Clearing Acne on the Back AKA: BACNE

Often referred to as “bacne” (!), acne affecting the back and chest respond to the same products used for the face. Because the skin on the body is thicker, it can tolerate stronger concentrations.

Remember: Pimples = Oil + Dead Skin + Bacteria + inflammation.

To effectively banish blemishes, you need to address all four.

The most effective back acne ingredients include:

  • Salicylic Acid: a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that has the very cool ability to penetrate oil, meaning all those little blackheads made up of oil, dead skin and bacteria! A cleanser with salicylic acid or mandelic acid can be a big help in keeping blackheads at bay.
  • Mandelic Acid is the latest skin care darling when it comes to acne! Derived from almonds, it can effectively exfoliate, kill bacteria AND reduce the dark spots left from blemishes gone bad, otherwise known as hyperpigmentation. See below for an example.
  • The Holy Grail for acne clearance is without question Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO). It penetrates and opens clogged pores, kills bacteria and is the bomb at keeping new blemishes at bay. It is best as a leave on treatment, but can also be helpful in a wash for preventative care.

Just be careful that the formula you choose is not loaded with additional pore cloggers! Nasty business, that. Lots of companies that make OTC acne products are filled with ingredients that actually make acne worse. Gotta wonder if they are really trying to clear your acne, or guarantee a future customer…

A note about BPO however, skin will typically develop a resistance to its pimple busting powers, so you may need to gradually increase the strength and frequency of application to get full clearance. It can cause dryness as well, and BPO may bleach your sheets, so avoid using or wearing bright colors.

Some bacne can be really resistant, so a few helpful “Big Gun” acne ingredients include:

Sulfur- Sulfur can be immensely drying, but sometimes is THE game changer for really inflamed bacne. Be aware that sulfur and sulfa (drugs) are two totally different things. Many people are allergic to sulfa drugs, but sulfur is a naturally occurring element, found in many foods (garlic, onions, cabbage).

Retinol– Retinol is amazing for helping to clear acne, smooth and refine skin texture, banish signs of aging, etc. However, I feel retinol is most effective AFTER most of the inflammation is down. Retinol works by speeding up cell turnover, so it can literally bring up or “purge” blemishes. If there is rampant inflammation, acne can look way worse before it gets better. If a client is ok with that, then we go for it!

Side Note: any acne product will work best when used consistently.

No skipping days, or going to bed with makeup on…

Blemishes (oil + dead skin + bacteria + inflammation) typically take about 3 months to develop. Research has shown that the inflammation is often present way before a blemish even appears. This would indicate systemic or chronic localized irritation. Think DIET!! Watch out for dairy (yogurt, ice cream), high-glycemic foods (sugar, grains, empty carbs) and high iodide content (mmm tortilla chips, salt licks lol). The big painful, red inflammation part can happen overnight.

If you ice the inflamed area for a minute or two before you put your treatments on, you will hasten the clearing.

When you are ready to FINALLY get clear, look me up! Don’t live near Providence? I got connections baby…hit me up and I can put you in touch with an acne specialist closer to you!

Three months to breakouts, three months to clear skin…



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