Pros: It has a very light feel to it and feels good going on. I really enjoyed its “payoff” as they call it in the cosmetics industry–it’s been formulated to really feel nice upon application.

Cons: Small bottle (25mL, .8oz) is gone before you know it. Dries white in patches. This whiteness goes away after moisturizing, but the whiteness can come back after perspiring, much like other creamy lotion based BP.

Bottom Line: Superior to Neutrogena On-The-Spot, Inferior to a gel based benzoyl peroxide.

Recommended: Yes. If you’re in Canada and need a 2.5% BP in a bind, this one will work fine.

Review Spectro AcneCare 2.5% benzoyl peroxide

Here are some answers to some recent questions. I am not able to get to all open questions on the blog, but here’s a start:

Would you please be so kind as to list the five (Avobenzone) products you’ve tried in the past? Thank you.

I don’t remember most of them. Sorry. The only one I remember is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer.

What about the bare minerals new SPF powders. May be kind of girly but have you tried it?

I have tried it, in the name of science! I even went out on the town one day with it on, hoping no one would notice. The first thing my friend said when I saw him was, “Are you wearing makeup?” LOL. Anyway, I hated it. It felt cakey and my skin got dry and flaky. Do people really like that stuff? I can’t imagine. As a side note, makeup is an area that I want to study more. I know it is important. If anyone wants to help with research in this area, please contact me.

…isn’t mineral oil one of those things to avoid?

No. Mineral oil is non-comedogenic. In the old days they had multiple grades of mineral oil on the market and the lower grades were comedogenic, but these days only the highest grade is used in products, and it is non-comedogenic.

Is SPF 15 really enough for good protection than SPF30 during summer heat?

As you go up in SPF you get diminishing returns. SPF15 is over 90% as effective as SPF30. And anything over SPF30 is likely to not give any better protection than SPF30. I personally feel more than comfortable with SPF15. The higher SPF formulas I have tried seem too greasy and heavy.

I think too much BP (for me) causes too much irritation. Is this possible?

Yes, this is absolutely possible in two circumstances. (1) At the onset of a benzoyl peroxide regimen, and (2) if you are not using adequate moisturizer. At the start of the Regimen, you want to use a small amount of BP to reduce overly irritating side effects. And once you are on the Regimen it is vital to moisturize twice a day, every day, to maintain a balance in your skin. Benzoyl peroxide, when used correctly, is incredible for clearing acne, but it must be used within a regimen that includes adequate moisture to reduce overdrying the skin.

How close are you to releasing the new moisturizer?

We are hoping for 3 months from now or so.

Are you going to use (in the spot treatment) a betta-isomer of Salicylic Acid?

Yes, we use beta hydroxy acid, the active form of salicylic acid.

(Will the spot treatment have) BP in it??

No. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid cannot be in the same formula. Plus, benzoyl peroxide doesn’t do well in strongly acidic formulations. I am keeping the spot treatment at the legal limit for acidity, 3.5pH, so we can get as much activity from the glycolic acid as we can.

Is it okay to use (the spot treatment) on the whole face instead of the AHA treatment?

I wouldn’t recommend it. First of all, I am leaning toward bottling it in very small tubes. Secondly, it is extremely strong. The spot treatment is made to be used in a tiny pin size amount.

How do I know if I’m being gentle enough (on the Regimen)?

Check out the videos and when in doubt, be more gentle. Also, remember that staying gentle not only applies to during application of the Regimen, but also throughout your day. Try to keep your skin relatively untouched.

Let’s talk fundamentals for a moment, shall we? I spend a lot of time on the blog here talking about obscure acne related topics, but kinda like in basketball…sometimes you gotta just shoot free throws for hours, getting down the fundamentals, and it’s time well spent.

In acne treatment, I’d say there are two major fundamentals.

1. Using a generous amount of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. This is what I want the world to know. Give me 10 seconds on Oprah, Good Morning America, and The View (lol), and I’ll say, “The secret is to use a ton of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. It just plain works. When in doubt, use more.” It’s so simple. It’s really a very basic fundamental. If you load on 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, acne hardly stands a chance. It’s just too powerful. And if for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to be working, load on some more. Being super duper generous with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide does the trick almost every single time.

