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Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages. It develops when the pores in the skin become clogged. Bacteria then cause swelling, which leads to the growth of a pimple.

Acne is not a serious health condition. However, it can leave scars and significantly affect a person’s self-esteem and body image.

In this article, we look at which ingredients help treat acne, and include a list of acne body wash products.

A quick look at the 13 best acne body washes:

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Body acne is acne on parts of the body other than the face. Common areas for body acne to develop include:

Body acne is similar to acne a person develops on their face. Both kinds may involve different types of acne lesions, including:

  • Blackheads: Small black bumps on the skin.
  • Whiteheads: Similar in appearance to blackheads, but generally whiter and firmer.
  • Papules: Small red bumps that may be tender or sore.
  • Pustules: Similar to papules but with a white center indicating a buildup of pus.
  • Nodules: Large, hard, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin.
  • Cysts: Large, painful, pus-filled lumps, similar in appearance to boils. They can cause scarring.

Acne occurs when a pore or hair follicle becomes blocked with sweat, dirt, or skin products. This blockage causes inflammation of the pore or follicle, resulting in an acne lesion.

Breakouts can happen anywhere on the body and are usually the result of overactive oil glands, blocked pores, and acne-causing bacteria. Some factors that can increase the risk of body acne include:

  • wearing tight clothing
  • sweating excessively
  • not showering immediately after exercising

When using acne body wash, a person should follow the instructions on the product label.

Generally, people can use acne body wash the same way as regular shower gel. A person should wet the skin first and then apply the product to a clean cloth or sponge. They should then gently rub the product into the skin using small circular movements.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for acne. Acne can be mild or severe, depending on the individual.

A good skin care regimen may help prevent breakouts and keep acne from worsening. People should also avoid picking their skin or popping pimples, as this can lead to scarring.

A person can treat mild acne cases with over-the-counter (OTC) products, such as medicated face and body washes.

Common anti-acne ingredients present in body washes include:

Individuals with acne should avoid:

  • Physical exfoliants: Scrubbing the skin can worsen acne, particularly in people with sensitive skin.
  • Frequent touching of the skin: Scratching or popping pimples can lead to scarring. Touching the skin also increases the likelihood of transferring bacteria from the hands onto the skin.
  • Sun exposure: Many anti-acne medications can increase a person’s risk of sunburn.
  • Skin-clogging products: People should opt for noncomedogenic makeup and skin care products. This type of product should not clog pores. However, there is no guarantee that using noncomedogenic products will not cause breakouts.
  • Fragrance and essential oils: A 2020 study found that fragrance and essential oil compounds are unnecessary in skin care products. They can lead to contact dermatitis and redness and potentially aggravate skin conditions, such as acne.
  • Sulfates: These are cleansing agents that can be too harsh on the skin. They include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and other derivative forms. These types of sulfates and surfactants can lead to irritation, even in the deeper layers of the skin.

Learn about some of the best sunscreens for oily skin here.

If a person has mild acne and very sensitive skin, they may want to avoid medicated acne products, as these could leave their skin feeling dry and irritated. Sometimes, a product with few or no medicated ingredients is the best option for individuals with reactive skin. There are at-home remedies available that a person can use to treat their acne that is milder than a medicated alternative. These include:

  • tea: green tea contains polyphenols that may help in reducing sebum production
  • dietary changes: vitamins A and E, as well as zinc, may lower a person’s risk of having acne
  • noncomedogenic moisturizers

It is also advisable for people to avoid anything that can trigger irritation or aggravation of skin conditions. Using gentle, hydrating, and moisturizing products without fragrance and other irritants may help alleviate the condition.

A dermatologist can help a person find a suitable OTC acne product.

MNT does not rank products in any order and does not recommend one product over another. A person should opt for the product that best fits their needs.

MNT chooses products that meet the following criteria, where possible:

  • Price: Products suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: Products list all ingredients clearly.
  • Skin concerns: Products target a specific skin concern, such as dryness or oiliness.
  • Safety: Products contain ingredients that are safe for topical use.
  • Reputability: Products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

A person with sensitive skin may find that medicated acne products do more harm than good. People rarely have allergic reactions to medicated acne products, but someone with reactive skin may prefer products with a gentle formulation.

