Sophia Panych, Allure magazine
Bacne, chestne, buttne-they're all funny to say, but not nearly as entertaining when you look in the mirror and see all those embarrassing little zits. I was lucky enough to avoid body acne as a teen, but now as a twenty-something I'm afflicted. My dermatologist chalks it up to working out, plus a ballet class where I dress in leotards made of unbreathable spandex-basically skin's worst nightmare. (Oh, and maybe the fact that it's been hotter than Hades lately.) I'm not willing to stop going to the gym, and I can't dance naked, so what's a girl to do? I reached out to some top derms to find out:
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Wash up. Dermatologists recommend a body wash that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide (I like Murad Acne Body Wash or Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash). "An over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide cleanser, especially the foaming ones, help prevent the build up of bacteria," says dermatologist Mary Lupo. And if you can, "showering before and after working out will greatly help," says dermatologist Francesca Fusco.
Exfoliate. "Removing dead skin cells, which can potentially clog pores, is critical," says Fusco. "You can either use a physical scrub with granules while in the shower, a machine such as the Clarisonic, or a face wipe. I love the textured Pond's Wet Cleansing Towelettes, which you can easily toss in your bag."
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Do a weekly peel. A peel is another way to prevent pores on the chest and back from getting gunked up. You can buy an at-home one-Fusco likes the Bliss Incredi-Peel because the pad is large enough to cover your face, neck, chest, or back-or you can use an acne spot treatment. (How? Choose one with 2 percent salicylic acid, like Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment, and apply it to the breakout, allowing it to fully dry before rinsing off. Lupo suggests looking for formulas that also contain glycerin so the skin doesn't get too dry, and to limit the technique to once a week to prevent unnecessary irritation.)
Go to the gym prepared. While textured facial wipes are great for exfoliating, any old makeup wipe is good to stash in your gym bag. They'll wipe away dirt and sweat before it has a chance to dry on your skin, which is what leads to clogged pores, and later, zits. Got room in a side pocket? Glytone makes a Back Acne Spray specifically for treating body blemishes. "It has 2 percent salicylic acid in a water/alcohol base which means the formula dries quickly, working to kill the bacteria faster," says dermatologist Jeanette Graf.
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Put your hair up. Maybe it's the ballerina in me, but having hair hanging down my neck and back when dancing is a pet peeve-as well as an invitation for breakouts around your neck, according to Fusco. So put that hair up before you start working out. I suggest either a top knot or a high ponytail.
Get professional help. If you've tried everything and you still can't beat your bacne, it's time to take a trip to the dermatologist. She can prescribe a prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide wash and topical agent. You could also request individually-wrapped antibiotic clindamycin or erythromycin pads-I throw a few in my bag and swipe my chest and back after I finish my workout. If acne is severe, laser treatments can also help stop body breakouts in as little as two to three visits, separated by one to two months.