The Best Acne Body Wash of 2023
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Our top pick is the Kosas Good Body Skin AHA + Enzyme Exfoliating Body Wash
As far as acne-prone skin is concerned, we’re no strangers to all of the cleansers, masks, and treatments available for our complexions — but what about breakouts on the body? These pustules can get wildly uncomfortable if they go untreated, but thankfully one of the first lines of defense against them is body wash. Acne body wash, specifically, is formulated with potent ingredient concoctions that, just like a face cleanser, help target breakouts, keep new pimples from popping up, and even sort out some of the causes of body breakouts such as excess oil production, dirt and debris, sweat, and dry skin. Not to mention, they make caring for acne-prone skin a lot easier.
“The shower provides an opportunity to really cleanse the skin, which is important for acne-prone skin,” says Tracy Evans MD, MPH, Board Certified Dermatologist and Medical Director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology. “A body wash formulated for acne can be very helpful, especially in areas such as the back, shoulders, and chest, which have large surface areas and can be difficult to treat with creams that you have to rub in,” she adds. With that said, there are a lot of other factors that come along with body acne, so choosing a formula that works well for your skin type — whether you have dry skin, need something a little more potent for cystic acne, or want something gentle for sensitive skin — is equally as important.
After testing dozens of formulas with acne-fighting ingredients, the PEOPLE Tested team found 9 of the best body washes for acne that address concerns like pre-existing breakouts, and excess oil, and even help ward off new blemishes, too. Here are our top picks for the best acne body washes.
Best Overall: Kosas Good Body Skin AHA + Enzyme Exfoliating Body Wash
The body wash lathers nicely and is easy to apply to the affected areas.
It visibly diminishes acne breakouts on the chest and back and helps prevent new breakouts from occurring.
It does a fantastic job of removing excess oil without stripping the skin.
None that we could find!
We were so impressed by the Kosas Good Body Skin AHA + Enzyme Exfoliating Body Wash that we easily gave it the award for Best Overall. The secret here is its exfoliating prowess — it's formulated with a combination of tropical fruit enzymes, allantoin, and glycolic acid to help gently wash away excess sebum and remove dead skin and buildup from pores, thereby reducing breakouts and prevent future ones from popping up.
After testing this acne body wash, we were pleasantly surprised by how well it diminishes acne breakouts on the chest and back and also how it reduced the overall amount of breakouts we would typically experience — we even noticed that after shaving, we had fewer ingrown hairs and bumps, which feels like a double-win. We also love that the formula is gentle and doesn’t cause irritations, which can be a nightmare when coupled with already-sensitive acne breakouts. And, although it doesn’t include acne heavy-hitting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, we found that it still worked considerably well and left our skin looking and feeling much clearer and smoother after a month and a half of use.
While this body wash is a bit pricier than your typical drugstore wash, it delivered impressive results that we feel is well worth the price tag. Plus, after the testing period, we still had about 70 percent of the product still left in the bottle, meaning it will last you a long time.
Price at Time of Publish: $22
Size: 9 ounces | Star Ingredients: AHA, tropical fruit enzymes, allantoin, glycolic acid | Skin Type: All, especially oily skin types
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Best for Dry Skin: ZitSticka Silkshake Body Cleanser
It’s rich in omegas, which provide lightweight yet deeply effective nourishment.
Visibly shrinks pimples and makes them less painful in addition to preventing new breakouts.
It doesn’t contain super potent acne-preventing ingredients, which those with cystic acne may prefer.
Dry skin and acne breakouts are individually a bit of an annoyance to deal with, and it’s not always easy to find products that address both. However, after testing, we found that the ZitSticka Silkshake Body Cleanser is the best acne body wash for dry skin because it includes gentle acne-fighting ingredients like tea tree, but also has omegas 3, 6, and 9 in it to nourish the skin without feeling too heavy. We love that this cleanser also focuses on the skin’s microbiome and includes pre-, post-, and probiotics to help regulate the skin’s flora in addition to strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier.
While it’s not the most potent acne body wash — and doesn’t include powerful ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide — it did a good job of decreasing pre-existing pimple size and diminishing painful bacne while also preventing the formation of new breakouts (though it didn't completely clear breakouts during the testing period). Additionally, we thought this acne body wash worked well at reducing redness, which is a major plus. However, if you have cystic or abundant breakouts, you may need to reach for something stronger, like the PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash below.
Price at Time of Publish: $25
Size: 10.14 ounces | Star Ingredients: Tea tree, omega-3, omega-6, omega-9 | Skin Type: Sensitive skin with minimal breakouts
Best Budget: PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash
Mild enough to use on sensitive areas while still working wonders on breakouts and ingrown hairs.
