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PSA: Your Yoga Mat May Cause Backne — But Here's A Natural Fix

Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director. Previously she worked at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and
(Last Used: 1/7/21) woman in downward dog yoga pose

Whether you're just starting out a new routine or reintroducing yourself to yoga, there's much to enjoy about the practice. Just like countless others, you'll likely come to realize what it can do for your mental health, your stamina, resilience, and body. 

And with any new habit there are, of course, things you need to learn and adapt to. So let's set this straight before it becomes an issue: If you don't clean your mat after every use, it may contribute to body acne. 

Yes, unwashed mats can contribute to body acne. 

Mats collect sweat, grime, and bacteria after use. Just think about all that pooling in the grippy texture, especially if you're doing a more rigorous flow and then leaving the bacteria to fester and grow in between uses. Repeat this a few times, and not a pretty picture. Now think about relaxing into savasana—exposing all of that to your skin.

From there, it's pretty easy for that reintroduced bacteria to nestle their way into your pores, which can clog and cause inflammation. The next thing you know, you have a body acne problem you've never had previously. 

"Anyone is vulnerable to acne on the back but particularly those that play sports or do activities that cause sweating or rubbing of clothing or athletic gear," says Umbareen Mahmood, M.D., board-certified plastic surgeon and cosmetic injector at SKINNEY Medspa. "It is extremely important to pay attention to meticulous hygiene because of this."


A natural, DIY yoga cleaner to help. 

There are plenty of ways to deal with body and back acne, but one of the best preventive steps is to just be mindful to clean your mat after every single use. You may not see it as visibly dirty, but there's a good chance there are microbes on the surface that will irritate your skin over time. 

But this natural yoga mat disinfectant is easy to make at home and will solve your woes before they can become so. 

  • Combine 1 cup isopropyl alcohol (90 to 99% is ideal), ½ cup aloe vera gel, and 15 drops tea tree essential oil in a bowl, and mix well. 
  • Transfer to a squeeze bottle, and spray generously on your mat. 
  • Wipe it dry with a reusable cotton towel, and allow to completely dry before rolling it up.

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