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From being squeezed into the hot, humid confines of jeans and leggings to being sat on for the better part of each day, our butts take a lot—creating a host of butt-specific skincare issues. And because butt skin spends most of its time enduring these, shall we say, oppressive conditions, a butt-specific skincare routine may be just the thing you need to keep those cheeks as clear and healthy-looking as the ones on your face.
That’s where butt masks come in. This new breed of targeted treatments claims to offer myriad butt-related benefits, but do they live up to all the hype? We sat down with doctors Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, and Dan Belkin, MD, to get the full story on butt-related skin issues and whether it’s worth adding a butt mask to your body care routine.
Meet the Expert
- Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, DCNP, is a doctor of nursing practice and a family nurse practitioner certified in family medicine and dermatology with the Orentreich Medical Group in New York City.
- Dan Belkin, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic and medical dermatology in New York City.
What Are Butt Masks?
It’s all in the name: A butt mask is essentially a targeted treatment specifically designed for use on the butt area and, like the face type, can come in many forms, from pastes to creams to sheets. “Butt masks offer various usages contingent on the type of ingredients they contain, including acne-specific ingredients, moisturizers, and exfoliators,” LoGerfo explains. “So, they really aren’t that different than masks intended for use on the face. Rather, they are for specific skin conditions of the butt.”
Which brings us to the question: Is butt skin all that different? Belkin says the butt has thicker skin than, say, the face. This does make it less prone to irritation. But there’s also a common misconception that butt skin afflictions are harder to deal with. However, LoGerfo suggests that the real problem could be how we deal with them (or not). “I think sometimes people are hesitant to treat butt skin conditions because of embarrassment,” she says, therefore “people may try to treat these conditions at home first and, truthfully, many require professional dermatologic treatments, and OTC remedies are just not going to work.” If you are having an issue with your butt skin and it is not responding to over-the-counter treatments, hit up a professional for advice.
What Are the Benefits of Butt Masks?
Fortunately, for the more common butt skin situations, there are countless modern treatments and ingredients that can work wonders. To better understand the benefits of butt masks, let’s take a closer look at the most common afflictions experienced by the butt area and see what our derms had to say about what a butt mask could do.
Folliculitis (AKA “Butt Acne”)
LoGerfo says that the most common condition affecting the butt area is folliculitis, an inflammation of the superficial or deep section of the hair follicle, which can lead to inflamed pimples, papules, and/or pustules on the butt skin. (This often occurs closer to the crack area.) Sometimes they can become deep nodules and, occasionally, hard, painful, and infected. Folliculitis tends to be more common in those who frequently wax or shave.
What to Look For: “If it is mild with only a few pustules, using a butt mask for acne may help,” she says. Look for ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, which can help destroy the bacteria underlying the folliculitis, control excess oil, and help keep skin exfoliated. Butt masks containing salicylic acid may also relieve congested pores and inhibit new breakouts, she says, as well as azelaic acid, which helps keep pores clear, and alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic and lactic acid, which do double duty by sweeping away potentially pore-clogging dead skin cells while soothing inflamed skin. Additionally, alpha-hydroxy acids help speed up the skin’s natural renewal process, revealing fresher, softer skin and helping to improve the look of past acne marks, scars, and pores over time.
Keratosis pilaris (KP)—the same condition that can wreak bumpy havoc on the backs of our arms—also commonly shows up in the butt area, Belkin says. “KP is probably the second most common issue with butt skin," LoGerfo adds. Caused by a plugging up of the hair follicles, KP is a genetic form of dermatitis that shows up as rough, dry patches on the skin and tiny bumps. While not painful or itchy, people tend to pick at them, which could lead to scarring and/or infection.
What to Look For: Although KP tends to go away on its own with time, LoGerfo recommends seeking butt masks containing topical OTC ingredients like salicylic acid, urea, and alpha-hydroxy acids. The goal here is to exfoliate the skin to loosen up and unplug the hair follicles, thereby improving moisturization and alleviating the roughness and dryness of KP.
