If you’re looking for the best body washes for hyperpigmentation, dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Clay — who spoke to Bustle for this article — says that you’ve got two options. The first is a brightening body wash, which “may exfoliate or use key ingredients to fade [unwanted] dark spots," says Dr. Clay, who explains that sun damage is a possible cause of hyperpigmentation. Then, since the condition can also be caused by acne and folliculitis (“the most common causes of hyperpigmentation,” according to Dr. Libby), or by “post-inflammatory pigment from rashes like eczema and psoriasis,” you can also opt for a preventative body wash that works to keep acne or dryness at bay.
Dr. Tiffany Clay, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at Dermatology Affiliates in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Women's Dermatologic Society, Georgia Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Atlanta Association for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, and the National Medical Society. A medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Clay's expertise and interests include treating skin of color, skin cancer prevention and awareness, and cosmetic injectables.
What To Look For In A Body Wash For Hyperpigmentation
According to Dr. Clay, the most effective body wash for you will depend on what's causing your hyperpigmentation. Below, Dr. Clay breaks down the active ingredient you'll benefit most from.
- To brighten existing dark spots: retinol, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), vitamin C, kojic acid, azelaic acid, niacinamide.
- To prevent hyperpigmentation caused by acne and folliculitis: AHAs, beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), benzoyl peroxide.
- To prevent hyperpigmentation caused by rashes: glycerin, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, jojoba oil, soybean oil, other natural oils.
How To Use It
Using a body wash is pretty straightforward, but when you're using something with an active ingredient or chemical exfoliant, Dr. Clay recommends giving it time to work while you're in the shower. "If possible, allow the product to sit on the skin for a few minutes prior to rinsing," she says. "Start using a new product twice weekly, then increase as tolerated to more regularly on a daily or every other day basis," she adds of how you can limit the chance of experiencing irritation from your body wash. "And always moisturize immediately after the shower."
One Last Thing
It's also important to know that hyperpigmentation worsens with sun exposure. "You can't fade dark spots without preventing exposure to the sun on the affected areas," stresses Dr. Clay, who recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater. This is also essential because some of the ingredients in products for hyperpigmentation (like AHAs and retinol) can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. "Also, consider sun-protective clothing for long outdoor exposures," she adds of properly protecting your skin.
Shop The Best Body Washes For Hyperpigmentation
In a hurry? Here are the best body washes for hyperpigmentation:
1. The Overall Best: Bushbalm Nourishing Body Wash
2. Best Exfoliating Body Wash: Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash
4. Best For Eczema: Dove Irritation Care Body Wash For Sensitive Skin (4 Count)
3. Best For Acne: PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash
5. Best For Psoriasis: CeraVe Psoriasis Cleanser
6. Best Bar Soap: Erno Laszlo Brightening Cleansing Bar
1. Expert’s Pick: The Overall Best Body Wash For Preventing Hyperpigmentation
"I like this because it's a great price point, and it really hydrates the skin to prevent conditions that may worsen or cause hyperpigmentation," Dr. Clay says of the Bushbalm Nourishing Body Wash. The sensitive skin-friendly formula is unscented and pH-balanced, and contains nourishing and skin-soothing ingredients like jojoba seed oil, aloe vera, and vitamin E. If you're looking to fade existing signs of hyperpigmentation, Dr. Clay also likes the brand's Dark Spot Minimizer Kit, which includes a gentle scrub that uses sugar to exfoliate, as well as a tea tree oil treatment.
Active Ingredients: Jojoba Seed Oil, Aloe Vera, Vitamin E Size: 12.17 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
2. Expert’s Pick: Best Exfoliating Body Wash For Hyperpigmentation
This is another body wash that's Dr. Clay-approved for fading unwanted hyperpigmentation. "It's gentle on skin, and it contains glycolic acid to increase skin cell turnover, which is needed to improve dark marks," she explains. Glytone’s Exfoliating Body Wash is also helpful for smoothing out the rough skin and red bumps that are associated with keratosis pilaris and body acne. For best results, follow up with the brand’s matching body lotion.
Active Ingredients: Glycolic Acid Size: 6.7 oz. Cruelty-Free: No
3. Pro's Pick: Best For Eczema & Hyperpigmentation
If your hyperpigmentation is caused by flareups from eczema, skip the exfoliating and brightening ingredients entirely and look for gentle, hydrating formulas. "Dove Irritation Care Body Wash is great to hydrate the skin and prevent dryness that may worsen [unwanted] dark spots," Dr. Clay says. In here, glycerin and soybean oil help to relieve dryness and itchiness, while the brand's Microbiome Nutrient Serum works to strengthen the skin's moisture barrier to minimize irritation. The body wash is hypoallergenic, unscented, and has been accepted by the National Eczema Association. Plus, it comes in a set of four, so you'll be fully stocked for a year or longer.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Soybean Oil Size: 22 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
4. Best For Acne & Hyperpigmentation
If clearing up acne or folliculitis (small, red bumps caused by infected hair follicles) is, in addition to fading hyperpigmentation, a concern of yours, try a body wash with benzoyl peroxide. PanOxyl’s Acne Foaming Wash contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, which is the highest over-the-counter concentration of benzoyl peroxide available. The active ingredient has antibacterial properties (meaning it kills acne-causing bacteria) and helps clear the dead skin out of your pores. This foaming wash has more than 20,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, and is a favorite of dermatologists nationwide.
Active Ingredients: Benzoyl Peroxide Size: 5.5 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
5. Best For Psoriasis & Hyperpigmentation
The itchy red rashes associated with eczema and psoriasis might seem similar, but they're two totally different conditions that require different treatments (as well as a visit to the dermatologist). To help relieve psoriasis symptoms, you'll need a balance of gentle exfoliating and conditioning ingredients, which can be found in CeraVe's Psoriasis Cleanser. Salicylic and lactic acids work to reduce any scaling and allow for moisturizing ceramides and glycerin to penetrate the skin more effectively. The body wash also contains multi-tasking niacinamide, which can help calm signs of inflammation and fade existing hyperpigmentation over time.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Niacinamide, Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Ceramides, Hyaluronic Acid Size: 8 oz. Cruelty-Free: No
6. Best Bar Soap For Hyperpigmentation
Okay, technically this one isn't a body wash, but if you thought bar soaps were too plain to be able to help with hyperpigmentation, think again. Erno Laszlo’s Brightening Cleansing Bar helps to both exfoliate (with a combination of fruit extracts and salicylic acid) and brighten your skin with the brand's own Luci-Bright complex. The bar soap works into a rich lather, and it also contains plenty of moisturizing ingredients like olive oil, shea butter, and glycerin to leave your skin feeling soft.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Olive Oil, Shea Butter Size: 3.4 oz. Cruelty-Free: No
Dr. Tiffany Clay, board-certified dermatologist