2. Reducing irritation. Really, regardless of what medication you’re using on your face, if you have inflammatory acne, the kind that gets red which most people struggle with, you’ll want to do everything in your power to reduce irritation. Inflammatory acne-prone skin is sensitive to irritation. Reducing that irritation goes a long way to keeping you clear. That’s why 2.5% benzoyl peroxide is important. It does the job without the excess irritation of a 5% or a 10% formula. Also, staying super gentle in application of your acne treatment is a huge fundamental. If I had another 10 seconds on Ellen, The Today Show, and Regis & Kelly (lol), I’d say, “Stay very gentle in application, being certain to moisturize afterward as well.” Staying exceedingly gentle, and I mean Exceedingly with a capital E, is the best way to go, and is crucial in reducing irrtitation. Moisturizing after benzoyl peroxide, or any other drying medication, will also keep the skin from becoming overly irritated, which will help end the irritation-acne cycle. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention avoiding picking at the skin as well. Picking is a huge culprit not only in irritation, but also in acne scarring. Keep your skin untouched as much as you can.

OK, I’m gonna go play a game of H.O.R.S.E. now 🙂

Brief history: In 1985, the FDA originally classified benzoyl peroxide as Category I, or GRASE (Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective). Then in 1991, they reclassified benzoyl peroxide as Category III, which means “more data needed,” based on safety concerns that arose at that time. However, as of last month, the FDA decided to return benzoyl peroxide to its original Category I generally recognized as safe and effective classification because, “After reviewing the data, we now conclude that benzoyl peroxide can be adequately labeled to minimize the risks associated with benzoyl peroxide while delivering effective acne treatment.”

The official Final Rule states: “We, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are issuing this final rule to include benzoyl peroxide as a generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) active ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) topical acne drug products.”

Summary: In short, some questions arose around benzoyl peroxide’s safety in the early 90s with animal (mice) studies. These studies were inadequate to draw any conclusions, so the FDA decided they needed more data. In the meantime, they reclassified benzoyl peroxide as Category III so until they could see more data. Several studies on benzoyl peroxide’s tumor promotion potential, mutogenicity (can it cause genetic mutations?), carcinogenicity (does it cause cancer?), and photocarcinogenicity (does it cause cancer when exposed to the sun?) were since performed. The data was in. After reviewing the findings from these studies, the FDA decided that benzoyl peroxide should again be considered GRASE (Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective).

Sunburn: Interestingly, they also found that benzoyl peroxide can decrease the skin’s tolerance to UV radiation (i.e., increase sunburn) after repeated applications, and so they are now also requiring an added warning on benzoyl peroxide labels which states, “If going outside, apply sunscreen after using this product.” Manufacturers have a year to add this warning. I will add this to our labels at our next printing.

The Federal Register reclassification of benzoyl peroxide, where the above information is taken, is actually an interesting read. I am particularly struck by both how thorough the FDA research process seems to be, and how concerned the FDA is to the health and financial concerns of both big and small business. Feel free to check it out and add your comments.

A member emailed me asking me to try this product as a possible drugstore brand low-percentage benzoyl peroxide. My review:

The good: It is a gel that goes on clear. I much prefer gel based BP to cream based because gel based does not turn white when you perspire, and is easier to apply. It also has a nice fragrance–not an added fragrance, but just a nice scent from the ingredients in the product. Next, it is a 2% benzoyl peroxide, which is close to the 2.5% that I recommend. Studies have only been performed on 2.5% in comparison to higher percentages. 2.5% works just as well as higher percentages, but does 2%? I’m not certain, but my guess is that it probably does the trick. It comes in a 1oz. tube which, while still small, is still slightly larger than Neutrogena On-The-Spot.

The bad: The biggest drawback of this BP is that it gets gloopy when moisturizer is applied on top of it. I found the combination of this BP and moisturizer to be pretty yucky. Unfortunately, it was so bad that it really was a dealbreaker. The 1oz. size ($5.99 retail) is very small considering the amount of BP that is required to keep the skin clear. Using this BP with the Regimen could get very costly. Next, it is quite a thick consistency which makes it a little tough to apply. I would love to see it made in a thinner consistency.

The bottom line: I do not recommend this product for use with the Regimen because it does not seem to work well with moisturizer, is overly thick, and comes in a small size. However, if you can find a moisturizer that works well with it, take extra care to apply it very gently, and can afford the cost, it may be OK in a pinch.

Dr. Fulton, one of the three guys who developed Retin-A, and the guy who popularized benzoyl peroxide, was in San Francisco teaching a skin care course, so naturally I had to go. I had met Dr. Fulton and his wife once before at a conference and managed to convince them to go for Mexican at Chevy’s so I could tell them how much they meant to me. I’m pretty much a big dork 🙂 But it was a great dinner. I invited them over for dinner at my house this time and they obliged. We had Persian this time, and again, great conversation. I can plainly see how deep Dr. Fulton’s commitment is to helping people with acne. He has literally devoted his life to the effort. I hope he can see that I’m proudly carrying the torch that he lit years ago.