There's no hiding from it:
Acne is an inevitable struggle that continues on well after our prepubescent middle-school days. We're certainly not thrilled about dealing with random breakouts for the rest of our lives, but if we must, we might as well arm ourselves with the tools to treat irritated skin whenever it flares up (which is always at the worst possible time). Body acne is even trickier to hide, especially if a vacation or strapless jumpsuit is in your future. Bacne, underarm bumps, and chest and butt acne can make putting on that special outfit particularly stressful, but with the right products, you can clear it up quickly. Peel pads and spot treatments do wonders, but the real work starts in the shower — with body wash.
"Acne on the chest and back occurs in roughly 50% of acne sufferers," says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital. "Truncal [a.k.a. body] acne develops for the same reasons as facial acne; oil gets trapped within clogged pores, leading to overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria and inflammation."
Ditch your caramel-strawberry-shimmery soap for one with tea tree oil, salicylic acid, or charcoal, and make sure to wash right after working out or hanging in a wet bikini by the pool. With these easy changes, you'll be on your way to breakout-free skin forever. Ahead, the best clarifying, exfoliating, and smoothing body acne products for your skin type.
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Mario Badescu's A.H.A Botanical Body Soap helps exfoliate the skin and smooth irritated areas with ingredients like papaya, grapefruit, and ginseng extract. Ulta reviewers noted that it was especially potent on back acne, and some saw results just days after using it daily.
A.H.A Botanical Body Soap, $8.00
Treating acne on hard-to-reach spots like your back can be a tricky maneuver if you're not yogi-levels of flexible. A medicated mist with salicylic acid can quickly cover a wide area of skin to rapidly clear stubborn body breakouts.
Acne Body Spray,
$25.00 $21.25 Buy
Stridex: 1, Pimples: 0. While most commonly used for face acne, there's nothing that says you can't use these medicated pads on neck-down breakouts, too. (We especially love the sensitive option
Medicated Pads, Sensitive, 90-Count Boxes (Pack of 3), $11.91
"If you have occasional breakouts and want to stay pimple-free, stick to mild exfoliating washes to prevent dead cells from blocking pores," Zeichner recommends. One of his go-to's? This exfoliating body wash from Dove, which offers gentle manual exfoliation while hydrating.
Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash, $5.99
Proactiv — the first brand you ever associated with acne clearing thanks to its incessant commercials on MTV — now has its own dermatologist-developed body wash to help clear pimples and blackheads.
Proactiv Deep Cleansing Wash, $35.00
This non-irritating wash brings together salicylic acid (to clear clogged follicles) and other natural, acne-fighting ingredients like licorice and bergamot. There's eucalyptus and tea tree extracts that soothe the skin in there, too.
Clearing Skin Wash, $38.00
You know those
clear hydrocolloid acne patches
that magically absorb zits overnight? Meet the XL version, made specifically to target larger, concentrated breakouts on your face and body. (Pro tip: Cut patches in half to customize the size as needed.)
Mighty Patch Surface, $17.99
Wildly Instagrammable? ...No. Effective? Definitely. In addition to being under $10, PanOxyl's acne wash is a dermatologist favorite because it features benzoyl peroxide as its hero ingredient.
Acne Foaming Wash with 10% Benzoyl Peroxide , $9.49
For a gentler option, look for a formula that has soothing ingredients like argan extract and fruit peel oils to balance acne-fighting actives.
Breakout Clearing All Over Toner, $19.50
Buy Black soap
is one of the oldest beauty secrets in the book — and for good reason. It sops up oil, clears acne, tightens skin, helps fade scarring,
exfoliates. But it can be a bit stripping for some, which is why this wash has aloe and vitamin E to soothe and hydrate, too.
African Black Soap Body Wash, $9.99
Our editors swear by this natural soap bar. It's made with tea tree extract, activated charcoal, and tons of healthy oils and butters that are key for clear skin. Plus, it's under $10 and lasts months.
Tea Tree + Activated Charcoal Bar Soap, $8.00
This citrus-scented cleanser is a fan favorite at the drugstore, and for good reason. The body wash contains salicylic acid, vitamin C, and grapefruit extract — all brightening, zit-blasting heroes — but will only set you back around $6.
Neutrogena® Body Clear® Pink Grapefruit Acne Body Wash - 8.5 fl oz, $6.69
Love working out? Try using a
gentle exfoliating cleanser
that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide so you can remove sweat before it gets trapped in you pores.
Clarifying Exfoliating Cleanser (5 fl oz.), $34.00
We love The Body Shop's entire Tea Tree Oil line for breakout-prone, combination skin types. Just sniffing the scent is enough to clear sinuses; after a quick scrub, you'll feel cleaner than a newborn, but never dry and tight.
The Body Shop
Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash, $15.00
With a mixture of salicylic acid to clear clogged follicles and finely ground walnut shells to scrub away oil, dirt, and pore-clogging dead skin, this wash is known to completely clear back acne in just a few weeks.
Alba Botanica Acnedote, Face & Body Scrub, $8.36
With over 250 five-star reviews on Sephora, this product is an all-star. Technically, it's for the face, but it clears up chest acne like a boss.
Acne Solutions Cleansing Face and Body Soap, $16.50
It's difficult to treat acne you can't see, especially when it's on your back. Celebrity aesthetician
Reneé Rouleau suggests using an antibacterial cleanser
. "It is crucial to gently remove the buildup of skin cells on your back by exfoliating every time you shower,” she says. Put it on a body brush or loofah with a handle and go to town on hard-to-reach areas.
Noxzema Ultimate Clear Daily Deep Pore Cleanser 6 oz, $4.92
If you're looking to amp up your post-shower
acne body treatments
, this scrub does the prep work for you. It unclogs pores and controls oil production to help your skin better absorb the rest of your regimen.
Peter Thomas Roth
Acne Face & Body Scrub, $28.00
Another great alternative for back acne is this wash from Murad. Paired with the brand's
Clarifying Body Spray
, it helps soothe current breakouts and prevent future ones.
Acne Body Wash, $40.00
Have dry skin
acne? No problem: This creamy wash is made for all skin types. It's got glycolic acid to exfoliate, vitamin E to moisturize, and vitamin C to brighten discoloration. One editor swears by it for
taming bikini bumps
Exfoliating Body Wash (8 fl oz.), $40.00
This unique product serves as a two-for-one: an exfoliating scrub and detox mask in the very same tube. Massage on wet skin for exfoliation, or leave on dry skin for 5-10 minutes as a mask. Bonus:
's signature fragrance of pistachio and salted caramel will mentally transport you to a rainforest shower in Brazil instead of your bathtub in Brooklyn.
Sol de Janeiro
Brazilian Bod Buff Smoothing Scrub ‘N’ Mask, $25.00
Capable of fighting both face and body acne at once, this 10% benzoyl peroxide cleansing body wash is a favorite on Amazon, with hundreds of five-star reviews from people who note it's particularly good at fighting pesky cystic body acne.
Benzoyl Peroxide Wash 10% Acne Treatment, $19.98
Developed by dermatologists, this fragrance-free and salicylic acid-based CeraVe body wash cleanses, exfoliates, and restores the protective skin barrier with help from three essential
CeraVe Salicylic Acid Body Wash, $12.99
If you're looking to combat your body acne but made the executive decision to shower in the AM — being that you already laid eyes on your bed, and now there's no going back — we've got the product for you. No water required, these gentle yet
get the job done by fighting impurities with 2% salicylic acid.
Asepxia Acne Medication Wipes 25 ct, $8.99