I’ve struggled with body acne for years, and like so many others, it’s had a tangible impact on my self-esteem. From being too embarrassed to change in front of my teammates in high school to waking up early in my college boyfriend's dorm room to put concealer on my shoulders, the pesky spots and scars started to dictate my life.
Like any chronic issue, it comes and goes in waves. After moving from Georgia to New York, my chest and back stayed clear for the first few months. It wasn’t until I started to experience high levels of stress and anxiety that that evil hormone cortisol reared its ugly head, and my body acne started back up again in full force. (Related: What Causes Adult Acne?)
Gone were the days I felt comfortable wearing sundresses to work or silky tanks out on dates. I found myself constantly looking for reasons to escape to the bathroom at dinners and events so that I could make sure I had all the redness concealed. Acne hadn't just taken over my body, but my mind, too. I knew something had to change. Not to mention, in the years before, the struggle had been just my face and back, but now I was also finding spots on my chest, shoulders, abdomen, and even under my boobs.
After consulting with derms for years and never finding a one-size-fits-all solution for my body acne, I decided to take matters into my own hands. They would always tell me “you need to take off your sports bra as soon as you're done working out” and “try to avoid sweating in those areas.” Well, as an avid runner training for her first full marathon, how the hell would that be possible? Giving up sports bras (and the commute home I often had to make after a run) was simply not an option. (Related: The Best Beauty Products to Fight Body Acne)
Instead, I consulted with my dermatologist about solutions for body acne that wouldn’t involve having to give up sports bras, sweating less, or showering within minutes of finishing a workout. After years of struggling, I finally found a routine that works for me. Here are the four game-changing skin-care products that ended my search, plus how I use them after any workout:
First and foremost, when it comes to exfoliating those spots in the middle of the back or neck, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to contort your arms to reach them — but this shower accessory changed that. I keep it hanging on my shower head and use it every time I need to scrub my back. One side is exfoliating while the other is soft and smooth, and after a workout, nothing feels better than scratching and scrubbing off the sweat with this easy full-coverage scrubber. (Related: This $8 Exfoliating Washcloth Removes Dead Skin Like No Other)
If you’ve ever googled “body wash for bacne,” odds are this product is one of the first that will pop up. It’s renowned for its ability to break down dead skin cells and clean pores using an all-natural formula of non-irritating grapefruit and papaya extracts. It’s ideal for everyday use, regardless of if you have a breakout or not. As a long-time Mario Badescu fan, this one product is my absolute fave. (FYI, people are also obsessed with the brand's drying lotion for spot-treating pimples.)
Whether I feel a breakout forming, I’m nearing that time of the month, or I’ve gone on a long run and have accumulated a lot of sweat in my sports bra, I turn to this tried-and-true body scrub. It’s a super affordable drugstore find and has a great grapefruit scent, but most importantly, it uses a potent salicylic acid-based formula that cuts through oils and dead skin cells to kill zits before they form. It’s worked wonders on my chest, back, and shoulders, especially when used with my handy dandy Aquis back scrubber.
Derms are quick to mention benzoyl peroxide when it comes to fighting body acne. That's because body acne is caused by bacteria, and this extra strength (10 percent) benzoyl peroxide wash from Humane effectively kills that bacteria (it even digs deep into pores to clean out stubborn cystic acne). This wash is not for sensitive skin, but if you have acne-prone skin and want to see results, it’s well worth it. It took me a few weeks to notice a change in my skin, but once I did, I never looked back. (Related: Why Benzoyl Peroxide is the Secret to Clear Skin)
It’s also a highly rated acne-fighting product on Amazon, with plenty of before-and-after pictures to prove just how well it works. One reviewer pretty much summed up my exact experience, saying:
Used together, these four products have helped me create a regimen that works like a charm, with results I can actually feel almost right away. That’s why I was also not surprised to see that thousands of Amazon and Ulta users back up these claims. So if you’re looking for an affordable and effective routine to fight body acne, these easy shower staples are certainly worth a try.