You’ve heard the whole “wash your body as soon as you get back from the gym,” spiel. And perhaps you’ve already started using your regular spot treatment below the neck, but it’s still not cutting it. “The skin on the back is much thicker and tougher. Because of this, the blemishes are a bit deeper so it’s harder to get topical medications to them,” explains Dr. Neal Schultz, a dermatologist in New York and founder of dermtv.com. “The good news is that also means the skin here is less likely to get irritated from treatment.”
- "You can bump up the strength of these medications so it penetrates skin deeper," says Dr. Schultz. For example, if you were using a 0.5% salicylic acid gel, try one with 1% or higher like Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Salicylic Acid Acne Spot Treatment, $19, amazon.com. Benzoyl peroxide—though commonly used and effective—can bleach fabrics.
- You might want to rethink that loofah, too. “It’s a form of physical exfoliation, which can aggravate inflammatory acne,” says Dr. Schultz. “The key is daily, gentle exfoliation with a chemical exfoliant such as glycolic acid.” Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash ($32, dermstore.com) cleans skin, while gently removing dead skin cells.
- Though you may be wary of slathering on SPF, you absolutely can and should. Just make sure it’s labeled “water-based,” “oil-free,” or “non-comedogenic.” Try Coppertone Oil Free Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, $9.60, drugstore.com.
- Stick to lighter and looser fitting fabrics as the constant friction and entrapment of sweat can cause breakouts. Another culprit you might not have thought about? Your trusty backpack. “The additional pressure and rubbing from your backpack can lead to more breakouts,” warns Schultz. Swap it out for an equally commuter-friendly tote or crossbody bag instead.
If you’re still seeing red after 1 to 2 months of treatment, it might be time to visit your derm for alternative options such as oral medications, professional strength peels, or laser treatments—all of which will lead to a much faster improvement.
For starters, you can use your foundation or concealer to camouflage spots below the neck. ”What’s important is that it’s oil-free and highly pigmented,” says Benjamin Ruiz, Global Creative Artistry for Laura Mercier.
- For smaller spots, use a brush to apply color directly to the spot. For larger surfaces, use your fingertips or a sponge to tap it onto skin.
- Finish with a light dusting of translucent powder. “This will set the makeup and prevent it from transferring onto your clothing,” explains Ruiz.
Tip: If your skin is extra shiny or on the slippery side, dust translucent powder over the spot first. Then, apply concealer on top. “This gives the product something to grab onto and provides smoother coverage overall,” says Ruiz.