What Is a Back Facial and Is It Right for You

woman getting having a back facial done

Most people think of acne as a facial condition although you probably already know you can also get pimples on your back. Known as “bacne,” these pimples on your back are the result of sweat, oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria becoming trapped in your pores. The most common reasons are frequent use of backpacks and sports equipment and even sweaty shirts as these create friction on your back and promote pore-clogging.

The best method of prevention against acne is to keep your skin clean and free of oil and debris. You can choose one of the many treatments out there to try to counteract it. For instance, did you know there’s such a thing as a back facial?

What's a Back Facial

A back facial is a skin treatment specifically formulated for the acne-prone skin of your back and some spas refer to it as a "Bacial." The techniques used in a back facial are similar to those used in facials and the goal is to clear and smooth the skin on your back through deep hydration. A back facial is suitable for any gender. They are available in a wide range of formulations that target specific problems such as clogged pores and acne and are available for all skin types.

As you know, it’s difficult to apply lotion to your own back and this is one of the reasons why most of us have trouble maintaining a skin care regimen for this part of our body. Indeed, most can keep it sort of clean and reduce clogged pores and other skin problems with the help of a back scrubber and other shower and bath tools. However, it isn’t easy to moisturize your back and to treat dry skin and other irritating, and often unsightly conditions. Which is why you might want to consider getting a back facial!

While the thought of having a back facial may sound a bit silly, this spa treatment is perfect for anyone who spends a lot of time at the beach or who just likes to wear low-back clothing. The result is a healthy, radiant back.

woman getting her back exfoliated

The Back Facial Procedure

Typically, a back facial treatment begins with a deep steaming to open the pores and soften your skin. The aesthetician uses a scrub to remove dead skin from the back and unclog pores. After the steaming and exfoliation, they proceed to cover your back with a rich moisturizing mask. Some aestheticians also perform a massage as part of a back facial to release tension in your back.

You can choose from chemical peels or dermabrasion as part of your back facial, depending on the skin problems you may be experiencing. An experienced aesthetician can help you address specific concerns and should be able to recommend the most appropriate type of back facial for you. They should also be able to describe the ingredients they’ll use in your back facial and explain what each one of them is for. Be sure to inform them about any allergies you might have beforehand. Let’s look at each step of the back facial in more detail.

1. Hygienization and Physical Exfoliation of the Back

A back facial begins with a gentle nourishing exfoliation to cleanse but also to protect and provide a feeling of comfort while applying ozone steam to open the pores. The technician then spreads the product with an ultra-soft brush. (This step of the back facial helps remove dead skin cells from the top layer of skin and prepares it to better absorb the moisturizers.) Then, the technician proceeds to removing the exfoliating substance with a warm damp towel.

2. Extraction, Microdermabrasion, and High Frequency

Okay, so now that the skin is prepped and the pores open, the next step of your back facial is to extract and empty any blackheads you might have. The aesthetician will either perform dermabrasion with a diamond tip or do a chemical exfoliation to deep clean and extract the remaining dead cells while gently and gradually polishing the exposed skin layers.

After the extraction, the technician will continue your back facial by applying high frequency, a type of technology that consists of an electric current and ozone gas with bactericidal power to disinfect your skin surface. It also unclogs pores and reduces inflammation, regenerates tissues, and prevents acne outbreaks. The technician then seals the skin with thermal spring water to keep it moisturized.

3. Purifying and Moisturizing Mask

For the last step of your back facial, the aesthetician applies a purifying mask containing nourishing, regenerating, and moisturizing minerals and vitamins. A warm towel is applied over the purifying mask and stays on your skin for about 15 minutes to allow these active ingredients to penetrate your skin.

Then, the technician completes the back facial by applying a tonic and a moisturizing lotion through a massage that promotes blood circulation. The result is soft, clean skin.

You will need a back facial every two to three months, depending on your needs, if you want to improve and maintain the results. The length of a back facial varies from person to person, and it depends on your needs as well as on the treatments you select. Furthermore, pregnant women may have difficulty undergoing a back facial as they must lie on their sides instead of resting on their stomachs. Thus, a back facial might not be suitable if you are pregnant.

woman getting having a back facial done

Other Treatments for Back Acne

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the USA and consists of blackheads, whiteheads, and pus-filled spots commonly known as pimples. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40 to 50 million Americans will have acne at some point in their lives.

