If you’ve been dealing with acne long enough, you’ve probably heard about Stridex pads. Stridex pads are often recommended as an over-the-counter acne treatment and a good one at that.
Stridex has been around since the ’70s, helping clear up faces for over 50 years now. The reason this product has been around for so long is that it really works.
If you struggle with acne but haven’t tried Stridex pads yet – what are you waiting for?
But how do you use Stridex pads? The best way to use Stridex pads is to cleanse your face, let your skin dry completely, swipe the pad over your acne-prone areas, allow the solution to dry, then continue your routine as normal.
In this post, we’re going to go over how to use Stridex pads, how often you should use them, how quickly you can expect to see results, and what pitfalls to avoid for clearer skin.
What Are Stridex Pads?
Before we dive in, let’s talk about what exactly Stridex pads are. If you haven’t used anything like them before, they can seem a little mysterious.
Stridex is a brand that makes face pads soaked in a special acne-fighting solution that cleanses and exfoliates your skin while treating and preventing breakouts.
These pads help remove left-over dirt, unclog pores, dissolve oil, and shed dead skin cells from your face, all of which helps prevent acne on its own.
On top of that, Stridex pads contain a powerful ingredient – 2% salicylic acid – that is recognized as one of the best treatments for acne.
In fact, studies show that salicylic acid is better at fighting acne than benzoyl peroxide and has fewer side effects.
Salicylic acid is also a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), which means it’s a chemical exfoliant (removes dead skin cells) and an anti-inflammatory agent.
Sounds like a great tool for acne-prone skin?
It is. Stridex pads are very effective when used correctly, and many people have had a lot of success getting clear skin with them.
How To Use Stridex Pads
Stridex pads are best used at the beginning of your skincare routine, right after cleansing. Below is a sample skincare routine that incorporates Stridex pads, but bear in mind that yours may look a little different:
- Cleanse your face with a face wash.
- Let your face dry completely or pat it dry with a clean cloth.
- Swipe a single Stridex pad over your face, focusing on areas that are more acne-prone. Avoid sensitive areas like the eyes
- Discard the Stridex pad.
- Allow the Stridex “residue” to fully dry and soak into your face.
- Continue the rest of your skincare routine as normal. For example, if you normally apply a serum and a moisturizer, you can do that now that the Stridex solution has dried.
As you can see, using a Stridex pad is fairly easy and intuitive. The product is already packaged in a ready-to-use format. All you have to do is unscrew the jar, pull out a Stridex pad, and gently wipe it on your face.
When you pull out the Stridex pad, it will be soaked in the treatment solution. Don’t wring it out – it’s supposed to be wet. The solution will stay on your face and do the work long after you’ve applied it!
In What Order Should Stridex Pads Be Used?
It is best to use the Stridex pads somewhere in the early stages of your skincare routine, after cleansing. This is because Stridex pads assist with cleansing, while also depositing a medicated solution onto your face.
An ideal order looks something like this:
- Makeup remover (if applicable)
- Cleanser / face wash
- Toner (if applicable)
- Stridex pad
- Spot treatment
- Eye cream
Of course, your individual skincare routine may vary. You may use fewer or more products than this, and you might follow a slightly different order.
Just remember that the Stridex pads should come after cleansing and before any other treatments.
Do Stridex Pads Replace Toner?
In some cases, using a Stridex pad can replace your need for a toner. This depends on what type of toner you normally use.
If your toner is the “astringent” type – meaning, it contains alcohol and helps remove dirt and oil – then you may want to omit it and replace it with the Stridex pad.
Stridex pads also help remove dirt and oil, so you don’t need both. Also, the alcohol in astringent toner, combined with the ingredients in the Stridex pad, may become irritating.
On the other hand, if your toner is gentler (doesn’t contain alcohol) and helps prep your skin for your post-cleansing routine, you can keep it and use it prior to applying the Stridex pad.
Avoid using your toner after the Stridex pad because you will most likely remove the Stridex solution before it gets a chance to work!
Do Stridex Pads Replace Face Wash?
Since Stridex pads remove dirt and oil from your pores, it may be tempting to use them instead of a cleanser. But don’t make that mistake.
Stridex pads work on a micro level – removing tiny dirt and oil particles as well as dead skin cells from your skin.
But in order for them to do that effectively, you should first wash off the layer of oils, dirt, and makeup that has accumulated on your face during the night or day.
This is best accomplished with some water and a cleanser. Once your face is cleansed, you are ready to use the Stridex pads.
Should You Wash Your Face After Using Stridex Pads?
When you use a Stridex pad, it deposits some of the solution onto your skin. This is intended to stay on your face and work its magic over time. Most people can leave it as is and apply other products over it once it dries.
That being said, some people with sensitive skin might notice irritation from the Stridex solution. In those rare cases, it might be helpful to wash off the Stridex solution after about 30-60 minutes.
During those 30-60 minutes, the solution will have a chance to work without staying on the skin long enough to cause irritation.
You might also want to consider Stridex’s “Sensitive Skin” line which has a lower concentration of salicylic acid (0.5% instead of 2%) and uses aloe in its ingredients. This might eliminate the need for washing it out altogether as it is much gentler on the skin.
How Long After Using Stridex Pads Can You Moisturize?
