Clear, glowing skin is something most of us crave. If you’ve ever had to deal with body breakouts on your back, chest, behind or any other area of your body, you know how frustrating (and often times embarrassing) the quest for beautiful, blemish-free skin can be.
There are many different reasons why you may be experiencing body blemishes. Before I hop into various tips you can try to reduce and eliminate a body breakout, let’s first understand the common reason why and how body acne flares up in the first place.
- Summer (aka excess sweat, oil and bacteria): during the summer, your body produces more oil and you tend to sweat more. The combination of oil and sweat leads to acne. While it’s commonly thought that the sun helps to clear and heal acne, that’s actually a huge misconception! What’s really happening to your skin under the sun is that as your skin reddens and tans, it’s also drying out. This drying out triggers excess oil production, which as we’ve already learned leads to breakouts. Ultimately, the process of developing acne is caused by overactive oil glands, excess dead skin cells and a proliferation of acne-causing bacteria.
- Hormone Fluctuations: If you’re a women in your late 20s or early 30s, you may have noticed that despite having had clear skin the majority of your adult life, you’re all of a sudden breaking out like a teenager. That’s because as we women approach and enter our 30s, our bodies and hormones begin to change again. The fluctuations between estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and even cortisol each month trigger breakouts. You may also notice that you tend to breakout more near your period each month. If you’ve also recently decided to come off your birth control contraceptive, these hormone fluctuations may become further exaggerated as your body works to seek equilibrium on its own.
- Food Intolerances or Sensitivities: Diet is extremely individual, but there are common categories of food and drink that are known to trigger breakouts. These categories include dairy, sugar, gluten, wheat, yeast, nuts, corn and alcohol. If your body is sensitive or intolerant of a certain food, what’s happening internally is that as your body has a difficult time digesting the trigger food, this causes your body to inflame and dehydrate. In turn, your body holds onto dead skin cells that would otherwise be shed, thus blocking your hair follicle or pore and causing the breakout.
- Allergens: Your skin absorbs 60% of what you put on it so it’s especially important to pay attention to what products are touching your skin each and every day – this includes things like laundry detergent. When your skin comes into contact with an ingredient it doesn’t agree with, it inflames as it works to battle the unwanted item.
Photo credit: The Chalkboard , Hard Hitting Health
Once you understand the root cause of your breakouts, you can start to take steps towards clearing your skin. As with any piece of advice your receive on your health and wellbeing, it’s important to stay open to trying different tips and tricks, but to understand that your body and lifestyle are entirely unique to you. What works for one person may not work for you – and that’s okay! Stay in tune with your own inner guidance and gut reactions. Try on and keep what works and ditch what doesn’t!
Here are 17 tips for dealing with body breakouts.
Shower Immediately After A Workout
This one may seem pretty obvious, but if you start paying attention, you may be surprised at how much time passes between when you end a workout and when you actually get in the shower. For example, let’s say you workout around 5:00pm after work. Your workout ends, you stay a bit later in the studio to chat with friends, then you need to stop at the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. You drive home and are starving so you make dinner and eat first before getting into the shower. What time is it now? Maybe 6:30pm the earliest?
The bacteria responsible for producing acne absolutely thrive on sweaty skin. While it can be tempting to wait to shower so you can be a bit more productive, the sooner you get back to clean skin, the less likely you are the break out.
If you know it’ll be some time before you can shower post-workout, I recommend investing in some body wipes to hold you over. I personally like Goodwipes body wipes in cedar scent. These individually wrapped wet wipes are 100% biodegradable, compostable and hypoallergenic. They are also alcohol and paraben free, made with natural tea tree oil (also good for preventing breakouts), peppermint, aloe and ginseng.
