The Back Story (no pun intended)
Last year, what started out as sun rash around my decolletage quickly turned to Malassezia folliculitis (also known as “fungal acne”). Which then turned into full-blown body acne that raved around my chest and shoulders. Typical bra-strap-acne. In the past, my sun rash would last about 1-2 months before taking care of itself. However, this time, it progressed and got even worse. I tried, what felt like, everything. I tried and switched to different body lotions and washes. Began to be very diligent in showering after workouts. I even went as far as changing my detergent. I then tried to apply some of my active skincare down to my chest, but this just aggravated it even more. The body acne would not budge!
As a hot tip on Instagram, I went and bought Skin Treat Anti-Blemish Body Treatment. While it may have worked for the girl recommending it, this did nothing for my body acne. Like, completely worthless. My chest was now covered in marks of red spots all over. I was beginning to get annoyed that there are a million products for face acne, but somehow when it comes to body acne there are not many options. Some of which are even expensive. For example, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Body Spot Exfoliant is a great product in treating bacne! I had tried a sample before, which helped tremendously without being irritating. However, it’s quite expensive for a body lotion in my opinion, and not very readily available.
While all of this was going down and my chest felt like a battlefield, CeraVe launched their SA smoothing-line in Europe. This got me tremendously excited as I knew it would be reasonably priced and readily available! However, both products were hard to get, as they sold out fast at many places (probably thanks to TikTok hype?). I managed to get my hands on the cream first. After seeing positive progress, I added the wash into my shower routine. And after months of use, these are my thoughts…
CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream for Dry, Rough & Bumpy Skin
This cream comes in a 177 ml tube. What surprised me from the start was how thick the cream is. It’s a bit hard to squeeze out. Because of this, I was worried it might make matters worse and clog up pores. While it’s thick, a little goes a long way. I don’t think it’s intended to be used all over the body, but more to spot-treat rough and bumpy areas. You could technically use this on your face too. But I have not tried or had the need to.
The CeraVe SA smoothing cream contains star ingredients such as 10% urea, salicylic acid (BHA), and gluconolactone (PHA) for gentle exfoliation, and hydrating hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and of course, their signature barrier-restoring ceramides.
It has come to my attention that there’s a slight variation between the EU- and US formulation. The most obvious one is that the EU version contains 10% Urea. The reason for this might be a way of compensating for the lesser strength salicylic acid, as it seems much higher in the inci-list in the US. I couldn’t find the exact percentage, but Reddit sources say it’s 3%, which is 1% above what EU allows in OTC products. I personally like that they included Urea, as this cream can also serve as a foot cream! (similar to Kersal foot ointment) Although there’s an intended SA foot cream here in Europe, for some reason this one does not contain urea.
I started off applying this after my showers on my problematic areas, sometimes twice a day. And I’ve kept doing so pretty much since I got it. However, nowadays I barely have any body acne, so I’m not as diligent in applying it after every day or shower.
It took about a 2-4 weeks before I started seeing results of positive progress. It surprised me that it didn’t clog up my pores. My chest and shoulder area felt smooth and calm and I started to breakout less. But it wasn’t until a month in, when I added the CeraVe SA Smoothing cleanser to my showers, that things really started to clear up!
CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser
While the SA Smoothing Cream differs in formula from its US counterpart, the CeraVe SA Smoothing cleanser is pretty much the same exact thing as the SA Renewing SA Cleanser in the US with many of the active ingredients found in the cream. This is a gentle exfoliating gel cleanser for body and face. I’ve mostly used it for my body though. In the US, there is a dedicated SA body wash, which has the same formula, only it comes with 60ml more product and no pump.
With almost every shower, especially after workouts, I would foam this up and apply it on my chest and shoulders and leave it on for about 1 minute before rinsing it off. Sometimes even mixing it with my regular, more hydrating, body wash. This cleanser feels slightly drying and suits normal to combination/oily skin. Unless you have oily skin, I wouldn’t recommend using it every day for the face. This cleanser should be used more as a treatment or perhaps “that time of the month”. When used frequently and together with the cream, the area could feel a bit dried down, so I would sometimes apply CeraVe moisturizing cream on top. With the SA cream under, this didn’t seem to be pore clogging/too much for my skin.
In the past, I’ve been a little bit skeptical about what difference a wash-off exfoliant can do. But as I’ve gained more knowledge, I’ve learned that salicylic acid can do wonders in only a couple of minutes on the skin, and does work at higher pH.
After adding this cleanser to my routine my body acne started to clear up for real. And for the past months, my skin has felt smooth with no issues! The only thing left to deal with has been red spots left behind that take like forever to fade.
I wish I had taken before and after’s, but I wasn’t convinced this would work so well! If you’re suffering from bacne or any spots on your body, I highly recommend trying out this affordable duo! The cleanser might not be the most necessary thing, you could try other brands that offer salicylic acid in washes. Like the La roche Posay Micro-peeling Purifying Gel, Eucerin Dermopurifyer Oil Control Cleanser, Bioderma Sebium Purifying Foaming Gel, and ACO Pure glow Renewing Daily Cleanser (review), just to name a few.
However, something similar to the SA smoothing cream seems hard to come by. And if it doesn’t work for you, you can always use it as a foot cream or smooth out rough elbows.