If you’re in need of an effective acne body wash, you’ve come to the right post! The soap or cleanser you use in the shower every day is one of the most important weapons in the fight against body breakouts. Whether your acne manifests as blackheads, whiteheads, or painful pimples that leave behind a persistent scar, we’ve got a solution.
We’ve selected the best acne body washes available online and in-stores, with different but effective formulas to suit each person’s unique needs. We also included the details about what makes an effective anti-acne body wash, along with must-know tips about how to choose the right one for you. Finally, we included some advice on how to use your body wash correctly and what else you can do to keep body acne at bay.
In this article:
- Our Picks for the Best Acne Body Washes
- What to Look for in the Best Acne Body Wash?
- Must-Know Anti-Acne Body Wash Tips
Best Acne Body Washes Overview
- Best Overall: Replenix 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash with Aloe Vera
- Best Drugstore: CeraVe Renewing Salicylic Acid Cleanser
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body and Face Cleanser
- Best for Dry Skin: Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash
- Best Budget: Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash
- Best Scrub Body Wash: Proactiv Deep Cleansing Wash
- Best Gentle Medicated Cleanser: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser BPO 5%
- Best Acid Peel Cleanser: Touch Keratosis Pilaris & Acne Exfoliating Body Wash Cleanser
- Best Soap: Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
- Best All-Natural: Jason Natural Body Wash and Shower Gel, Purifying Tea Tree
- Best for Acne Scars: Murad Acne Body Wash
- Best Solid Cleanser: Pharmaceutical Specialties Vanicream Cleansing Bar
- Best Natural Scrub: Alba Botanica Acnedote Maximum Strength Face & Body Scrub
Our Picks for the Best Acne Body Washes
These are the best acne body washes for every need and preference. Choose the one that’ll help you banish body acne!
Benzoyl peroxide is another one of our favorite acne-fighting ingredients. This cleanser includes 10% of it, so it packs a serious punch, and with regular use, it is extremely likely to help clear breakouts. It can be used on both face and body, although it’s important to remember that it’s a strong product. It has a very creamy texture, but it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic. If your skin can handle the high BP content, it’s otherwise a gentle choice. Shop for it on Amazon.
CeraVe might not be the most exciting brand out there, but we appreciate the gentle and effective products they make. This simple acne body wash contains salicylic acid at an undisclosed percentage (most users believe it’s 2%) and also some other great ingredients like niacinamide, which has a wide range of anti-acne benefits and ceramides that help moisturize the skin. It’s a gentle formula free of exfoliating beads, and we think most acne sufferers could use it on a daily basis, both on the face and body. Buy it from Amazon!
Just because you suffer from body acne doesn’t necessarily mean that a medicated cleanser is right for you. If your skin is very sensitive, or if you are using topical (or even oral) anti-acne treatments, then a mild acne body wash that will keep your skin balanced could actually be the most helpful. This cleanser has a low pH, which is important for keeping the skin inhospitable to bacteria, and it is totally free of harsh detergents that dehydrate the skin. We also like that it’s fragrance-free. Get it online on Amazon!
Even those with dry skin can suffer from body breakouts. This acne body wash contains 8.8% glycolic acid, which is enough to exfoliate but not so much that it’ll irritate the skin. The formula is non-drying and instead leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated. Since it works primarily by dislodging dead skin, you can use it in conjunction with a leave-on acne treatment. It’s also effective for preventing ingrown hairs or reducing keratosis pilaris. We love that it is fragrance- and sulfate-free because it could also work for those with allergy-prone skin. Order it online from Dermstore!
If you’re on a tight budget, this anti-acne body wash is a fine choice. It contains 2% salicylic acid, which is one of our favorite acne treatments, but no other strong active ingredients, so it’s fine for daily use. It’s a gel that foams up, so it’s great for thoroughly cleansing the skin and removing excess oils. However, it can be a little drying, so it’s important to follow it up with a good layer of body moisturizer. Pick it up from Amazon!
Proactiv formulations have come a long way! This scrub is a little intense for the face, but we find it’s okay for body acne – especially if you’re dealing with clogged pores rather than inflamed pimples. We think it’d be best to use once or twice a week, though those with very thick skin might be able to use it on a daily basis. It contains jojoba beads that work in tandem with 2% salicylic acid to dislodge dead skin cells and eliminate clogged pores. Otherwise, it’s a mild, sulfate-free formula that even includes some moisturizing ingredients to prevent excessive dryness. It’s available on Amazon.
Made by Differin, this cleanser is meant to be used along with the brand’s main acne treatment, a retinoid medication that’s available over the counter. It’s great on its own, however, with just the right amount of BP to make an impact but not so much that it’ll irritate the skin. It contains glycerin, which adds a hydrating effect, and is otherwise simple, fragrance-free, and light, but with a deep-cleaning effect. You can use it on both your face and body. Find it at Ulta and Amazon!
