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An unfortunate side effect of being a chronic back-sweater is the development of cystic acne, or “bacne,” as we have so affectionately dubbed it. The condition is caused when the aforementioned sweat, bacteria, oil, and/or dead skin cells get trapped in your pores to cause inflammation and create large, red, sometimes pus-filled pimples and blackheads. Clothing, bed linens, and backpacks can also worsen the condition due to friction. But if this describes you, an easy solution is to start using a reputable acne body wash.
While it is always in your best interest to seek the medical advice and care of a licensed dermatologist, there are dozens of mainstream body washes formulated to target body acne specifically. These, in tandem with topical treatments and even antibiotics, can help to stop the embarrassing flare-up in their tracks so you can rock tank tops or go shirtless with confidence.
Having suffered from bouts of bacne since high school, we’re always on the hunt for the latest and greatest remedy. Below, we’ve ranked the eight best acne body washes that yielded results based on our testing. But first, let’s talk about ingredients.
What Goes Into the Best Acne Body Wash?
Before delving into the final rankings, it’s important to break down the active ingredients used to combat and prevent the formation of pimples. Since everybody’s skin is different, what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to keep this (and the ingredients) in mind when testing products for yourself to avoid frustration if one highly-rated product doesn’t work for you. In terms of how to prevent acne, here are four ingredients to look for:
- Salicylic Acid: a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that will actually remove the top layer of dead skin cells by penetrating pores and unclogging them.
- Benzoyl Peroxide: an antiseptic that eliminates bacteria on the surface of your skin. (Note: You’ll want to avoid using dark towels and/or clothing after washing as benzoyl peroxide can strip fabrics of their color like bleach.)
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA): a group of chemical exfoliants (like lactic, mandelic, and glycolic) that remove dead skin cells and prevent the overproduction of pore-clogging sebum (oil).
- Tea Tree Oil: an essential oil that may have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties (though more scientific evidence is necessary to confirm these claims).
The Best Acne Body Wash At a Glance
1. Proactiv Acne Body Wash
Best For: Anyone looking for a daily acne body wash that doesn’t strip the skin of moisture.
Why We Chose It: Proactiv has cemented their name as the leader in acne-fighting products. This body wash is no exception. It has a higher salicylic acid content than most, but the presence of cold-pressed almond oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter keeps skin hydrated.
Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid
Proactiv has done it again by supplementing its highly-popular skincare line with a salicylic acid-based cleanser formulated to target body acne. What sets this product apart from the lot is its gritty, exfoliation-friendly texture with vitamin E-encapsulated beads that melt under your fingers to remove dead skin cells while promoting moisture. Its formula is also light enough to use every day and the scent is clean and fresh without being overwhelming. Frankly, there is nothing to dislike about this acne body wash other than its somewhat steep price point.
- Gritty texture with vitamin E beads to exfoliate dead skin
- Ultra-moisturizing with natural oils
- Refreshing scent
- Somewhat pricey
2. Murad Acne Control Body Wash
Best For: The guy who wants something a little less powerful than Proactiv, our pick for the best acne body wash. Also, if you’ve had success with Murad in the past, its formula will work best for your skin type.
Why We Chose It: There are Proactiv loyalists and there are Murad loyalists. If you fall into the latter category, the brand’s acne body wash is the obvious choice for you.
Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid
Murad’s Acne Control Body Wash boasts all of the same acne-fighting properties as Proactiv, but with a slightly lower salicylic acid content, making it a great acne body wash for sensitive skin. And while it maintains the same gritty texture, it also lacks the vitamin E beads that burst and provide an added layer of hydration. Despite that, Murad delivers quality and results and is touted as one of the most dermatologist-recommended brands in the world. If you’ve incorporated the brand into your facial skincare routine, then definitely consider this one for the body.
- Gritty texture helps with exfoliation
- Murad is one of the most reputable, derm-approved companies
- Does not over-dry skin
- Extremely expensive
- Scent is a bit too soapy
- Less powerful than Proactiv
3. Some By Mi Miracle Acne Clear Body Cleanser
Best For: Any guy who prefers a more all-natural, plant-derived alternative to most mainstream skincare products.
Why We Chose It: The Korean-based product works better than most of the options on this list. Period.
Active Ingredient: Tea Tree, A.H.A., Salicylic Acid
We were kind of blown away by the results of this appropriately titled ‘miracle” acne body cleanser by Some By Mi. The only reason why it didn’t take top honors is that the Proactiv formula was a bit more well-rounded and suited for frequent use. While this acne body wash works, it’s definitely something you’ll tire of using every day with its strong, medicinal scent and tendency to dry out the skin. That said, if you have an important event like a pool party and a body pimple is standing in the way, this is the one to use so that it’s stopped in its tracks.
- Triple acne-fighting ingredients that work
- Great to use as a quick remedy
- Large bottle that will last a while
- Tea tree scent can be too overwhelming
- Can be very drying
4. Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash
Best For: The no-frills consumer who wants to walk in and out of a drugstore and buy a body wash for acne, specifically, without breaking the bank.
Why We Chose It: At less than $10 a bottle, Neutrogena’s famous Body Clear Body Wash is one of the most affordable on the market.
Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid
Neutrogena’s Body Clear Body Wash has developed a bit of a cult following, and rightfully so. Customers can’t get enough of the mass-market product that actually works to dry up pimples and prevent new ones. In fact, other Neutrogena acne-fighting products are also a big hit, including their gels and creams to spot-treat newly-formed whiteheads. Use them together (and consistently) for maximum results and bask in the glory of clearer skin.
