A beauty problem none of us admit to

Zoe Foster.


Zo, I have bacne (back acne) and it’s so gross. How do I get rid of it? Why do I have it? I can’t wear dresses or nice tops and half of my gym clothes without being embarrassed. – Zara

It seems unfair that we pay so much attention to keeping our face spot free and then our chests and backs sneak a whole bunch of pimples through security so that whenever we wear anything other than a skivvy we show the entire world our blemished back/neck.

Why you get bacne, Zara, is because you stole that Bubble O’Bill back in Year 3 and this is your karma.

Another reason might be congestion, usually from sweat that isn’t removed quickly enough. So, if you’re an exerciser, Z, (can I call you Z?) and from your reference to gym clothes I reckon you might be, I want to make sure you (1) always shower directly after working out.

Since so many of us now do things like boot camp out in the open, or pilates/yoga in little studios as opposed to going to a traditional gym, we don’t have a row of showers on hand to leap into right after, and this is not helping the ISOBS. (International Society of Bacne Sufferers.) But showers are SO important for bacne correction and prevention, and, one would think, general hygiene and smell-nicey-ness. It would also do you well to (2) choose work out gear that is moisture-wicking (where the fabric draws the sweat off the skin and to the outside of the garment – Nike, Adidas and lululemon all have moisture-wick gear) so that you’re not drenched in sweaty clothes as and after you train.

If you really can’t shower directly after Pump, or that PT session or your rhythmic gymnastics class, then Z why not (3) carry some facial wipes (go for ones that work on pimples and have salicylic acid, like the Clean and Clear or Clearasil types) and wipe your back and shoulders and chest down. Then put on a clean top.


Once you do get to a shower, (4) use a body wash on the affected areas (it might be too drying for everywhere else, especially your ‘Special Woman Cave’) with salicylic acid in it. Something like Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash will do the trick. And! If (5) you have a Clarisonic, definitely pop the body head on and go over the area. This will be an enormous help. Huge.

(Also – I’m not sure how long your hair is, Z, but (6) try to keep it away from your back when you wash it, as the shampoo and conditioner can worsen things. And rinse off your back good and proper, too, just in case of any residue.)

After showering, (7) apply a blemish treatment product to the area, like Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Body Spray, say. Don’t go wild, keep it targeted so that the rest of your skin won’t dry out. And (8) use a simple (Cetaphil or QV) body lotion at other times to keep it moisturised but not irritated.

Once it’s all cleared up, (9) try Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Smoothing lotion (which has AHA and BHAs and is also good for those little bumps on the backs of thighs and arms) because it’s fantastic at fading bacne scarring.

Z, I wish you the best with this. Also, I really enjoyed using a fancy number system throughout this post, and (10) I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

Zoe is an author, columnist and porridge fan. Her books include the beauty bible Amazing Face, dating and relationship guide Textbook Romance, and three novels, Air KissesPlaying The Field and The Younger Man. Find more info on her here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.

Please understand that Zoë cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Have you had bacne? Or do you have it now? What are your tips for getting rid of it?