Acne, whether they appear on your face or your body, is always frustrating. When it comes to keeping them in check, it’s safe to say that they’re more manageable when they’re in your face! But when you have acne on your body, especially on the back, it becomes more difficult to observe and deal with. But it doesn’t matter if you can’t reach those zits on your back, the best salicylic acid body washes treat them and prevent them from appearing again.
Being the most oily-skin-friendly acid, salicylic acid has a unique way of handling things when it comes to acne, pores, blackheads, and excess oil. This oil-soluble magic worker reaches where other acids can’t, and makes acne incredibly manageable.
Salicylic acid belongs to the beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) family. It’s actually the only representative of the family because it’s the only beta-hydroxy acid used in skincare products (1).
Just like other hydroxy acids, salicylic acid works by exfoliating the skin. Because of that action, it eliminates flakiness caused by dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and treats and prevents acne (2).
Its anti-acne benefits are also due to its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to reduce excess oil production (3). These are pretty much common knowledge for anyone who’s ever had to deal with facial acne.
Because salicylic acid is one of the most common anti-acne ingredients found in cleansers, serums, toners, and peel pads. If you’re not sure how a salicylic acid wash work for the skin on your body, keep reading to find out.
What does a salicylic acid body wash do?
The exfoliating, and anti-inflammatory properties of salicylic acid are the exact reason why salicylic acid has made its way into body washes.
Think of salicylic acid body washes as exfoliating cleansers. We use exfoliating cleansers made with salicylic acid or glycolic acid to promote skin turnover and address skin impurities at the same time.
Some people use them daily and some use them sparingly. Either way, it’s the same idea. A salicylic acid body wash, just like a salicylic acid face wash, exfoliates the skin on your body to reduce acne on the chest, back, or legs, clogged pores, flaky skin, and acne scars.
So it makes total sense to add a salicylic acid body wash into your bathing ritual if you want clear, smoother, and healthier skin all over.
The Best Salicylic Acid Body Washes
If you’re ready to get started, below are the best salicylic acid body washes.
This body wash offers exfoliation in the most nourishing way possible. The multi-acid formula contains salicylic acid as well as glycolic acid to target clogged pores and congestion and eliminate acne and blackheads. As it lightly foams up, the body wash removes the build-up of dead skin cells.
And that helps to reduce that rough and flaky texture. The formula moisturizes and softens the body, and nourishes the skin with marula oil as well as watermelon seed oil. It doesn’t feel like exfoliation, but more like a spa-level moisturizing treatment.
This one gives you the satisfying feeling of physical exfoliation besides the chemical one. The acne body wash contains 1% salicylic acid to keep the pores clean and the potential breakouts at bay. To enhance the benefits, it also contains glycolic acid to slough off dead skin cells.
And it has gentle granules in it from data seed powder to gently scrub the skin. The gel cleanser is perfect for targeting acne and scarring on the back, shoulders, and chest. In addition, the body wash has green tea and licorice root extract to prevent inflammation.
Just like the facial cleanser, this body wash features hydrating goodies while ensuring a gentle exfoliation with salicylic acid. The drugstore cleanser has skin-replenishing hyaluronic acid as well as restorative ceramides to keep the skin soft and moist after the exfoliation.
Niacinamide (vitamin B3) supports the skin barrier so that your skin doesn’t feel dry or tight after cleansing. The affordable formula comes fragrance-free as fragrance can cause flare-ups on certain skin types. It’s suitable for all skin types but is a total gem to get rid of body acne on dry and sensitive skin.
With 2% salicylic acid as well as microbeads to sweep off dead skin cells, this body wash offers an effective way to target stubborn body acne. By keeping the hair follicles free of excess oil, dirt, and grime, the salicylic acid body wash clears acne-causing bacteria and prevents the formation of new ones.
It also contains 1% glycolic acid for cumulative effects and to help with discolorations on the body too. The cleanser leaves the skin smooth and pure while aloe and green tea extract calm the skin for a refreshing post-shower feel.
We’re not a huge fan of using soaps. However, the exceptional formula makes this one a super targeted body wash to get rid of body acne, bumps, blackheads, and congestion. Encapsulated salicylic acid makes sure that your skin absorbs the acid slowly and gradually.