Helps reduce skin oiliness.
You need to use a lot to get a good lather.
If you’re looking for a body wash that won’t break the bank and does an amazing job at combatting acne, we were thoroughly impressed by our experience with PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, which is formulated with 10 percent benzoyl peroxide and designed to treat and prevent acne breakouts on the body.
After testing this body wash for several weeks, we found that it did a fabulous job of removing excess oil and that it also helped keep inflammation at bay. And because it's more of a cream-wash than a soap, it left or skin feeling considerably soft after use. Strong acne-fighting ingredient, benzoyl peroxide, helped to noticeably unclog pores as well as work wonders on ingrown hairs, too, which was a nice bonus. Additionally, there was no scent, which is great for sensitive noses and skin types. The price point certainly doesn't hurt, either!
Price at Time of Publish: $9.77
Size: 5.5 ounces | Star Ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide | Skin Types: All, especially dry skin
Best Investment: Murad Acne Control Acne Body Wash
It has small exfoliating particles that do a phenomenal job of exfoliating without irritating the skin.
It’s excellent at combatting excess oil production.
It has salicylic acid and tea tree in its formula, so it does a good job of keeping breakouts at bay through exfoliation and antibacterial properties.
The exfoliating particles might not be ideal for sensitive skin types.
If you’re looking to splurge on a luxe acne-fighting formula, the Murad Acne Body Wash is our top pick. This body wash has a gel-like texture with tiny exfoliating particles that gently slough off dry skin to help keep clogged pores at bay. The formula also features salicylic acid, which can support the exfoliation process while also targeting inflammation, excess oils, and blackheads.
Upon testing this product, we loved how it felt on our skin and how gentle the exfoliation is, despite being partially physical (one tester even used it on her face, too, which we wouldn't necessarily recommend, but she did not experience any adverse reaction in doing so). We also noticed a significant change in our back acne after regular use, as most of our breakouts cleared up and we only experienced a couple of new pimples during the testing period. Finally, oiliness was significantly reduced with this body wash.
Price at Time of Publish: $40.80
Size: 8.5 ounces | Star Ingredients: Salicylic acid, tea tree extract | Skin Type: All, especially oily skin
Best Naturally-Derived Wash: Typology Paris Anti-Blemish Body Wash with 6% Glycolic Acid
The formula is lightweight, soft, and easy to use.
You only need a pea-sized amount to address even large surface areas.
The brand says to use it only at night because it makes your skin sensitive to the sun, which is a bit limiting if you're a morning bather.
Did not noticeably prevent new breakouts from forming.
This body wash features two potent anti-acne ingredients — glycolic acid and tea tree extract — and has a lightweight formula that doesn’t feel too heavy on our acne-prone skin. It's also 85-percent naturally-derived, which is great for those who appreciate conscious formulations.
With a 6-percent concentration of glycolic acid, which is known for its ability to unclog pores, we found that this body wash was amazing at decreasing the life of back breakouts and reducing inflammation and tenderness. However, we didn't notice that it prevented new breakouts in any marked way.
Another downside to this formula is that it's recommended only for nighttime use since its ingredients can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so it might not be ideal for those who prefer to shower in the morning.
Price at Time of Publish: $17.47
Size: 6.76 ounces | Star Ingredients: Glycolic acid, tea tree extract | Skin Type: All
Best Deep-Cleaning: Starface Outer Space Foaming Body Cleanser
The body wash lathers quickly and spreads evenly (and easily) across the skin.
It provides a deep cleanse that leaves the skin feeling super fresh after washing.
It’s excellent at removing sweat, dirt, and debris.
This is like the clarifying shampoo of body wash, so it’s a little too strong for everyday use.
Sometimes, you need a little clarifying action, especially when dealing with oily and acne-prone skin in the sweaty summer months.
If you’re looking for a product that will help keep acne at bay and ward off sweat, dirt, debris, and excess oil, the Starface Outer Space Body Cleanser is a must-try. This formula is sort of like the clarifying shampoo of body washes as it works well to deeply clean the skin, and provides a cleanse that helps diminish the look of pre-existing breakouts and prevent future ones from occurring. With that said, its cleanse is a little strong and might not be ideal for those with dry/sensitive skin or for use in the winter season (unless you’re following up with a good lotion afterward). However, if you’re dealing with excess oil or looking for a good post-workout body wash for acne-prone skin, this is certainly it.
Price at Time of Publish: $12.99
Size: 8 ounces | Star Ingredients: Glycerin, willow bark extract | Skin Type: Balanced, oily
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Best for Back Acne: Truly Cherry Jelly Anti-Bacne Body Cleanser
After six weeks of use, most of our back acne was completely gone and no new pimples appeared.
