Your Everything Guide to Beating Bacne
I defy anyone to step into Zara, take a look around and not be tempted to race to the till with at least three of the retailer's floaty off-the-shoulder tops. Baring your back is big this summer, thanks to the likes of Proenza Schouler and Michael Kors. But what does it mean for those of us who are battling bacne?
Well, frankly, it means we should bare our skin without giving breakouts a second thought. But I know from experience that that’s not always the easiest thing to do. So I spoke to three top skincare experts about the causes and the solutions in a bid to be bacne-free before my weak resolve against shopping falls apart. Keep scrolling to find out what they said.
As with acne on your face, there are a myriad of causes for bacne, with a buildup of oil and bacteria often sitting at the root. “It largely stems from changes of hormones within the body,” says Sally Penford, education manager at the International Dermal Institute. “This can lead to increased oil production in the skin, and the oil, coupled with dead skin cells and bacteria, then promotes congestion and pimples.”
Hormones aren’t the only culprit, though. If you’ve noticed spots are more prominent on one shoulder, the breakout could be caused by friction from your bag strap. Take a look at your laundry detergent, too, recommends dermatologist Gary Goldfaden, MD. Spots that come on suddenly could be cropping up because you’ve recently changed the way you wash your clothes.
And then there’s the most frustrating one of all: “Genetics,” says Howard Murad, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Murad skincare. “Don’t hate your parents for the possibility that you’ve inherited acne… Some people naturally produce more oil and more spot-causing bacteria than others.”
Uh-oh. I’ve been known to break out the body scrub whenever I get a bout of bacne, but according to Penford, exfoliators and loofahs can further stimulate the oil glands and cause more congestion.
Soap can also encourage spots as it’s alkaline, which may lead to bacteria growth. “Instead, look for a soap that has a pH in line with your skin, around 5.5,” says Penford. Try Sebamed Liquid Wash (£6) to get that balance right, and the mild lather will cleanse without any harsh stripping sensation.
The good news is that many blemish-blitzing face washes can double up on your bod, providing you rinse skin with tepid water and blot—don’t rub—dry with a towel when you hop out the shower. Reach for cleansers dosed with tea tree oil, sulphur or salicylic acid, which are able to mop up oil and dissolve the bacteria that’s blocking your pores. Try Alpha-H Clear Skin Daily Face & Body Wash (£35).
Bear with me here: Body cream might be the last thing you fancy slathering over spots, but it’s needed to balance your skin after using a deep-cleansing wash. Plump for oil-free lotions with a mild hydroxy acid, recommends Penford, as it will “gently offer ongoing exfoliation to prevent build-up of pore-clogging cells.” Try Ameliorate Skin Smoothing Body Lotion (£23), which plies spots with resurfacing lactic acid and is also great for treating keratosis pilaris. Bonus.
There’s a bit of a rumour going around that sunbathing is good for bacne, but Penford reveals the real reason your spots might clear up on holiday. “It may actually be that the relaxation of being away is the key factor,” she explains. “If stress levels are reduced, testosterone levels lower, and so too will your acne.”
Be wary of getting sweaty, though, as all that warm weather can stimulate sebum production, resulting in—you guessed it—another body breakout. Keep SPF topped up as well with an oil-free lotion; UV rays can darken acne scars in the same way they make your skin look tanned. For a skin-kind option, try La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50+ Spray (£18), which harnesses high protection in a very light spray that won’t feel greasy.
Exercise gets a lot of flack when it comes to spots, but before you blame your spin class for your breakout, look at your post–sweat sesh routine. “It’s best to get out of gym clothes post-workout quickly,” says Murad. “Then hop in the shower right away to blast away the sweat and bacteria before it clogs up the pores. Make sure you wash your gym gear regularly, too.”
Pretty much every beauty woe in the book requires some internal TLC, and breakouts on your body are no different. Murad recommends foods that are rich in vitamin A, like sweet potatoes and apricots, as these help your pores rid of themselves on dulling dead skin cells. He also recommends “foods such as avocado, salmon, black cod, and walnuts, which contain beneficial oils that prevent your skin from drying out as well as breaking out.”
A skin-clearing supplement like Murad Pure Skin Clarifying Dietary Supplements (£50 for a two-month supply) can also be useful in ensuring you’re feeding your pores the right nutrients every day. This one contains plenty of vitamin A, which is great for regulating skin’s natural functions, helping your cells slough away the dead stuff to reduce clogged, oily pores.
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