If you have found that the lockdown period has wreaked havoc on your skin - you are not alone. Breakouts are at an all-time high caused by a whole host of reasons, from stress to lack of sunlight and of course, the consequence of our excessive junk food consumption.
We may be well versed in how to handle facial acne with all the carefully curated lotions and potions to effectively eliminate the average blemish, but what do we do when it comes to our bodies?
The acne that no one wants to talk about seems to always come at the worst time – before a holiday or a big event – and can have a major impact on your confidence.
The back and chest are often the most affected areas and can be some of the most stubborn, long-lasting and challenging to tackle. It is known as folliculitis and occurs in a similar way as it would on your face. As there are pores all over your body, they too can become clogged with excess oil, bacteria and dirt that leads to spots.
What causes back acne?
Lucy Xu, Lead Skin Specialist at London Premier Laser & Skin Clinics reveals that “When oil and dead skin cells become trapped within the follicle, or pore as there more commonly known, it can create a blockage, this blockage in turn forms into a blackhead and can progress to an irritated pimple if bacteria surfaces and it gets infected”.
There are many causes; diet – particularly fatty foods and dairy, stress that causes the glands that produce sebum to go into overdrive, hormones, or medication. It may even come as a result of heavy moisturisers, sunscreen or post-workout where sweaty and tight clothing create an optimum environment for breakouts.
How can I get rid of body acne?
“Wear natural fibres that are breathable (cotton being the preferred choice) and avoid itchy, tight ones” recommends Xu.
“Be sure to change your sheets and pillow cases regularly as these can collect oil, dead skin cells, bacteria and residue from hair, skin and body products. Opt for a moisturiser that’s oil free, like Cetaphil moisturising lotion as this won’t aggravate your bacne”.
Washing your hair more regularly or showering (or use wipes) straight after the gym may be simple fixes but for that pesky bacne, ch-acne or n-acne that just won’t seem to go away, you should look out for products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid or tea tree oil.
Salicylic acid is a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) that acts as a chemical exfoliant to unclog pores deeper than the surface. Benzoyl peroxide dries out the skin and kills bacteria – but may bleach clothing or sheets.
Glycolic acid gently targets the surface layer of your skin to remove dead skin and increase cell turn over. Tea tree oil works as an antiseptic. Scrubs and buffers can be too abrasive and may actually aggravate the spots and make them more inflamed and long-lasting.
Dr Catherine Borysiewicz, Consultant Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic advises that “Everyone’s skin will respond in a slightly different way to each of these approaches and getting the right product for you can make a big difference.”
Around your chest and neck, the skin is very delicate and thin and so you need a gentle cleanser that is fragrance-free and does not contain oils or emollients like cocoa or shea butter.
For clearer and smoother skin from head to toe, we’ve gathered the best at home treatments and products to banish body blemishes.
The Best Products to Treat Body Acne
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Body Spot Exfoliantâ
Paula’s Choice’s body care will tackle blemishes of all sorts. The exfoliating body lotion contains BHAs like salicylic acid to fight current and future breakouts. Apply daily to eliminate bumps without drying out the skin. The brand’s body lotion gently exfoliates to leave your skin looking and feeling smooth, even and soft.
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment
Dr Dennis Gross has redesigned his cult Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel pads to a body towelette. The wipe has been drenched with hydrating and exfoliating benefits through the combination of AHA and BHA acids. Use the pad over your skin to eliminate the appearance of ingrown hairs, and remove the outer layers of dead skin, while also nourishing and brightening.
ELEMIS Spa@Home Body Detox Skin Brushâ
With the help of this body brush, you can prevent further breakouts by removing dead skin cells that could clog your pores and cause you to develop spots. It is also linked to a whole host of other benefits, including reducing the appearance of cellulite and boosting circulation around the body. This option from Elemis has a long construction to allow you to reach those hard-to-access places like the middle of your back. It is also fitted with a strap around the head to fit in your hand for ease.
AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum
This body serum from luxury clean beauty label Ren is formulated with AHAs, specifically lactic acid that acts as a gentle exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and improve the texture of your skin. Massage the lightweight product onto clean skin until it is absorbed to leave you with a radiant and luminous all-over glow. It also acts as a boost of hydration for the body with the help of xylitol and probiotic extract that reinforces your skin's natural barrier and attracts moisture to the skin.
Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser
Cult skincare label Drunk Elephant's Body Cleanser acts as a creamy shower wash to help prevent grime and dirt from clogging your pores. It has been crafted with the nourishing combination of passionfruit and amino acids for a real treat to your skin. While cleansing, it works to soothe without drying out your skin. It can be used by all skin types as the pH 5.0 will not irritate sensitive skin.
Pixi Glycolic Body Peelâ
Treat your body to the same care and attention that you would your face with this product from Pixi. The peel is formulated with potent doses of glycolic and lactic acid that act as gentle exfoliants to remove dead skin and leave you glowing. The acids are combined with cucumber and aloe vera - renowned for their skin soothing abilities to prevent redness or irritation from occuring as well as witch hazel - an antibacterial that will help you fight against acne. Massage into skin and then rinse away.
Murad Clarifying Body Spray
With the help of salicylic acid in the formula, this body spray is designed to penetrate deeper into your pores to eliminate bacteria and prevent painful lumps and bumps from reoccurring.
Hailed as a miracle formula, you only need to read the endless five star reviews to see that this is a product that really works. The effective solution is housed in a 360 degree bottle so you can treat any area around the body.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel
Dermatologist recommended product, La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar face and body gel will act as a gentle solution to your body acne woes and is ideal for sensitive skin.
It cleanses the skin, removing dirt, sebum and bacteria that blocks pores and can result in acne without disturbing the body’s natural balance.
Use in tandem with the brand’s Serozinc Spray– a tonic mist that contains only water, healing zinc sulphate and sodium chloride that reduces the appearance of blemishes. It can be used after cleansing or throughout the day to instantly refresh skin.
Malin + Goetz Resurfacing Glycolic Pads
Containing clinical-grade glycolic acid and natural ingredients, these pads work to remove dead skin to revive your complexion in one fell swoop.
As part of your anti-acne routine, the gentle treatment should be applied on to the affected area for 20 minutes and then rinsed off to leave your skin looking shiny and new.
Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash
Introduce this daily wash into your shower routine to make the most out of the antiseptic properties of tea tree oil. The brand uses Community Trade tea tree oil from the foothills of Mount Kenya that works to reduce body acne with every wash.
CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream
Cult US pharmacy label CeraVe is best known for its dermatological and technological expertise, which they apply in the form of this moisturising cream to help you tackle body acne.
Formulated with salicylic and lactic acid, it works from the get-go to clear bumpy skin, while hydrating at the same time. It is also helpful for Keratosis Pilaris.
Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap
Hailed as a body acne hero product, the body wash from Mario Badescu uses fresh fruit extracts like papaya and grapefruit combined with Ginseng, and Linden to thoroughly cleanse skin and remove dead cells.
Use as a daily wash to maximise the benefits of the revitalising ingredients.
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Body & Gentle Mitt Cleanser
The cult Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser is offered in a full body variation that comes kitted out with an exfoliating mitt.
Containing pure plant oils like sunflower seed, apricot kernel and rice bran, it works to nourish while leaving skin feeling smooth and soft.
This scientifically-backed 2% BHA Body Spot Exfoliant from Paula's Choice is both kind to skin and extremely effective in reducing body acne. It is a gentle exfoliant that transforms bumpy skin, leaving it even, smooth and soft.