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Hydrogen Peroxide - The Miracle Acne Emergency Solution
Although I prefer to address the "root cause" of acne and provide real solutions to the acne challenge, there are just going to be times when you haven't followed an effective anti-acne dietary regimen or your hormones have gone haywire, and your skin has suffered for it. During those times, please think twice about rushing out to pay a king's (or a queen's) ransom on expensive topical treatments that may take weeks to show improvement to your skin anyway. Worse, many of these products can dry out your skin and cause skin sensitivity, redness, and less-than-appealing peeling.
During those times, reach for humble hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is a common OTC health care product that has been used for years in homes and hospitals as an antiseptic. The 3% solution is cheap and effective, and you probably already have it next to the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet. The good - no, great - news is that this humble workhorse can fight acne symptoms better than most pricey topical acne treatments, containing harsh ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur - which, by the way, wins the award for the worst-smelling acne treatment on the market.
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So Why Does It Work?
Hydrogen peroxide works to clear acne by killing the bacteria on the skin that causes acne and by oxygenating the pores, which helps prevent future pimples by fostering an aerobic ("with oxygen") environment in the skin, in which bacteria cannot live. If you kill the existing bacteria on the skin and prevent new bacteria from taking up residence, you are going to be successful at eliminating your acne problem. A word to the wise, for those that think if a weaker formula is good, then a stronger formula is naturally preferable, please do NOT use 10% or higher H2O2 solutions - they are caustic and can actually burn the skin!
Hydrogen peroxide used in this manner is very effective at killing the bacteria that leads to the inflammation, so that the body can begin healing the acne on its own. Nevertheless, it is intended to be used as an emergency measure after a breakout. Other natural measures, including dietary modifications, adequate sun exposure (I know - it's contrary to what you've had preached at you for years), and strengthening your immune system are much more effective at not only healing existing acne, but in preventing future breakouts. For more information on natural and effective strategies to treat acne, see the link to my detailed article on the subject below.
Caution: Hydrogen peroxide is also the bleaching formula used by many errant "self-serve cosmetologists" to lighten their hair / become a blond. A really unusual shade of orange usually results unless the user is already a true blond. The moral of this lesson is NOT to use hydrogen peroxide on and around your hair and eyebrows unless you really like your hair that shade of orange.
Good Quality H2O2
It's important to use good quality hydrogen peroxide on your skin. The H2O2 you buy at the drug store is of inferior quality, so let's not use it on our faces. Below is a link to a video by Craig Brockie that will show you how to make your own H2O2 from food grade hydrogen peroxide. It's simple and, yes, cheap. Recall my caution about a stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide? Good. Follow the directions carefully to make a 3% solution.
Bonus: You will find many other uses for H2O2 in your personal care routine and in your home.
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