There are many annoying things we accept because they're facts of life: traffic when you're late, lines for takeout when you're hungry, and a lack of clean clothes just before that really important interview. But bacne (back-area acne breakouts) doesn't have to be something you put up with, if you don't want to. You can clear up bacne many different ways, but the easiest way may be by breaking bacne-causing habits you're unknowingly doing every day.
The first thing to remember: Acne is normal. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, as many as 50 million Americans are affected by acne every year, so you better believe you are absolutely not alone. While body breakouts may be less common than those on your face, there are still a ton of ways to fight back against clogged pores and irritated, uncomfortable skin on your back. Simple measures like trading in your laundry detergent for one safe for sensitive skin, or working a benzoyl peroxide wash into your shower routine, instead of traditional bar soap, can be all it takes to put breakouts to bed.
Once you understand what's causing your breakouts, the solution can be a how-have-I-never-tried-this-before fix that offers relief for breakout-prone skin in no time at all. Ahead, nine habits that might be contributing to back breakouts and easy ways to reverse the pattern.
Your Soap Irritates Back Skin: Benzoyl Peroxide Kills Breakout-Causing Bacteria
If your dutiful soap scrubbing's not tackling your back breakouts, level up your antibacterial showering with benzoyl peroxide acne wash. Designed to kill breakout-causing germs, this powerful formula's finely milled to go deeper than surface-level bacteria — killing the breakout-causing bacteria living inside your pores. It's a strong tool in the fight against bacne, as it's comprised of 10 percent benzoyl peroxide (which is the highest amount available without a prescription). One user said they tried more than a dozen popular acne treatments, and that this wash made a difference within days.
(Pro tip: If your skin is extremely sensitive, stick to washes with lower percentage levels of benzoyl peroxide. According to Acne.com, a benzoyl peroxide 2.5 percent level may be better for irritated skin.)
You Use Pore-Clogging Lotion: Non-Comedogenic Oil Hydrates Skin
If your heavy lotion leaves you feeling greasy, consider switching to this organic jojoba oil. Not only is it less likely to clog pores, but as dermatologist Dr. Neal Schultz told Birchbox, natural oils like jojoba are better matches for your skin than lotions anyway. They more closely mimic your skin's natural sebum (oil) production and correct out-of-whack levels. This one's cap is designed to release one drop at a time, so there's no chance of overdoing it. Plus, one user said this jojoba oil totally restored moisture to her face, after plenty of powerful acne medications completely dried her out.
...Or Moisturize While You Exfoliate With Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Alpha hydroxy acids are known to be a strong tool for combatting acne caused by dead skin build-up, according to dermatologist Dr. Heather Brannon. But while other exfoliating formulas strip skin of natural oils, this lotion with 10 percent alpha hydroxy acid removes top-layer skin cells while sealing in moisture: Antioxidants, shea butter, and grapeseed oil keep cells hydrated, while green tea extract calms angry skin. One user said this lotion kept her back skin from feeling itchy, and if you're looking for ways to decrease your keratosis pilaris, it can alleviate some of those issues, too.
You Never Tried Retinol: Vitamin E Controls Oil & Sheds Dead Skin
Retinol helps with cell turnover as a whole, as dermatologist Dr. Heidi A. Waldorf told Allure . This retinol serum in particula, helps your skin shed pore-blocking dead cells, in addition to minimizing pores and repairing your skin's elasticity. This retinol serum is formulated with Vitamin E and jojoba oil, too, which is naturally hydrating and significantly less irritating because it's not made with drying alcohol or parabens.
You Ignore Blemishes: Spot-Treat Back Breakouts, Too
Spot treating bacne can be frustrating when you're barely able to reach your breakout zones. Give your arms a break, and start spraying a few times a day with this antibacterial salicylic acid formula before you moisturize. This can be a great solution if your skin is more sensitive, as the .5 percent salicylic acid content is mild and a gentle cleanser for trouble spots. Users say it makes all-over acne treatment a breeze, as the bottle sprays upside down without getting leaky, hitting exactly where you want it to. Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told Teen Vogue that salicylic acid works to decrease inflammation, too.
Your Skin Recovers Slowly: Jumpstart Healing With Zinc Oxide Powder
This medicated powder uses Zinc Oxide to help skin recover quickly by encouraging its protein synthesis, in addition to regulating your skin's oil production with Vitamin B5. Its Di-Benzoyl Peroxide ingredient also cuts down on bacteria, while its included body brush makes it easy to fully cover all your affected areas. Users say the brush and powder combo is seriously effective, with one user saying, "I tried almost everything and Powderma is the first product that actually worked." According to the American Academy of Dermatology, powdered forms of zinc oxide (even in a makeup form) can absorb oil and prevent irritation.
Your Conditioner Clogs Back Pores: Switch To Leave-In Treatment
That warm steamy shower you take every night can feel great, but there's a chance your conditioner is washing down into your back pores, as Dr. Mona Gohara told Good Housekeeping. This makes them clogged and even more susceptible to breakouts. Instead of conditioning every night, this leave-in conditioner can be used less frequently — using coconut oil to replenish dried-out strands. It works deep within the follicle to smooth frizz, detangle knots, and create shine.
You Skip Physical Exfoliation: Gently Remove Dead Skin With Back Loofah
In addition to cleansing your back with an acne wash, slough off dead skin cells by gently exfoliating those hard-to-reach places when you shower. This two-handled body scrubber makes it easy to exfoliate your back, and its two sides (gentle and rough) let you custom-fit your exfoliation to what your back needs. Plus, this one comes with an additional handheld exfoliator, which can gently be used to remove dead skin cells from your face, too. Dermatologist Dr. Valerie Golburt told Allure that gently exfoliating the chest and back with a puff can be a good idea, as long as you keep the exfoliating tool clean between uses.
Your Detergent Causes Back Breakouts: Switch to Natural Laundry Soap
No matter how much you scrub, wash, cleanse, and spot-treat, you're still getting irritating little bumps all over your back. The culprit could be your laundry soap! This natural detergent is completely free of allergens, fragrances, parabens, and other chemicals that lead to skin flare-ups, and its intensely concentrated formula means the biodegradable liquid isn't sacrificing cleanliness to keep you itch-free. According to The Cleveland Clinic, laundry solutions free of dyes and fragrances cause less irritation. (Pro tip: Make sure you're regularly washing your bras and correctly adjusting straps — loose straps rub against skin, irritating it further).
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