It did not irritate our sensitive skin.
We wish it had more moisturizing ingredients.
Those who experience back acne can sigh a breath of relief because we found the formula that can actually get rid of body breakouts. The Truly Cherry Jelly Anti-Bacne Body Cleanse is specifically designed to target acne on the back and does a phenomenal job to boot.
After testing this body wash out for several weeks, we noticed that this cleanser, which transforms from a gel to an easily spreadable creamy formula, made significant changes in our pre-existing back acne, as well as some tricep breakouts (though these were more stubborn to target). The formula features mandelic acid, which is a powerful ingredient that removes acne-causing bacteria, helping to not only shrink inflamed pimples but also prevent any new pimples from forming. While we wish the formula was a little more nourishing as it did make skin feel a bit dry after use, it does work well for those with oily skin types who need to decrease excess sebum.
Price at Time of Publish: $31.90
Size: 8 ounces | Star Ingredients: Mandelic acid, niacinamide, allantoin | Skin Type: Balanced, oily
Best Brightening: Frank Body A Clearing Body Wash
Noticeably reduces the new formation of large, cystic acne.
Has a nice sensorial experience when applying including a refreshing fruity scent.
We wish it was a little more moisturizing.
We didn't notice a major reduction in the overall number of existing breakouts.
For sensitive skin types, finding an acne body wash that doesn’t feel super harsh on the skin can be a challenge — but the Frank Body Clearing Body Wash has you covered. Formulated with salicylic acid, the acne body wash gently targets inflammation and new acne formation to keep skin clear and unbothered. It also features refreshing and soothing aloe vera, which feels really nice on sensitive, breakout-prone skin, plus vitamin B for protecting the skin from free radicals.
We really enjoyed using this body wash — it's very light and comes to nice, bubbly lather without having to use too much product. Plus, it has a subtle fruity/floral scent that feels especially refreshing. However, one of our testers noted that she felt that she needed to wash her body a second time after a sweaty workout due to not feeling "clean" enough from the first wash. As a result, if your skin type is on the oily end of the spectrum, you may find that you need to use more product than usual. Additionally, if you have dry skin, the lightweight nature of this wash will not provide deep moisture and you'll need to follow up with a body lotion.
When using this formula, we found that it didn’t do the best job at treating pre-existing breakouts, but it helped put a stop to the formation of new blemishes, especially those deep, painful cystic breakouts. And it did not irritate our skin whatsoever which is helpful for not exacerbating current pimples.
Price at Time of Publish: $12.95
Size: 12.17 ounces | Star Ingredients: Salicylic acid, Kakadu plum, aloe vera, vitamin B | Skin Type: All
Best Cooling: The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash
Provides a relieving cooling sensation to irritated, red blemishes.
Despite having tea tree oil (which can be drying on some skin types) in its formula, it’s actually super nourishing.
It lathers really well, even if the skin isn’t that wet.
The tea tree scent is strong, which might not be for everyone.
It did not have a moisturizing effect.
Having inflamed breakouts on the body can come with a side of heat. For relief, we recommend using a cooling body wash and found that The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash worked the best. The tea tree oil formula not only cools on contact but also helped target inflammation and redness on the body, too.
And, after regular use over several weeks, we found that it helped clear up some of the pre-existing breakouts on our skin, too. Although tea tree might not be for everyone (it can sometimes be quite irritating, especially for sensitive skin types) it’s a powerful naturally-derived acne-fighting ingredient that is much easier to use when formulated in a body wash as opposed to as an oil alone. Additionally, like the previous body wash, it wasn't moisturizing, so especially considering the irritating nature of tea tree oil, you'll want to consider a nourishing body lotion after showering.
Price at Time of Publish: $15
Size: 8.45 ounces | Star Ingredients: Tea tree oil | Skin Type: Acne-prone
Things to Consider Before Buying Body Wash for Acne
A Balancing Formula
Similar to the face, it’s important not to choose a body wash that is too harsh and, therefore, strips the skin on the body of natural oils, as this can cause the skin’s sebum production to overcompensate and result in excess oil. “One thing to look for in a body wash for acne-prone skin is one that gently foams off the dirt, oil, and sweat, but at the same time does not strip all the natural hydration of the skin,” says Dr. Kseniya Kobets, Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at Montefiore. With this in mind, Dr. Kobets recommends staying away from formulas with heavy ingredients like shea butter or oils (which can clog pores) and instead going for more lightweight hydration, like hyaluronic acid. For dry skin types, you might also consider ingredients like glycerin and dimethicone to restore moisture to the skin and hold it in, respectively, like the Panoxyl Acne Foaming Wash winner on our list.
