Using acne body wash correctly: Your straightforward guide

Say “see ya” to “bacne” and other body blemishes with acne body wash.

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Curology Team
Jun 16, 2022 · 5 min read

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Using acne body wash correctly
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Have you ever experienced a body breakout that develops somewhere other than your face? An acne breakout on your back, chest, or shoulders is actually quite common. While they may not necessarily be as noticeable as facial acne, they can be just as frustrating and sometimes painful, too. Thankfully, there are several products like body acne soaps and body wash for acne on the back and chest (and elsewhere!) that can help fight those persistent blemishes. But with so many options out there, each with different ingredients, how do you go about choosing one that’s best for you and your unique skin? We’re here to help.

How can you choose the right body wash for acne? 

When it comes to choosing the best body acne treatment or the best bar soap for body acne, there is no easy answer. In fact, we like to avoid using the term “best” to describe any acne treatment option. After all, everyone’s skin is different, so what works for one person might not work for others. The good thing is, with a little info and a bit of patience, finding an acne body wash that works well for your skin type doesn’t have to be a saga.

First things first: The most important thing you need to do is identify what you want from your body wash. Do you want a gentle cleanser or a more potent body wash that can target inflammatory acne lesions? Once you know what specific skin condition or types of acne you want to target, you can begin to analyze active ingredients. For example, if you have dry skin, you’ll probably want a body wash with hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. But if your skin is acne-prone and you’re looking to clear breakouts and prevent future ones, perhaps something with stronger active ingredients may work better for you.

What ingredients should you look for in an acne body wash?

Looking out for certain ingredients is a great way to help you find a body wash that will work for you. To treat acne, you want to look for a few proven acne-fighting ingredients. As far as body acne soaps go, many of the ingredients may be the same as what you’re already using in your acne face wash.

Benzoyl peroxide. A benzoyl peroxide body wash fights inflammatory acne lesions such as papules, pustules, and cysts. This is because benzoyl peroxide has been shown to fight C. acnes, the bacteria that contributes to acne and can lead to inflammation.¹

Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is another mainstay topical acne treatment. Salicylic acid can help exfoliate the skin and fight comedones such as blackheads and whiteheads by helping to unclog pores.²

Zinc. Zinc soap is another good option for treating moderate to severe acne. Zinc has anti-inflammatory activity, can reduce bacteria on the skin, and can decrease oiliness.³

Six acne body washes we recommend

Looking for a dermatologist-recommended body wash for acne? We’ve got you covered. Here are a few options that pass the bar when it comes to specific ingredients.

Curology acne body wash

With salicylic acid as its active ingredient, Curology’s acne body wash helps fight body acne fast. Even if you’ve just noticed a few pimples here and there, it can help exfoliate the skin and gently remove dead skin cells that could clog pores.

Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

This body wash also contains salicylic acid to fight breakouts.

Noble Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc Original Emu Bar Soap

A bar soap formulated with zinc to help cleanse the skin, Noble formula’s bar soap is made with those with dry skin in mind.

Replenix Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Wash 5%

If you’re experiencing inflammatory body acne, this body wash contains benzoyl peroxide to clear up those blemishes and help prevent new ones. Benzoyl peroxide body wash is great to try if salicylic acid doesn’t seem to cut it when it comes to treating pimples. Just remember to apply non-comedogenic lotion afterward to keep your skin moisturized.

Murad Acne Body Wash

Another salicylic acid body wash, the Murad Acne Body Wash also includes physical exfoliants.

Can body wash cause acne? 

If a body wash contains certain ingredients that could possibly irritate or dry out the skin or clog pores, yes, it could possibly contribute to breakouts. Comedogenic ingredients can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts. If your skin is acne-prone, we recommend opting for skincare products and body washes that are labeled non-comedogenic. Added fragrances can also irritate and dry out certain skin types, and dry and irritated skin can be more prone to breakouts.⁴ Look for fragrance-free products if you have sensitive skin.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Personalized skincare with Curology. 

Finding the right body cleanser for your skin can seem difficult or overwhelming, and dealing with acne anywhere on your body can be frustrating. If you feel like taking care of your skin might seem like a lot of work, don’t fret. Curology makes it simple and easy, with dermatologist-designed products that are customized for your unique skin. Let us do the work while you get to sit back, relax, and focus on pampering yourself (and your skin)

Curology Custom Formula Cleanser Moisturizer and Lip Balm Acne Body Wash

Whether you want to target acne on your face or your body, reduce the appearance of fine lines, cleanse oily skin, or hydrate dry skin, we’ve got your back. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Curology and start by taking a quick skin quiz and snapping a few selfies. One of our dermatology providers will review your info and, if Curology is right for you, prescribe your Custom Formula. As part of your trial, you can also try our body acne body wash for free. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for Curology now! 

FAQs

How can you choose the right body wash for acne?

Everyone’s skin is different, so what works for one person might not work for others. The most important thing you need to do is identify what you want from your body wash. Once you know what specific skin condition or types of acne you want to target, you can begin to analyze active ingredients.

What ingredients should you look for in an acne body wash?

Looking out for certain ingredients is a great way to help you find a body wash that will work for you:

  • Benzoyl peroxide. Has been shown to fight C. acnes, the bacteria that contributes to acne and can lead to inflammation.

  • Salicylic acid. Can help exfoliate the skin and fight comedones such as blackheads and whiteheads by helping to unclog pores.

  • Zinc. Has anti-inflammatory activity, can reduce bacteria on the skin, and can decrease oiliness.

What’s the correct way to use acne body wash?

Dermatologists often recommend lathering your acne body wash and letting it sit on your skin for a minute or so to give the active ingredients a chance to work their magic. Then, rinse thoroughly. After you’re finished in the bath or shower, apply your favorite non-comedogenic body lotion to keep your skin moisturized.

Can body wash cause acne?

If a body wash contains certain ingredients that could possibly irritate or dry out the skin or clog pores, yes, it could possibly contribute to breakouts. Comedogenic ingredients can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts. If your skin is acne-prone, we recommend opting for skincare products and body washes that are labeled non-comedogenic. Look for fragrance-free products if you have sensitive skin.

• • •

P.S. We did the research so you don’t have to:

  1. Zaenglein A. L., et al. The Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. (2016, May 1).

  2. John J. Russell. Topical Therapy for Acne. Am Fam Physician. (2000, January 15).

  3.  Gupta, Mrinal et al. Zinc therapy in dermatology: a review. Dermatology research and practice. (2014 July 10).

  4.  American Academy of Dermatology. 10 skin care habits that can worsen acne. (n.d.).

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• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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