When shopping for body washes, it's best to apply the golden rule: Do unto your body as you would do unto your face. By that measure, the best body washes for oily skin function similarly to face washes designed for oily skin. They’ll contain some kind of clarifying ingredient, like charcoal or clay, to wick away excess oil and give pores a deep, thorough clean. Exfoliating ingredients usually make appearances as well, whether physical (like exfoliating beads) or chemical (like salicylic acid), which help prevent and subdue body acne flare-ups.
Perhaps counterintuitively, moisture is just as important in a good body wash for oily skin as those detoxifying/acne-slaying ingredients are. Overusing cleansers with harsh surfactants (and/or without enough nourishing ingredients) can strip your skin of the oils it actually needs, so it’ll end up producing more oil as a compensatory response. So also look for things like aloe, glycerin, and shea butter to reinfuse your skin with moisture and hydration, without clogging your pores.
Whether you’re hoping to get rid of body acne, stop it from happening in the first place, or just balance out your oily skin (and feel fresh and clean, of course), you’ll find the thing you need in one of the best body washes for oily skin, listed ahead.
1. Best Physical Exfoliator
Physical exfoliators, like the gentle exfoliating beads in this Dove body wash, work to slough away oil, dirt, and bacteria on the surface of your skin that can cause breakouts down the line. At the same time, the brand’s proprietary Moisture Renew Blend counteracts any moisture your skin might’ve lost through the exfoliation process, so it’s nourishing enough to use every day (and it’s free of stripping sulfates). It’s hypoallergenic, as well, so it’s suitable for sensitive skin; though if you do have sensitive skin, limit using physical exfoliants (both on your body and your face) to two or three times a week.
2. Best For Acne-Prone Skin
Just as a clay mask helps draw out acne-causing impurities on your face, showering with this Alba Botanica clay cleanser can do the same for your backne/chestne/buttne/anywhere else you experience breakouts below the neck. In addition to volcanic clay, this hypoallergenic formula contains fruit acids that dissolve dead skin cells, while antioxidant-rich plant extracts help protect your skin from environmental aggressors (and make it look brighter and clearer overall). Aloe and coconut water help restore hydration, too. This one’s also gentle and hydrating enough for daily use.
3. Best For Active Breakouts
If you’re contending with an active breakout, reach for a medicated body wash like this one from Proactiv. This heavy-duty cleanser uses a two-pronged approach to clearing away bacteria: Exfoliating beads whisk away any oil and grime that’s blocking the surface of your skin, which then allows the chemical exfoliant (2% salicylic acid, same you’d find in an OTC topical acne treatment) to penetrate your pores more effectively. Reviewers confirm that it both helps clear up current breakouts and prevent future breakouts from occurring — precisely what it claims it’ll do.
4. Best Body Wash With Probiotics
Another way to stave off future breakouts is to work topical probiotics into your daily skin care routine. Among their myriad jobs, the healthy bacteria in these products work to fortify your skin’s protective barrier, so it’s better able to fight off the “bad” bacteria that causes acne and other forms of inflammation. Not only is this Aleavia body wash one of the rare body products that contains probiotics (you’ll mostly find them in face products), but it’s also one of the “cleanest.” After water and probiotics derived from sea kelp, the mostly organic formula contains just five ingredients: coconut oil, aloe, and glycerin for moisture; detoxifying Dead Sea salt; and citric acid for gentle resurfacing. I like the addition of soothing lavender in here, but you can pick up the unscented version if you’re sensitive to fragrances.
5. Best All-In-One Cleanser
Among its approximately one million skin benefits, African black soap can help sweep away excess oil and quell mild acne flare-ups, thanks to its balancing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. I like this Alaffia African black soap in particular, since it contains shea butter and palm kernel oil for moisture and nourishment. And a body wash is just one of its approximately one million use cases, among which also include, but are not limited to: Shaving cream, face cleanser, hand wash, and shampoo. Plus, all the ingredients in here are organic, fair trade, and responsibly harvested by local farmers in Togo, so this is a brand you can feel good about supporting.
6. Another Great Body Wash To Consider
This Every Man Jack cleanser contains clarifying volcanic clay like the Alba Botanica body wash, though the addition of rosemary, sage, and peppermint leaf oil give it a refreshing, earthy scent and zingy feel (but not painfully zingy). There are lots of other "detoxifying" ingredients in here too, like charcoal, salicylic acid, and jojoba beads for nourishing physical exfoliation. This is marketed for men, but it obviously works for oily-skinned humans of all gender identities.