Best for use with or without water: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

  • Ingredients:
    • glycerin
    • cetearyl alcohol
    • panthenol
    • niacinamide
  • Volume: 591 milliliters (ml)
  • Price: around $16.86

This Cetaphil cleanser works with or without water and hydrates the skin while removing impurities. However, people who choose to cleanse without water will need to use a soft cloth to reduce friction against their skin. This should help to avoid further skin irritation and inflammation.

It is of note that at the time of writing this article, the ingredients differ from the ones shown in the product photos. This is because Cetaphil reformulated this product with effective ingredients and removed sulfates.

Niacinamide can help reduce skin redness, but some people may be allergic to it or find it too harsh.

The product does not contain oils or fragrances, and the company states that it is noncomedogenic, hypoallergenic, and suitable for all skin types.

Pros:

  • noncomedogenic
  • fragrance-free
  • usable with or without water

Cons:

  • niacinamide can be too harsh for those with sensitive skin

Best 2-in-1 cleanser: Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body and Face Cleanser

  • Ingredients:
    • sodium cocoamphoacetate
    • sodium myreth sulfate
    • lauryl glucoside
  • Volume: 500 ml
  • Price: $8.26

This 2-in-1 wash is soap-free to prevent the skin from drying out. It also leaves behind little to no residue.

The Eucerin cleanser is free from fragrance and dyes, and is suitable for sensitive skin. The formulation uses mild cleansing agents, such as lauryl glucoside and coco glucoside, and combines these with the hydrating ingredient “glycine” to moisturize and soften the skin.

The company states that the product is noncomedogenic. However, the cleanser contains small amounts of the salt preservative “sodium salicylate.” The preservative is present in such small amounts that it is unlikely to cause irritation. However, people with a confirmed allergic reaction to salicylic acid may want to avoid this ingredient.

Most users claim that this product helped to minimize skin irritation, redness, eczema, and acne. Others say it left their skin red, which could indicate an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients.

Pros:

  • soap-free
  • noncomedogenic
  • moisturizes while clearing out pores

Cons:

  • not suitable for people with an allergy to salicylic acid

Best for sensitive skin: Vanicream Gentle Body Wash

  • Ingredients:
    • glycerin
    • coco glucoside
    • panthenol
  • Volume: 355 ml
  • Price: around $12.49

Vanicream is a company that produces skin care products for sensitive skin and for those who want to avoid common irritants, such as:

  • dyes
  • fragrances
  • lanolin
  • parabens
  • formaldehyde

Vanicream products receive approval from the National Eczema Association (NEA). The company undergoes regular inspections by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has an official license as a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

The Vanicream Gentle Body Wash is free from harsh cleansers, such as panthenol and hexanediol. Instead, it contains the gentle cleansing agent “coco glucoside,” which is biodegradable and mild to the skin.

The product does not contain any active ingredients but provides a gentle cleansing effect that can help to prevent dry skin or worsening acne.

Most reviewers are satisfied with this product, saying it reduced or treated the following skin conditions:

Pros:

  • free from common irritants
  • suitable for sensitive skin
  • may help to alleviate eczema
  • affordable for most

Cons:

  • smaller product size compared to some other options

Bar soaps are an option for people who prefer not to wash with a gel or cream formula. Bar soap is also more affordable and lasts longer than other types of body washes. However, it can be more drying.

Learn about the best soaps for acne here.

Best bar soap for exfoliation: Revitale Salicylic Acid Scrub Soap

  • Ingredients:
    • salicylic acid
    • sodium tallowate
    • sodium palm kernelate
  • Volume: 80 grams (g)
  • Price: around $6.89

This bar soap from Revitale contains salicylic acid and apricot kernels, which help to remove skin impurities. However, the manufacturer does not state the amount of salicylic acid in the product.

According to the packaging, the soap is exfoliating, skin-softening, and has anti-blemish properties. It also contains glycerin, which can moisturize the skin.

The manufacturer does not state the pH of the soap. This is important because more alkaline soaps can cause long-term dryness.

Most reviewers state that the product helped to relieve skin irritation and body acne. However, others claim that it irritated their faces and caused more breakouts. Many also mention the unnecessary fragrance, which can increase skin irritation in some people.

Individuals with sensitive skin should note that the soap contains apricot kernels in a solid form. These act as a physical exfoliant that can rub the surface of the skin, leading to more irritation. People buying this soap should not use it on the face and other sensitive body areas.