This acne body wash is like an acid peel and cleanser combined into one. It contains 15% glycolic acid, which would be quite high for the face, but is great for the body, and 1.5% salicylic acid for that soothing, oil-clearing effect. It’s technically made for those suffering from a skin condition called keratosis pilaris, but it’ll also help fade all kinds of breakouts and acne scars. Despite being extremely exfoliating, this body cleanser doesn’t include beads, so it can work even if you have inflammatory body acne. Grab it from Amazon!
In general, we’re not fans of using soap on body acne (or on the body in general), since soaps are not acidic enough for the skin. With that said, many people prefer a natural soap over a detergent-based cleanser, and hundreds of users have found that this product, in particular, has been extremely helpful for their acne. This soap-based acne body wash is made with tea tree oil to target breakouts, as well as hemp and jojoba oils to make up for the drying effects of the soap. Buy it from Amazon!
Tea tree oil is a great natural alternative to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. It might have a strong, herbal scent, but it’s fantastic for reducing body acne in a natural way. This formula is fantastic for all skin types because it’s free of drying agents and it includes some hydrating ingredients like non-comedogenic sunflower oil and soothing aloe vera. Order it online via Amazon!
This gentle yet thorough acne body wash combines physical exfoliation with date seed powder with the resurfacing effects of glycolic and salicylic acids, making it a great treatment for both mild breakouts and post-acne hyperpigmentation. It features other ingredients that improve skin clarity, like licorice root extract and vitamin A. It’s not a harsh body scrub, so you can use it fairly frequently. Order it from Dermstore!
We don’t love soap for acne-prone skin, but this cleansing bar isn’t soap. It’s a moisturizing, pH-balanced cleansing bar that doesn’t irritate the skin or throw off its pH balance, ensuring that it remains resilient against the acne bacteria. It’s another great choice for those with sensitive skin and can be used in conjunction with any leave-on anti-acne treatment. It’s available at Amazon.
Finally, we’re finishing off with a great acne body wash and scrub option for those who prefer natural products. This scrub combines the physical exfoliation effects of walnut shell powder, so it’s better as a preventative measure or to deal with non-inflamed breakouts, and it also contains salicylic acid to thoroughly remove clogs from within the pores. Find it on Amazon!
What to Look for in the Best Acne Body Wash?
There are a few factors worth keeping in mind before purchasing an anti-acne body wash.
The best acne body wash products will include ingredients proven to work for breakouts and in a concentration that’s effective for the body. The skin on the face is usually more sensitive than the skin elsewhere on our body, so anti-acne face washes will sometimes be too mild for the body, while anti-acne body washes can be too harsh for the face.
Before we get into it, it’s worth noting that a lot of people with acne-prone skin often go overboard trying to scrub or treat their skin with aggressive methods, and most of these active ingredients are quite strong. If your skin has been irritated in the past, sometimes it’s better to choose a gentle body wash for sensitive skin that is totally free of actives, and that will just allow your skin to heal – that’s why we’ve made sure to include a few of those on our recommendation list.
Benzoyl peroxide (BP) is an amazing anti-acne medication that, in our experience, has the strongest effects outside of a prescription product. It works in multiple ways to fade breakouts by acting as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and exfoliating agent. In leave-on products, 2.5% BP is perfect, but in body washes, it might be better to use something with 5% with 10% since it comes in contact with the skin for so little time.
Unfortunately, it’s also notorious for its bleaching effect, not on the skin, but on clothes and hair. That’s why it’s actually best to use it in an acne body wash rather than a leave-on product.
BP needs to stay in contact with the skin for a few minutes to have an effect, so it’s important to leave the cleanser on the skin for a bit instead of rinsing it away immediately. Research shows that it’s effective after 5 minutes, so that’s what you should aim for.
Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that works particularly well for targeting acne, and it’s extremely popular in acne body washes. It cuts through oil and dislodges dead skin cells to help clear existing breakouts, and also has some anti-inflammatory effects that help reduce the redness and swelling of existing pimples. It’s usually used between 0.5% and 2%. It’s definitely gentler than benzoyl peroxide and is probably the better choice for mild body acne or for more sensitive skin.
To actually help with breakouts, it’s important to let the salicylic acid stay in contact with the skin for a few minutes. Instead of quickly lathering and rinsing, massage the cleanser into your skin and then wait so that the salicylic acid can have its effect.