Flip Your Hair Over To Rinse Out Your Shampoo And Conditioner
Certain ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner may lead to skin clogging and breakouts. The most common acne triggering ingredients include sulfates, silicones, fragrance, thicker oils and lanolin. If it seems like you’ve tried everything and your body acne still isn’t going away, adjusting your shower routine may do the trick. Try flipping your head over to rinse out your shampoo and conditioner so it doesn’t run down your back and chest or consider changing up the order in which you take a shower. Ideally, you’ll want to wash your face and body last to make sure you wash off any excess shampoo/conditioner residue. Lastly, if you haven’t already, you may want to look into switch to clean beauty products to further minimize your exposure to harmful ingredients and allergens.
Ditch The Shower Loofah or Glove
Loofahs and shower gloves can be problematic for two reasons. The first, they may lead to over exfoliation of the skin, which actually causes breakouts to worsen. The second, these shower tools can be breeding grounds for bacteria if not cleaned properly (news flash: your loofah most likely isn’t cleaned properly). Try ditching the loofah and glove all together and instead opt the OG shower tool: your hand.
I noticed a significant change in my skin’s clarity after making this simple change!
Swap Your Current Body Wash
If you have breakout prone skin, you may want to consider swapping your current body wash for one that has ingredients that better help zap zits. Look for a product with ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid or lactic acid. Other natural ingredients that help reduce acne include bentonite clay, blue clay activated charcoal, and tea tree oil. Be mindful of choosing products that are natural and free of synthetic ingredients as these can further irritate skin.
Two of my favorite body bars are Herbivore’s Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Bar Soap and Herbivore’s Blue Clay Cleansing Bar Soap. I use to use the Bamboo Charcoal Bar but switched to the Blue Clay Bar as I realized the charcoal bar was too drying in combination with some of the other measures I was taking to clear body blemishes.
Apply Toner To Breakout Prone Areas
A toner used on your body can provide the same benefits as it does for your face: exfoliation, balancing pH levels and diminishing dark spots or discoloration. Toners are especially helpful and necessary for those with oily or acne-prone skin. What is most unique about using a toner is the fact that is balances your skin’s pH levels. Our skin tends to be naturally acidic with a pH balance of about 5-6. Alkaline soap and body washes can mess with your skin’s natural pH, causing your body to work extra hard and produce more oil in an effort to return to balance. Excess oil production can trigger a breakout, so by incorporating a toner to your body skincare routine, you can help restore pH balance much more quickly. Toners also help close and tighten pores further reducing the penetration of impurities and bacteria into your follicles.
Use A Clay Mask On Your Body
A clay mask is used on your face to draw out toxins and clear blackheads – so why wouldn’t you apply the same care to your body?
Apply your favorite mask to your back, shoulders, chest, butt or anywhere else you are experiencing a breakout to help deeply clean out those pores. One of my favorites is Indie Lee’s Clearing Mask. It uses salicylic and glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin, while bentonite clay and colloidal sulfur draw out impurities.
Exfoliate Dead Skin With a Scrub…But Not Too Much
The accumulation of dead skin cells can lead to clogged pores which causes acne, so it’s important to make sure you are buffing away any unwanted dead skin. But, when it comes to exfoliation, you want to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Over-exfoliation can lead to inflamed or irritated skin causing your blemishes to further swell and redden. Dermatologists recommend exfoliating about once a week.
Mix In CBD Beauty Products
Yes, it’s true. CBD is the new coconut oil. Is there anything it can’t do?
Several studies have backed up the relationship between CBD’s anti-inflammatory and sebostatic properties when it come to treating and preventing acne. When applied topically, CBD inhibits lipid synthesis (aka it stops oil production in the skin). You may be thinking to yourself, well won’t that dry out my skin?
No, it won’t. CBD works by seeking homeostasis in your cells. Meaning, not all cells are treated equally. When treating acne with CBD, the CBD only affects the cells that have excess oil production, inflammation, infection and bacteria and leaves the cells be.
Some of my favorite CBD skincare products are from W!NK, an entirely women-owned, operated and formulated CBD skincare and therapy line. All of their products are also all natural, chemical-free and cruelty free!
If you want to learn more about CBD, I have an Instagram story highlight that dives deep into the basics.