After you’ve applied your Stridex product, you have to wait a little bit before you put moisturizer or any other products on your skin.
At a minimum, you should allow the Stridex solution to fully dry on your face.
But ideally, you should also give it some time to sink in and activate after it has finished drying. This typically takes 30 minutes. So if you have the time, we recommend waiting 30 minutes after applying Stridex before you put anything else on your face.
But not everyone has that much time to spare, especially if you’re getting ready for work or school in the morning.
If you’re in a hurry, the product will still work even if you apply your serum and/or moisturizer immediately after the Stridex residue has dried. This typically takes 5-10 minutes.
How Often Should You Use Stridex Pads?
Stridex pads can be used daily. Some people even use them twice a day – once in the morning and once at night – and see great results.
Stridex pads no longer contain alcohol (like they did a few decades ago), which makes them safe to use without the risk of drying the skin.
For sensitive skin, using twice a day or even once a day may still be too much, however. If you know that you have sensitive skin, we’d recommend starting out gradually and using the product once every other day for a few weeks before you make it a daily practice.
It’s worth noting that everyone is different, so your mileage may vary. Try out different schedules and see what works best for you.
How Soon Can You See Results From Stridex Pads?
As with most skin care products, the answer depends on your unique skin type and acne situation. Most people begin seeing results within 2-4 weeks of starting a regular treatment with Stridex. Some people might need more time to notice a difference.
As is the case with most acne treatments, there may be a period of adjustment at the beginning of your treatment. This is a period when your skin is interacting with the salicylic acid and can go through a “purge” phase.
Do not be alarmed if the first few days or weeks your skin responds by looking worse than usual. This period will end and your skin will start clearing up.
In order to see the best outcome, we recommend using the product for at least 4-6 weeks before you decide whether it’s working or not. Most acne treatments have to be used consistently for this long to see good results.
If after 6 weeks you are not seeing any improvement, it might be time to explore other products, including stronger treatments that you can get from a licensed dermatologist.
Can Stridex Pads Make Acne Worse?
Your acne might get slightly worse during the first few days or weeks after starting a new acne treatment, and Stridex is no different.
The “purge” period refers to the period when your skin is reacting with an acne treatment, leading to slightly more irritation and sometimes more acne.
While this sounds awful, it’s actually a good sign. Treat it as a rite of passage to clear skin.
If your skin is showing signs of “purging” when you start a new treatment, it likely means that the product is working.
The reason your skin gets worse before it gets better is that the product is causing your skin to shed dead skin cells faster than before. At first, this can overwhelm the skin and clog up some pores, leading to new breakouts.
But after a couple of days, once these new blemishes begin to fade out, the product will successfully uncover newer skin, which is clear, fresh, and smooth.
This new skin won’t have as many dead skin cells to shed, so after the initial “purge” your breakouts should decrease exponentially.
So the short answer is yes, Stridex can make your acne temporarily worse because your skin may go through a purge period. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long.
Please keep in mind that purging is not the same as irritation or an allergic reaction. If your skin is showing signs of irritation like redness or peeling, this might be a sign that the product is too harsh for you.
You could benefit from trying another acne product that is better for sensitive skin (Stridex has one, or you can look into another brand). Or you might be allergic to salicylic acid, which is possible, albeit uncommon. If you suspect an allergy, stop using the product immediately.
Do Stridex Pads Really Work For Breakouts?
Yes, Stridex pads are very effective against acne and other types of breakouts.
They are better at removing dirt and oils than regular soaps and cleansers, and the salicylic acid in them is a potent ingredient that is often prescribed by dermatologists to fight acne.
Stridex pads, and other salicylic acid products, are powerful tools against different types of acne including bacterial, fungal, and others. This means it works well for a wide range of people.
Stridex pads are also noted for having minimal side effects. Although the product contained alcohol in the past, they no longer use it in the ingredients, which is a huge step in the right direction after a series of past complaints of irritation and dryness.
If you haven’t tried them before, they’re definitely worth a go to see if they might be the solution to your breakouts.
Finding The Best Stridex Pads For You
Stridex has come out with a few versions of their famous pads to tackle different skin types. You should choose the right Stridex pad product for yourself depending on your skin and current level of breakouts.
Below are their most common products that you’ll be able to find on the market:
- Stridex Maximum Pads: as the name suggests, these are their strongest anti-acne pads. They contain 2% salicylic acid (the maximum allowed without a prescription). These are great for moderate to severe cases of acne. These are best for someone who has normal to oily skin that is not very sensitive to products. You’ll recognize this product by its red packaging.
- Stridex Essential Pads: these pads have half the salicylic acid of the Maximum pads – 1%. This is still enough for moderate and light acne. This product is also enhanced with vitamins E and C, which are great for the skin. The Essential pads come in blue packaging.
- Stridex Sensitive Pads: if your skin is easily irritated, these pads would be great for you. They have the smallest concentration of salicylic acid out of all the Stridex products and contain aloe vera for a soothing effect. But don’t think they’re less effective. These pads are still recommended for mild to moderate acne, you might just have to use them longer to see results. They come in a green jar.
Stridex occasionally comes out with other lines of acne pads as well as other products, but these three are their main offerings.
As you can see, Stridex pads are a low-risk option for those dealing with acne, and it’s pretty easy to use. We hope this post helps you in your journey towards clearer skin!