Pros:

  • exfoliating action
  • contains glycerin

Cons:

  • contains apricot kernels, which can irritate the skin
  • may not be suitable for people with sensitive skin

Best FDA-approved soap bar: The Defense Acne Care Bar Soap

  • Ingredients:
    • salicylic acid
    • sodium palmate
    • sodium palm kernelate
    • glycerin
  • Volume: 4.2 ounces (oz)
  • Price: around $14.43

The Defense Acne Care Bar Soap contains 2% salicylic acid and oatmeal to help soothe the skin. The company claims that the product is FDA registered.

This bar soap contains oats, which can be beneficial for moisturizing the skin. However, it also contains tea tree and eucalyptus leaf oils, which may irritate the skin.

Reviews are mixed. Some people state that the product helped their acne, while others note it is too drying and did not help improve their breakouts. Some users mention that the fragrance is too strong.

Pros:

  • FDA registered
  • contains moisturizing oatmeal

Cons:

  • may not be suitable for people with sensitive or dry skin

People who have both acne and dry skin may prefer hydrating cleansers.

Many people believe that they should avoid moisturizing if they have acne. While acne can leave the skin feeling oily, many acne treatments can dry out the skin. Dry skin produces more oil, which can lead to further breakouts.

Best allergy-free body wash: CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

  • Ingredients:
  • Volume: 296 ml
  • Price: around $25

This body wash helps refresh and clean the skin without drying it out. The formula does not contain potential skin irritants, such as:

  • sulfates
  • soaps
  • fragrances
  • parabens

According to the company, dermatologists helped develop this product and have tested it to ensure it is suitable for people with allergies. The product also has a seal of acceptance from the NEA.

One advantage of using CeraVe is that most of its products contain ceramides, which can help repair the skin barrier. This product also contains the following skin-moisturizing ingredients:

  • petrolatum
  • urea
  • glycerin

The product also contains sodium lauroyl lactylate, which is a mild surfactant.

According to the manufacturer, this product suits people with normal to dry skin. However, the formulation may also be suitable for people with oilier skin types.

Most reviewers feel that this product helped their eczema, redness, or acne. In general, people note that a pump delivery system would work better, and they would like to have a larger bottle.

CeraVe has other washes with pumps that a person can use both on the face and body.

Pros:

  • allergy-free
  • dermatologically approved
  • hydrating

Cons:

  • reviews say a larger bottle would be preferable

Best for face and body: Honeyskin Face and Body Cleanser

  • Ingredients:
    • aloe vera
    • cocamidopropyl betaine
    • manuka honey
    • salicylic acid
  • Volume: 473 ml
  • Price: around $29.99

According to the manufacturer, this cleanser is gentle enough to use on both the body and face. The company states that all the ingredients are organic, and that the product is free from the following potential irritants:

  • parabens
  • sulfates
  • fragrances

The key ingredients are manuka honey and aloe vera. The company claims that manuka honey helps to decrease acne inflammation, while aloe vera cleanses the skin and helps to control and reduce acne.

The product is cruelty-free and does not contain SLS. However, it does contain citrus essential oils, which can aggravate skin irritation.

Buyers mention that this product helped clear their psoriasis, acne, and rosacea. However, some say that it worsened their acne and redness. This could be an indication of an allergy to one of the ingredients, potentially the essential oil.

Pros:

  • suitable for use on the face and body
  • contains moisturizing ingredients
  • organic

Cons:

  • contains citrus oils, which may be irritating for some
  • some reviews say the product worsened their acne

Best for use during pregnancy: QV Gentle Wash

  • Ingredients:
    • sodium lauroyl sarcosinate
    • glycerin
    • sodium cocoyl isethionate
  • Volume: 500 g
  • Price: around $6

QV is an Australian skin care brand whose products do not contain any of the following potential irritants:

  • soap
  • fragrance
  • dyes
  • colorants
  • lanolin
  • propylene glycol

QV Gentle Wash contains sodium cocoyl isethionate instead of traditional soap ingredients for a gentler cleansing action on the skin. The product also contains pH balancers to minimize skin irritation.

However, the formulation also contains parabens as a preservative.

The company claims all of its products are suitable for use during pregnancy.

Pros:

  • suitable for use during pregnancy
  • free from common skin irritants
  • contains PH balancers to minimize skin irritation

Cons:

  • not suitable for a person looking to avoid parabens

OTC products with a weaker concentration of benzoyl peroxide could help with milder cases of acne.

Learn more about treating acne with benzoyl peroxide here.

