If you get body breakouts, trust me when I say these are the 7 best acne body washes

Because acne doesn't exclusively affect the face

Woman washing her body under the shower
(Image credit: Getty Images/Gary John Norman)

When it comes to busting breakouts, I think it's pretty safe to say the entire beauty industry is on an on-going quest to find the very best acne treatment out there. And to be honest, when it comes to treating every type of acne on the face, as a whole, most of us are pretty clued up on the best skincare routine for acne.

However, when it comes to body breakouts and the best body wash for acne, we seem to be less in the know. Take myself, for example. Having been a beauty editor and journalist for over eight years, it's safe to say I put a lot of time, energy and money into finding the best spot treatments for the hormonal, post-pill acne that first cropped up on my chin a few years ago and never went away. When it comes to my body breakouts, however, I've typically turned a blind eye.

My experience with body breakouts

The truth is, considering I've spent years of my life having daily conversations with some of the top dermatologists in the game and finding the best acne face washes, the best moisturisers for acne-prone skin and the best sunscreens for acne, it took me a long time to pay my body breakouts any attention.

When the start of summer rolled around earlier this year, I had decided that after years of ignorance, it was finally time to treat my incessant back acne and chest acne—so I reached out to some of my go-to dermatologists to help. Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, explains that treating body acne can be tough. "The skin on the body is tougher—the pores are less flexible and it's generally more resilient to treatments," she says.

I was informed that the single best way to treat acne on the body was with specialised acne body washes. Just like how we switch our facial cleansers up in relation to our skin type and concerns—our body washes should be switched up, too. "You should cleanse your body regularly with a skin cleanser that has an exfoliating ingredient for spot-prone skin," Dr Mayou adds.

Since then, I have dedicated many hours to testing and trialling the very best acne body washes out there in a bid to bust my stubborn body breakouts—and I'd be lying if I said I didn't stumble across some duds in the process.

The testing criteria

When it came to testing the best acne body washes, I had a very strict criteria that the washes had to meet in order to be deemed an all-round success. And while not every acne body wash on this list ticked every single box for me (I'm only one woman with her own unique set of preferences, after all), in order to feature in my edit of the best, the product had to work. My criteria was as follows:

  • Does the acne body wash reduce breakouts?
  • Does the acne body wash dry out the skin?
  • Does the acne body wash suitably cleanse the skin?
  • Does the acne body wash feel luxurious to use?

The best acne body washes

Armed with the very best expert advice, eight years of journalistic experience and the above criteria, I set out to find the best acne body washes out there, whatever your skin type or preference. Keep scrolling for the 7 best acne body washes in existence.

1. CeraVe Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid

Best all-round acne body wash

2. Ameliorate Clarifying Clay Body Wash

Best acne body wash for oily skin

3. ZitSticka Silkshake™ Probiotic Cleanser

Best luxury acne body wash

4. Mario Badescu A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap

Best surface-smoothing acne body wash

5. The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash

Best spot-drying acne body wash

6. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Peeling Purifying Gel Wash

Best acne body wash for intense cases

7. Frank Body Clearing Body Wash

Best acne body wash for dry skin

The causes of body acne

Before you go ahead and buy an acne body wash, it's worth getting to the bottom of why the skin on your body might be breaking out. "Body breakouts are mainly caused by the effect of hormones on sebaceous glands," says Dr Mayou. "The highest concentration of sebaceous glands in the body is on the T-zone and back."

And while we may have fewer sebaceous glands in other areas of the body, such as the chest, bum and legs, that's not to say we can't still experience acne there. "Acne is due to inflammation of the sebaceous glands which secrete an oily substance called sebum. Sebum lubricates the skin and hair. Inflammation of the sebaceous glands and blockage of the follicles is what causes acne." Dr Mayou adds.

Much like the causes of face acne, the causes of body acne can be linked to hormonal imbalances, some lifestyle factors and general bacteria presence.

How to prevent and get rid of body acne

As with all forms of acne, it's always best to pop in to see a skin expert if it's causing you distress. That being said, according to Dr Mayou, there are a number of things you can try first to help get your body acne under control:

  • Cleanse the back and body regularly (of course).
  • Avoid using heavy moisturising creams which may clog the pores.
  • Shower after exercise.
  • When cleansing, pay particular attention to areas susceptible to acne, such as the back or bottom.
  • Regularly use an exfoliator to prevent breakouts (but avoid if the skin is inflamed or if the surface is broken—this will cause irritation and increase the chance of infection).
  • Look for products that contain salicylic acid and glycolic acid.
Shannon Lawlor
Executive Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is the Executive Beauty Editor at Marie Claire. With nearly a decade of experience working for some of the beauty industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear, Glamour UK, Stylist and Refinery29, Shannon’s aim is to make the conversation around beauty as open, relatable and honest as possible. As a self-confessed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for hard-working perfumes, fool-proof make-up products and does-it-all skincare.