Acne in adolescents and young adults was effectively reduced with morning low-dose benzoyl peroxide (BPO) treatment combined with an evening stabilized cosmetic retinol, according to study findings published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

Investigators assessed the efficacy of a morning topical low-dose (2.5%) BPO acne treatment combined with an evening retinol treatment in participants with mild to moderate acne. Percent change from baseline to week 12 in total acne lesions was the primary efficacy endpoint.

They conducted a 12-week, randomized, multicenter, evaluator-blinded 3-arm study for treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris: daily regimen of low-dose BPO in the morning and stabilized retinol in the evening; daily regimen of low-dose BPO in the morning and retinol plus salicylic acid in the evening; daily regimen of low-dose BPO plus salicylic acid in the morning and evening. This current report is on the first arm, low-dose BPO and stabilized retinol.

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There were 33 participants (mean age 17.6 years, range 13-29 years) who completed the study. Inclusion criteria was mild to moderate facial acne (defined by modified Cook’s scale), with 10 to 100 noninflammatory facial lesions and 10 to 50 inflammatory facial lesions at baseline (assessment by the principal investigator). Individuals with severe acne, acne conglobate, preexisting or dormant facial dermatologic disorders, use of isotretinoin in the previous 6 months, topical tretinoin or prescribed or systemic acne medication in the previous 30 days were excluded.

Demographic characteristics are based on the 38 patients enrolled (2 discontinued due to request, 1 due to noncompliance, 2 lost to follow-up) and include Fitzpatrick skin types I to V, more than 65% of which were types III and IV. Participants were 40% White, 13% Asian, 11% Black, 11% Hispanic/Latino, and more than 25% were multi-racial; 58% were female.

Investigators noted significant reduction in global total acne count (54%) from baseline to week 12 and significant improvements in Investigator Global Assessment (IGA) of acne severity and inflammatory and noninflammatory reductions (44%). Uneven skin tone, lack of skin clarity, skin blotchiness, and tactile surface roughness significantly improved. Treatment was well tolerated.

Week 12 significant improvements were noted in quality-of-life scores and self-assessment of facial skin conditions. Increases in objective or subjective facial irritation were not statistically significant (P <.05). There were no product-related adverse events reported.

“The combination of a morning low-dose BPO acne treatment and a nighttime stabilized cosmetic retinol product employed in the present study were well tolerated and highly effective in reducing acne, improving skin complexion parameters, improving self-assessment evaluations, and increasing quality of life parameters in adolescent and younger adults with mild to moderate acne,” stated investigators. Due to the potentially devastating psychological impact of acne often seen in this population, investigators believe an efficacious treatment may be life-altering for some individuals.

Disclosure: This research was supported by Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc.

Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Kosmoski G, Miller D, Coret C, Atillasoy E. A topical combination regimen of benzoyl peroxide and retinol moisturizer for mild to moderate acneJ Drugs Dermatol. Published online December 1, 2022. doi:10.36849/JDD.6845

This article originally appeared on Dermatology Advisor