Let's get something out of the way right from the start: There's nothing wrong with experiencing body acne. It's actually quite common, and it's nothing to feel bad about. Capeesh? With that being said, it's probably safe to assume that you'd rather get rid of it than keep it, right? Especially since, depending on the severity, it can range anywhere from being simply annoying to being outright painful.
While acne is a multifaceted skin condition with no single cure (more on that in a second), there are things you can do to minimize it and, in some cases, clear it altogether. Choosing the right acne-clearing products is a good start. While there are thousands of anti-acne products for the face, the body-acne options are, well, more limited. But that doesn't mean that there aren't effective (and in some cases, inexpensive) products to choose from. Keep scrolling to see the best acne bodywashes, according to dermatologists and editors.
What Is Body Acne, and Why Does It Happen?
"Even though it is most common for acne to happen on your face, acne can happen anywhere on the body," says cosmetic scientist and founder and CEO of Acaderma Shuting Hu. "Acne is usually caused by clogged pores, inflammation, and excess oil or sebum production. Stress, a poor diet, hormonal changes, or environmental pollutants are all contributing factors to why you might be experiencing a breakout anywhere on the body."
Hu says body acne is most commonly found on the chest and back, due to a higher number of oil glands located in this area. "The higher amount of oil makes it easier for bacteria to grow, which leads to inflammation that causes acne to arise."
"While many forms of acne, including body acne, have a genetic component, there can be other factors," explains board-certified dermatologist Geeta Yadav. "These include overactive oil glands, fluctuation in hormones, friction or occlusion of the skin, and even the use of hair products, especially if you have longer hair. Although these factors play an important role, exactly what triggers acne has not been totally clarified in the literature. There have been linkages to food, but this has not been conclusively proven. I’ve noticed an uptick in acne in patients who wear athletic clothing that causes friction or that traps sweat from working out, against the skin."
So what can you do to minimize your own body acne? Yadav recommends washing your sheets frequently (more than once a week) to keep oil and grime from building up on the fabric and potentially clogging your skin. She also recommends exfoliating regularly to remove dead skin cell buildup and cleansing your skin often. "Get out of your sweaty fitness clothes and shower as soon as you can post-workout or use a body wipe if you're in a pinch," she says. "You should also do this if you live in a particularly hot and humid area or if you have a job that makes you particularly sweaty. It's okay to shower twice a day to help get the grime off!"
That brings us to a humble, yet powerful, acne-clearing product—bodywash.
5 Derm-Approved Acne Bodywashes
Both Hu and Yadav recommend this body wash. So does board-certified dermatologist Marina Peredo. (That's three separate dermatologists!) Peredo recommends it because it's formulated with both salicylic acid and ceramides, so it exfoliates the skin to clear acne while also hydrating it.
Yadav echoes this sentiment. While it's certainly true that salicylic acid is considered a "gold standard" ingredient for fighting acne, she encourages people to look for formulas that contain noncomedogenic moisturizing ingredients, too. "Acne-fighting ingredients can be pretty harsh on the skin, so it's important to supplement them with gentler and skin health-supporting ingredients," she says. "One I love is ceramides—they help seal moisture into the skin and help your body maintain a healthy balance."
Peredo also recommends this budget-friendly bodywash. "It is formulated with 10% benzoyl peroxide to help clear acne and prevent new breakouts from forming. It works to unclog pores, and you can use it on both your body and face," she says.
Benzoyl peroxide is the other gold-standard acne-fighting ingredient. According to Peredo, it has antibacterial properties, which fight acne-causing bacteria at the source, preventing them from multiplying and wreaking havoc on the skin.
"If you are looking for a gentle exfoliating bodywash, I love this one from Peter Thomas Roth," Hu says. "It contains salicylic acid, AHAs, and gentle exfoliating beads that will cleanse your pores and remove excess dead skin cells to prevent breakouts from happening."
5 Editor-Approved Acne Bodywashes
This Kosas bodywash is a Who What Wear team favorite. It's formulated with glycolic acid (an AHA) as well as fruit enzymes to exfoliate the skin and keep bumps and breakouts at bay. It does all of this without drying out the skin or causing irritation.
If you're a fan of Zitsticka's pimple patches, you'll probably be a fan of the brand's acne bodywash, too. It contains pre- and probiotics as well as tea tree, which is a natural acne-clearing ingredient. We like the way it foams up in a decadent lather.
5 Other Body Products to Shop Now
"If you are experiencing body acne, in addition to using a bodywash that helps fight acne, you can use glycolic acid pads such as Skinfluence's 2-2 Pads," Peredo says. These pads are soaked with a combination of glycolic and salicylic acid to keep skin smooth and pores clear.
Another body spray to consider is this one from Versed. It's formulated specifically for body acne and contains a powerful combination of salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and witch hazel. Since it's in a spray bottle, it's easy to target otherwise unreachable portions of the back.
We know what you're thinking: Spending almost one hundred dollars on a single bath towel? That's crazy, right? This isn't an ordinary bath towel, though. It's made from a unique blend of fibers that kill acne-causing bacteria, preventing you from reintroducing it to your skin after you shower. How cool is that? It's medically graded.