The 15 Best Acne Body Washes, According to Experts and Editors

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 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.

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

What to Look For in an Acne Body Wash

  • Ingredients

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

Meet the Dermatologist

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.

Samantha Holender
Beauty Editor

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,,, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.