It really should be against biological law that a pimple may occur on one’s back. How unfair is it that an area so out of reach should be prone to summer’s ultimate nemesis, bacne? It makes us shy in a swimsuit, cover up in the heat, and opt for a tee instead of the slinky little tank we really wanted to wear. And yet, almost no one is safe from the occasional—and for some, more frequent—back breakout.
Sometimes it’s hormonal, stress-related, or a side effect of medication. Those special circumstances call for lifestyle changes like a shift in diet, trying mindfulness practices, or talking to a doctor. But for many of us, it’s just a matter of remembering that the skin you don’t usually see … no not there, behind you, wait, no higher … is still skin. Unfortunately, it’s inclined to a clogged pore or hair follicle just like the rest of you. Because equality.
It may seem obvious to some, but sweat can be a major culprit. If genetics have given you more sensitive skin or larger pores on this big surface area, it’s time to say no to synthetic materials in the hot summertime, especially form-fitting tops and bras. Since most workout apparel is made of synthetic stretchy blends, and we certainly support getting your healthy dose of sweat in, make sure to strip them off as soon as you can after a workout and shower, stat.
Wash your bras. We know, duh, right? You might be surprised to learn that many women go weeks and even months without washing a bra! Sweat, skin cells, and daily grime stick to your bra just like anything else and get smooshed into your skin with that close, supportive contact. It’s been said you can wear a bra two or three times before washing, but if you’re extra prone to back pimples, why wait. Stock up on your favorite brands and have at least a week’s worth of brarsenal locked and loaded.
Treat your back a little like your face. Make sure to exfoliate, but not too rough, and not all the time! One of the major mistakes bacne-prone people do is get a super harsh back scrub brush and scrub, hard, every day. Just like your face, you should give it a thorough exfoliation two to three times a week, and be a little gentle! Your back skin can take a bit more than your face, but overdoing it can damage the skin and worsen the condition. Get a gentle brush or a sisal back strap.
Use a natural soap or body wash with tea tree oil or eucalyptus, or opt for unscented as fragrances can be pore-clogging. This also goes for your hair products! Shampoos and goopy conditioners made with sulfates, parabens, preservatives, and parfums to boot are pouring right down your back and often lingering there. Choose a brand that’s packed with natural, non-toxic ingredients, free of foaming agents and perfumes, like Paradoxx or Rahua. Zinc-based shampoos are also a good trial, in case your back flare-ups are caused from fungal yeast overgrowth.
You can use skincare products on your back instead of just body lotion. You don’t need to do a 10-step Korean skincare routine complete with serums and vitamin C powder, but try a glycolic peel pad every once in a while and a swipe of toner with AHA, and use a face oil or facial moisturizer in your more active breakout zones.
Lastly, cool it on the carbs and sugar if you’ve been eating more of those lately. They are not only known inflammation feeders, but they also promote candida overgrowth, which is essentially a fungal infection that can manifest itself on the skin in the form of pimples. If you know for sure that candida is an issue for you, try an herbal supplement to assist in the detox. More energy and an instant slim-down are the possible side effects of eating less sugar and carbs, so starting and ending with this step might be your best bet.
Dr. Bronners Castile Liquid
A wholesome classic, this all-purpose bottle should last you a while. It’s great for your whole bod, and gentle on your more sensitive skin while being deeply cleansing yet not overdrying.