Benzoyl peroxide ruining my clothing?
December 2, 2008 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Those who use Proactiv, AcneFree and other benzoyl peroxide acne medications and lotions: how do you keep it from ruining your clothing?

I'd like to switch to the full Proactiv or AcneFree "systems" (benzoyl peroxide works great for my acne) but I am really worried about ruining my clothing.

I currently use a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide wash in the shower so that I don't bleach anything... but I don't understand how people can apply benzoyl peroxide lotions and such in the morning and not worry about it bleaching their clothing all day. I've used the spot treatment stuff when I was a kid, and it always bleached something. Is the 2.5% too low to bleach clothing? Are there tricks? What if I work out and sweat, will the lotions run and bleach my clothing?
posted by Loto to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea what you're even talking about. I used Proactiv in the past and nothing ever got bleached.

I'm also puzzled how it would get on your clothes to begin with.

In short, I don't think you have anything to worry about. However, I also feel like I'm missing something you must be doing to have had it happen in the past, so I'm not sure I can say it won't be a problem.
posted by Nattie at 5:02 AM on December 2, 2008

Just to be clear, I did a lot of sweaty exercise with Proactive stuff on. I dunno, never had a bleaching episode.
posted by Nattie at 5:04 AM on December 2, 2008

I have used it and never ruined anything. I have no idea how that could happen though, so either you use it differently or I've just been lucky.
posted by agentwills at 5:05 AM on December 2, 2008

You could always wear white.
posted by amtho at 5:14 AM on December 2, 2008

Peroxide things bleach (here's a cite, and a photo). I've had washcloths ruined by it, but not clothes. In my experience, best luck is to wait until the lotion has dried.
posted by Houstonian at 5:18 AM on December 2, 2008

I used AcneFree for a few months and noticed that I was getting weird white streaks around my collars, so I started waiting about ten minutes after I put the lotion on in the morning before I put on my clothing and if I was ridiculously sweaty (like, sweat dripping off my face sweaty) I would dab my face with a tissue rather than letting it drip all over my clothes.

Also, you might be putting too much lotion on? Maybe start putting it on a makeup sponge and applying it, rather than squirting a huge lot of it on your hands and working it in.
posted by banannafish at 5:25 AM on December 2, 2008

My brother uses something, and just waits a while to put on his shirts. Stuff dries, no bleaching.
posted by theichibun at 5:35 AM on December 2, 2008

In my experience even 2.5 bleaches everything, whether or not I let it dry before putting clothes on. One thing you could do is 1)change all your bed linens/pajamas (whatever touches your body while you sleep) so that they are white then 2) use the lotion only at night.
posted by MsElaineous at 5:41 AM on December 2, 2008

It's been my experience that regardless of the strength, BP bleaches everything too - except for white, black, or grey cotton. Since the onset of my adult acne, I've had to switch to white towels and sheets for this reason!
posted by chez shoes at 5:52 AM on December 2, 2008

Oh, yes, definitely get white towels and sheets.
posted by amtho at 6:05 AM on December 2, 2008

I've been using Proactiv for five years and I've never noticed an issue with bleached clothing. When I used over the counter benzoyl peroxide I would have rings around my sweatshirts from sleeping with it on.

I think Proactiv uses such a small amount, you won't notice it is on. No burning, dry skin, etc. It's not the usual experience with benzoyl peroxide.
posted by ginagina at 6:18 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

i used proactiv in the past and it definitely bleached spots on my towels and washcloths. and whatever stuff i used as a teenager would bleach out spots on my pillowcases. so, yes, it bleaches stuff.

however, i've not had a problem with it bleaching my clothes, as i just use it on my face. are you putting the face cream treatment elsewhere on your body? that's really the only way that i can see it bleaching your clothes. if you just put it on your face, and don't rub your clothes on yoru face immediately after, i don't see why it would be a problem.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:00 AM on December 2, 2008

I started using proactive recently and it's been reeking absolute havoc on my towels, but I haven't had a huge problem with it on my clothing. I don't put the repairing cream all over my neck, so it doesn't have much opportunity to get on my clothing.

Perhaps make a point of washing it off before you exercise if you tend to sweat a lot? Or, as others have suggested, only use it at night (I believe the cream itself suggests you only use it at night anyway) and buy white pillow cases.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:05 AM on December 2, 2008

The bleaching factor forced me to use Proactiv only at night. I always wear a white t-shirt to bed (or an old shirt that I don't mind ruining), I use white towels, and my bed linens are white. It's the only way to go.
Always make sure that after you apply BP you thoroughly wash and dry your hands before you touch any colored fabrics.

In the morning I'll use a product with Salycilic Acid... I find that it's 100 times less effective than Benzoyl peroxide but it helps a little and it doesn't bleach my clothes.
posted by simplethings at 7:16 AM on December 2, 2008

I use Clearasil benzoyl peroxide almost every night (works beautifully on my very, very acne-prone skin) but it has ruined countless towels and sheets. So now all my towels are white, and I have to be satisfied with a white pillowcase as well.

I did end up bleaching a couple of shirts several years ago, but that was before I learned to use it only, exclusively at night. For the most part, it seems that it is only a problem if there is moisture involved: if you go to bed after showering without drying your hair completely, your sheets will end up bleached. If you don't do a great job washing the cream off in the morning, I imagine that your shirts will also end up damaged.
posted by halogen at 8:34 AM on December 2, 2008

It never does anything for me, perhaps because I put it on a little while before bed. However, I have noticed my freckles have come out more since using it...
posted by mippy at 8:44 AM on December 2, 2008

I'm another person who has switched to white sheets, pillowcases, and towels and only uses the stuff at night. Giving it 5-10 minutes to really absorb or dry before getting into bed seems to help, too. Unlike somebody above, I've definitely had it bleach black and gray cotton before.
posted by vytae at 9:18 AM on December 2, 2008

Wow, this is weird that people have had such varying experiences. I have used it for years and years and only ever had it bleach blue fabrics. The easiest solution is to use it only at night, if your skin will let you get away with that.
posted by HotToddy at 9:32 AM on December 2, 2008

In evening I use's 2.5% BP and try to air dry my face before going to bed. The bed linens are ruined anyway. Get white bed linens.

All my towels are ruined. Get white towels.

In the daytime I use ProActiv's BP moisturizer and I put it on after I am dressed and very carefully.

The best advice though (which I got from a different AskMe on this subject) is to wash your hands after every application of BP.
posted by k8t at 10:43 AM on December 2, 2008

Oh and I use ProActiv's facewash in the shower and make sure that I rinse completely.
posted by k8t at 10:43 AM on December 2, 2008

I wonder if some of the differences in experiences are coming from people who use both a wash and a cream vs. those who use only a wash with benzoyl peroxide? The cream that you leave on is much more the culprit in bleaching than the facewash that you rinse away.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:26 PM on December 2, 2008

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