Tea Tree Oil
If you prefer natural ingredients, or if you haven’t seen a result from the more mainstream body acne treatments, tea tree oil is worth trying. This essential oil is a very promising acne fighter with antimicrobial effects, and it has been shown to be potentially as effective as benzoyl peroxide. There isn’t as much research backing up tea tree oil when compared to the other ingredients we’ve mentioned here, but it’s still a worthwhile ingredient.
Like salicylic acid, glycolic acid is also a great chemical exfoliant that is often used in anti-acne body washes! It doesn’t cut through oil the way salicylic acid does, but it gives a very thorough exfoliation, which is why strong exfoliating body washes will often include both acids.
If your routine already includes a leave-on anti-acne product, and you want the exfoliation without the potentially drying effects of salicylic acid, then a glycolic acid-based acne body wash can be a great choice.
In addition to being exfoliating, glycolic acid also has a hydrating effect, so it leaves the skin feeling very soft. It’s also useful for preventing in-grown hairs or for smoothing bumpy skin. We’d also recommend a cleanser with glycolic acid if you are trying to fade post-acne scars.
Texture and Skin Type
The texture of the cleanser is extremely important, especially when it comes to your skin type. While those with acne-prone skin are usually oily, there are also many people with dry or combination skin that suffer from breakouts.
If your skin is oily, any one of the acne body washes we’ve recommended could work for your skin. A gel cleanser will do a better job of eliminating excess oils, but the truth is that even a creamy cleanser will do a great job with the bonus that it won’t dry out your skin.
On the other hand, if your skin is drier or even combination, it might be best to stay away from gel cleansers and to choose a creamy formula instead. This is especially true with medicinal cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which you need to leave on your skin for a while.
Another texture related detail is whether you’ll choose a scrub-type body wash that contains exfoliating beads or a body wash with a non-gritty texture. When it comes to active acne, it’s better to avoid body scrubs because those gritty pieces can damage already inflamed skin and spread bacteria around.
Scrubs are also a poor choice for those with skin that is generally sensitive. However, they are great for helping clear non-inflamed blackheads or whiteheads, and can also help prevent recurring breakouts by keeping the skin clear of dead skin cells.
Rest of Your Routine
Hopefully, your body care routine involves a little more than just washing in the shower. It’s important to be careful and make sure that all of your skincare products can work together harmoniously.
This means that if you use a leave-on salicylic acid treatment, you probably don’t need a salicylic acid body cleanser and could instead benefit from a body wash with tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide.
Some dermatologists recommend avoiding using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide in the same routine, but that’s usually in reference to the face. Take into account how sensitive your skin is and how you respond to these activities in your routine when deciding for yourself if you should combine them or not, and pay close attention to signs of dryness or irritation.
Finally, it’s important to keep your skin moisturized, especially if your cleanser is gel-based or leaves your skin feeling dry after you’ve showered.
Things to Avoid
An amazing acne body wash is also defined by the things it doesn’t include!
- While some of the cleansers on our list had a slightly higher pH, in general, we do recommend trying to stick to soap-free, low-pH body washes. This is because the skin is happiest at a slightly low pH (i.e. when it is more acidic). When the skin has a balanced pH, the acne bacteria have a harder time surviving on it, so your skin is more resistant to infection and can heal more quickly.
- If you have any allergies or sensitivities, it’s very important to choose an acne body wash that won’t aggravate them. Fragrances, in particular, can be a major trigger for a lot of people.
- Finally, we recommend avoiding body washes that contain sulfates, which are a category of cleansing agents that can be very drying to the skin. It’s also important to avoid body cleansers that leave the skin feeling “squeaky clean” or “tight” after they’ve been used. Even if your skin is oily, it’s important not to let it get dehydrated or dry since it’ll have a harder time healing from the breakouts.
Must-Know Anti-Acne Body Wash Tips
An amazing anti-acne body wash is not enough on its own, so we have a few more tips to help you care for your skin and deal with body acne.
- When it’s time to shower, keep the water lukewarm rather than steaming hot. Very hot water can damage the skin and prevent it from healing itself.
- When washing with an anti-acne body wash that includes actives like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, rub it into your skin and then wait for 3-5 minutes to give those ingredients time to be in contact with your skin and have an impact.
- If your acne is more inflamed, avoid scrubbing it with sponges or loofahs that can break the skin and spread bacteria around, and just massage the cleanser gently into your skin with your hands.
- After your shower, while your skin is still a little damp, don’t forget to moisturize with a non-comedogenic body lotion! The skin has to be nourished and hydrated to stay resilient and in order to properly heal itself from breakouts.
- For the best results, don’t only rely on a body wash but make sure to follow a full anti-acne body care routine.
- Be careful to regularly clean anything that comes into contact with your body, and don’t reuse or re-wear items like towels or pajamas without washing them first.
Photos via @nrahmichelle, Sephora, Dermstore, Instagram