Best for oily skin: Tutta La Pelle Acne Wash

  • Ingredients:
    • 10% benzoyl peroxide
    • phenoxyethanol
    • sodium benzoate
  • Volume: 200 ml
  • Price: around $23.95

Tutta La Pelle Body Wash is suitable for oily skin. It contains 10% benzoyl peroxide and is free from parabens, oils, and fragrances.

Tutta La Pelle claims it tests and makes its products in a state-of-the-art, FDA-registered manufacturing facility.

This product is made in the United States and is cruelty-free. It targets acne-prone skin on both the face and body. According to the company, it can help resolve cystic acne and acne on the back and buttocks.

The reviews are positive, with most users saying that this body wash helped clear up their acne. However, some say that they found it to be too drying or that it did not help resolve their breakouts.

Pros:

  • suitable for oily skin
  • helps clear cystic acne on the back
  • cruelty-free

Cons:

  • may be too drying for people with combination or dry skin types

Best foaming wash: PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

  • Ingredients:
    • 10% benzoyl peroxide
    • cetearyl alcohol
    • glycolic acid
  • Volume: 156 g
  • Price: around $11.25

This product contains the maximum allowed percentage of benzoyl peroxide OTC. It may be suitable for moderate to severe acne.

However, due to the higher concentration of benzoyl peroxide, there is a greater risk of dryness and irritation. The product also contains sulfates in the form of SLS, which can further dry and irritate the skin.

PanOxyl also contains glycolic acid, which is a chemical exfoliant. The company strongly recommends avoiding using the wash alongside any other exfoliating products, as this can lead to more inflammation. The reviewers seem to agree.

While many reviewers claim that the product reduced their acne, others say they experienced dryness, irritation, and increased redness.

This wash may suit people with oily skin better than those with drier skin types.

Pros:

  • suitable for people who prefer a foaming wash
  • suitable for moderate to severe acne

Cons:

  • can have a drying effect on the skin
  • cannot use in combination with other exfoliants
  • may increase irritation and redness for some people

Salicylic acid is an ingredient that targets whiteheads and blackheads. Similar to benzoyl peroxide, this ingredient has the potential to dry out the skin.

Learn more about using salicylic acid to treat acne here.

Best exfoliating wash: Proactiv Deep Cleansing Acne Body Wash

  • Ingredients:
  • Volume: 267 ml
  • Price: around $36

This Proactiv body wash formula contains 2% salicylic acid in addition to exfoliating beads. People should be aware that exfoliating beads can create physical friction, which may increase irritation around acne lesions.

The product also contains aloe vera, shea butter, and glycolic acid. These can help balance the cleansing agents while hydrating and moisturizing the skin.

The company claims this dermatologist-tested product will unclog pores to prevent breakouts and make skin feel smooth.

However, the Proactiv body wash contains the following ingredients, which may not be suitable for sensitive skin:

Reviews are positive overall, with many customers claiming that the product helped clear their back acne and keratosis pilaris without drying out their skin. However, one reviewer found that the product triggered breakouts under their skin.

Pros:

  • exfoliates the skin while it washes
  • dermatologically tested

Cons:

  • may not be suitable for people who are sensitive to fragrance or oils
  • more expensive than other options

Best budget wash: Solimo Clarifying Pink Grapefruit Body Wash

  • Ingredients:
    • 2% salicylic acid
    • glycerin
    • cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Volume: 251 ml
  • Price: around $5.45

This Solimo body wash is dermatologically tested, cruelty-free, and made in the U.S.

The company offers a full refund within 1 year of purchase if customers are not satisfied.

However, the product contains fragrance and exfoliating beads. These may be irritating or aggravating to people with sensitive skin or acne.

Reviews are overall positive, though some mention that the fragrance is too strong and that the product has a drying effect on the skin. One consumer notes they experienced a rash that started to heal once they stopped using this wash.

Pros:

  • more affordable than alternatives
  • cruelty-free
  • dermatologically tested

Cons:

  • may not be suitable for people with sensitive skin
  • may increase skin irritation in some people

Best for neck, back, and shoulders: Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Treatment Body Wash

  • Ingredients:
    • 2% salicylic acid
    • glycerin
    • cocamidopropyl betaine
    • acrylates copolymer
  • Volume: 250 ml
  • Price: around $25.99 for three bottles

This Neutrogena body wash contains salicylic acid and vitamin C, and claims to prevent or treat breakouts.

