Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Meet the team >

Can You Spray Your Acne Away?

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Acne sprays are marketed as the simple solution for body acne, that is, acne on the shoulders, chest, arms, legs, buttocks, and scalp. There is no need to stretch to apply benzoyl peroxide or antibiotics on those hard to reach places. Just spray an anti-acne product on your skin after you dry off from your bath or shower and blemishes will disappear.

Bare Vitamins
Acne sprays are an easy way to treat back and body acne, but remember not to use them on your face.

Or will they? Let’s take a look at the most popular acne sprays and what they have to offer.


  • Acne sprays are a simple way to treat back acne (bacne) and body acne, but not all acne sprays work.
  • The most expensive acne sprays are generally the least effective.
  • Salicylic acid loosens blackheads.
  • Green tea extract reduces sebum production.
  • Grapefruit extract fights a variety of skin infections.
  • Products that contain apple, cinnamon, and juniper extracts often can cause allergies that are worse than acne.
  • Never use an acne spray on your face, to keep the product out of your eyes.

Murad Clarifying Body Spray

Retailing for US $37.00 for 4.3 oz/130 ml, Murad Clarifying Body Spray promises a simple method to spray back acne away with a beta-hydroxy acid skin peel1. It’s a nice idea, but there are a number of problems with the product. It contains the lowest possible concentration of salicylic acid that might actually help loosen dead skin and compact skin oils off pores, just 0.5%. On the other hand, it is loaded with alcohol and contains lemon grass and menthol, all of which can dry the skin of your back and tighten pores. Since you inevitably spray unblemished skin along with blemished skin when you use a body spray, you wind up creating new blemishes while treating old ones.

Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Liquid

Retailing for US $18.95 for 4 oz/120 ml, Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Liquid is an efficient way to2 dislodge blackheads while smoothing the surface of the skin. It will also get the red out of existing pimples and prevent new blemishes for forming. It’s best applied with fingertips or a cotton swab, but you can simply use it in a spray bottle if you need to treat back acne.

Glytone Back Acne Spray

Retailing for US $28.95 for 8 oz/240 ml, Glytone Back Acne Spray offers the same strength of salicylic acid3 as Paula’s Choice at a slightly lower cost per use and in a unique upside down pump spray bottle. Unlike the Paula’s Choice product, Glytone Back Acne Spray contains a large amount of isopropyl alcohol. This can cause problems if you have recently got a sunburn on your back, but it should not be a problem if you have normal to oily skin. Because of its high alcohol content, don’t use this product on your face.

Bare Escentuals (Bare Vitamins) Skin Revver-Upper

Retailing for US $21 for 2.3 oz/69 ml, this Bare Escentuals product contains the perfect amount of salicylic4 acid at the right pH5 to loosen up blackheads and stop new blemishes from forming. Unfortunately, it also contains St. John’s wort extract6, which does nothing to keep the skin from becoming “depressed” but which can greatly increase the risk of sunburn, as well as witch hazel extract, which when used on the skin of the back or chest, can close up the pores the salicylic acid opens. The form of vitamin E used in this formula also can clog pores.

Tea Tree Water Toner by LUSH

Retailing for US $18.95 for 8.5 oz/255 ml, Tea Tree Water7 Toner is often advertised as the “solution for teenage acne problems.” It has lot going for it. It contains enough tea tree oil both to fight acne bacteria and to take the red out of pimples. It can also be used to treat staph and strep infections. It also contains grapefruit water, which likewise fights acne and other skin infections.

The problem with Tea Tree Water Toner is that it is not a good choice for anyone who has allergies, and it can even cause breakouts in people who have rosacea. This product also contains enough juniper oil8 that it may make sensitive people break out.

Avon Mark Back Me Up Anti-Acne Back Treatment Liquid Spray Apple/Cinnamon

Retailing for US $10 for 4 oz/120 ml, this Avon product started as a great idea for treating acne on the back or anywhere else from the neck down. Avon Mark Back Up Anti-Acne Treatment Liquid Spray contains the right active ingredient, salicyclic acid, in the right concentration9, 2%, at the right pH, 3.0, to remove dead skin and tightened skin oils around black heads and blemishes on the tough skin of the back or chest.

The problem with the product is that contains enough apple and cinnamon fragrance to leave the user smelling like Febreze fabric sheets. If you get itchy when your clothes are laundered with Febreze, you definitely don’t want to use this product. If you tend to break out when you use perfumes or if you get redness of the skin of your face with changes of temperature, you don’t want to use this product. But if you are relatively insensitive to chemical ingredients and you don’t get allergies, it might be worth a try.

Avene Eau Thermale Thermal Spring Water for Sensitive Skin Facial Liquid Cleansers

Retailing for US $4.79 for 50 ml (a little less than 2 oz.), this Avene thermal spring water does provide minerals that can reduce redness and irritation on the skin. However, if you do not apply moisturizer over this “toner” before your skin gets dry, the minerals will just rub off into your clothing and stop working within minutes of application. Some advertisements and reviews suggest that it forms a “skin protective barrier,” but actually the user has to provide this with moisturizer.

All of these products except the most expensive (Murad) acne spray can do some good for some users. The problem with most of them is that they can also cause other forms of skin irritation. Whichever product you choose for body acne, always take care to avoid staining clothes, and ever use any of these products in a way that could get the acid treatments in your nose or eyes.


  1. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin. Molecules. 2018 Apr 10;23(4):863.
  2. Kessler E1, Flanagan K, Chia C, Rogers C, Glaser DA. Comparison of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid chemical peels in the treatment of mild to moderately severe facial acne vulgaris. Dermatol Surg. 2008 Jan;34(1):45-50;
  3. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Aug 26;8:455-61.
  4. Lee HS, Kim IH. Salicylic acid peels for the treatment of acne vulgaris in Asian patients. Dermatol Surg. 2003 Dec;29(12):1196-9; discussion 1199.
  5. Surber C, Abels C, Maibach H (eds): pH of the Skin: Issues and Challenges. Curr Probl Dermatol. Basel, Karger, 2018, vol 54, pp 115-122.
  6. Wölfle U, Seelinger G, Schempp CM. Topical application of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum). Planta Med. 2014 Feb;80(2-3):109-20.
  7. Malhi HK, Tu J, Riley TV, Kumarasinghe SP, Hammer KA. Tea tree oil gel for mild to moderate acne; a 12 week uncontrolled, open-label phase II pilot study. Australas J Dermatol. 2017 Aug;58(3):205-210.
  8. Han, Xuesheng. Parker, Tory L. Benavente, Claudia.T1 – Anti-inflammatory activity of Juniper (Juniperus communis) berry essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts. Cogent Medicine. 10.1080/2331205X.2017.1306200.
  9. Fox L, Csongradi C, Aucamp M, du Plessis J, Gerber M. Treatment Modalities for Acne. Molecules. 2016 Aug 13;21(8):1063.


Comments 0
Comments (0)
Add Comment

Our Mission

To be your most trusted ally in your pursuit of clear, healthy skin.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!