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