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Be it buttne, chestne, neckne, or backne, body breakouts happen—there’s no denying it. The good news? Treating it can *usually* be accomplished by making a few lifestyle changes (read: clean towels, shower after sweating) and incorporating one of the best acne body washes into your routine. “Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid washes are very helpful,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal. “They loosen up the skin cells that contribute to acne.” With time, and regular use, these active ingredients will clear out the gunk, reduce bacteria, regulate oil, and inevitably get rid of blackheads and pimples.
For a while, Neutrogena’s Pink Grapefruit Acne Body Wash, which is formulated with salicylic acid, was the one and only go-to. Thanks to the body care boom, that’s no longer the case (although it’s still one of the best out there). Now, the drugstore aisle, Sephora shelves, and online retailers have dozens upon dozens of options to choose from. So, which ones deserve a spot in your shower? To answer that question, we’ve rounded up the best acne body washes of all time.
What to Look For in an Acne Body Wash
Think of an acne body wash the same way you think of an acne face wash—it’s a short-term contact therapy treatment. Your body skin can handle something a bit more intense than your face, so you might find higher concentrations of active ingredients or want to consider letting the body wash sit on your skin for a few minutes. “Look for body washes with benzoyl peroxide, which will kill bacteria and yeast associated with acne, or ones with salicylic acid, which is comedolytic and breaks blackheads apart,” says Dr. Lal. Chances are you’ll also find additional AHAs, BHAs, or natural alternatives in the mix, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, or tea tree extract.
- Chemical vs Physical
All the options out there are going to fall into one of two camps: They’ll be a physical exfoliant (think: grainy particles) or chemical exfoliant (think: acids). It is largely a personal preference, but Dr. Lal is partial to the latter. “I don’t recommend physical exfoliation for acne or folliculitis,” he says. “Chemical exfoliation is the way to go and washes are an easy way to do this. It allows for therapeutic intervention without irritation and dryness.”
The Best Acne Body Washes
- The Best Drugstore Acne Body Wash: CeraVe SA Body Wash for Rough & Bumpy Skin
- The Best Acne Body Wash for Sensitive Skin: SEEN Body Wash
- The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Body Wash: PanOxyl 10% Acne Foaming Wash
- The Best Brightening Acne Body Wash: Kosas Good Body Skin AHA + Enzyme Exfoliating Body Wash
- The Best Salicylic Acid Acne Body Wash: Neutrogena Body Clear Pink Grapefruit Acne Body Wash
The Best Drugstore Acne Body Wash
Whether you’re dealing with straight up body acne or just have a rough texture that you want to even out, CeraVe can save the day. “This has salicylic acid and ceramides which makes this safe for all skin types,” says Dr. Lal. The salicylic acid, which is concentrated at two percent, serves as the active, acne-fighting ingredient, while the ceramides, along with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, counteract the drying, occasionally irritating side effects. The best part? The price can’t be beat.
Pros: Dermatologist-recommended; Affordable; Fragrance Free
Customer Review: "This stuff is magic! I suffer from bumpy skin on the back of my arms and thighs, and using this daily in the shower erased them! Highly recommended this along with the moisturizer."
The Best Acne Body Wash for Folliculitis
It’s all too common to mistake folliculitis, aka inflammation of the hair follicle, as acne. Thankfully, this Amazon body wash is a savior for both. “This has sodium hypochlorite, which is great for people with bacterial-prone acne and for people with folliculitis,” says Dr. Lal. The benefits don’t stop there—it’s also able to treat eczema, redness, and dryness. Such a 360 treatment doesn’t usually come bottled up in one product, so don’t sleep on adding this bleach bath dupe to your shower shelf.
Pros: Dermatologist-recommended; Multi-purpose
Cons: Can stain towels
Customer Review: "I’ve had little bumps for years on my face. Cleared them right up. My dermatologist suggested this cleanser for me. My skin is so sensitive to everything… this works." — Amazon
The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Body Wash
“This is the OG acne body wash. It kills all organisms and truly works,” says Dr. Lal. How, you ask? Thanks to a 10 percent benzoyl peroxide formula. That’s the strongest possible concentration you can get over the counter, so rest assured it’s the real deal. If you lean more sensitive, I would wash it off right away. But if you can tolerate it, try letting the wash sit on your skin for a few minutes. Just a word from the wise: “Be careful, it can bleach towels.”
Pros: Dermatologist-recommended; Strong OTC concentration
Cons: Can stain towels
Customer Review: "I’ve been using this product for a few months and it cleared my skin! I have sensitive skin and this product works great! Instead of washing after a few minutes, I let it dissolve into my skin. Even my doctor asked what I used because he seen a huge difference compared to the last time I seen him! It’s worth it!!" — Amazon
The Best Physical Exfoliator Acne Body Wash
While salicylic acid can be used at a two percent concentration, Murad opted to cut it in half—and for good reason. Their acne-fighting body wash takes a three-pronged approach to pimple destruction. The beta-hydroxy acid attacks blackheads, glycolic acid speeds up cell turnover and gets rid of dead, pore-clogging skin cells, and date seed powder, which is a physical exfoliant, gently exfoliates. While physical exfoliation isn’t for everyone, this particular inclusion is relatively gentle.
