Two Biggest skincare concern: Acne and Back Acne

Do any of you experience back acne, ‘bacne’? Soul Story decided to tackle one of the biggest skincare concerns, acne and specifically back acne. Here is what we learned about the possible causes, prevention and solutions for bacne.  

Back Acne 

Whiteheads, blackheads and acne on the back are quite common, and difficult to see from the mirror.  During hot and rainy seasons, it’s natural to produce more sweat throughout the day and inevitably, bacne is a common side effect.  It becomes a problem when whiteheads, blackheads and pimples spread to an area of your back or worse, they become inflamed, pus-filled acne cysts.  You can tell when they become cysts by the size and when it feels tender to painful. Cystic acne happens when this infection goes deep into your skin, creating a red colour full of pus.  Some times, it may even feel itchy and mistaken as a bug bite. If the pus-filled cyst bursts, the infection can spread, causing more breakouts. It’s important to understand how acne appears on our backs to prevent and treat it.  

Back Acne Prevention Tip: Rinse your shampoo and conditioner off your back after you wash your hair.

Causes of Bacne 

Your Sweat: When you sweat while you’re wearing tight and damp clothing, your pimples can get worse.  

Types of Skincare Products: Abrasive body and face washes include harsh detergents such as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate (SLS & SLES).  “Sulfates can form a film on the skin and definitely contribute to skin clogging,” explains Dr. Michele Farber, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, USA.  Other culprits include alcohol ingredients that dry out your skin, causing skin irritation that may lead to acne.   

Avoid cleansing products that have fragrances, even products labeled ‘unscented’ means they use chemicals to mask the scent.  Synthetic fragrances are created with multiple chemicals and ingredients and during acne breakouts on your face or other parts of your body, it’s best to avoid body and face washes with fragrances.  

To avoid stripping natural skin oil and changing your skin pH levels that lead to acne breakouts, try Soul Story pH balanced Purifying Cleansing Foam even for your back.

Health Related

Genetics: Acne problems can also run in the your family. 

A study of almost 27,000 people, including 5,602 with severe acne, identified genetic differences that were more common in people with the skin condition. Scientists found that many of the genetic variants influenced the formation of hair follicles, which was previously an unknown risk factor for the condition. The researchers think that differences in the shape of hair follicles may make some people’s skin more prone to harbour bacteria, creating the conditions for breakouts.  Source: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre

Hormones: Changes in your hormones often cause pimples.  When levels of hormones in the blood rise, it produces excess oil.  The combination of dead skin cells and excess oil clogs pores resulting in whiteheads and blackheads.   

Certain Types of Medication: one of the side effects from certain types of medication is acne breakouts.  

One of the side effects from certain types of medication is acne breakouts.

For Example, quinine is prescribed as a precaution against or treatment for malaria.  One of the side effects from using quinine is acne outbreaks, but not with everyone. Corticosteroids such as Prednisone are often used to treat asthma and other chronic lung diseases.  Corticosteroids can stimulate the body to produce sebum which may lead to acne breakouts. Source:

Lifestyle Related

Your Diet: Androgens and insulin both stimulate your skin, causing acne.  

The American Academy of Dermatologists, points to studies showing that certain carbohydrates, including white bread and potato chips, increase blood sugar levels, which is a potential trigger for breakouts.

Both dairy and sugar cause spikes in certain pimple producing hormones. Source: Dr. Hyman

Acne Prevention Tip: Androgens and insulin both stimulate your skin, causing acne.

Other foods, such as chocolate, deep fried and fast foods can cause acne.  It’s best to avoid these types of foods in your diet until your acne breakout is under control.  

High Stress Level: Not managing your stress levels can be a contributing factor (but not direct cause).  During periods when under a lot of stress, we tend to have disruptive sleep and feel more vulnerable to make poor food choices.  Overall, we take less care of ourselves, which can lead to acne breakouts on the face and back. 


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Ways to prevent acne and bacne:

Here are some healthy habits to help reduce your risk of back acne breakouts:  

Skincare Related:

  • Avoid using skincare products that are abrasive or harsh that irritate your skin.  Try Soul Story pH balanced Purifying Cleansing Foam for your face and back.   
  • Rinse your shampoo and conditioner off your back after you wash your hair.  Since hair products also contain chemicals such as silicone that can promote absorption, it can be a culprit for your acne-prone skin. Source: Dr. Michele Farber, Dermatologist
  • Bypass exfoliating or scrubbing the acne affected area until it is healed.   
  • Shower after your workouts or after sweating.  If you are unable to shower right away, use oil-free wipes and gently wipe off your sweaty skin.
  • Avoid picking, popping, or squeezing acne since it may cause other acne around the affected area.  
  • Avoid washing too much as it dries out your skin that  can lead to skin irritation and acne outbreaks. 

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Keep it Clean:

  • Break the habit of touching your skin with dirty hands.  Avoid carrying backpacks for long periods of time, as it does not allow your skin to breathe.  The friction from a heavy backpack can cause excess skin cells and bacteria to work their way down to your pores. 
  • Change out of your sweaty clothes and wash them after each use. 
  • Skip wearing tight clothes made from synthetic fabrics that do not allow your skin to breathe.  For example, if you’re working out, wear loose-fitting clothes made out of cotton or clothes that absorb sweat, such as sweat-wicking fabric. 
  • Keep your fingernails short until the acne outbreak is under control. Long fingernails can harbour more dirt and bacteria and may contribute to the spread of infection. Source: Center for Disease Control
  • Change your bed sheets weekly and your pillow cases twice a week.  Since dead skin cells and bacteria build up on our bed sheets, it is essential to change them frequently to help clear your back acne.  If you notice that your skin feels itchy from fresh bed sheets and pillow cases, use fragrance-free detergents and fabric softeners. Alternatively, use gentle laundry detergents.    

Other Important Preventive Measures:

  • Avoid using oil based sunscreens.  Even while experiencing back acne, it is essential to apply oil-free sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. If you do not apply oil-free sunscreens, your acne will darken and may last longer. Try Soul Story’s oil-free Sun Warrior Sunscreen
  • Keep your hair off your back: long hair may be adding oil and dirt to your back, causing pimples.  If you’re working out or you are out and about during warmer seasons, tie your hair up. When you go to bed, make sure you put your back over your pillow rather than sleeping on it to avoid oil and dirt rubbing against the skin on your back. 

When entering into adulthood, some of you may have thought you would be free from acne.  Sadly bacterial overgrowth and other contributing factors listed above can be the major culprits to bacne. Try some preventive measures by following a healthy skincare regimen to help clear back acne and minimize the risk of future breakouts.  

If your back acne does not improve in six to eight weeks, you may want to see a dermatologist for help.   


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Vivian Story

Soul Story is a bespoke Korean skincare brand founded by Korean-Canadian entrepreneur, Vivian Ke Story. She splits her time in Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, and Seoul where she works with Korean dermatologists and skincare specialists to formulate and select ingredients. Each product is formulated to help with sensitive skin, eliminate dullness, dryness, clogged pores and poor skin texture.

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