Yes, you can, but not at the same time!
Retinol, also known as vitamin A, is a key ingredient in stimulating skin cell reproduction and improving the aesthetic appearance of fine lines. However, it can dry out the skin.
Benzoyl peroxide (BP) is an active ingredient recommended for the treatment of blemishes. It regulates the production of sebum and inhibits the proliferation of the bacteria involved in acne, Propionibacterium acnes.
BP is an oxidizing agent, while retinol is an antioxidant. Benzoyl peroxide can oxidize retinol, making it much less effective at fighting skin aging. Furthermore, combined at the same time, these two substances can cause irritation and dry out the skin excessively.
Since benzoyl peroxide and retinol are both photosensitizing (i.e. they increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun's UV rays), they are best used at night. We therefore recommend alternating these two active ingredients every other evening to take advantage of their different effects without combining them at the same time.
One study showed that using BP and retinol daily significantly improved acne. Patients applied benzoyl peroxide in the morning despite its photosensitizing nature and retinol in the evening (each only once a day) for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, 100% of patients reported improved skin texture, 97% improved clarity, 88% improved skin tone and 88% improved rosacea.
TANGHETTI E. The evolution of benzoyl peroxide therapy. Cutis (2008).
KOSMOSKI G. & al. A Multi-center clinical study to evaluate the efficacy and tolerance of a benzoyl peroxide and retinol regimen in the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris. American Academy of Dermatology (2021).