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The Acne Whisperer

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,
I was thinking to myself the other day, “Gee, self, I have a skin conundrum! I wonder who on earth could help me?” And then a lightbulb went off and I zoomed over to advice smackdown and perused the archives, hoping I could
find an answer there. Perhaps I am completely oblivious or illiterate, or maybe the answer just isn’t there. So, I apologize in advance if you have already answered this question.
I am seventeen, and as many people my age suffer from the occasional zit, or severe acne, or blackheads, I myself have a zit issue. Luckily, my face is nearly completely clear and has been for about a year (hopefully I didn’t
just jinx myself) but, recently in the past couple of months, I have been developing odd little zits on my chest. I don’t have a problem with body acne anywhere else, not on my back or shoulders, just these little red zits on my chest.
I always use cetaphil on my chest when I shower, and always shower immediately after exercise, so I don’t think my pores are being clogged from perspiration. It might be hormonal, I really don’t know. Regardless of the cause, it would be great if you could reccomend a product that works to treat this embarassing situation. My senior prom is several short months away, and I would live in my dress if I could, I love it that much. However, it has a plunging neckline and it would be incredible if I could have a smooth chest to go along with it!
Thank you so very much! I love both advice smackdown and your blog!

Ah, the teenage years. Those tumultuous, zitty-ass years.
In high school and college, I too was known to suffer from the occasional renegade zit on a non-face area of my body. Bacne. Shoulderne. Chestne. Whateverne. And I am happy to report that the product that worked for me is still available, even after all these many years. For I am old. And no longer plagued with wayward zits.
(I remain just as big a liar as I ever was, though.)
neutrogena.jpgI’ve always had great success with . I still remember the old commercial for it, with a Party of Five-era Jennifer Love Hewitt clad in a towel talking about “clear skin from head to toe,” and GOD. She annoyed the crap out of me. She was so flipping perky in every commercial and I actually resisted buying the stuff because of her. Luckily, Neutrogena is 100% Hewitt-free these days, and since I’m all old, I’m not that bugged by their new spokesmodels, since I go to bed at 8:30 pm and don’t want The OC.
Cetaphil is a great product, by the way, but it is definitely for DRY SKIN ONLY. Or really, really sensitive skin. Oily skin needs something stronger. And breakout-prone skin needs salicylic acid, the end.
The Neutrogena stuff isn’t an overnight solution (for that you might want to try the Philosophy On a Clear Day Blemish Serum), but with regular use, I’m betting you’ll see a marked improvement. It’s also available as , which I’ve never tried, but it’s apparently an Allure Best of Beauty award winner, for whatever that’s worth. I’m not a fan of scrubs for the face, but for the body? Yeah, scrub away. Fry that chicken, whatever.

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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  • J

    February 9, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Yes! This stuff is great. I use the Body Scrub once a day in the shower and I love it. It really works. The only trick with the Scrub is that you have to store it upside down because the scrub is really thick and won’t come out of the bottle easily otherwise. Another tip is to wash and condition your hair first, and then put your hair up in a ponytail while you use the scrub. Keeping my hair off my skin as much as possible helps me a lot.

  • hanskey

    February 9, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    I would just like to interject one little thing. They do make a Cetaphil for oily skin (the Daily Facial Cleaner). I’m pregnant and the hormones did a number on my skin after the first trimester. I’m not supposed to use salicylic acid (I found out after having used it) b/c it’s made from aspirin. So I tried Cetaphil “oily” and although my skin’s not completely clear (I don’t think it ever will be), it’s definitely better than the pizza-face I was about 2 months ago. The Cetaphil moisturizer is also fabulous!

  • jeana

    February 9, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Alternate title: Can I just get this off my chest?

  • Kookaloomoo

    February 9, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    My Sweet Pea used the scrubby version for her weird post-pregnancy arm/shoulder acne, and it helped trememdously.

  • Stephanie

    February 9, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    I have never tried the Neutrogena body wash…I’m adding it to my shopping list. I will need it this summer when I get my crazy body breakout! I usually just scrub the heck out of my skin and pay for it later. Thanks for the great advice!

  • Amy Corbett Storch

    Amy Corbett Storch

    February 10, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Obviously everybody should listen to their own doctor regarding what’s safe and what’s not…but just to throw it out there: my doc said the salicylic acid thing is mostly regarding harsh facial peels and oral versions — a topical gel or body wash used once or twice a day is considered perfectly safe. But again, your doctor’s call.

  • kaitkait

    February 10, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    I love this stuff — but it’s been out of stock at all of the drugstores I frequent lately… I was kind of worried that they’d stopped making it!
    Plus: it smells so. freaking. good. Way better than the facewash, which I use in emergencies — it’s the same formula, but it has a different scent for some reason.

  • JennyM

    February 12, 2007 at 9:25 am

    I had a problem with this my first year in college, and what worked for me was a wash with tea tree oil. Gentle cleansers weren’t strong enough to do the job, but I had a … poor reaction, let’s say … to some of the harsher cleansers that had salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, etc.
    I was not seeing a dermatologist at the time, but my roommate was, and her doctor had mentioned tea tree oil products to her, and she passed the info on to me. I figured nothing else was working, so I gave it a shot. And it worked!
    Don’t be mislead by the “oil” — depending upon the product you buy, there’s nothing greasy or oily about it, and it smells good. Kind of fruitily medicinal, without smelling like a hospital, if that makes any sense. I understand it’s been proven good for all sorts of stuff besides acne — dandruff, I think, and other skin issues — due to its antiseptic properties.
    It can be bought it its pure form, but there are also a lot of products out there that incorporate it, if you do some searching. The one I used (over ten years ago! Jebus!) was from The Body Shop, I think. (I seem to remember it was something like this, though as I say it was over ten years ago.) I would say just to investigate the ingredients of whatever you end up with, especially if it’s from someplace foofy, to make sure there aren’t other ingredients, like perfumes and things, that could irritate the skin.
    Anyway, my experience made me a firm believer in the stuff.

  • julie

    February 12, 2007 at 11:52 am

    What was the You Tube video?
    They took it down, and I cannot survive another second until I KNOW WHAT IT WAS!!!!!
    ok breathe julie.

  • Amy Corbett Storch

    Amy Corbett Storch

    February 13, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    WTF YouTube? The recent yanking of videos is OUT OF CONTROL.
    It was a Jennifer Love Hewitt Neutrogena commerical from SEVEN YEARS AGO.
    Jeez. You’d think they’d be okay with people watching their commercials without having to pay for a time slot, right?