Cleavage may be on show on the Oscars red carpet this Sunday, but some celebrities have been opting to turn heads other ways - by steering attention to their backs. As Taylor Swift showed us at the Golden Globes - with a flirty look over her shoulder, of course - the back is ready to be bared. While Swift is a celebrity with access to the best beauty treatments that can keep her back looking sculpted and flawless all year around, the rest of may need some pointers.
Ready to bare your back from underneath those sweaters and coats? Here are some steps to get you on your way. As James Bond said in Skyfall, "Only a certain kind of woman wears a backless dress with a Beretta 70 strapped to her thigh."
When it comes to exercise, the back responds best to weights, whether it's your own or with dumbbells. "Training your back can not only help to eliminate that bulge over the top of your strapless shirts, but it can sculpt some incredibly beautiful muscle lines that help to create the appearance of a smaller waist," says Sammie Kennedy, the founder of Booty Camp Fitness, a fitness group that uses military boot camp-style routines for workouts.
One exercise Kennedy recommends is the pull-up. "For beginners, start by using a bench or stool to hop up and then slowly lower down to build strength," says Kennedy. "Gradually work toward pulling up from arms extended. Play with hand positions to make it more or less challenging and work different muscles."
Once you've started working out to eliminate back fat and develop muscle, you might notice that your back might have some red spots or even acne - sometimes referred to as "bacne."
The first thing to do is to change out of your sweaty clothing as soon as you're finished your workout. You're working out to make your back look better, not to make it break out with blemishes.
In the shower, make sure to rinse the excess shampoo and hair conditioner residue off your back so you don't break out. If you already have acne, treat your back with a body wash that has salicylic acid. "Avoid too much exfoliation, should you be dealing with acne on the back,” says Bahar Niramwalla, a Toronto-based beauty expert and makeup artist. This will cause already irritated skin further discomfort and, in turn, redness." Neutrogena’s Clear Body Wash and Scrub are wallet-friendly and gentle enough to use every day. ($5.99-$8)
If you have dark marks as a result of acne, Niramwalla suggests laser resurfacing or "lightening creams." Both have pros and cons. "[Lasers] work, but are more expensive and may have side effects as well as some pain involved," says Niramwalla. "Speaking to a cosmetic dermatologist would get you the best answers to whether you are a good candidate for a procedure such as this." When it comes to topical creams, there are two choices - go lighter or go darker.
"Alternatively, you can use two methods to help reduce the appearance of marks on your back," she says. "One is to lighten through topical creams or lotions and the other is to use a self tanning lotion to improve the overall appearance of the skin’s texture. I would recommend against using a heavy chemical based cream which intends to peel off your skin.”
Now that you're ready to bare your back, you’ll want to add moisture, so why not do it with a little shimmer? Niramwalla recommends a consistent routine of exfoliation and moisturization to ensure maximum smoothness and shine. She likes Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion with 5% Urea ($9.59 at drugstores) for moisture and Nivea Visage Skin Refining Scrub ($7 at drugstores) for exfoliation. For added shine, Niramwalla likes Benefit's Take a Picture shine cream. It Lasts Longer for lighter skin tones and MAC Cosmetics’ Skinsheen Leg Spray for medium and darker skin tones. "Goes on like a mousse and adds both low, sheer colour, but also a light shimmer," she says.