According to the company, this product does not contain any oils and is ideal for body acne on the chest, back, and shoulders.

However, the product contains the following ingredients that may trigger skin allergies or irritation in some people:

  • fragrance
  • flower extracts
  • color additives

Overall, reviews are positive, with most people saying that this body wash helped treat their acne, keratosis pilaris, or eczema. However, negative reviews mention that this product caused burns and irritation. A few users claim it aggravated their acne.

People with sensitive skin should consider choosing a gentler product.

Pros:

  • best for the neck, back, and shoulders
  • does not contain oils, which can be irritating for some

Cons:

  • not suitable for those with sensitive skin
  • negative reviews claim it aggravates acne

Here is how the above acne washes compare:

Salicylic acidBenzyl peroxideFragrance and essential oilsVolumePrice
Cetaphilnonono591 ml$16.86
Eucerinnonono500 ml$9.79
Vanicreamnonono355 ml$10.99
Revitaleyesnoyes80 g$6.99
The Defense2%noyes4.2 oz$10.99
CeraVenonono296 ml$11.99
Honeyskinnonoyes473 ml$29.99
QVnonono500 ml$6.66
Tutta La Pelleno10%no200 ml$23.95
PanOxylno10%no156 g$9.37
Proactiv2%noyes267 ml$36
Solimo2%noyes251 ml$5.45
Neutrogena2%noyes250 ml$22.41 for three bottles

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the most common causes of acne include:

  • Hormones: An increase of the hormone androgen, which is responsible for the biological characteristics of males, can enlarge the sebaceous glands, which make sebum. This increases sebum production and the potential for clogged pores or bacteria buildup, which can trigger acne. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy can also result in acne.
  • Family history: There is a genetic disposition that can lead to people having acne if their parents had it.
  • Medications: Certain medications containing hormones, as well as other drugs, such as lithium, can cause acne.
  • Age: Acne is more common in teenagers due to hormonal changes during puberty. However, adult acne can occur in some people.

Moreover, certain foods, allergy triggers, and lifestyle changes can aggravate acne.

A 2019 study that looked at treating truncal acne, which affects the back, chest, or shoulders, suggests that treatments for face acne can also work on back acne. This is because the process that triggers acne in both areas may be similar.

However, the study authors point out some factors to consider:

  • Back acne remains largely underdiagnosed, which leads to more scarring, pigmentation, and worsening of the acne.
  • Back acne is treatable with topical or oral isotretinoin. However, there is a risk of antibiotic resistance due to the back’s large surface area.
  • Prolonged acne on the back can lead to great discomfort due to friction with clothing. It can also cause bedding discoloration, both from pustules and topical products.

A person should consider contacting a doctor or dermatologist if they experience one or more of the following:

  • acne that persists or worsens despite treatment with an OTC acne product
  • scarring or darkening of the skin
  • acne that impacts their daily life

Although extremely rare, it is possible to experience a severe allergic reaction to medicated acne products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

Individuals who experience any of the above symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Below, we answer some common questions about acne body washes.

Can you use a face cleanser to get rid of body acne?

Face cleansers that are gentle and suitable for acne will perform the same gentle cleansing and acne treatment on other body areas.

However, using face cleansers to address body acne may be more expensive, as they are typically smaller and pricier than body washes.

How often should you use acne body wash?

This depends on the product. Unless the acne body wash has specific instructions — for example, to use infrequently or moderately — individuals may want to use it every time they bathe or shower.

It is worth noting that frequent cleansing may irritate the skin, regardless of the product. Also, the irritation may worsen with active or harsh ingredients.

Can regular body wash remove acne?

It depends on the person, the product, and the acne condition. There are several types of acne, and using a gentle hydrating cleanser without harsh ingredients, soaps, fragrances, or essential oils can help reduce irritation, which regular soaps would trigger.

Ingredients such as ceramides, cholesterol, glycerin, or petrolatum can also help repair the skin barrier. This, in turn, can help alleviate inflammation and manage or treat acne.

Finding the right acne product can take some trial and error. Not all acne body washes will work for every individual.

Acne body wash can help treat mild cases of acne. If someone feels that their acne is not improving, they should contact a healthcare professional to find an appropriate treatment.

Leaving acne untreated may lead to scarring and self-esteem issues. A person does not need to have serious acne to consult a dermatologist. If a skin condition, such as acne, affects an individual’s daily life or self-esteem, they should feel comfortable seeking the help of a healthcare professional.