How to get rid of back acne: The back acne products and treatments that actually work
If you’re suffering from back acne, or “bacne”, there is a number of products and treatments that can make it better, or get rid of it completely. We speak to an expert to find out more
M any of us assume that acne is a condition that only affects us in our teenage years, however, it can last a lot longer. It’s possible to get spots, pimples, blackheads, and back acne at any time during your adult life – even if you didn’t have them as a child.
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Acne, and particularly back acne can occur at any time, and it can be tricky to get rid of if you’re not sure of the causes.
To help get to the bottom of back acne causes and how to get rid of it, we spoke to Dr John Quinn, owner of Quinn Clinics.
Dr Quinn has extensive experience in cosmetic and medical skincare treatments and was previously a national trainer for Allergan, the company that manufactures top brand anti-wrinkle injections and facial fillers products.
We’ve also listed the top back acne products and treatments that we’ve tried and tested and we know actually work.
Back acne causes
According to Dr Quinn, acne is a multifactorial condition. “The body’s immune system produces an inflammatory response to the bacteria living in the skin. P. acnes is the name of the bacteria and this predominantly grows in the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum or oil within the skin,” he told MBman.
Back acne, like acne on your face, is a skin condition that can affect anyone of any age and can be hereditary. Hormones play a role in this. along with oil buildup on the skin. too.
Men’s skin is 20% thicker than women’s and we also know that men produce excess amounts of sebum – you can read more about this in our Men’s skin vs women’s skin guide. This means male skin is more prone to spots, clogged pores and acne.
What’s more, men typically don’t have skincare routines in the same way some women do.
This means they’re not cleaning the skin on their face, back, or elsewhere as effectively as they should be.
“In men with acne, hormone levels are usually the main trigger. Men produce testosterone which produces sebum, or oil, because the sebaceous glands are more active.
“This can lead to clogged pores, resulting in breakouts,” Dr Quinn continued.
Men are also more susceptible to acne on the chest, back, upper arms, and shoulders.
This is because sweating increases the severity, and men tend to sweat more than women. Especially in warmer months. As a result, exercising and wearing nylon fabric that isn’t breathable can cause clogged pores all over the body.
How to get rid of back acne
When looking at how to get rid of back acne, even small changes can make a difference.
If you’re the type of man that likes to work out, try wearing looser clothing and make sure you shower after a workout. Letting sweat and dirt sit on your skin will make back acne worse.
There are other changes you can make, too. “[Back acne] may not generally be caused by diet and lifestyle alone but these factors can have a dramatic impact,” added Dr Quinn. “Eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking lots of water can have a significant impact, as can cutting out alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.”
Changing your shower gel may also help, as will choosing a skincare range that is oil-free. “It’s all about controlling the oil production and removing the dead skin.”
Back acne products
Here are the best back acne products that help reduce breakouts and keep oil at bay.
1. The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash – £7.50
2. CeraVe SA Skin Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid– £12
3. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Peeling Face and Body Cleansing Gel – £14.50
4. Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap – £7.95
5. CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream with Salicylic Acid –£12
6. Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Body Spot Exfoliant – £31
The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash
£7.50 | Buy now
This body wash is tailored for oily, blemished skin and is one of the better back acne products we’ve used.
It’s soap-free, so won’t dry out the skin too much, and it helps promote clearer-looking skin all over the body.
Tea tree is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it helps calm redness, swelling, and inflammation. It helps get rid of acne to give skin a smoother clearer appearance.
This is an easy back acne treatment to use in the shower, and we love how great this body wash is at also clearing acne from your chest and shoulders.
Also, being a The Body Shop product, you know it’s going to be vegan, cruelty-free, and ethically sourced.
Buy now from The Body Shop
CeraVe SA Skin Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid
£12 | Buy now
CeraVe is developed with dermatologists to make sure its products are gentle, effective, and work as promised.
Every single product in the CeraVe range contains three essential ceramides to protect the skin’s natural barrier, and this means the collection is suitable for all skin types.
This cleanser can be used on your face and body, so it’s a great back acne product, and it exfoliates the skin with salicylic acid. A renowned ingredient used to clear the skin of blemishes, blackheads, spots, and acne.
It also contains hyaluronic acid, a natural ingredient found in the skin which helps retain moisture.
We rate this cleanser because it’s fragrance-free and gentle on the skin. The salicylic acid can make the skin slightly drier, so we recommend you use this every other day and keep the skin hydrated with body cream.
CeraVe also sells a smoothing cream (featured further down this list) with salicylic acid to match this cleanser. This keeps the skin hydrated while smoothing rough, bumpy skin.
Buy now from Amazon
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Peeling Face and Body Cleansing Gel
£14.50 | Buy now
This gentle foaming body wash is an ideal back acne product for persistent blemishes and spots that just won’t shift.
It removes impurities from the skin, reduces excess sebum, and helps unclog pores to leave the skin feeling smoother. It does the latter thanks to small, natural beads that help gently refine pores.
