If you associate benzoyl peroxide with the mainstay acne treatments that lined the drugstore shelves of your pimple-faced adolescence, then you’ll also recall the way they bleached the shit out of your parents’ bath towels. As if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough already — now you had to be in trouble with your mom for ruining the decorative Pottery Barn towels usually reserved for “guests” with your zit cream?
Maybe your pubescent breakouts have since been replaced by adult acne, and you’ve traded in your drugstore spot treatment for Kate Somerville, but the intimidatingly-named ingredient is as much of a threat to your linens as ever. The biggest difference is that now we’ve figured out how to make colored fabrics benzoyl peroxide-resistant, and available for $14.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. Welcome to the future, where your pillowcases don’t tell the story of your last breakout like an ancient hieroglyph.
A Reddit user posted a photo from the megastore’s catalog that shows a special offer on a set of bleach-friendly colored sheets for the college-bound. “Resists discoloration from acne medications,” the listing says. Indeed, a handful of retailers like Target and L.L. Bean offer similar products — sheets, pillowcases, towels — that are impervious to benzoyl peroxide. Without a degree in textiles, it’s hard to say how they work, but it seems like a game changer for anyone who absolutely must have purple pillowcases to match their curtains, but doesn’t want to sleep with their head on an old towel every night.
Still, dermatologists aren’t exactly gushing over BP-friendly fabrics as a must-have for any self-respecting acne sufferer. “Benzoyl peroxide is a bleaching agent, so it will put white spots in colored fabrics,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. When in doubt, he recommends going the Diddy route with white linens instead. The antiseptic ingredient doesn’t bleach your face or your hair, so as long as you keep it away from your patterned dresses and Frette sateen shams, you should be good.
One more scary side note, just to keep you on your toes: Dr. Zeichner says he’s seen cases of benzoyl peroxide bleaching dark hair extensions, so if you bought your bangs at the salon, your pillowcases might be the least of your worries.