiment is ineffective, what I am saying is that in my experience and seeing the experience of countless acne sufferers, that moisturizer is not conducive to oily and acne prone skin.

  • Robert

    Haha, were you the drunk guy at the club when you came up with that analogy? 🙂

  • John

    not an analogy, just fact!! Moisturizer and acne DO NOT mix!!!!

  • Robert

    Sorry John, my last comment was not directed at you, even though it came right after yours. It was a light-hearted joke referring to Dan’s club analogy. I should have specified who I was addressing.
    But that said, I’m not sure you can generalize your own experience (N=1) to say that moisturizers can never work, especially given Dan’s own experience and the success stories posted on this site. I have just started the treatment myself and have not read the primary literature, so I am in no way saying moisturizer actually does work. I just don’t think you can use your own experience to generalize it as absolute fact, no matter how many exclamation points you use.

  • lo

    What about moisturizing right after washing your face (when it is still damp), and then waiting for it to dry befrore using the bp?

  • Will

    John, I am sorry, but you are just wrong. I don’t know what your situations have been so I cannot figure out why, in you case, you have found moisturizer to be a bad things. However, it is not. My estimation would be that you have been doing the typical thing an amateur would be doing. That is that you go about using a regimen, but you do two things wrong. The first thing that I see people doing wrong is that they don’t wait long enough to see the results of what they are doing. Say you are on Dan’s Regimen and you do exactly what it says down to the last detail. You do this for 2-3 weeks and decide it is not working. Well, you have already failed to be persistent with it. You will not be clear in 2-3 weeks. You have to stick with a certain moisturizer for long enough to see whether its effects are good or bad. The second thing I see people doing is mixing another variable into the equation at the same time they change something else. They end up attributing the negative side effects to the wrong product. Then they stop using something that is actually beneficial because they have confused it with the negative effects. If you want to try out a new product you should do your regimen that you know works and introduce that one new product individually. Then you should try it out for a month or a little longer and see if it makes you break out. If it does then stop using it and get back to the core of what works.

    I would almost guarantee that you are attributing your moisturizer horror stories to the moisturizer when it is something else or it is the way you are using the moisturizer.

    Bottom line is that moisturizer works and helps keep you clear. Without using moisturizer you will be dry from whatever treatment you use and however you wash. This equates to irritation and it will not only make your acne worse, but it will make you skin worse too. I am sure there is a bad moisturizer out there that makes your pores clogged and your acne worse, but Dan’s moisturizer DOES NOT do that. The new and the old ones did not do that.

  • John

    Nothing about my routine my friend is amateur! As a matter of fact, I would consider myself an expert at this point. I was trained by the only person I know on this planet who guarantees success 100 percent of the time! I said it before and I will say it again; moisturizer=oily skin which in turn causes further acne…….not an opinion, fact!!!!

  • Jerry

    I agree with John. Almost every moisturizer I have used has made my face horrible. I mean, dry skin is bad, but moisturizer makes it waaaay worse. For example, I used a recommended non-comedogenic moisturizer one day after a very bad dry spell around my mouth and oh guess what, I broke out horribly only where I put the moisturizer.

    I understand why moisturizer is important, but if it makes my face worse its not worth it. Dan’s BP is honestly the best I have used and has cleared up my skin greatly. I decided to try Dan’s AHA and it is pretty good. Destroys flakes like its nothing. Anyone who is having bad flake problems should really try it.

    Oh also, can someone explain to me how moisturizer on top of BP is supposed to work? The BP in theory, just blocks the moisturizer from absorbing. Thats why Dan says too apply so much. Theres no reason to apply so much BP if it doesn’t absorb into the skin and I wind up seeing it wash off in the morning.

    Obviously Dan’s products saved me, just want to add to the conversation.

  • John

    i totally agree Jerry!! Nice comments!!

  • Robert

    Jerry, if you had a dry spell around your mouth, applied moisturizer only there, then broke out only there, I don’t think you can rule out the original dry spell as being the root cause of the breakout. It’s totally confounded, so you can’t really tell either way.
    John, who is it that guarantees 100% success?
    Again, I just started the treatment and am waiting to see results before passing judgment, so I have no horse in this race. But I’m just curious.
    That said… John, adding exclamation points does not make your opinion (sorry, fact!!!) any more convincing.

