The 15 Best Acne Body Washes to Get Rid of Bumps and Breakouts

Salicylic acid remains the MVP.

woman showering with body wash for acne
(Image credit: Getty)

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 pores, 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 primary 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.

To get more recommendations on how to treat acne, check out our favorite spot treatments and the best face washes for acne-prone skin

The Best Acne Body Washes

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How to Use an Acne Body Wash

If you're prone to body acne, make sure you're showering at least once per day—and definitely after sweating. Once you've rinsed your body with water, use a generous amount of product all over your body. Because the skin on your body is a bit thicker than that on your face, you might want to consider letting the acne-fighting formula sit on the skin for three to five minutes before rinsing it off.

What Ingredients Should Be 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's skin can handle something a bit more intense than your face, so you might find higher concentrations of active ingredients. Products with salicylic acid helps, and 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. 

woman washing hair

Make sure to check the labels on your shampoo and conditioner, as some contain pore-clogging ingredients that could be the cause of your body acne. Check that the label says "oil-free" or "non-comedogenic."

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Benzoyl peroxide has long been a popular ingredient for acne treatment thanks to its bacteria-killing ability. However, a recent study proposes that, when exposed to high temperatures, it can break down into benzene, a known carcinogen. "Although this is disheartening news about a very effective medication, these results were found by one lab," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessica Dowling previously shared with Marie Claire. "There have been no official recalls of these products and there has been no public response from the FDA." While more data is absolutely needed to verify these findings, it might be worthwhile to choose an alternative.

Should I Use a Chemical or Physical Acne Body Wash?

Exfoliant options typically fall into one of two camps: They’ll be a physical exfoliant (think: grainy particles) or a 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.” 

Meet the Dermatologists

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Dr. Karan Lal

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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Dr. Jessica Dowling

Jessica R. Dowling, MD, is a medical and cosmetic dermatologist at the Skin Institute of New York (SINY). Dr. Dowling treats both adult and pediatric dermatology patients at SINY’s offices in the West Village of Manhattan and the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Furthermore, Dr. Dowling is a committed educator, currently serving as a clinical instructor of Dermatology at NYU, where she teaches residents about medical and cosmetic dermatology in weekly clinics.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University, Dr. Dowling earned her medical degree from Florida Atlantic University Schmidt College of Medicine. During her time in medical school, she was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Subsequently, Dr. Dowling completed her dermatology residency at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, NY, where she held the position of Chief Resident of Cosmetic Dermatology and the Estée Lauder Research Fellow. She has presented her research at numerous national conferences and has multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals. Additionally, she is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology.