In honor of Acne Awareness Month, ITG is beefing up its acne coverage this week. Journey with us as we approach breaking out from every angle.
If you get close to any mirror, there’s a good chance that you can see your pores. At least in some places. These tiny holes secrete oil, get clogged with sebum and dead skin, become the site of a whitehead, and host the occasional ingrown hair—but you already knew that. Pores are old news!
But now, look at your arm. See any pores there? Probably not. Even though you can’t see them, the skin of your body has pores just like your face. And, just like the pores on your face, they can get clogged, and you can break out—it’s most common on your back, chest, and butt.
You can treat body acne, but it’s a little trickier than treating it on your face. Leave-on treatments get a bad rep for bleaching clothes. Scrubs can help stop your pores from clogging up, but they can also sandpaper away your skin's protective barrier. Instead, active body cleansers are your best bet. These cleansers are gentle on skin and active ingredient-rich so you can approximate a fuller body routine in one fell swoop. Just clip up long hair, coat the areas where you break out, wait a couple minutes for the acne-fighting ingredient to work—shave your legs, scrub your scalp, belt the chorus of “Shallow” twice because you can’t remember the words to the verses—and rinse. Of course, it’s good to have a few helpers on hand—larger pimple patches for bigger zits, a clay mask to use once a month, a hydrating lotion that’s noncomedogenic, and fragrance-free laundry detergent for your clothes (the fragrance can sometimes cause breakouts). But we're here to talk about cleansers—it’s time to choose your fighter.
The Safe Bet: Nécessaire Unscented Body Wash
Let’s start simple. We all want to smell good! But the fragrance in scented body washes can irritate your skin and lead to body breakouts. Try stripping back. This beautiful Nécessaire body wash is fragrance-free, and although it isn’t formulated to specifically target acne, it’s anything but basic. With a whole alphabet of vitamins (that’s A, B, C, and D), compare it to the nourishing serums you already use on your face.
Mr. Popular: Cerave Salicylic Acid Body Wash
Let’s say you need something a little more heavy-duty—what about your old friend, Sal? You can’t remember how you met (was it high school, in the Neutrogena aisle?) but you know salicylic acid penetrates deep inside pores to dissolve the dirt and oil that’s making you break out. This one is better than most because it’s formulated with ceramides to keep your skin from drying out.
The Gym Rat: Shea Moisture African Black Soap
Sweat is mostly water—alone, it’s not going to break you out. The inevitable post-gym, post-subway breakout happens when sweat sits around too long, and the bacteria that naturally lives on your skin is given a moist environment in which to thrive. Lovely! If you suspect sweat is your breakout culprit, try adding in an extra body shower and switching to an antibacterial cleanser, like African black soap. Plantain peel extract works to kill bacteria, while moisturizing elements like shea butter and aloe keep your skin’s moisture barrier intact. You can always switch to something stronger if you think the natural route isn't doing enough.
The Polarizing One: PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide Wash
Benzoyl Peroxide is the big gun ingredient, and this cleanser has a whopping 10-percent of it. Like African black soap, BP is antibacterial, but it’s way more powerful. Though, a word of caution—if your skin is sensitive, rosacea-prone, or if you’re allergic to BP, this is not the cleanser for you.
The Sweeper: Mederma AG Body Cleanser
We’re not here to convince you that this fragrance-free, medicated Mederma body wash is sexy. It’s just highly effective at clearing up skin. Glycolic acid gets rid of dead skin that may be trapping an infection below the surface, and it also evens skin texture and lightens dark marks. If you have a combo of active spots and scars, you can follow it with a spray BHA lotion like this one, for a double whammy. Acne, eat your heart out.
Photo via ITG