Acne can be frustrating enough when it breaks out on your face, but some people also deal with breakouts on their body—with the neck, chest, and back often being hit the hardest. But what is most surprising about body acne is that, for some unknown reason, it is also the most stubborn type of acne, taking what seems an inordinate amount of time to go away.
Fret not, as there are definitely ways to get body acne under control, but only by following research-proven advice instead of online home remedies. At Paula’s Choice, we definitely do not recommend nor want you to use poorly formulated products or not be gentle with your cleansing methods, as these could spell more problems for your skin.
With our acne treatment products and skincare advice, you’ll stand a very good chance of quickly seeing clearer, smoother, and more even-toned skin.
Body Acne Treatment 101
But before we go on any further, it’s important for you to know that research has shown that the treatment for body acne also uses the same ingredients, skincare formulas, and methods as facial pimples.
While there are different types of pimples, when it comes to over-the-counter acne skincare, the same ingredients proven to be effective for the face can also be used on your neck, chest, as well as back acne.
Here are some useful skincare tips that you can follow to win the battle against breakouts on the body and acne-prone skin:
Cleanse skin gently
— This means no soaps or scented liquid body washes! Instead, opting for gentle, water-soluble cleansers is the first step toward improving skin. Alternatively, a fragrance-free body wash with no oils or emollients like shea butter can also prove to be effective against pimples on your body.
Bar soaps, scented liquid body washes, and shower gels are rarely, if ever, non-irritating. The main ingredients used to formulate these shower gels, such as SLS, surfactants, and petroleum, tend to be drying. In short, these ingredients strip your skin of its natural oil. As such, your skin responds to it by increasing its oil production to make up for what has been lost, and in turn, causes your skin to have more acne breakouts.
Furthermore, the ingredients that keep bar cleansers in their bar form can leave a skin-dulling residue that builds up, potentially worsening your acne breakout. Additionally, pure soap is alkaline in nature (skin is naturally acidic), which means it can dry out the skin and gradually hurt the skin’s surface.
Exfoliate with a BHA product every day
— A well-formulated, leave-on, completely non-abrasive BHA exfoliant is a significant game-changer for body acne. BHA, or beta hydroxy acid is commonly known as salicylic acid in skincare products. It exfoliates deep into pores to unclog them, balance the production of oil under your skin, and reduce redness – all of which can send body acne on its way faster than you’d expect.
Not only can our range of salicylic acid facial acne exfoliators be used for the skin on the face, they are also suitable to be used on the body. For accessible spots on your body like your chest and neck, you can exfoliate using our anti-acne liquid BHA exfoliant with your fingers or a cotton pad. For hard-to-reach pimples on your back, a spray-on BHA exfoliant that can be held in any direction (including upside down) is perfect!
Use the gold standard acne-fighting ingredient, benzoyl peroxide
— Benzoyl peroxide is an extremely effective ingredient in the treatment of acne. For best results when applying to larger areas like your back, look for products that contain 2.5-5% benzoyl peroxide in a lightweight, gentle, fast-absorbing lotion base. Benzoyl peroxide is an exceptionally effective skincare product when used in the long term all over acne-prone areas on your skin. However, we recommend that you avoid using it as a spot treatment since it is best when used tactically as part of your skincare routine and not just when eruptions occur.
Don’t forget the sunscreen— Sun damage magnifies substances within the skin’s surface that can worsen the appearance of acne and prolong its stay on your skin. We’d like to say no thanks to that! That’s why protecting exposed body skin every day with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 and above is important. Doing so will help skin recover in numerous ways while at the same time reducing signs of ageing and the appearance of sunspots.
Worried that sunscreen will feel too heavy or slick on your body? We can’t say we blame you. Some sunscreens may not feel great on your skin, but there are lots that do. If you have acne-prone skin, it’s best to look for a fluid, antioxidant-rich body sunscreen that shields without the stickiness or shine that you hate.
Body Acne Can Worsen in Sneaky Ways
Beyond the skincare basics for body acne, here are a few common mistakes that can cause your body acne to worsen:
Your hair conditioner:
The emollient formulas found in many conditioners, when not rinsed thoroughly, can cause clogged pores on the back, neck, and chest, over time resulting in the formation of pimples. Be sure to rinse off the conditioner well before washing any residue from the skin. You can choose to cleanse your body as the last step in your shower routine.
As soon as you’ve finished your exercise routine, hop in the shower, and use a gentle body cleanser. Sweat on the skin’s surface, mixed with your body’s natural oils and skintight workout clothes, creates an ideal environment for acne breakouts. Hence, you should cleanse your face and shower as soon as you’ve exercised to minimise the risk of body acne.
Body scrubs or loofahs:
Contrary to popular belief, scrubs and loofahs don’t cause body acne as they don’t harbour any triggering factors. But what you need to know is that acne cannot be scrubbed or buffed away! Instead, the abrasive action of these products can make existing pimples look redder and stay longer, even if you’re also using the best acne treatment products.
Some people are concerned that not changing their bed sheets regularly can result in the build-up of acne-causing bacteria that may lead to more breakouts while you sleep. We understand the thinking here, but that’s not how it works.
Acne-causing bacteria don’t live in the air, so it isn’t possible for them to stay alive on your sheets and cause acne breakouts on your face and body. Of course, you should wash your sheets for routine hygiene, but only doing so because you’re worried about more body acne isn’t necessary!
Clear Body Skin—Finally!
By following the tips above and avoiding the habits that only worsen your body acne breakouts, you’ll be on your way to clear, smooth, even-toned skin that will be the envy of many!
References for this information:
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, December 2019, pages 1,205–1,208
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, July 2019, pages 34–50
The Medical Journal of Australia, January 2017, pages 41–45
Molecules, August 2016, pages 1–20
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2016, pages 945–973