5 common products that may be causing your back and chest acne

5 common products that may be causing your back and chest acne | AES Blog

Body acne can be just as embarrassing as face acne. If you find yourself avoiding certain clothing or summer events because you want to hide the acne on your chest or back (aka bacne), take a good look at these common everyday products:

1. Scented laundry detergent: Laundry detergents contain fragrances that can clog and aggravate the follicles of acne-prone individuals.  Use a fragrance-free detergent like Tide Free or Arm & Hammer Free instead.

2. Fabric softener: Whether you are using dryer sheets or liquid softener, these products contain a waxy substance that coat your clothes and can clog your pores. Switch to one of the dryer balls on our Acne Safe Household Products Boards instead.

3. Comedogenic hair products: Probably the biggest and least-recognized offender of body acne is actually hair care products.  Whether it is shampoo, conditioner, or styling products, most of them contain comedogenic ingredients and they drip down to our back and chest when we wash our hair.  Common comedogenic ingredients to look out for in hair products include sodium lauryl sulfates, sodium laureth sulfates, coconut oil, and argan oil.  Check out our Acne Safe Hair Care Board for products that contain none of these pore-cloggers.

4. Perfume/Cologne: In addition to containing synthetic fragrances and oils, perfumes contain unknown ingredients that are not required to be clearly listed on packaging. Pair that with the fact that most of us spray perfume on our necks and this can mean unsightly chest pimples.  You can still wear your favorite perfume, just make sure you apply it to your wrists or the back of your arms where our pores are not prone to clog.

5. Body care products: No surprise here, lotions and body washes are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to pore-clogging ingredients.  Check out our Acne Safe Body Care Board and always look out for these common comedogenic products before purchasing body products: safflower oil, cetearyl alcohol & ceteareth 20, coconut oil, avocado oil, and isopropyl myristate.

Pore-Clogging Ingredients List

Is your toothpaste, lip balm, shampoo, hair gel, shaving cream, or makeup acne friendly? If you struggle with breakouts and you don't know the answer to this, you should. Actually, you should even know whether or not your partner's products are acne-friendly if you are prone to breakouts.  Comedogenicity refers to the tendency of an ingredient to clog pores and every product you use that is applied directly to your face or just close to your face can spread and cause breakouts. Forehead breakouts? Check your hair products. Chin and mouth breakouts? Check you and your partner's toothpaste and lip products.  I often tell my clients that learning to determine whether a product is acne friendly or not is one of the most important ways to manage their acne long term. Unfortunately, regulations on cosmetic labeling are relatively loose and companies can label their products "non-comedogenic" whether it is true or not.  Acne sufferers in particular tend to get caught up in marketing traps by purchasing products with meaningless labels like "oil-free" and "deep pore cleansing" that end up making their condition worse.  Just like choosing food at the grocery store, the only way to really know what a product is about is by being your own detective.  Take a screenshot of this list so next time you go to buy a product that touches your face or a body part connected to your face (skincare products, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, makeup, lip products, shaving cream, blush, bronzer, eyebrow pencil, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc), you can the ingredient list.

Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when checking products:

  • If a product contains the world oil in it's name or if an oil is listed in the top 3 ingredients, avoid it.  Fragrance and essential oils are generally okay in minimal amounts so if they are listed towards the end of the ingredient list, they should be okay. That being said, if the product is something that will have contact with your face for long periods of time (like detergent on pillowcases), we recommend avoiding any fragrance at all.
  • Always check the ingredients on the actual product you purchase.  It doesn't matter if you checked the ingredients online or if you have been purchasing a product for 5 years.  Products get reformulated all of the time and nobody sends out a memo to let us know.  It is also common for companies to reformulate a product without updating the ingredient list on their website.  So get in the habit of always checking the ingredient list on the physical package of every product you buy.
  • The frequency and duration that you have a product on or near your face is irrelevant.  If a product contains a pore-clogging ingredient and you are triggered by comedogenic ingredients then remember the four square rule: it only takes one ingredient in one product to touch your face one time for one second to trigger a breakout.