Let’s talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

Blake Lively - chest acne

It’s the problem nobody talks about. But there are probably millions who suffer in silence and have to relegate certain outfits to the backs of their closets.

I’m talking about back and chest acne. Affectionately known as “bacne” and “chestne,” they’re the twin beauty issues that can sneak up on you in warm weather—and basically eff with your life for a very long time. AMIRITE?

I know because they happened to me. So I just cleared up my own bout with ‘em. And now I’m kind of obsessed with preventing those suckers from ever surfacing again… on me and on YOU. Here’s what to do if you’ve been dealt this beauty card:

Do not; I repeat, DO NOT hang around in sweaty workout clothes. Or anything sweaty in general.

Lululemon Sun Runner Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

You know this. I know this. And still—it happens. I blame my recent bacne experience on my intensive Trainer George workout schedule, which involves not only a full hour of weird exercises like burpees, Turkish get-ups, etc., but also another 30 minutes after that on the treadmill. That’s a whole lotta time to have a sweat-soaked sports bra and tank top next to your skin.

The only solution is to either cut your workout short (which in my case isn’t gonna happen) OR to keep wiping yourself down with a towel as you sweat, and then running to the shower toute de suite the very minute you’re done. Seriously, you do not want to be hanging about making chit-chat with the cute guy on the rowing machine, or even taking the time to chug your recovery drink. Just get clean, fast, and I swear it’ll make a difference. If you absolutely can’t do this (you have to shower at home instead of the gym, say), then wipe yo self down with some cleansing wipes as an emergency measure.

Also: it’s not just workout sweat that’s problematic, but any kind of sweat that sits on your skin too long. With this sticky weather we’ve been having, I’m a twice-a-day showerer. You may want to do the same.

PS. I bought that top up there from Lululemon the other day. Cute, non?

Always work out in a clean bra ‘n top, and bring a fresh towel.

gym towel Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

It’s tempting to want to recycle your gym clothes for a second wearing, especially if you’ve only got one good sports bra and forgot to do laundry. But you must resist! For the sake of your skin!

Another thing that should help is putting a towel underneath you whenever you have to touch icky gym equipment or mats. Let’s face it: people are disgusting, and every gym has an a-hole who sweats all over everything and then walks away without cleaning it up. Mind you, I don’t know that I trust the “antibacterial” spray they use to clean stuff in gyms anyway. So to be on the safe side, put a barrier between your back and what lies beneath.

Shower with something sal-acidy.

Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

Yeah, this is one area where you most definitely don’t want to be using that creamy, moisturizing body wash. It’s all about drying things out with a salicylic acid, which is what’s in this shower gel from Neutrogena. Or, if you prefer regular soap, Proactiv makes a sal-acid cleansing bar:

Proactiv Cleansing Bar Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

Avoid getting any conditioner, self-tanner or moisturizer on your back and chest.

washing hair Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

These are sneaky ways that might not directly cause your bacne/chestne, but they certainly don’t help. And may even prevent it from clearing up as fast as possible.

The conditioner one is tough, because I’m always putting some damn thing into my hair in an attempt to detangle/hydrate/protect my colour. What I’ve started doing is washing my body LAST, after I’ve already dealt with the hair stuff—because I feel like even rinsing out a conditioner or hair mask may leave a pimple-producing film on my back. I also pull my hair over one shoulder after I’ve rinsed, instead of letting it fall down my back. It’s the little things.

Now, I’m not sure if you moisturize your back on the regular, but if you do and you’ve got acne? Stop. The chest is a little more problematic, because I’m all for anti-aging in that area. See if you can get away with just applying your creams to the base of your neck until the breakouts clear up.

Self-tanner, of course, is probably a no-no unless you can find a super-light formula. I’ve actually never had a problem with Shiseido’s Brilliant Bronze Quick Self-Tanning Gel, I think because it’s a fast-drying gel that feels like it has a high alcohol content:

Shiseido Brilliant Bronze Quick Self Tanning Gel Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

I should probably also mention sunscreen. It’s kinda trial and error to see what will and won’t break you out… but I’d suggest something oil-free in a clear spray to start. These ones from Kinesys are a good bet:

Kinesys sunscreens Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!Treat your pimples with handy acne wipes.

Origins Spot Remover Acne Treatment Pads Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

These things are the BEST. And I swear they’re what really killed off the epidemic I had going on. (Because who wants to fiddle with spot-treating with messy creams that just rub off on your clothes or bedding? Better to blanket the entire surface in a few quick swipes. Plus, you want an acid instead of benzoyl peroxide because that shiz bleaches fabric.)

Anyway, there are loads of brands that make these wipe thingies, some with just salicylic acid, some with just glycolic, and some with both. I’ve tried Origins (above) and right now am using some 10 percent glycolic ones from a random derm in NYC. But Proactiv makes ‘em, and Peter Thomas Roth, and Dr. Dennis Gross… there are lots of options.

And if you’re going to conceal with makeup? PLEASE use something that matches your skin tone (*cough* Blake Lively).

Blake Lively chest acne Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

Yowza! This is bad. I’m not gonna lie, concealing pimples on your chest is way harder than working with facial ones. The main thing is to make sure you’ve got a concealer that’s an exact match to your skin tone—and as we know all too well, most of us have some kind of Eagle situation where the face and the neck/chest don’t quite line up. So you may need to invest in a second, darker concealer.

