While there is an abundance of products to keep your face acne-free, there aren’t as many that target your other body parts where unseemly pimples can pop up. To make matters worse, these spots are often hard to reach. Fortunately, body acne sprays are now readily available on the market to cover larger and harder-to-reach areas, like your back or upper arms.
These sprays contain active ingredients to treat acne and they absorb quickly into your skin. Keep reading to learn more about these products, including our top three recommendations, which you'll find at the end. Our favorite is the TreeActiv Acne-Eliminating Body Spray, which features a soothing formula that is gentle enough for sensitive skin.
Considerations when choosing acne body sprays
Often, body acne covers an area of several inches rather than a single spot. Unlike acne spot treatments which are cream- or ointment-based, a body spray allows for fuller coverage. Many bottles feature nozzles that can operate upside-down or sideways, which allows you to reach your back.
Acne body sprays are non-greasy and quickly absorb into the skin. They dry clear in as little as five minutes unlike creams and ointments that can take up to half an hour to dry. Sprays are ideal for a busy lifestyle and can be used at the gym or in the locker room.
The skin on your face and the skin on your body aren’t the same. Your body’s dermis is thicker and more resilient, which means a stronger concentration of active ingredients is required than in facial formulas.
Salicylic acid: A beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid penetrates and exfoliates the skin to remove dead skin cells that clog your pores and cause breakouts. It's one of the most popular and effective over-the-counter ingredients to reduce acne and clear skin. It also helps control inflammation associated with acne, like redness and swelling.
Benzoyl peroxide: If salicylic acid causes irritation to your skin, try a body spray featuring benzoyl peroxide. This gentle antiseptic is effective at controlling the acne-causing
bacteria on your skin. It also removes pore-clogging dead skin cells by drying them out and causing your skin to peel.
Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that deeply penetrates and exfoliates the skin to clear buildup that clogs your pores. While not as effective at reducing inflammation as salicylic acid, glycolic acid does boast anti-aging benefits and results in firmer, more supple skin.
Tea tree oil: If you're looking for a more natural way to treat your body acne, many sprays feature tea tree oil. Don't be fooled that natural means less effective — tea tree oil is a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. It reduces both acne and acne scars, and treats redness caused by inflammation. If you have sensitive skin, tea tree oil is preferable to other active ingredients, but pick a spray with low concentrations of it.
Peppermint oil: Peppermint oil is sometimes added to formulas for its refreshing scent. It also touts antiseptic and anti-inflammatory benefits to help control acne-causing bacteria and reduce redness and swelling associated with inflamed pores. For sensitive skin, however, the pleasant tingling sensation of peppermint oil may feel more like burning.
Aloe vera: While aloe vera doesn't actually reduce acne, this natural ingredient is added to some sprays to soothe irritated skin. It can also help with hyperpigmentation related to inflammation.
Alcohol: Many acne body sprays contain alcohol, which is responsible for their quick drying time. For some users, alcohol can reduce acne by drying up the dead skin cells that clog pores. For others, this ingredient causes redness and irritation. If you have sensitive skin, opt for an alcohol-free body spray.
Witch hazel: Witch hazel is a natural alternative to alcohol and a powerful astringent that dries out blemishes. It has been used as a traditional remedy to treat inflammation and irritations of the skin, including acne. It's particularly effective on acne related to razor burn.
Acne body sprays range in price from $12 to $60 for a three- to eight-ounce bottle. For better-quality ingredients, expect to pay between $20 and $40 a bottle.
Q. How do I use an acne body spray?
A. As always, follow the directions on the label. It's best to use an acne body spray on cleansed and dried skin. Start with once a day or once every other day if you have sensitive skin, and increase to twice or even three times a day. Some sprays peel your skin in the first few weeks of use, but if painful irritation occurs, decrease use.
Q. How long do acne body sprays take to work?
A. Acne body sprays can take up to a month of daily use to see results. If you're not noticing a difference in the reduction of acne after several weeks, try a different spray or consult your dermatologist about switching to a prescription-strength spray.
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