Ingredients for Acne-Prone Skin
In addition to looking for more balancing formulas, paying close attention to the full ingredient list also makes a difference. “Look for a body wash that has several active ingredients to help fight breakouts, [such as] salicylic acid, azelaic acid, sulfur, green tea extract, and zinc,” says Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, and founder and lead facial plastic surgeon of DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa.
Salicylic acid: This skincare ingredient is a great exfoliant for sensitive, acne-prone skin because it can help decrease inflammation, reduce oils and blackheads, and kill the bacteria that cause acne, says Dr. DeRosa. “Salicylic acid is considered one of the most effective [ingredients] for mild to moderate acne.” For salicylic-enriched body washes, we recommend Murad Acne Body Wash and Frank Body Clearing Body Wash.
Azelaic acid: This antibacterial and anti-inflammatory skincare ingredient is known to decrease swelling and redness as well as prevent clogged pores. “As a comedolytic, it unblocks clogged pores and prevents whiteheads and blackheads as well as decreases irritation and redness seen with acne through its anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. DeRosa.
Sulfur: “Sulfur is another great ingredient to help combat acne and is commonly found in cleansers,” says DeRosa. She notes that it works by helping to dry excess sebum, thus reducing the oils on your skin.
Green Tea: According to DeRosa, this natural skincare ingredient is anti-bacterial and “works nicely to help kill acne bacteria.”
Zinc: “Zinc is an anti-inflammatory and may reduce bacteria on the skin and oiliness in the skin,” says DeRosa.
Benzoyl Peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide is another effective acne ingredient, recommended by Dr. Kobets. “It not only kills the possible infection or bacteria in the pimple but also dries out the oil and cleans out excess debris within the follicle,” she explains. With that said, this ingredient is a little harsher compared to other acne ingredients and might lead to excessive dryness and irritation, so it’s best to consult your dermatologist before using a product formulated with the powerful acne fighter.
According to Dr. Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, it’s also super important to make sure the body wash you use is formulated for your skin type — especially if you have acne-prone skin. This means looking not only at the product label but also at beneficial ingredients, as well as important cues like “non-comedogenic” which means it won’t clog pores (though most formulas shouldn't).
How We Tested
To find the best acne body washes, we researched dozens of formulas, carefully paying attention to which acne-fighting ingredients were included, the product reviews, and the various skin types they address to curate a list of top products. From there, the PEOPLE Tested team conducted real-world testing over the course of six weeks to get a good idea of how well the body washes work at cleansing and targeting blemish-prone skin. Testers were instructed to stop use of their current body wash and to not use any other acne treatment in their regimen during the testing period.
Throughout the trial, we took rigorous notes on our experiences, including the condition of our skin after the first use and how our skin improved throughout the course of six weeks. We then compiled all of our data and thoroughly reviewed our findings to narrow our selections down to the 9 best acne body wash formulas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best body wash for acne?
After testing dozens of acne body washes, we found the most success with the Kosas Good Body Skin AHA + Enzyme Exfoliating Body Wash, which features a blend of chemical exfoliants to help clear clogged pores and resurface the skin. For a more budget-friendly option, we also recommend PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, which is formulated with benzoyl peroxide and designed to treat and prevent breakouts. If you experience both acne and dry skin on your body — which is a pesky combination — you can find relief in the ZitSticka Silkshake Body Cleanser, which is our top pick for the best acne body wash for dry skin since it has omegas 3, 6, and 9 for nourishing the body.
Can you use acne body wash on your face?
Technically speaking, you can use acne body wash on your face as facial formulas and body formulas are often quite similar, but our experts warn of using formulas that could be more irritating to the thinner, more delicate facial skin (like physical exfoliants and those with harsher ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or tea tree oil if you have reactive skin). You should also be careful to avoid your eye area with any acne wash as the active ingredients can greatly irritate them.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Jessie Quinn is a contributing commerce writer for PEOPLE.com who writes about beauty, fashion, home, pets, DIY, and more. She has a BA in journalism from Academy of Art University and has written for other publications such as Forbes, InStyle, and Nylon.
For this story, she went through extensive testing insights and data, analyzing each tester's experience with the body washes. She also consulted 4 medical professionals, Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, and founder and lead facial plastic surgeon of DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa, Dr. Kseniya Kobets, Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at Montefiore, Dr. Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and Dr. Tracy Evans, MPH, Board Certified Dermatologist and Medical Director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology for their insights into which types of acne body washes work best and which ingredients to avoid.
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
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