Try Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is known to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a natural antiseptic. In addition to disinfecting the skin, tea tree oil also helps unblock sebaceous (oil) glands and unclog pore – the root triggers for a pimple forming. Apply a high-quality tea tree oil directly to the skin or with a carrier oil to reap the benefits. My only caution is to be mindful of how much and how often you use tea tree oil as it can be very drying in some cases.
doTERRA Melaleuca (tea tree) oil is my favorite.
Use A Hydrocolloid Or Acne Patch
I was stunned when I first learned about and used hydrocolloid patches. These small, powerful acne patches are basically like little stickers you adhere on top of blemishes overnight or for about six hours or so. Within that time, your blemish is dramatically reduced and healed.
It works because it’s a hydrocolloid bandage that absorbs and sucks out the puss and gunk that’s inflaming your skin. I also love using these patches because it prevents me from picking at my skin or trying to pop any pimples. Acne patches can also be great for people who find acids to be a bit too harsh on sensitive skin. One disclaimer, it does work best on a whitehead or pimple that is nearing whitehead status.
Hero Cosmetic’s Might Patch Invisible+ are my go-to. The company is mindful of the ingredients they use, avoiding parabens, alcohol and sulfates.
Choose A Clean Mineral Sunscreen
Sunscreen is an absolutely necessity for protecting your skin, especially in the summer. But, finding a clean sunscreen that won’t clog your pores can be challenging. Look for sunscreens made with natural ingredients and minerals, such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Avoid products with nanoparticles, parabens, sulfates, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban.
Ideally, you’ll want an SPF 50 or lower and a light formula that isn’t heavy with oils.
Consider Getting A Body Facial
Every now and then, it can be useful to enlist the help of a professional to really help clean your skin at a deep level. Plus, some areas of your body can be tough to reach on your own. You can expect a body facial to include the same steps as a facial for your face – lot’s of cleansing, toning, moisturizing and extractions.
Keep Your Bedroom Linens Fresh and Clean
Your skin touches your sheets and pillowcases every single night! And unless you’re showering right before bed each day, it’s likely that your bedroom linens are housing some bacteria. Make sure to put a fresh set of linens on your bed at least once a week to help keep your skin clean and reduce congestion.
Pay Attention To Diet
Certain categories of food can cause your body to inflame. Common food allergens include dairy, sugar, gluten, wheat, yeast, nuts, corn and alcohol. Food and diet is an extremely personal topic, so it’s important to recognize what items in your diet may be triggering a breakout. Experiment with reducing or eliminating certain foods one at a time and notice if there are any changes in your skin.
I always recommend lots of water and a diet rich in whole foods and vegetables. Take care to reduce or eliminate any processed foods or refined carbs and sugar.
Take A Probiotic
Our gut microbiome is deeply connected to so many areas of our wellbeing, including our skin health. Taking a high-quality probiotic helps feed and grow the good bacteria in our digestive system. A strong, healthy gut can work in your benefit by reducing inflammation, improving elimination, fighting pathogens and strengthening your immune system. Externally, the surface of your skin is also home to billions of good and bad bacteria.
A probiotic can be employed in two ways: internally and externally. There are plenty of probiotic-rich beauty products available that help eliminate bad bacteria while growing good bacteria.
Internally, I like to use doTERRA’s PB Assist+. It’s a proprietary formula of pre-biotic fiber and six strains of probiotic microorganisms in a unique double layer vegetable capsule. It delivers 6 billion CFUs of active probiotic cultures and soluble pre-biotic FOS (fructooligosaccharides) that encourage friendly bacterial growth. The time-release, double-capsule delivery system is designed to help protect the sensitive probiotic cultures from stomach acid.
Explore Getting A Colonic
Unless you’re eliminating (aka pooping) two or three times a day consistently, it’s likely that your GI tract is backed up. As this important bodily function is our body’s natural way of eliminating waste and toxins, it’s important to pay attention to the health of your colon. Your skin is your body’s outer mirror. Colon hydrotherapy can help remove days, weeks, month, even years of toxic build up in your body that may be showing up on your face or body.