The other thing you want is a super-fine brush. Like, not even a concealer brush—a lip brush! I swear by this one from Japonesque for any kind of detailed pimple-hiding work:

Japonesque Lip Brush Lets talk about bacne. And chestne. And how to get rid of them so you can wear that cute top!

The reason is, you only want the concealer to go on the spot itself, not the surrounding area like Blake has done above. That only draws MORE attention to your issue, and frankly she’d have been better off just going makeup-free.

And… that’s all I’ve got. If all else fails then yes, your only other option is to put that spaghetti-strap dress back in the closet and wear the crew-neck. Sorry.

Now, talk to me:

Ever been plagued by the bacne/chestne curse?
What do you do to clear it up?
Have you tried any of these prodz ‘n tips?

10 Comments

Alison
Friday, July 6/2012 at 3:14 pm

I get really bad acne on my back and neck, kind of on my chest, and also in my scalp/hair line. This might sound a bit drastic, but I’ve stopped using shampoo/conditioner because of my scalp acne (sometimes I run conditioner through my hair after I’ve dressed). I mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of water and comb it through my scalp then rinse. Once a week a mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and rinse it through to balance the acidity of my scalp/hair. I tried all different shampoos, body washes, and the only thing that worked was the acne wipes, but this has been a very cheap and no hassle solution and I don’t have to use the acne wipes. That and J&J Head to Toe Baby Wash (the same thing as Purpose face wash) has my skin/scalp completely acne free.

I am definitely trying that sunscreen. So far Lavanilla sunscreen for baby has been the only sunscreen I can apply to my face that doesn’t sting or break me out, and it’s physical ss instead of chemical (chemical ones don’t agree with me) but finding one for body is hard. I’ve been using No-Ad, but really want to find something better.

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Kate'shomesick
Friday, August 9/2013 at 6:05 pm

Did you get you hormone-levels checkes? I had hormonal acne for a really long time ….almost everywhere…(I suppose I still have it but I’m not brave enough to get off the meds to see if it’s still there…did that once- the worst idea).

Sunscreen: I can recommend Eucerin. Can you get that in Canada? I’m allergic to too much sunlight (actinic dermatitis) so I use the one that’s suited for that kind of skin. It unfortunately isn’t completely matte but it felt as if it actually did something FOR my skin instead of making me break out and I reapplied like five times a day when I went hiking with my family at 10000 feet above sea level…so…

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Kate'shomesick
Friday, August 9/2013 at 6:05 pm

Did you get you hormone-levels checked? I had hormonal acne for a really long time ….almost everywhere…(I suppose I still have it but I’m not brave enough to get off the meds to see if it’s still there…did that once- the worst idea).

Sunscreen: I can recommend Eucerin. Can you get that in Canada? I’m allergic to too much sunlight (actinic dermatitis) so I use the one that’s suited for that kind of skin. It unfortunately isn’t completely matte but it felt as if it actually did something FOR my skin instead of making me break out and I reapplied like five times a day when I went hiking with my family at 10000 feet above sea level…so…

Reply

Ary
Friday, July 6/2012 at 3:23 pm

Well, I live in a VERY hot place, 30° C it’s the average temperature, but in summer we can reach the terrible 45° C. So, especially in summer, I get that “chestne” and “bacne”.

Fortunately, I have a product called DermoCare by Darier laboratories, it’s the best I found to get rid of that problem; it’s kind of a heavy lotion, it’s a colored lotion, so I only apply this before going to bed.

After 3 nights I don’t have almost anything, it deeply exfoliates, and the best thing about it is that my skin remains clear for a very long time (sometimes months). The main ingredients of the formula are resorcin and calamine. Hope that helped :)!

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Sunitha
Friday, July 6/2012 at 4:23 pm

The culprit for me turned out to be hair serums… though MoroccanOil made my hair shiny it did not agree with my forehead, shoulders and back.

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Lex
Friday, July 6/2012 at 9:50 pm

I fixed my bacne by puttig my hair up in a huge, loose clip after putting in conditioner – keeps conditioner off your back. Plus I feel like not having it loose and easy for the water to run through helps condition it better

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Michelle
Wednesday, July 11/2012 at 4:24 am

You should also try some green tea body washes. Green tea can counter the genetic dispositions that cause acne-prone skin to breakout.

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Morgan Reece
Thursday, September 19/2013 at 10:18 pm

I have chestne AND backne and nothing seems to work for me. I try Neutrogena body washes with the sal-acid, but it seems to just break me out even more.

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Bongo
Wednesday, March 19/2014 at 2:34 pm

When you dry your skin out it needs to produce more oils to protect it and then it gets worse! I found that keeping my back clean and moisturised before bed has improved it dramatically!!! It may not be instant but I found it works!! Use a moisturiser that’s quite light so it doesn’t clog your pours!!
Also perhaps if you are sweaty and unable to reach a shower (because your in a gym or where ever) then wipe your back with face wipes! It’s not a shower substitute but instead gets off the worst of the sweat!
I hope this has helped!!

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Sarah
Monday, March 24/2014 at 11:04 pm

If you feel that your bacne or chestne wont clear up after these steps, one of the most effective ways of getting rid of zits is to get some sun. These help dry out zits. But remember, only have sun exposure in moderation. :)

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