Of all my delightful physical imperfections, I’ve never had to deal with bacne — that is, breakouts of cystic blemishes on the back caused by sweat, hair conditioner, the thoroughness of shower rinses, or just plain genetics. Then I got pregnant. Constellations of angry, red marks started creeping across my shoulders, down my spine, and up my neck. At first, I took it in stride, mostly because treating bacne isn’t so easy and all signs suggested the breakout would resolve in nine months, max.
But after catching a post-shower glimpse of my fiery back that actually took my breath away (and being struck by a lightning bolt vision of a body-acne story I’d once reported), I attempted to take action with (face) acne treatments I had on hand. But here’s the rub: Topical creams with benzoyl peroxide bleach clothing. And dabbing every single pustule with salicylic acid from a tube the size of a cornichon is both impossible and demoralizing. There are medicated in-shower body washes, which can be effective — but really only for the few minutes before you rinse them down the drain.
A dermatologist pal had recommended AcneFree Body Clearing Spray, a utilitarian aerosol can that pairs 2 percent salicylic acid with glycolic acid, another effective exfoliant, along with antibacterial witch hazel and soothing botanicals like chamomile and aloe vera. It’s a continuous spray, like sunscreen, that I can hold at any angle to dispense a mist so impeccably fine and dispersed, I hold my breath while applying it for one or two sweeping passes across the back — any more and the solution will drip — and allow it to dry for a few minutes before getting dressed.
My bacne cleared up nearly overnight. After about four days, crimson welts had subsided entirely, faded to a barely there blush, or had started healing. Within a week, I felt comfortable wearing a low-backed tank. I’ve since evangelically recommended the product to my trainer, my boyfriend’s brother, and a 22-year-old I work with. Plenty of us (pregnant or not) could use a surefire cure for body acne.
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