La Roche-Posay ensures that every product it brings to the market is tested on sensitive skin and this has body wash has specifically been tested on oily acne-prone skin.
It also contains 2% salicylic acid, meaning it can be used on your face as well. We always suggest using new products once or twice a week at first, to see if it causes a reaction. Once you’re confident that either you’re not allergic, or when your skin has built up a tolerance, you can increase usage.
Like with the CeraVe Salicylic Acid cleanser, it can be a tad drying so we recommend using a hydrating moisturiser after use.
Buy now from Boots
Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap
£7.95 | Buy now
This body soap is infused with grapefruit, fruit enzymes, and ginseng to leave the skin feeling clean, refreshed, and clear.
It contains AHA – or Alpha Hydroxy Acid – which is an exfoliant that can be found in sugary fruits.
Despite being a soap, it’s not too drying and has been formulated specifically for oily, troubled skin, all over the body. Including the face. This also makes it suitable for sensitive skin types because it helps soothe irritated areas.
A little goes a long way with this and it’s suggested to use a long-handle loofah to get to the hard-to-reach places.
We’ve seen a big difference after just two weeks of use not only does it clear blemishes, spots it also reduces dark spots, too.
Buy now from Beauty Bay
CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream with Salicylic Acid
£12 | Buy now
Not only does CeraVe have a cleansing wash (featured above) but it also sells a smoothing cream to help get rid of back acne, too.
This gentle exfoliating cream helps smooth dry rough and bumpy skin, with the help of salicylic acid. It also contains lactic acid to gently remove dead skin, unclog pores and ease the redness often caused by blemishes.
This cream is rich and easy to apply but isn’t greasy. It helps get rid of back acne scars, and a little goes a long way. This should hopefully make the higher price feel a little easier to swallow.
Thanks to ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides the cream also helps reduce moisture loss.
Buy now from Amazon
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Body Spot Exfoliant
£31 | Buy now from Amazon
This is the most expensive item on this back acne products list, but we think it’s worth it.
Paula’s Choice is renowned for helping with problematic skin and the brand’s 2% BHA Gel is revered for how well it deals with breakouts, acne, and different skin textures.
This 2% BHA spot exfoliant uses a similar formulation but comes in a lotion. The BHA – or Beta Hydroxy Acid – helps to improve the appearance of pores on arms, legs, shoulders, and back, while the lotion formula helps lock in moisture.
If you’re using BHA for the first time, we recommend you introduce it into your routine slowly. It works in the lower layers of the skin and it can make skin worse before it makes it better. This is known as skin purging and is ultimately a good thing. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time!
How to use: Start by using this lotion every other day and then increase it to once or twice daily based on how your skin responds.
Use a small amount in the palm of your hand and apply it to clean skin, it can be used all over the body for smoothing and exfoliation or you can just apply it to the problem area. If used during the day remember to use SPF as BHAs make your skin more prone to sun damage.
Buy now from Amazon
Back acne treatments
Before you engage in any back acne treatments it’s important you see a specialist. They can advise you on a tailored medical skincare regimen for your individual needs
Back acne treatments range from topical creams and sprays to the use of retinoids as well as a range of non-surgical treatments. We’ve listed each of these below, with recommendations.
This treatment works to stimulate the skin’s own healing system and boost collagen production. Small spikes effectively pierce the skin – in a pain-free way – which encourages it to heal itself. This is also called microneedling.
Dermarollers can also help target acne or blemishes on your face, can be used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as help encourage hair growth. So they’re a worthwhile investment!
You can buy dermarollers online and our favourites include the 540 Titanium Microneedle Derma Roller (£7.99, Amazon) and the more expensive, and as such sharper, Swiss Clinic Skin Roller (£59, Lookfantastic).
IPL (Intense Pulse Light)
Intense Pulse Light treatments work really well for acne. It’s a form of light therapy that can target wrinkles, spots, and unwanted hair. Pigments in the skin absorb this light and convert it into heat. It can help destroy unwanted pigment as well as spots. The downside to how effective they are is that this back acne treatment doesn’t come cheap.
The best IPL machines that can be used on back acne include the FOREO Espada (£129, Cult Beauty) and the Sensica Sensilight Pro Device (£375, Lookfantastic).
Chemical peels might sound scary but done correctly by a medical specialist, they can be really effective. Peels help control acne by removing the top surface of dead skin cells. This promotes new cell growth.
With acne, you can be left with scarring. There are treatments that can reduce or get rid of these scars but it depends on the nature of the scarring. We recommend you speak to a consultant to identify the type of scars and the most appropriate treatment.
You can also buy chemical peels for at-home use. These are usually less potent than those delivered in salons, which means they don’t work quite as fast. They can certainly make a dent though. Just be warned that peels aren’t always suitable for sensitive skin so perform a patch test first.
We’ve used and can vouch for the Verso Body Peel (£55, Feelunique) as well as the Stacked Skincare TCA Body Peel (£115, Stacked Skincare).