What is bacne and why is it plaguing us? We asked some of the world’s top skincare experts to clear it up (pun intended).
‘Acne forms when pores or hair follicles become clogged with dead skin and oil,’ says Dr Nowell Solish from Indeed Labs. ‘This means acne can form anywhere except the palms of hands and feet. This is because these are the only two areas on the body that do not have sebaceous glands, the glands responsible for the production of sebum, oil and hair follicles where acne is formed.’
However, there is a slight difference between facial and body acne. Which means the way in which we treat infected areas should also differ. ‘Bacne is very similar to facial acne in its symptoms and causes, but the treatment of it does differ,’ says Andrea Craig, National Educator for Murad Skincare. ‘The skin on your back has larger pores than facial pores which means they are far more likely to become clogged. This is why it’s best to look for products that are specifically designed for the body to treat bacne’.
But when summer is upon us, surely the sun will help clear up our spots, right? Wrong. ‘It’s a common misconception that the sun can dry out spots,’ Dr Murad, founder of Murad Skincare tells us. ‘The sun actually damages cells and makes skin weaker which can result in blemishes.’ On top of that, although sweating cools and detoxifies the body by cleansing pores of dirt, dead skin cells and excess oil, it can also cause problems. If released toxins remain sitting on the skin they can clog pores and lead to breakouts. This teamed with the sun’s UV rays create oxidation which hardens the increased sebum caused by sweat and encourages the formation of blackheads.’
How to treat Bacne
1. Use a PH-balancing body wash
Like facial cleansers, using the right body wash in the shower is key to targeting aggressive bacne. Shower gels are usually harsher and less sophisticated than facial cleansers, so choose a body cleanser that is suited to your needs. Sans[Ceuticals] pH Perfect Body Wash, £20, alyaka.com, is the perfect ‘free from’ formula with facial grade actives such as Vitamin A to encourage cell turnover plus nourishing anti-oxidants and hydrating plant ingredients.
2. Shower the bacteria away
Are you ever tempted to skip the shower at the gym and wait until you get home? Don’t. ‘The sweat that builds up between skin and gym clothes can awaken acne-causing bacteria,’ says Dr Murad. This can lead to a post-gym breakout. Murad advises ‘showering right after the gym to blast away sweat and bacteria before it clogs up pores.’
3. Invest in a body scrub
A good scrub is an in-shower must-have for all skin types but especially those suffering from body acne. A body scrub is essential in helping to encourage skin renewal whilst resurfacing and refreshing your body’s skin cells. We recommend Clinique’s Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator, £20, fabled.com. Suitable for all skin types, this gentle polish softly exfoliates skin and unblocks pores.
4. Do a spot check
We’ve all woken up to a pimple of Himalayan proportions, whether on your face, back or body. With these spots it’s all about using a direct treatment to conquer the problem. ‘Individual lesions [on your back] can be painful and have an abrupt onset and long lifespan. With body acne you may see more severe lesions such as cysts and nodules, or large whiteheads as pores become clogged from a build-up of cells that stick together and cause a plug. This can cause redness and pus to form,’ says Dr Nowell Solish. For spots like these, use a targeted product. We particularly like Origins Super Spot Remover Blemish Gel, £15, fabled.com, which contains acne-busting salicylic acid to instantly fight the cause of pimples whilst caffeine and red algae help to relieve painful, irritating redness. Apply before bed and allow exfoliants in the gel to eliminate excess oil and unclog pores for clearer skin come morning.
5. Book in for a bacial
Following on from Dermalogica’s hugely successful Face Mapping skin analysis, you can now book in for a tailored Body Mapping analysis – a thorough diagnosis of your body with a specialised therapist. Using five easy steps of looking, listening, asking, touching and recording, your therapist is able to truly understand your skin’s needs and provide a tailored treatment to your skin’s needs that day. We also recommend Dermalogica’s Purifying Back Treatment which includes a deep cleanse and exfoliation using Hydra Active Mineral Salts to remove dead skin and excess oil, finishing with a massage to relax and replenish body’s nutrients. Check dermalogica.co.uk for details. If you’re on a budget, cleanse your back as normal and use Bomb Cosmetics French Clay Mask, £7.99, bombcosmetics.co.uk, for a twenty minute purifying treatment at home.
6. Suck it up and supplement
It’s all well and good treating bacne from the outside, but when 80 per cent of your skin’s cells can only be reached through the bloodstream, it’s time to start thinking about dietary supplements. Try Murad’s Pure Skin Clarifying Supplement containing Yellow Dock & Burdock to support your body’s elimination of acne-inducing toxins, zinc to reduce irritation and vitamin A to stabilise cell turnover and unblock pores. At £50 for 30 days, this is an investment, but with reports of a 55 per cent reduction of breakouts in just six weeks, this is worth parting with your cash for.
7. Make it up
Surely you should avoid fake tan and body make-up if you suffer from bacne and scarring? Quite the contrary. If scarring is an issue, try an oil-free self-tan such as James Read Bronzing Spray Instant, £24.50, which will help even out skin tone. And, as fake tan is slightly de-hydrating, will help balance oil production. BeautyMart’s Anna-Marie advises misting tan above your shoulders and leaning forwards to allow the spray the fall onto your back.
It’s ok to use body make-up if you need a quick fix. It’s just about choosing the right product. ‘For a special occasion invest in a back treatment and on the night use Prtty Peaushun, £36, net-a-porter.com, a body make-up with skin perfecting ingredients that will help disguise an uneven skin tone.’ says Anna-Marie. This quick-dry formula is Hollywood’s best kept secret – just remember to wash off thoroughly at the end of the evening.’