The Best Dermatologist-Recommended Body Washes For Acne

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Treating body acne all starts with the products you use in the shower — namely, your body wash. According to Dr. Beth Goldstein, who spoke to Elite Daily for this article, the best dermatologist-recommended body washes for acne contain the active ingredients benzoyl peroxide, the beta-hydroxy acid salicylic acid, or alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic or lactic acid. For the most severe cases of body acne, choose a benzoyl peroxide body wash, Dr. Brooke Jeffy tells Elite Daily, “Because in addition to exfoliating, [benzoyl peroxide] reduces the amount of acne-causing bacteria on the skin,” she explains.

Some other tips from the derms? Avoid physical scrubs, which run the risk of creating micro-injuries that can irritate the skin and make acne worse, Dr. Goldstein says. Instead, gently exfoliate using chemical exfoliants (like any of the BHA and AHA body washes ahead) and retinoid treatments to address the root cause of acne. “Acne treatments are designed to prevent new breakouts, therefore a day in and day out regimen of gentle exfoliation is far better than harsh scrubs,” explains Dr. Goldstein.

With those tips in mind, scroll on to discover five of the best body washes for acne, plus more advice from the derms.

1. The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Body Wash

“The benzoyl peroxide cleanser I recommend is Panoxyl 4% creamy wash,” says Dr. Jeffy. Made with 4% benzoyl peroxide, it’s a mild but effective choice for treating acne on your body and face. The creamy, non-lathering, fragrance-free formula shouldn’t cause too much dryness (but still, be sure to follow up with a light layer of moisturizer). Though it is safe to use benzoyl peroxide long term, Dr. Jeffy recommends reducing the frequency of your use as “[your] acne becomes more mild to minimize potential negative effects on the skin microbiome from chronic antibiotic exposure.”

Both experts warn that one annoying side effect of using benzoyl peroxide is that it can stain and discolor towels and clothing, so you may want to invest in special towels and benzoyl peroxide resistant sheets.

2. A Stronger Benzoyl Peroxide Body Wash

“Benzoyl peroxide addresses several aspects of acne and is the most comprehensive [ingredient],” says Dr. Goldstein. “Used once or twice a day it can be extremely effective.” She suggests starting with a lower concentration, even as low as 2.5%, then gradually building up to the highest percentage that doesn’t irritate your skin. Don’t start with 10%, she says, especially if you’re using other products to treat your acne such as Tretinoin, but it is appropriate to build up to a 10% wash, such as Humane Maximum Strength Acne Wash, if you think your skin needs it (and can handle it). 10% is much too strong for your face, so stick to using this below your neck.

3. The Best Salicylic Acid Body Wash

Dr. Jeffy says La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Wash is her preferred salicylic acid cleanser, and notes that the ingredient can “Gently exfoliate the skin to help remove excess oil and debris (like dead skin cells) that can block follicles contributing to the formation of acne.” Meanwhile, Dr. Goldstein says to look for salicylic acid washes containing .5% to 2% of the ingredient, which is typically well-tolerated on the body. This foaming gel cleanser contains 2% salicylic acid, as well as moisturizing glycerin, and it’s free of both fragrance and oil. You could also use this on your face if you’re prone to breakouts there.

4. The Best Body Wash For Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin

Dr. Goldstein says the popular CeraVe SA Body Wash would be great for those with sensitive skin. That’s because in addition to salicylic acid, the cleanser contains moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, strengthening ceramides, and soothing niacinamide, so it’s nourishing and not at all drying. This is a favorite among people with keratosis pilaris, as it helps promote smooth, bump-free skin, just like the label says.

5. The Best AHA Body Wash

Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser is a favorite glycolic acid containing product,” Dr. Jeffy says. Free of fragrance and oil, it’s made with the AHAs glycolic and lactic acids, along with brightening vitamin C. “Alpha-hydroxy acids [such as glycolic or lactic acid] work to gently exfoliate the top layer of the skin, allowing for less plugging of pores,” explains Dr. Goldstein. This cleanser can be used to reduce current breakouts and prevent future ones on your face and body, and AHAs are great for promoting smoother and more even-looking skin, as well.


Dr. Beth Goldstein, M.D., co-founder of GET Mr. and President at Central Dermatology Center, Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Brooke Grant Jeffy, M.D. , board-certified dermatologist