This significantly reduces sensitivity and the harsh cleansing action associated with soaps. Zinc PCA reduces excess oil production and targets acne-causing bacteria. The soap is alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and SLS-free, making it one of the best salicylic acid body washes for oily and acne-prone skin that can tolerate it.
This one’s a drugstore hit and is just as good as the Pink Grapefruit Face Wash! It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic and it’s affordable, so you can indulge as much as you want.
The 2% salicylic acid deeply cleans out pores and gets rid of acne and blackheads on the chest, shoulders, and back. Grapefruit extract provides antioxidant benefits while energizing the skin.
Similarly, this is another formula with 2% salicylic acid. But besides that, the face and body wash also contains other goodies to reduce excess oil and stop acne at its tracks. It’s made with niacinamide to decrease oil production without causing dryness.
And it has anti-bacterial tea tree leaf oil as well as thyme extract to maximize your results. The non-foaming cleanser is like a rinse-off spot treatment for eliminating blemishes on the face and body.
This gentle foaming wash is suitable to use on your face and body. And it’s enhanced with anti-bacterial tea tree oil as well as other anti-inflammatory botanicals to avoid irritating your skin.
The 0.5% concentration makes the formula gentle enough to exfoliate the skin without over-drying it. The cleanser leaves the skin squeaky clean and reduces red and inflamed breakouts.
This super gentle face & body wash contains 0.6% salicylic acid, which is very beginner-friendly and allows you to test out the active ingredient without irritating your skin. Plus, it has willow bark extract, which is a natural source of salicylic acid with more anti-inflammatory benefits.
The body wash helps smooth out the skin on your body without overdrying it. The gel formula contains menthol, which leaves a refreshing feel on the skin. But if your skin is sensitive to it, you might not like that.
Though some body washes, like Murad’s Body Wash, multi-task and contain particles to work as scrubs too, using a body scrub or a body peel can be another way to add salicylic acid into your body care routine. And this time, you can choose to use the scrub on particular areas of the body.
That way, you don’t use it all over, which is ideal if salicylic acid tends to dry your skin. This body exfoliator utilizes salicylic acid as well as glycolic acid for chemical exfoliation. And it has charcoal powder for physical exfoliation too. There are scented and fragrance-free options.
So these are some of the best body washes made with salicylic acid. If you’re not sure how to choose one or how to use one, keep reading.
How to choose a salicylic acid body wash?
A salicylic acid body wash is simply an exfoliating body cleanser. So you should remember to go for an option with the right concentration.
If you’ve never used one before or if you have sensitive skin, go for a salicylic acid body wash with a concentration of about 0.5%. That way, you can see how it works for your body and if it can tolerate it.
Additionally, sensitivity is another problem that factors into how you chose products. If that’s a concern for you, fragrance-free body washes are a better option. Also, it’s best to avoid essential oils as they can cause irritation, inflammation, and eventually acne.
If excess oil is not your issue, or if you have dry body skin, it’s best to avoid foaming body washes and go for gel, creamy options that either don’t foam or foam very lightly.
How to use a salicylic acid body wash?
A rule of thumb for active ingredients is to start using them a few times a week at first. So use your body wash a few times a week to ensure it doesn’t irritate your skin. That way, you can use it every time you shower.
But realistically speaking, you don’t need to use it all over the body. The best way to reduce potential irritation is to take your shower with a regular shower gel and get clean first.
After that, you take a small amount of your salicylic acid body wash and massage it into the problem areas. Just like it is with facial cleansing, make sure to give it enough time, about 60 seconds, to work.
After that, you rinse off and hop out. And make sure to use a non-comedogenic body lotion or cream to avoid dryness.
Read Next: The Best Body Serums
- Decker, A., & Graber, E. M. (2012). Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A Review. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 5(5), 32–40.
- Kornhauser, A., Coelho, S. G., & Hearing, V. J. (2010). Applications of hydroxy acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 3, 135–142. https://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S9042
- Lu, J., Cong, T., Wen, X., Li, X., Du, D., He, G., & Jiang, X. (2019). Salicylic acid treats acne vulgaris by suppressing AMPK/SREBP1 pathway in sebocytes. Experimental dermatology, 28(7), 786–794. https://doi.org/10.1111/exd.13934