  • John

    well you can joke all you want but I’m his patient and i know first hand that his program works and all the joke’s and all the sarcasm doesn’t change reality. That’s the problem with people like you. Instead of actually taking the time and seeing for yourself what truth really looks like you endlessly bash without fact, a man who is the real deal and who’s mission is to end needless suffering around the world!

  • Vegan with acne

    I loved the analogy, Dan, so cute! I’ve been on the regimen since September ’10, my acne has been completely clear (for the first time in 8 years) since November, and I’ve followed the regimen to the T, with Daniel Kern products.
    Unfortunately, I always had chronic dryness alongside my acne (which was frustrating because most acne products push you to dry out your skin), so naturally my dryness has been pretty frustrating. AHA every other night gives me beautiful skin the next morning, and here’s a new idea I’ve just started:
    I’ve added about a pump of your moisturizer to my foundation. I don’t need as much foundation now that I’m only concealing scars, and make-up accentuates my flakiness, and your moisturizer blends FLAWLESSLY with my foundation (liquid Revlon for dry skin) and then dries within about 15 minutes leaving no oily residue. YAY!
    Go madge!

  • Katrina


    Lots of good discussion here, but just a thought: everyone’s face is different. Everyone’s face will react to things differently, be it AHA, moisturizer, cleanser. Everyone’s face will react differently to different amounts of things applied, too.

    Personally, I’ve never used a moisturizer. I have been on Dan’s regimen for over 2 years now, and I’ve never used his moisturizer (just his cleanser and BP) and I’m clear. So, what works for one, doesn’t always work for all. You got to find what works FOR YOU.


  • Dave

    It’s clear that John and his cronies have never used the regimen. When you do, like the thousands of the rest of us who have had incredible success clearing acne, come back and talk to us.

  • admin

    John and Robert,
    I have edited out a lot of bickering that didn’t have anything to do with this blog topic. Please keep your comments relevent.


  • John

    you can censor me all you want but truth is still truth!!

  • Silvia

    Hi everyone! I love and hate the regimen at the same time because of the dryness BP gives to my skin. I’m a girl and I need to wear make up and flakes are a hard problem to camouflage when you’re applying foundation. As much as i love Dan’s regimen cause it’s the only thing that cleared my skin from acne both moisturizers haven’t worked for me. The first one stang my face and it seemed i had a sunburnt cause my face got so pink. The last one doesn’t stop my face from peeling even with 3 pumps and 10 drops of jojoba oil. Besides, it leaves a yellow tint in my clothes! I give up on moisturizers. The only one that seems to work for me is Olay Complete Care. I am going to try Avène Thermale moisturizer and see how it works.
    Again I LOVE Dan’s regimen. I have tried to use it once a day instead of twice when I got cleared, then I used it every second day and acne came back so bad i even thought of takin Accutane (well the European version of it). I was patient and used the regimen again and I am so happy I did. I am never going to quit BP again. I stopped using it because of dryness, but i’d rather have a dry skin than a red irritated acne face! I wish Dan could find a new formula for the moisturizer. I love AHA+ and I use it as a night treatment. I am going to place my order now cause I am running out of my products! lol

  • Silvia

    Hi again guys! As I told you i was in search of a good moisturizer for the area of my face where I apply BP (nose, around mouth and chin area). Those areas felt like sandpaper and they were flaking. moisturizer (3 pumps) + jojoba oil weren’t solving my dryness so I went to the pharmacy (I live in Spain, EU) and I found that 2 French brands Avène Eau Thermale and La Roche-Posay had exactly what i was looking for. I bought La Roche Posay Effaclar H soothing and compensating moisturizer. Effaclar is a line for oily-acne prone skin and Effaclar H is a complete line specifically created for oily skin made fragile by over-drying acne treatments. They have a foam cleanser in this line super gentle for sensitive acne skin, but i only bought the soothing moisturizer. I like it so far. I apply BP, wait for over 15 minutes, apply this LRP soothing moisturizer only in my dry areas and then wait around 10 min to apply the moisturizer all over my face. The price is 14,55€ for 40grams (1.35 oz) so not a bargain, but if it works it might be worth it for my small dry areas only. Will keep you updated!

