Acne: A 4-letter word that we can all agree doesn’t conjure up fond memories. Although facial acne is a phase most people grow out of, back-acne is a little trickier because of a type of acne called Acne Mechanica. Acne is essentially caused by an overproduction of sebum and when said sebum, along with dead skin cells and bacteria, builds up in the hair follicles of your skin and clogs them. Acne Mechanica occurs on areas of the body like the back where the skin is more like to be aggravated by friction or pressure. Extenuating factors such as pollution and humidity can also be causes of back acne because they create the perfect conditions for clogged pores and breakouts.
If you play contact sports or ride a bike, you can get acne mechanica along your hairline from wearing a helmet. Tight workout clothes that put a lot of pressure on the skin can also be a cause of acne mechanica. Places like the gym are big culprits; you don’t know who used the machine before you and how much sweat the leather seats or workout benches have absorbed. Workout activities such as chest/dumbbell press involve a certain amount of pressure on your back and this can also trigger back acne. Sanitizing the seats of each machine before every workout, using a clean towel and wearing a breathable cotton tee will help. Hygiene is also a big factor. If you can’t shower after your workout, be sure to change into a clean, dry tee so that your sweaty workout clothes don’t have a chance to stick to your skin and cause breakouts.
Proven over-the-counter ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide work to reduce sebum production as well as clear out pores. AHAs like glycolic acid are also effective because they help stimulate cellular renewal and remove the sticky glue that holds dead skin cells together. Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, is another tried-and-tested classic. It will help fade dark spots, lighten acne marks and reduce clogged pores. When in doubt, look out for oil-free and non-comedogenic claims on the products.
There is no overnight cure but a good regimen as well as some patience will go a long way in helping to reduce back acne. Here’s what we swear by (this regimen works just as well on your face):
DAY & NIGHT
Regular exfoliation is a key step if you want clear skin. This wallet-friendly product (it is oil-free, sulfate-free and non-comedogenic) functions both as a cleaner and a scrub to clear pores and deliver a 2% acne-busting Salicylic Acid deep into the pores. The trick is to gently massage this scrub onto your back and leave it on for 1 minute. This gives the Salicylic Acid time to penetrate into the pores and work its magic. It won’t do the skin any good if you scrub too vigorously so only apply gentle pressure as you massage. If you use this on your face, be sure to avoid the delicate eye area. Buy this St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub for US$3.34 at Amazon.
This organic clay treatment is a superb, effective product that will benefit anyone with acne. It has a strong ionic charge (it’s naturally magnetic) that attracts positively charged impurities, toxins and infection. At the same time it leaves the negatively charged nutrients your skin needs untouched. So it only purges the bad stuff. Also blood circulation is increased while oils, impurities, toxins, puss and infection are mostly all absorbed. Apply a thin layer after the scrub above once or twice a day to purge pores and heal existing pimples. It is also great on cuts and insect bites. Buy this LEROSETT Organic Clay Treatment for US$34 at Gunilla of Sweden.
A Vitamin C serum is one of your best bets for reducing scarring and fade past acne marks. This water-thin serum is as lightweight as they get and besides fading signs of past damage, it also provides your skin with antioxidant protection against damaging UV rays. Buy this Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster for US$48 at Skinstore.com.
Replenishing moisture is just as important as proper cleansing. The common misconception is that oily/acne-prone skin doesn’t require any more moisture. The lack of moisture will cause the skin to produce more sebum to make up for the fact that it is dehydrated. So using an anti-acne moisturizer with SPF everyday is critical. This will not only lead to healthier skin but also protect freshly exfoliated skin from the damaging rays of the sun. Buy this Murad Anti-Aging Acne Moisturizer SPF 20 for US$47 at Skinstore.com.
Combining both Retinol and Glycolic Acid, this potent acne-eradicator not only stops breakouts in its tracks but it also encourages exfoliation so scars and past damage look better. Plus it also contains Avene’s signature Thermal Water to calm and soothe skin. Buy this Avene Triacneal for US$21.90 at Amazon.
Aloe vera is one of nature’s best ingredients. It has anti-bacterial and soothing properties that make it perfect for acne-prone skin. If you find your skin to be a little dry after the treatments, apply this fragrance-free aloe vera gel to further hydrate and soothe. Buy this Santaverde Pure Aloe Vera Gel Fragrance Free for S$56 at Pure Tincture.
This clarifying body spray is great for those on the move and it deserves a permanent place in your gym bag. Spray this on after every workout to cleanse the skin and keep pores clear. Do note that this should not serve as a replacement for washing your face or your body. Buy this Murad Clarifying Body Spray for US$37 at Beauty.com.
This ayurvedic supplement is a staple that not only helps keep acne in check but it also helps your body to detoxify itself. Plus it also acts as a liver stimulant and detoxifies this vital organ. By detoxifying the liver and cleansing the bloodstream, Tejaswini increases resistance to skin infections like acne. So if you had a little too much to drink, this will also help you feel better the next morning. Buy this Tejaswini ClearSkin Capsules for £13.50 at Victoria Health.