People tend to connect acne to teenagers as it usually starts in puberty and most people experience it during this time. Then, it usually goes away on its own during the early 20s — although it might linger into your late 20s and even 30s.

Its severity can vary, and some people get just a few spots while others experience larger clusters. Acne can appear on the face, neck, and chest but also on the back and there are usually dark spots and permanent scars left behind as it heals.

As with most types of acne, the main characteristics of back acne are oily skin, blackheads, whiteheads, redheads, yellow pus-filled pimples, and scars. People who are prone to it usually have oil-producing glands that are particularly sensitive to certain hormones. Following, are some alternative treatments to a back facial for treating your bacne.



estetician cleaning a woman's back manually

Topical creams

Back acne can affect anyone, and most treatments involve applying topical medications directly to the skin. These are usually the first choice for treating mild to moderate cases of acne and the continued use of over-the-counter medications will help prevent such mild breakouts after the original problem clears.

In turn, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a product containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. There are many products on the market available for this purpose. One thing to note about topical creams is that you should apply them twice a day to the entire affected area of your back, not just where there are breakouts. This kind of treatment will usually clear your skin in four to eight weeks.


A doctor or health care professional may prescribe oral, in addition to topical medications if you have severe acne, don't have home care strategies, or OTC treatments have not helped — especially if your acne is severe. For example, antibiotics can kill bacteria and reduce inflammation and you’ll need to use them together for two to six months. They may also suggest prescription-strength topical products like retinoids, benzoyl peroxide products, and antibiotic creams.

They may also prescribe oral antibiotics like doxycycline and erythromycin as these can reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. A dermatologist will usually recommend the shortest possible dosage because overuse could lead to antibiotic resistance. Also, antibiotics will kill bad bacteria but also your gut bacteria.

Similarly, birth control pills and other medications impact your hormones and can reduce the amount of oil your skin produces. Oral contraceptives will reduce the amount of oil your skin produces when your acne is linked to your menstrual cycle and this treatment usually lasts about three to four months. One thing to note is this kind of medication disrupts ovulation and may not be suitable for teens.

Another type of hormonal therapy is the use of antiandrogens, medications that suppress testosterone, such as cyproterone acetate and ethinylestradiol or spironolactone. Dermatologists may consider these for females who don’t respond to oral contraceptives or have polycystic ovary syndrome.

Another common treatment is isotretinoin, a powerful drug that treats all four causes of acne: excessive oil, inflammation, clogged pores, and bacteria. It’s effective in about 85 percent of people and they experience a permanent clearing of acne for up to two years after treatment. However, it can cause severe side effects, such as suicidal thoughts, aggression, difficulty moving the limbs, and a serious skin rash.

It can also impair fetal development so it isn’t suitable for women who are pregnant or planning to be pregnant. A doctor may order blood tests before prescribing this drug and continue to monitor a patient under this treatment. Isotretinoin can also cause dry skin, particularly around the lips, and can also lead to joint pain due to dryness and reduction of joint lubricant. There’s also concern that it may cause depression and suicidal feelings. So a medication-free back facial might be a better first choice in addressing bacne.


woman holding pills to prevent acne

Light, Laser, and Chemical Procedures

A dermatologist may also use procedures such as laser treatments to reduce the appearance of lesions that leave noticeable scars. Laser resurfacing and other types of light therapy can reduce the levels of bacteria in your skin but there’s limited evidence to support the effectiveness of this approach.

Still, light therapy is a common treatment that may be recommended by a dermatologist and consists of exposing your skin to a special type of light during regular sessions for a set period. There are various types. The first consists of red, blue, and infrared light and is great for treating pimples but won’t do much for whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, or nodules.

The second type, photopneumatic therapy, is good for unclogging pores and treating whiteheads and blackheads. It doesn’t do much for cysts, though. Then there’s photodynamic therapy, which can successfully treat severe acne but it’s expensive. There are some at-home light therapy devices for this purpose but the light isn’t as intense as that used by dermatologists.

