The Embarrassing Skin Problem Nobody Talks About

5Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
UPDATE: This post was originally published on May 3, 2015.
The flowers are blooming and the sun is shining, and though it may be hard to believe, the time has finally come to show some skin. While most people are diligent in caring for their face, many don’t think twice about paying special attention to their chest and back.
Read on for my top tips on giving your back and chest some TLC and how to keep your décolletage looking young.


Exfoliate Often
The skin on the chest tends to be less sensitive than that on the neck or face, so you can exfoliate more often than you would be able to on those other areas. Choose an at-home peel with acids that dissolve and encourage the removal of sun-damaged cells. I suggest only using it two to three times a month for the face, but you can definitely use it weekly on the chest to enhance the results. Twice a week, use a facial scrub on the chest in circular motions to intensify the results of an acid or chemical peel. For ease, use the exfoliating scrub in the shower.
Get A Professional Treatment
In addition to facial treatments, most skin care professionals (such as estheticians and cosmetic doctors) provide procedures for the skin on the chest (such as lasers and chemical peels). These procedures, when performed in a series of treatments, can help remove redness and brown spots and encourage a more even-toned skin with smoother texture. As always, consult with your skin care professional before moving forward with any treatments.
4Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Cover Up With SPF
Sunscreen must be worn daily. Most people know the importance of wearing sunscreen 365 days a year, so they will apply it to their face, using whatever is left on their fingertips on the neck and maybe extending a little onto the chest. However, for most people, that is not adequate protection. The effectiveness of sunscreen is dependent on how generously it is applied on the face, neck, and chest. This is especially important in the warmer months when we wear less clothing. Also, for extra protection and easy SPF reapplication throughout the day, slightly tinted mineral powder containing SPF is extremely beneficial and can make the skin appear more even-toned.
2Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Hydrate With Anti-Aging Ingredients
Much like the face, the skin on the chest suffers from a lot of wear and tear, so this delicate area also needs skin-plumping, antioxidant-boosting ingredients. Be sure to extend your nighttime moisturizer to the chest area, and for extra anti-aging benefits, use a firming serum underneath your moisturizer.
3Illustrated by Anna Sudit.


Use An Antibacterial Cleanser
Some people are prone to back breakouts, which can be exacerbated by working out or sweating more in the summer. Every time you shower, I suggest using a powerful antibacterial cleanser to deep clean the skin, remove oils, and reduce acne-causing bacteria. It is hard to find a body cleanser on the market that will do the trick, so I always recommend using a face cleanser for acne-prone skin. Look for a cleanser that is sulfate-free and uses acne-fighting salicylic acid.
Exfoliate Twice A Week
Just like the face, the body needs exfoliation, too. I love using an exfoliating body cloth with a gentle shower gel to gently remove surface dried skin cells and discourage clogged pores and breakouts, as well as keep the skin smooth. I don’t suggest using body scrubs on the back, as they may contain oils that could contribute to breakouts, especially if you’re already acne-prone.
Avoid Hair Conditioner Containing Panthenol
Panthenol is a common ingredient in hair conditioner and for many of my clients (including me!) it may increase the likelihood of breakouts and acne along the hairline and back. If you do get back breakouts, after rinsing out your hair conditioner in the shower, try putting your hair up in a clip (if it’s long) and then use your shower gel to wash your back. This will help remove any conditioner left on your back and will also reduce oil residue left behind, and will ensure that hair conditioners won’t cause any irritation.
Apply An Acne Spot Treatment When Necessary
When you have larger and inflamed blemishes such as cysts (blemishes that are sore, painful, under the skin), which rarely come to the surface, using an anti-cyst treatment can work to penetrate deep within the skin to dissolve and digest the infection. Both women and men can get cystic acne on their backs and applying this treatment as needed after showering can yield excellent results.
For regular blemishes where the infection does come to the surface in the form of a whitehead, applying a drying spot treatment that contains camphor and sulfur and can help heal those quickly. A lot of acne spot treatments on the market contain benzoyl peroxide. While this can be beneficial, you run the risk of bleaching clothing that comes in contact with it.
Paying extra attention to your chest and back, especially with warmer weather headed our way, will not only make you feel more confident to bare your skin this season, but it will also promote healthier and more radiant-looking skin!
The grown-up guide to dealing with acne. Read more from The Acne Diaries here.

More from Skin Care

Almost everything Zoolander said should be taken with a hefty grain of salt — except for one: He nailed it when he said: "Moisture is the essence of ...
We know that our cell phones aren’t always good for us. Tech neck, sleep disturbances, eye strain — all actual health concerns. And of course, not cleaning...
What do you call a price increase that goes from around $240 to nearly $10,000? Words like strange, confusing, and even exploitative may come to mind. ...
(Paid Content) Finding a skin-care regimen that keeps skin clear without drying it out isn't easy. Don’t you worry — we’ve got you on this one. Together ...
Dry, scaly skin can be kind of a nightmare no matter what the season. So, in the spirit of smoother, ultra-hydrated skin, we put together a list of our ...
When it comes to pretty much, well, everything, it’s no secret that millennials expect swift service, same-day delivery, and overall efficiency. Our need ...
Since we’re all well aware of the dangers of tanning beds — and too much time in natural sunlight sans SPF — self-tanners are the perfect solution when the...
(Paid Content) If achieving clear, glowing, incredible skin were as easy as slathering on a single cream, we’d be the first in line to scoop it up. But ...
This isn't news to anyone, but I feel it bears repeating: Acne scars suck. Anyone who has suffered from post-pimple hyperpigmentation knows this truth to ...
We’ve all seen the studies about why sleep is so important — a full eight hours keeps our bodies and brains more fit, happy, and focused. As it turns out, ...
The moment when you suddenly realize you're an adult can come amid a seemingly random activity — depositing money in your newly formed 401k, making dinner ...
For a long time, the word "peel" meant one of two things in the beauty world: a) You've spent too much time in the sun sans sunscreen and are now suffering...
The first time I ever experienced ultrasound during a facial was around six months ago, on aesthetician Mashell Tabe's table. She coated my skin in a ...
I've never been the kind of girl to do an at-home peel. Just the thought of swiping powerful chemical exfoliants over my face conjured up horrible images...