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All-Natural Ways To Get Adult Body Acne Under Control

If you're prone to get pimples on your shoulders, back or chest, these natural remedies may help.

Beauty & Fashion

If there are two things that I thought would slow down once I hit 45, it was menstrual cycles and body acne. But nope—my periods still run like clockwork and, it's fairly common for me to get a couple of zits on my back and shoulders once a month. Well, it's common if I'm not proactive in taking measures to make sure that I don't experience any breakouts.


I must admit that eating less dairy, getting more rest and washing with sulfur soap have done wonders to keep pimples at bay. But there are a few other all-natural intricate things that I've added to my skincare regimen that has definitely made it more difficult for acne—and the scars that they typically leave behind—to pop up on any part of my body.

If you've got body acne bouts that have been getting on your very last nerve, here's what you should definitely try out.

1. Make Your Own Soap

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Black soap. Sulfur soap. Off top, those are two soaps that I can definitely vouch for when it comes to gently-yet-effectively treating body acne. But something else that I'm a fan of is making my own soap, because I can customize what works for me and what doesn't. An herbal soap recipe that will definitely give your breakouts a run for their money is a soap that contains neem, palm, tea tree and peppermint essential oils.

You can get the recipe here. Just make sure to moisturize your skin after using it with something like shea butter, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil or pure Aloe Vera gel to reduce any risk of inflammation. It's a great recipe but it is also a pretty potent one.

2. Apply an Apple Cider Vinegar Spritz

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It really is another article for another time, all of the things that apple cider vinegar can do; one of them is kill the bacteria that causes acne. It's able to do that because of all of the acids that are in it—acetic, citric, lactic and succinic acid. The key is to use the kind of apple cider vinegar that has the mother in it (like Braggs) and dilute it with water (because it's very strong!). Do this by mixing one-part vinegar with three-parts water. I think it's best to put it in a spritz bottle; that way, you can spray it directly onto your skin.

Just make sure to close your eyes when you do (vinegar can burn) and that you do it 30 minutes for going out. That will give the stench of the vinegar time to go away.

3. Heal Scars with Frankincense Essential Oil

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I think the thing that I hate the most about body acne is, no matter how well I treat it, some sort of mark is going to be left behind. Ugh. Just ugh. I will say that my skin heals pretty quickly (scars fade within three weeks or so), but that doesn't mean that a well-placed acne scar doesn't sometimes dictate what I will or will not wear.

If that is your dilemma, frankincense oil has got your back (pun intended). Personally, I like the scent of the combination of frankincense and myrrh, so I definitely have no problem applying this to my skin in order to treat acne scars. Matter of fact, I recommend applying the combo. Myrrh will help to detox your skin, and frankincense is able to soften up scar tissue so that it is less obvious. Something else that is cool about frankincense oil is it contains anti-inflammatory properties, is able to increase the growth of new skin cells and it contains a property called farnesol that will improve your skin's elasticity too.

4. Nix Foods That Have a High Glycemic Index (GI) and a High Glycemic Load (GL)

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There is a whole science behind this part of the conversation, but probably the best way to put it is there are certain kinds of foods that kick our sebum production (a natural oil in our system and can sometimes clog our pores and cause acne) into overdrive. More sebum, more clogged pores. More clogged pores, more acne.

What kind of foods make the list? Sweet cereals, instant cereals, all-things-white (white pasta, white rice, white bread, white potatoes, etc.) and all-things-dairy too. Also, foods that you are sensitive to that can lead to inflammation should be avoided, along with whey protein and dried fruit because they trigger your insulin levels which can also cause acne.

5. Take Some Milk Thistle

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Ever since I was in my 20s, I've had relatives who wanted me to add the supplement milk thistle to my diet. I didn't listen, but I should have because it really has done wonders for the quality of my health. Milk thistle is a flowering plant that is located in Mediterranean countries. For years, people have used it to treat jaundice, hepatitis, reduce cholesterol and insulin resistance, boost immunity and even stop the spread of certain types of cancer.

