Your guide to preventing and treating body acne, according to Dr. Dennis Gross
There are few four-letter words that warrant as much anxiety for skincare enthusiasts as ‘acne’ does.
The skin condition has been discussed to death when it comes to treating our faces (retinoids and chemical exfoliants will be your life savers) but there are considerably less resources and products devoted to treating the condition below the neckline.
Add to that a climate that leaves you permanently hot and sticky, and you’ve got yourself a full-fledged, all-over breakout that you don’t know how to deal with. While frustrating and unsightly, there’s hope for sufferers both old and new, and it doesn’t require using your expensive facial serums nor concocting dubious homemade pastes.
For the lowdown on body acne, we turn to skincare expert and renowned dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross. His Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment couldn’t have come at a better time, especially since pandemic stress-induced acne is real and isn’t restricted to your face. Here, his tips on how to best treat and prevent the condition, especially during stressful times like these.
What causes body acne?
Whether it is on your face or body, all acne starts with a clogged pore which can occur for multiple reasons: hormonal changes, poor hygiene, stress or genetics, to name a few. While there are a lot of similarities between face and body acne, body breakouts are often caused by inflammation of the hair follicles, or folliculitis. There is more friction on body skin from clothing and skin-on-skin contact.
How does body acne differ from face acne?
The real difference I want to highlight is that the skin on the body is three to four times thicker than that of the face, which means your acne treatment for the body should be stronger than what you would use on your face. You need a product that is specifically formulated to penetrate the thicker body skin to truly treat body acne.
What are the types of body acne or skin imperfections?
Just like the face, the three most common forms of acne are whiteheads, blackheads and cystic acne. Other main concerns for body skin imperfections are keratosis pilaris (KP or strawberry skin), ingrown hairs, dryness and dullness, crepiness and laxity.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – or marks left behind from prior acne – is another common concern. Remember, anytime the skin turns red, there is a risk that it will turn into a dark spot – especially in darker complexions. The Body Treatment helps disintegrate excess melanin as well as prevent it from forming again.
How can exfoliating acids like AHAs and BHAs help alleviate body acne?
AHAs and BHAs are alpha and beta hydroxy acids. They work to dissolve the glue that holds the dead skin cells to the skin’s surface. They work to exfoliate the dead, dull skin to reveal the fresh, radiant skin cells underneath. This is key to preventing acne because, as I mentioned, all acne starts with a clogged pore. Using a gentle chemical exfoliator formulated with AHAs and BHAs helps prevent dead skin from clogging pores, leading to acne.
What prompted you to create the Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment?
Today’s consumer is starting to equate skin health with overall health – and they are starting to look beyond just their faces and necks. People want a head-to-toe glow – and they are learning that a lotion or cream without active ingredients just isn’t doing it. Sure it makes you feel good, but the benefits are limited to surface level hydration.
As the consumer becomes more savvy in skincare, they are seeking out products that are clinically proven to work. Afterall, bath and body product sales are up 65% year over year.
When’s the best time to incorporate exfoliating acids into a daily routine?
You should use the Exfoliating Body Treatment on clean, dry skin. It doesn’t matter what time of day you use the treatment.
Do you recommend a body moisturizer or any other product to follow the home treatment?
The Exfoliating Body Treatment is packed with hyaluronic acid, squalene, linoleic acid, and phospholipids, amongst other really hydrating ingredients that strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier while providing long-lasting hydration. You can add a moisturizer after the treatment, but you really don’t need one. I’d suggest to use the treatment alone and see how your skin feels. If you have very dry skin, you can choose to moisturize after.
Besides body acne, what are the other ways in which exfoliating acids are beneficial for the skin?
The exfoliating acids in the product also work to send signals to the fibroblasts in the dermis to boost collagen and encourage cellular turnover. This helps build skin thickness and increase elasticity.
How does the formulation in the Body Treatment differ from the Daily Face Peel Pads, and why did you choose those ingredients?
The Body Treatment is specifically formulated to work on the thicker body skin – it is a more powerful formula that would be too harsh on the face. It combines bromelain, bakuchiol and AHA/BHAs. When selecting these ingredients, we underwent a thorough testing process. When creating a product, the ingredients are important, but the delivery system is equally — if not more — important. You can have great ingredients, but if they can’t penetrate the skin, they are useless.
In this product, lactic acid exfoliates the top layer of skin, allowing easier ingredient penetration. It also stimulates ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help with hydration. The resulting increase in water levels creates a reservoir in skin and acts like a damp sponge, attracting and absorbing ingredients for the best results.
Besides chemical peels, is there anything else those prone to body acne can do to prevent future outbreaks?
Ensure that you are showering regularly, especially if you work out regularly. Blue and red LED are also great to combat breakouts on both the body and face. Blue light kills acne-causing bacteria while red light reduces inflammation.