- Foams and lathers very well
- Contains aloe and chamomile to smooth and calm skin
- Extremely affordable and easy to find
- The fragrance is polarizing
- Results may take some time
5. Dove Acne Clear Body Cleanser
Best For: The guy who is prone to rashes and redness when introducing a new skincare product.
Why We Chose It: Dove’s Body Love line takes all skin types into consideration with its gentle blend of botanicals (like bamboo extract) that allow you to bathe without the fear of further aggravating pre-existing acne.
Active Ingredient: Salicylic acid
Dove is one of the most popular beauty brands in the world because it takes every skin type into consideration before releasing a new product. With that in mind, we found this to be the very best acne body wash for sensitive skin. The Dove Acne Clear Body Cleanser is pH-balanced, vegan, and mildly formulated so that every man can incorporate it into their bathing routine without worry. In fact, they concocted the ingredient list of this acne body wash with the fragility of the face in mind, which is one of the most sensitive parts of your body. And if an acne soap works fine on the mug, it obviously can be applied to the rest of the body without fear of a rash or irritation.
- Large bottle size that lasts for weeks
- No sulfates or parabens
- Amazing herbal scent
- Scent and clean feeling don’t linger for long
- Could be stronger in defeating acne
6. Humane Maximum Strength Acne Wash
Best For: Men who are struggling with the most extreme cases of cystic acne.
Why We Chose It: A little goes a long way with Humane’s Maximum Strength Acne Wash, which guarantees a drastic reduction in cyst and pimple size.
Active Ingredient: Benzoyl peroxide
For those who see virtually zero improvements after using salicylic acid-based acne body washes, benzoyl peroxide is the ingredient for you. Humane’s Maximum Strength Acne Wash packs a bunch with a 10% solution that can also be applied and left on for one to three minutes after using your favorite body wash. Just be sure to dry with a white towel — it can easily stain fabrics like bleach, which won’t bode well for that new Egyptian cotton set you just splurged on this year.
- Targets more severe cases of acne
- Was one of the fastest-acting of the bunch
- A little goes a long way, which saves you money
- Benzoyl peroxide can be extremely drying and irritating
- Any remnant of the product can stain clothes or towels
- Off-putting chlorine scent
- Difficult to foam and lather
You don’t have to sacrifice a refreshing and invigorating shower experience for the sake of preventing acne. Mario Badescu proves that you can bring in relaxing, alluring smells and a silky, smooth shower gel to aid in your battle against breakouts (thanks to A.H.A.). In fact, there is nothing remotely medicinal about this acne body wash and it can easily be used daily without fear of over-drying. Between its aroma, texture, and ability to lather, gear up for a sensory experience that will remind you of most high-end spas.
- Refreshing grapefruit and floral scent
- Lathers wonderfully and feels luxurious
- Quite affordable
- Contains sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
- Works best with a loofah or sponge and not hands
8. ZitSticka Body Double (Silkshake and Fizz Fountain)
Best For: The person who appreciates a multi-step routine instead of an all-in-one miracle bottle.
Why We Chose It: The dynamic duo work together to first soothe pre-existing breakouts and then block future ones, making it a one-two punch that strengthens and protects your skin barrier.
Active Ingredient: A.H.A., Tea Tree
We know that shower real estate is limited, but these two bottles deserve a permanent spot on the shelf. While A.H.A. and tea tree are acne-fighting stars, the Silkshake (step one) offers a pre and post-probiotic blend that “balances your skin’s microdome” by keeping good bacteria in and kicking bad, pore-clogging bacteria to the curb (or down the drain). Fizz Fountain, which contains peppermint extract, then jumps in to exfoliate and retexturize your skin’s surface so that it’s smooth and ready to weather the acne-causing elements of sweat and bacteria.
- Dual-action performance with two formulas
- Multiple active ingredients work together
- Niacinamide reduces redness and irritation
- You don’t have to purchase both, but you’ll want to
- Can be laborious to use two products
How We Chose the Best Acne Body Washes
While there are dozens of products that treat acne for the face, the selection is limited when it comes to those marketed for the body. We rounded up nearly 15 of the most popular body washes for acne available and put them to the ultimate test.
Categories included, but were not limited to pimple shrinkage, breakout prevention, scent, price, ability to moisturize, and brand recognition. The aforementioned eight represented the very best acne body washes by these metrics and were awarded specific accolades.
Why Trust SPY When Choosing an Acne Body Wash
The research team at SPY has scoured the internet for the best acne body washes to identify the products that dermatologists, beauty editors, and, most importantly, consumers can’t stop raving about. This includes the acne body washes that SPY readers themselves are searching for and have requested more information about.
For over eight weeks, at least a dozen acne body washes were tested using the same loofah type, water temperature, and scrubbing technique to maintain consistency and accuracy. We also wanted to make sure that products had at least an entire week dedicated to their use since the perks of acne-fighting body washes like blemish fading and breakout prevention can take some time. The contenders were then ranked and reviewed in various categories to accommodate a wide net of potential customers who prioritize different aspects (i.e. price, ingredients, brand recognition, etc.)
Aside from acne body wash, SPY also tests a number of other skincare products. Recently, the team has reviewed the King C. Gillette Beard Care Kit, our favorite lip balms, and the best hair loss subscription services that actually work.
About the Author: Joey Skladany
Joey is a writer, editor, TV/radio personality, lifestyle expert, former entertainment publicist, and author of Basic Bitchen. As the son of a former esthetician, he has worked extensively in the men’s beauty and skincare space and is a frequent contributor to outlets like AskMen, Beautytap, Today.com, People, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Food52, Cosmopolitan, Apartment Therapy, and more. When not writing, he enjoys traveling, fine dining, perfecting his stand-up comedy routine, and volleyball.