I use it because it also has a great reputation for detoxifying the liver and promoting skin health. It makes sense how the two work hand in hand because, the less toxins that are in your body, the less acne that tends to pop up. (Milk thistle also contains antioxidant and anti-aging properties as well.)

6. Drink Some Kefir

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Kefir is fermented milk; it's kind of like buttermilk. So yeah, it's not necessarily the best-tasting thing in the world. And before you even say that you'll bypass its taste by eating yogurt instead, here's the thing about that—yogurt is fermented bacteria while kefir is fermented bacteria and yeast. Because it contains both, drinking kefir on a consistent basis will keep your blood sugar under control, keep your gut health on track, make you less lactose intolerant, help to heal vaginal and yeast infections and also reduce your breakouts.

On the breakout tip, it does that by healing your stomach and your skin with the probiotic lactoferrin. It works so well that one study reveals that drinking a glass of kefir, on a daily basis, can reduce acne lesions by as much as 39 percent (over a four-month period).

7. Dry Brush (or Use Exfoliating Gloves)

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Clogged pores are what lead to breakouts, and one of the main causes of pore blockage are dead skin cells. Since our skin sheds a whopping 30,000 cells a day, due to the sebum and dirt that also sticks to our skin, it's important to exfoliate it too. You can do this by dry brushing (which is also an effective way to reduce the appearance of cellulite) or by putting on those cute exfoliating gloves that you should even be able to find at your local grocery store. Both of these will loosen up the dead skin on your body so that the cells will wash off instead of clogging up your pores.

8. Try Some Cinnamon

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There really isn't too much that cinnamon isn't good for. It fights heart disease, reduces inflammation, decreases menstrual discomfort, fights infections and viruses, helps to prevent candida and yep, it's also really good for your skin. Due to the powerful antibiotic and antimicrobial properties found in cinnamon powder and oil (especially if you mix it with a little bit of raw honey), cinnamon can keep rashes, skin allergies and also acne at bay.

The reason why it works so well in the acne department is because it contains properties that are able to kill the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes. Just make a paste out of cinnamon and water or cinnamon water and honey. Apply it directly onto your pimples (it's best if they aren't ones that you have popped; cinnamon is strong and could irritate those), and let the paste sit for 15 minutes. If you do this three times a week, you should see a significant difference within seven days or so.

9. Take Off Your Bra When You Get Home

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For the most part, I work from home. Because I wear anywhere from a GG to an H bra (depending on where I buy it), this means that I usually don't have a bra on. This also means that whenever I go out and put one on, there is a part of me that can't wait to get back home, just to take that bad boy off.

Sometimes, depending on what the weather is like outside, I will notice a pimple or two, right in the spots that my bra was covering. I know what's causing it—sweat and my skin's inability to breathe as much as it would like to. This is why it's important to wash your bras (every couple of weeks is fine) using a detergent that has as few chemicals as possible. It's also a good idea to get professionally fitted for a bra on an annual basis (because your shoulder straps should not be digging into your skin, which could also potentially lead to breakouts). And yes, so that your skin can feel free again, take your bra off as soon as you walk through your front door. (Spraying a little witch hazel onto your shoulders and back can't hurt either!)

10. Change Your Sheets Regularly

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I'm hoping that you change your bedding every week, just like your mama made you do back when you were little. But if you do happen to skimp on that sometimes, here's a blaring reminder of how important it is to do. 6-8 hours of your life, every night, is spent in bed. This means that some of the dead skin cell shedding that we talked about earlier? Yeah, it happens, right in the midst of you catching some much needed zzz's. By changing your sheets, it helps to keep the cells from clinging to your pores. If you sleep naked, that's even better, because you won't sweat as much; that will reduce your chances for back and shoulder breakouts even more. Sweet dreams!

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

What Your Breakouts Could Be Telling You About Your Health

7 Natural Remedies For Hormonal Acne

6 Ways To Unclog Your Pores & Minimize Breakouts

This Is Why Your Skincare Routine Isn't Working

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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