Pros: Contains two acids
Cons: Physical exfoliation is too harsh for some
Customer Review: "I am not exaggerating when I say I say a difference a few days after I started using this for the acne on my back. After a few days I also started using the Murad Acne Body Spray and this is a perfect combination! It definitely treats and gets rid of the acne. I really recommend. Also, if you follow it with a tea tree body wash, it will help with the redness and inflammation." — Ulta
The Best Acne Body Wash for Maintenance
For bad breakouts, you’ll always want to go the salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide route. But if your acne is controlled and you only deal with a small flare here and there, allow me to direct your attention to this delightfully milky body wash from Naturium. The fragrance-free product is primarily hydrating and contains all the usual suspects, with the extra addition of niacinamide, which is loved for its oil controlling abilities. If you find you need an extra acne-fighting kick, try out their new Salicylic Acid Body Spray.
Pros: Great texture; Good for daily use and sensitive skin
Cons: Doesn’t contain AHAs or BHAs
Customer Review: "I bought 2 bottles a few months ago. Once I finished the first bottle, I was hooked. This stuff makes my skin feel so smooth and soft. I would highly recommend if you suffer from KP or “chicken skin”. Try it. You will not regret it." — Naturium
The Best Salicylic Acid Body Wash
Tried and true, this Neutrogena body wash is a staple in the category. It has a *very* strong citrus smell, don’t get me wrong. But, the formula itself is impressive. Salicylic acid is the star of the show and gets to work unclogging pores, removing dirt, and busting up oil. It’s supported by a hefty dose of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that comes along with a brightening effect. On the texture front? This is the way to go if you like a foaming lather.
Pros: Contains salicylic acid; Foams
Cons: Strong smell
Customer Review: Whenever I feel like I’m starting to potentially brake out I use this for a day or two and it clears right up. In the summer I sometimes breakout on my back or shoulders and this takes care of it right away and doesn’t leave my skin feeling super dry." — Neutrogena
The Best Body Wash for All Types of Acne
Different types of acne need different types of treatments, which is why the chemists over at Hero cooked up a solution that cures all. Salicylic acid addresses clogged pores, while a mineral complex complete with silver and copper side-swipes benzoyl peroxide by fighting acne-causing bacteria. It works up a nice lather (foam included!) and creates an aromatic experience in your shower. The gender neutral fragrance profile is a mix of citrus and sandalwood.
Pros: Targets multiple types of acne; Lathers
Cons: Fragrance free
Customer Review: "After realizing how much junk and pore clogging Ingredients are in so many body washes out there. I began my search for an acne safe body wash. After trying Heros power wash, I think it's one skincare item I will keep in my regime. Smells good, lathers up great, a little goes a long way and my skin feels squeaky clean." — Target
The Best Acne Body Wash for Brightness
Cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, brighten, and do all the things with Kosas’ anti-pimple concoction. It’s powered by a trio of alpha-hydroxy acids (lactic, glycolic, and madelic), as well as fruit enzyme extracts. Together, they’re going to work some magic on the acne front. Dead skin cells? Gone. Skin tone? Brightened. Oil? Controlled. Acne? Incrementally better. That all said, this intense exfoliation can be irritating, so the brand tossed in some soothing allantoin to combat any dryness.
Pros: Nice texture; Great ingredients
Customer Review: "After only using this body wash for a few weeks I have noticed my skin is softer than usual and I’ve had clear ups with blemishes, highly recommend as this is my first bottle and I’m impressed." — Sephora
The Best Smelling Acne Body Wash
It’s hard not to be obsessed with the smell of Sol de Janiero’s BumBum Cream—it’s too good. Enter this body wash, which is a just-as-amazingly-scented counterpart that infuses the signature scent into your shower. But it’s not just a treat for your nose; your skin will thank you. The formula has blemish busting superpowers thanks to its intense formula. Salicylic and lactic acids blend with fruit acids to create an AHA and BHA blend that’s top notch.
Pros: Signature scent; Intense actives
Cons: Drying for some
Customer Review: "I love this stuff and I hope they never stop making it. I have KP on my arms and legs, and I also get breakouts on my chest and back. This has helped with both issues, but without causing irritation. The skin on my body is clearer and smoother since I started using this. A small amount goes a long way, so I expect the bottle to last quite a while (makes the price not so bad). I put a dime size drop on my loofah and it foams up enough for my entire body...surprising since it is sulfate free." — Sephora
The Best Acne Body Wash for Sensitive Skin
Sometimes the solution to your breakouts is simply to do less. That’s SEEN’s whole motto. The dermatologist-developed brand is focused on removing acne triggers from the equation. That in mind, you’re not going to find any irritating fragrance, sulfates, silicones, oils, or preservatives in their body wash. Instead it’s going to nourish the skin, deliver non-comedogenic hydration, and cleanse your body without disrupting the skin’s barrier.
