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Bacne, Shmacne

By Amalah

Dear High Priestess of Beauty & Skincare Amalah,
After recently discovering you and soaking up your advice like a sponge, I have recently switched from using the Proactive skincare system to using Philosophy Purity Made Simple for cleansing, thus drastically reducing the number of skincare products I am using. My face is perfectly happy. The skin in my decolletage region, however, is not (yes, I know – EW!).
My chest is suddenly covered in little red bumps. Back in the pre-Proactiv days, this was a problem, but I was able to successfully deal with it. Neutrogena’s All Clear Body line used to include a lotion that took care of the chest bumpys in a flash and kept them at bay. For reasons I cannot fathom, the Neutrogena people no longer make the moisturizer, only the All Clear Body Wash and All Clear Body Scrub. In the past few days I have started using the Body Wash on my chest in the shower, and today bought a Neutrogena anti-acne moisturizer to try on my chest… But now I must whine because these products aren’t making the chest bumpys go away as quickly as the old moisturizer did!
I really don’t want to go back to the Proactiv stuff (since it has the tendency to bleach stuff), especially since the skin on my face is so happy right now. What do you recommend? And is there anything that will give me speedy-quick results? I’m supposed to wear a dress with a low-cut neckline Saturday evening! And no, I haven’t waited until the last minute to come forth with my pleas for advice – this problem only presented itself Monday night!
Most graciously yours,

One first-ish little sidenote for everyone who has ever loved and lost a discontinued beauty product: eBay. Stuff reappears there an awful lot, whenever people get their hands on the remaining stock or a beauty supply store goes under.
As for body-acne alternatives: I really encourage you to stick with the Body Clear Body Wash. It’s a salicylic acid product, and certainly isn’t going to pack the same punch as a benzoyl peroxide treatment like Proactiv, but it won’t be as harsh or staining. (And when you’re dealing with skin that touches your clothes, I’d say benzoyl peroxide should definitely be your last resort.) Give it another week or so, and if you’re still having body acne problems, well…uh…continue reading. Otherwise, stop reading now! Turn back!
(I know I’m already way too late for the low-cut neckline dress deadline…but you gotta cut me some slack there. I answer two to three questions a week but get about five to 10 new questions EVERY DAY. So allow me to repeat my old Smackdown caveat once again: if your hair is on fire, please seek advice from a more timely source.)
The red bumpies you suffer from could be cystic acne, which is commonly found on the body (back, check, butt, etc.). You might want to see a dermatologist about a prescription treatment like Accutane, honestly. Especially since it’s something you’ve suffered from for a long time. Otherwise, you will need to find a benzoyl peroxide or alpha hydrox (glycolic acid) product.
Check out the treatment plan for back acne at
, which includes both a alpha hydroxy treatment AND benzoyl peroxide. That’s crazy harsh, but if you are moisturizing afterwards your skin can probably take it. Again, I’d give the Neutrogena stuff a little more time, and even then work up to the plan gradually — maybe just the benzoyl will be enough. If not, add the glycolic.
Good benzoyl peroxide products include: , , Clearasil.
clearday.jpgGlycolic acid is one of the active ingredients in the Philosophy On a Clear Day Blemish Serum (reviewed here), along with salicylic acid. Which is probably why it works so unbelievably well (but only if you moisturize really well afterwards). Still love it, and after an especially sweaty trip to Texas, I can testify firsthand to its effectiveness on shoulder acne. (EW.)
Oh, and if you DO step up to either of these treatments, STOP using the Neutrogena wash. You’ll need to use something very gentle first: like the Philosophy Purity Made Simple or maybe just Cetaphil. Then moisturize. Moisturize! Acne treatments make your skin icky and flaky, so…yes. Moisturize. Would be the word. That I want. Uh-huh.
(Can anyone recommend a good beauty product thesaurus, or something?)

Published March 30, 2007. Last updated March 30, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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