If you know, you know: eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, itchy, inflammatory skin condition associated with an elevated blood level of immunoglobulin E (IgE), LoGerfo explains. It is also genetic and shows up as dry skin, severe itching, red and inflamed papules, and vesicles with occasional oozing and crusting. Skin affected with eczema/AD can become leathery and thick from chronic scratching, splitting, and cracking over time.
What to Look For: While eczema-prone skin is best left to the care of a dermatologist, a butt mask stacked with the right ingredients may be key to helping keep symptoms under control. LoGerfo advises looking for thick, emollient ingredients with minimal water content to reinforce the skin’s defenses against dryness (such as petroleum jelly and ceramides). “Atopic skin lacks lipids in the upper layer of the epidermis, so ingredients like ceramides are especially helpful," she says. Other ingredients that may help benefit eczema-prone skin include oat, aloe, glycerin, humectants, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, vitamin E, and niacinamide.
“Stretch marks are really a form of dermal scarring that appears on the skin,” LoGerfo says, and they vary in appearance. They can be red, purple, or hypopigmented (lighter than skin color) and appear as linear striations (long, thin streaks that appear as ridges or grooves on the skin's surface). Belkin points out that stretch marks can be particularly difficult to treat, and time is of the essence: “Don't wait on treating these since they are much easier to treat when they are new and red than when they are old and white.”
What to Look For: LoGerfo says that typically, topical stretch mark treatments are not that effective, especially OTC products. However, all hope is not lost. She points out that retinol may help improve the look of stretch marks by making them appear lighter and less severe. And because stretch marks weaken skin elasticity, hyaluronic acid can potentially help improve skin elasticity and, in turn, the overall look of stretch marks.
“Cellulite is caused by the herniation of the subcutaneous fat within the fibers of the skin’s connective tissue,” LoGerfo explains, which causes its characteristic dimples and gives skin the texture of an orange peel. Beyond the thighs, it’s very common in the butt area.
What to Look For: “Butt masks are often touted as treatments for laxity and cellulite," Belkin says, but “unfortunately, nothing topical is going to make much of an improvement for these conditions.” The most a cellulite-targeting butt mask can do is hydrate the skin, which creates a smoother, more glowy—albeit temporary—appearance. On the other hand, LoGerfo recommends scouting butt masks containing caffeine, which actually dehydrates the skin, causing it to tighten up and thereby lessening the appearance of skin dimpling. Additionally, she says topical retinoids may thicken the top skin cell layer and prevent the cellulite from protruding out, mitigating the overall bumpiness. Lastly, vitamin C could help to activate collagen production, leading to visibly firmer skin.
What Are the Side Effects of Butt Masks?
As with any active ingredient-containing skincare treatment, butt masks may do you a disservice if used incorrectly. “All products have the potential to irritate those who are sensitive,” LoGerfo says. This is a given, but definitely stay away from butt masks containing ingredients you know you’re sensitive or allergic to. “You should also circumvent using a butt mask if you have any active acne breakouts, skin infections, psoriasis, eczema with oozing or crusting, or herpes infection, as well as any other skin condition causing your skin to be broken or irritated.” If you have any doubts, ask a professional—it’s better to be safe than sorry.
How Do You Use a Butt Mask?
Proper butt mask usage comes down to the type you choose—cream, lotion, gel, sheet—but whatever medium you decide on, Belkin recommends always starting with clean skin. “Any time you want good absorption of moisturizing or active ingredients, it's always best to use right after cleansing when the skin is exfoliated and clean of natural oils and sweat.” Then just follow the directions. Different products will have different instructions on how long to leave on—follow them, especially if it’s your first time venturing into butt mask territory.
The Final Takeaway
LoGerfo points out that butt masks are a great way to extend your self-care routine to a just-as-important place as your face—but be careful. “Some skin conditions of the butt really need medical care and an accurate diagnosis, and butt masks for certain skin conditions or infections may not be a great idea.” It’s always best to consult a dermatologist if you have any questions or doubts. And most importantly, she points out that, as with all self-care, don’t let embarrassment over a particular butt condition stop you from doing something about it.