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.
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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.
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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
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"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.
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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.
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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For a gentler option, look for a formula that has soothing ingredients like argan extract and fruit peel oils to balance acne-fighting actives.
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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, and 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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: The brand's signature fragrance of pistachio and salted caramel will mentally transport you to a rainforest shower in Brazil instead of your bathtub in Brooklyn.
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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.
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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 effective wipes get the job done by fighting impurities with 2% salicylic acid.