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Can You Use Benzoyl Peroxide & Tretinoin At The Same Time?

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Both tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide are proven highly effective as acne treatments. But can you double up on these two?

Should you use one in the morning and one at night? Which treatment is best? Some say that benzoyl peroxide reduces tretinoin’s effectiveness, but some scientific studies say otherwise.

There is a bit of debate here, so figuring out what is best for you can be tricky. Let’s break this down and find out if you can use tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide concurrently.

Using acne washes with tretinoin

Popular OTC benzoyl peroxide face washes for acne.

Does benzoyl peroxide degrade tretinoin?

Throughout the years, clinicians have been wary of prescribing the use of both tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide as concurrent acne treatments. This is because, for a long time, it was believed benzoyl peroxide could oxidize and degrade tretinoin, thus reducing effectiveness.

However, a 2010 study, challenged this. Researchers mixed 0.05% tretinoin and 5% benzoyl peroxide at a 1:1 ratio at 96 degrees Fahrenheit. After seven hours, there was no loss of tretinoin strength. 100% of the tretinoin strength remained. The study concluded that benzoyl peroxide does not affect the strength or effectiveness of tretinoin and clinicians can prescribe both for simultaneous use without the worry of oxidation.  

The combined use of tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide depends on the type of tretinoin

In a different 2010 study, researchers studied the best use of concurrent tretinoin microsphere gel and benzoyl peroxide for acne.

This study examined the effectiveness of a combination regimen vs. a sequential regimen. (Some used tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide at the same time, while others used them separately)Interestingly, the reduction in acne lesions of the combination group was no less significant than the sequential AM/PM group.

However, this study only examined microsphere tretinoin gel, so using traditional tretinoin cream with benzoyl peroxide might cause oxidation.

For tretinoin users: try to use benzoyl peroxide in the morning and tretinoin at night

To avoid possible degradation, try using a benzoyl peroxide wash in the morning, and tretinoin cream at night. Using the products separately should reduce any possible reduction in tretinoin’s strength.

Additionally, it’s recommended to only use tretinoin at night as there will be no light degradation. Using both benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin is best suited for those who have comedones and inflammatory acne.

Try a clindamycin/tretinoin combination instead

Like benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

However, this prescription topical does not pose the same oxidation threat that benzoyl peroxide does. Clindamycin and tretinoin compound products are very effective acne treatments. This combination is considered more effective than stand-alone monotherapies.  

Clindamycin is a topical antibiotic that kills acne-causing bacteria and helps to reduce acne inflammation. Tretinoin helps to clear out pores and stop them from getting clogged in the first place.

Summary

It’s possible that some forms of tretinoin can be degraded by benzoyl peroxide. Some studies, however, have not found this to be true -- so a debate ensues.

For the treatment of inflammatory acne, some clinicians prescribe both tretinoin and OTC benzoyl peroxide together but suggest using them at different times of the day.  

To be on the safe side, use a 3% benzoyl peroxide wash in the morning and tretinoin at night.

For more effective acne treatment, try a topical antibiotic like clindamycin instead of benzoyl peroxide.  

Strut Health formulates clindamycin/tretinoin acne treatments

Our Strut acne formula was designed to eliminate acne-causing bacteria and increase skin cell turnover for consistently clearer skin.

If you’re ready for clear skin, complete a questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation to see if our clindamycin and tretinoin compound treatments are right for you. If our doctors find this is a good fit for you, we’ll ship your prescription to your doorstep.

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