  • Lilly

    I understand what John & Jerry are saying.. I HATE using moisturizers, always have.. I always thought, how is this going to help my OILY, ACNE prone skin?? My derm tried to get me to use moisturizers for years & I never wanted to. I think it does break a lot of people out.. That being said, however, some moisturizers are actually good. And the thing is, when you have acne, you think DRIER is BETTER. We all want our faces to be so dry it’s like a desert. But the bottom line is, when your face is TOO dry, your skin/body says “oh hey, it’s toooo dry so I better send a bunch of oil to hydrate it”. That’s the point: too dry face = more oil sent there to combat it = breakouts. So yes moisturizer is essential even for acne prone skin. Don’t completely rule it out. Find a good one. And no need to be rude here.

  • Lilly

    Have you people heard of H20 plus yet?? The marine moisturizer? Try it… I think it’s a good one & I’d like to hear other thoughts.

  • Pedro

    Hi there Silvia,

    I’m from Portugal and right now I am testing the same moisturizer! BP leaves my skin red and flakking. I hope this moisturizes solves my problems! Good luck for you

  • Joey

    NO WAY! Two – three pumps of moisturizer is a JOKE. Why? Because I end up looking like Snooki from the Jersey Shore if I add that much to my face. This yellow moisturizer is a NO NO. Dan, you need to bring back a white moisturizer. NOW!

  • Michelle

    three derms told me not to put moisturizer. i tried to experiment by putting moisturizer and not putting anything before i go to bed.

    The areas where i put moisturizer is oiler. The areas that i don’t remain normal.

    Strange? I use BP too but not dan’s BP. I use rationale’s threefix system. 🙂

  • Michelle

    but as from above, i guess it really depends what works on you. for some people, BP can be really irritating. For me, BP is tolerable. And I can, surprisingly, use it with AHAs and BHAs without irritation because my skin is so stubborn! Like when I put two percent salicylic acid, it just won’t show any response (Used it for three months, nothing happened. No IB, no improvement)

  • Paula Santoni

    I am 32 years old and have had acne since I was 17 years old. I’ve tried every over the counter product, have taken perscription medication oral/ and creams or gels. I am trying this product- Tea Tree Oil facial cleanser by (Dessert Essence) It WORKS definetly WORKS, but be very very careful in using this product…it’s almost like having a chemical peel done, it literally burns and really drys out my skin, it’s like acid, be very careful. I use it as a spot treatment, I put it on my pimple or blackhead and in 2 days it’s dried up and gone… I leave the cleanser on for 15 – 20 miniute, then I was with warm and cold water. After that I put (All Natural) Pure Aloe Vera – Organic solution on every hour to sooth, condition, and hydrate my skin, it relieves the burning and deminishes the redness on my face. My face is Sensitive to Oily skin. I’ve been using Tea Tree Oil Cleanser for 4 days now, with the Aloe Vera, right after, and I am amazed of the difference in my skin. Do Not Use Tea Tree Oil Cleanser all over your face it’s like acid, use it like a spot treatment, then follow using Aloe Vera Solution… I got these products from the Whole Foods Super Market (Organic).

  • N

    I just started using prescription BP 5% and Retin-A Micro. Alternating between the two and using them only at night as my doctor recommended.
    Its been two weeks and Im seeing great results.
    But like almost everyone else, my skin is flaking off and peeling. Its embarrassing and almost unbearable.
    I will try to add some jojoba oil to my moisturizer and see if it helps.
    As for my Cleanser and Moisturizer my doctor recommended spectro gel. Its non-comedogenic and Im really liking it but im just not sure if its too light of a moisturizer?
    Does anyone have any feedback about spectro gel? Is it safe to add jojoba to it?

    Also noticed that the cleanser doesnt take my makeup off so I use Burts Bee’s cleanser first to get
    rid of all of my makeup and then use the spectro gel after. Is this a bad idea? It seems to be working but I dont know if i should be using two cleansers.

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Rae

    After being on the regimine for 3-4 months I saw my skin get clear for the first time in years. My new problem became the drying and peeling, which is also gross. I STILL STICK TO THE ORIGINAL REGIMINE. (In the evenings, I alternate nights for AHA and the Moisture&jojoba oil)

    Here’s what I did to help with dryness and peeling:

    After I wash my face, I don’t dry it all the way but leave it a little damp
    I use about a half pump of moisturizer on my damp face
    I wait 20 minutes and continue with the regimine as usual.
    I use a little less BP now that my skin is clear.

    Not that much of a change in procedure but it seems to help.

  • Rae

    PS I tried everything too and finally dropped ALL of the perscriptions in favor of ONLY the products. It’s the only thing that works, is just easier and the products and advice here are superior.