These professionals may also recommend micro-needling and chemical peels to treat blackheads and papules. They may also recommend drainage and removal, a procedure to remove large acne cysts that don’t respond to medication. It helps relieve pain but might lead to scarring. So, a non-invasive procedure, like a back facial is highly recommended!




Taking a shower after sweating and washing with mild cleansers may help reduce the risk of back acne breakouts. In addition, consider wearing loose-fitting clothing, especially during a heavy workout, as tight-fitting exercise clothing traps sweat on the skin of the back. Thus, it blocks pores and contributes to flare-ups.

Furthermore, wash after sweating with a mild non-abrasive cleanser, using your fingertips, and avoid any products that might irritate your skin. Don’t rub the affected areas, and don’t pop, pick or squeeze your pimples as this can cause them to spread and scar. Also, stay out of the sun and avoid tanning beds as these increase your chances of acne. However, if you end up with bacne and it doesn't respond to any of the preceding options, you should consider a back facial!


woman washing her back in the shower

What Exactly is Back Acne?

Your glands produce excess oil when hormone levels in the blood increase. At the same time, dead skin cells that don’t disappear properly clog the follicles. The combination of these processes leads to oil accumulation and causes various lesions. The most common are blackheads, open bumps with a dark dot in their center. These look as if there’s dirt inside but the dark spot is just an irregular light reflection off the clogged follicle.

Furthermore, whiteheads are bumps with a white center that remain closed by oil and dead skin. In turn, papules are small red inflamed bumps with no distinct “head” while pustules are the common pimples containing pus. They look like whiteheads surrounded by red rings and can cause scarring if you pick or scratch them. Cysts are pus-filled pimples that are painful or tender and resemble boils. These are the most severe form of acne and often leave scars.

Moreover, nodules are large solid pimples that are deep in your skin and are often painful. Then there’s fungal acne, also known as Pityrosporum folliculitis. It occurs when an excess of yeast develops in the hair follicles and becomes itchy and inflamed.

You may not be aware of it but we all have Propionibacterium acnes bacteria living on our skin. It goes unnoticed by many as it doesn’t cause them any problems. However, the accumulation of oil on the skin in acne-prone people creates the perfect environment for this kind of bacteria to multiply. This, in turn, causes inflammation and the formation of pus-filled or red spots.

The back has a high density of sebaceous glands, just like the chest and face, and these produce sebum, a waxy substance that keeps the skin healthy. These sebaceous glands are attached to the hair follicles and sebum or dead skin cells often clog them. This blockage leads to inflammation when bacteria become trapped in the pore and, an acne lesion is born.


photo of woman's abck filled with acne

Malassezia, a type of yeast, tends to overgrow in humid, sweaty environments, and can also cause lesions that are similar to those of acne. Your back is an ideal environment for it as it’s often covered by clothing, backpacks, slings, etc. When this yeast gets into your hair follicles, it often causes the fungal condition we mentioned above: Pityrosporum folliculitis. You might have it if antibacterial treatments haven’t worked for your back acne.

According to the British Dermatological Association, there’s no conclusive evidence that certain foods like chocolate or peanuts can cause acne; although, many people report breakouts right after eating particular foods. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology indicates that certain carbohydrates, including white bread and potato chips, can increase blood sugar levels and potentially trigger acne.


Most people experience acne during adolescence and it usually resolves on its own or with the use of available treatments that minimize breakouts. Acne can cause permanent scarring, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety if left untreated. Large tender cysts might develop on the back and these may burst or heal without rupturing. Note that the skin affected by acne may be tender to the touch, feel hot or cause pain.

Furthermore, the severity of bacne can vary but just how severe can it get? Well, grade 1 or moderate acne usually consists of a few spots and may include whiteheads, blackheads, and whiteheads. Grade 2, moderate, or pustular acne, consists of multiple papules and pustules, mostly on your face.

In turn, grade 3, which is moderately severe, or nodulocystic, consists of numerous papules and pustules, along with occasionally inflamed nodules. Your back and chest may also be affected.

Finally, grade 4 or severe nodulocystic acne is a situation in which a person has many, many large, painful, and inflamed pustules and nodules. This is the most severe of all.

A back facial can address your skin concerns and a highly qualified esthetician will guide you through the entire process. So, lean forward, relax, and enjoy your session. So, is a back facial for you? Only if you want an hour of pure bliss.


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