Pros: Gentle; Hydrating; Non-Irritating
Cons: No treatment ingredients
Customer Review: "Luxurious lather, non-irritating and leaves my skin soft even in a hard water area. While I normally prefer fragrance-free personal care items, the scent is light and pleasant and does not really linger around afterwards. I think I will be adding this into the rotation of body washes." — SEEN
The Best Glycolic Acid Acne Body Wash
Fun fact: Exfoliating your body in the shower can *majorly* help prevent ingrown hairs. Getting rid of dead skin cells, with, say, Typology’s Purifying Cleansing Gel with 2% Zinc PCA + Bamboo Extract , can stop those little red bumps from creeping up. This particular formula couples six percent glycolic acid with tea tree extract, which has antibacterial properties. Hydronesis, a hydrating ingredient, also made its way into the mix, to soothe redness and address any keratosis pilaris on the body.
Pros: Contains glycolic acid, anti-bacterial
Customer Review: I have always thought I was just destined to have large pores. After months of washing with this cleanser I have visibly reduced pores, my acne is better, my oil production is balanced, and it hasn’t caused any irritation. I have extremely sensitive skin and was worried to try this out but I’m so glad I did! This is my new holy grail cleanser. I also really like the smell, it’s very botanical." — Typology
The Best Tea Tree Oil Body Wash
This particular *vegan* body wash targets acne without any of the common actives. Instead, it takes a natural approach and leverages the purifying effects of Community Fair Trade tea tree oil sourced from Kenya to dry out body blemishes. It soaks up oil and sucks up blackheads, all while providing a next-level sensory experience. You can expect a refreshing little tingle to the skin upon application and a nice lemon-y aroma.
Pros: Natural; Ethically sourced ingredients; Vegan
Cons: No acids
Customer Review: "I struggled for years with frequent blemishes on my back and face. This body wash completely resolved the issue. A little goes a long way. Great product." — Ulta
The Best Acne Body Wash for Clogged Pores
While you may ~originally~ know Isle of Paradise as a tanning brand, I promise you'll want to check out their new body care expansion. This particular innovation blends three types of acid together to create a cleanser that detoxes pores, provides softer, smoother skin, and decreases the intensity and frequency of body breakouts. The bottle was also designed to have a flat back so it takes up minimal shower shelf space.
Pros: Fun packaging; Works as a pre-self tanner treatment
Cons: Strong smell
Customer Review: "Love this body exfoliator in my routine. My skin tone looks more even and feels smooth. I use it when I wanna give my self a spa day at home and it’s just that perfect luxury. It doesn’t irritate my skin." — Sephora
The Best Acne Body Wash for Prevention
I promise: The fruity-floral smell of this body wash is going to grab your attention, but the results will keep you hooked. Breakouts and pimples will dry up thanks to the inclusion of salicylic acid, but the inclusion of an ingredient called alpine willowherb will keep your skin balanced and oil under control so future body acne is less likely.
Pros: Balanced the skin, Contains active ingredient;
The Best New Acne Body Wash
If you like a creamy body wash, allow me to direct your attention to this brand new drugstore body wash—and soon to be staple. Differin's retinol has long been a first-line drugstore treatment for face acne, so it's no surprise that their body wash is up to par. It's formulated with two percent salicylic acid (yay!) to declog pores, and contains hyaluronic acid and blue tansy to ensure skin stays hydrated and soothed. It's gentle enough to be used daily too, so consider this your solve for body, chest, and back acne.
Pros: Affordable; Contains salicylic acid as an active ingredient; Soothing
Cons: Doesn't suds up
Customer Review: "This product is great in the shower to help heal my body acne. It is silky and doesn't leave a residue or dry my skin. The scent is a clean fresh smell and doesn't linger for long. You get a big tube of product for a good price." — Rite Aid
Meet the Dermatologist
Originally from New York City, he grew up in Queens and attended Hunter Science High School in Manhattan. He graduated summa cum laude from the New York Institute of Technology, where he completed a rigorous seven-year accelerated combined medical program. He was selected to be an academic medical scholar, during which he received a Master of Science in neuroscience and a scholarship for three years of medical school and graduate training. He was elected to the Sigma Sigma Phi and Psi Sigma Alpha medical honor societies. He completed his internal medicine internship at the University of Connecticut Medical Center where he was elected intern of the year. He completed a three-year dermatology residency at the University of Massachusetts, where he was elected chief resident. He continued at the University of Massachusetts to complete a pediatric dermatology fellowship, where he gained an interest in vascular anomalies, pediatric laser, and dermatologic surgery of pediatric patients. Dr. Lal specializes in pediatric and adult dermatology, laser surgery, soft tissue filler augmentation, body sculpting, melanocyte keratinocyte transplant surgery for vitiligo and hypopigmentation, pigmentary abnormalities of the skin and enjoys treating patients from birth onwards. He is an expert in atopic dermatitis, vitiligo, melasma, psoriasis, and hidradenitis and has worked in specialty clinics among experts. He is the only board-certified pediatric and fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologist in the country.
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Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.
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