There’s nothing more invigorating than lathering up with a foamy body wash to wake you up in the morning or relax you at the end of a long day. Like soap, body washes get rid of the dirt, but they also contain a mix of ingredients to target specific skin concerns. There’s body washes for oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, mature skin, and the list goes on. Some are infused with essential oils and natural floral scents to moisturize and provide a spalike experience; others contain glycolic acid to help exfoliate.
SKIP AHEAD Dry and sensitive skin | Oily and acne-prone skin | Mature skin | Body washes for relaxation
“As a dermatologist, I understand how frustrating it can be to find the right body wash that caters to your skin's unique needs,” said Dr. Dusan Sajic, a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist and director of the Derma Skin Institute in Ontario.
The best place to start, said our experts, is to know which ingredients are best for your skin type. Below is their insight on what to look for and which body washes are their top picks for dry, sensitive, oily and mature skin.
The best body wash ingredients for specific skin types
Dry skin. Exposure to cold or dry weather, harsh soaps or detergents, sun damage, allergies, or any given number of temporary or even chronic skin conditions can dry out your skin. “Patients with dry skin must use a product that cleanses, nourishes and hydrates. The best body washes will contain ingredients that help bind water to the skin and restore the skin’s natural barrier,” said Dr. Grayman, a board-certified dermatologist and the owner and medical director at Pure Skin Dermatology & Aesthetics in Orlando, Florida. She advised looking for body washes that contain humectants and emollients to draw moisture into the skin, such as shea butter and glycerin. She also recommended that the products be fragrance- and preservative-free, due to possible skin irritation.
Oily or acne-prone skin. “If you have oily skin, you may find that some body washes exacerbate your skin's oil production and leave you feeling greasy,” said Dr. Sajic. “Body washes [for oily skin] are formulated to regulate oil production, exfoliate, unclog pores and leave your skin feeling balanced and refreshed.” According to Dr. Grayman,”people with oily skin are usually acne prone, so the body washes recommended for acne will also be appropriate for oily skin.” She recommended that patients with acne-prone skin should use a gentle body wash for their entire body and then spot-treat acne-prone areas with medicated cleansers. The body washes they recommended contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to decrease existing breakouts and prevent future breakouts, as well as glyceryl laurate, which helps to regulate oil production and reduce shine.
Sensitive skin. Sensitive skin can be chronic, when eczema or psoriasis is present, or a temporary condition, possibly due to an irritation such as sunburn or an allergic reaction. Dr. Grayman and Dr. Sajic both agreed that dry skin and sensitive skin can be treated similarly: “The body washes I suggest for dry skin are the same for sensitive skin, as they are all fragrance-free and preservative-free,” she said, which is important for reducing the risk of any burning, redness or itching that harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances could cause, especially for people with sensitive skin.
Mature skin. So many products on the market promise anti-aging effects, firmer skin and a youth-inducing glow, and body washes are no different. “There are several body washes that claim to firm the skin, and ingredients like caffeine, retinol and collagen can have skin benefits but do not replace eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and staying active,” said Dr. Grayman. The best anti-aging body washes will contain protective antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, which stimulate collagen and elastin production to improve firmness.
Best body washes for every skin type
Below is a roundup of our experts’ favorite body washes for a variety of skin types, including dry and sensitive, oily and mature skin. We’ve also included some top-rated body washes we thought you should know about, especially for those who simply want to relax and restore after a long, tiring day. Our experts also weighed in on the best method for using a body wash and the best hygiene routine when it comes to bathing.
Best body washes for dry and sensitive skin
La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP Gentle Foaming Moisturizing Wash
According to the brand’s website, this gentle wash is accepted by the National Eczema Association and is suitable for all ages, beginning at two weeks old. It is specially designed for people with sensitive or extra-dry skin and is recommended for patients undergoing chemotherapy, as dry skin is often a side effect. Dr. Grayman recommended this wash because it contains shea butter and glycerin, as well as mineral-rich thermal waters, which all help to soothe, hydrate and restore the skin barrier and microbiome. “It is gentle enough to be used on the face and can double as a facial wash, especially for patients with dermatitis,” she added.
Cetaphil Restoraderm Soothing Wash
Dr. Grayman recommends Cetaphil to her patients with dry skin because “it is also gentle enough to be used on the face. It contains many ingredients that moisturize while restoring the skin’s natural barrier,” she said, including shea butter, sunflower seed oil and glycerin, as well as vitamin E and B3, also known as niacin, which are both known antioxidants and help repair damaged cells.
Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body & Face Cleanser
Known more for their lotions and moisturizers, Eucerin also has a dermatologist recommended body wash. Dr. Grayman states this wash is, “gentle enough to be used on the face, helps to maintain the skin’s natural pH and restores the skin’s natural barrier.” This soap-free, fragrance-free wash is also slightly more affordable than some of the other options on this list.
Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash
“This body wash is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and contains moisturizing ingredients that leave the skin feeling soft and nourished,” said Dr. Sajic. Dove Sensitive Skin is not only budget friendly but also eco-friendly, as their bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic.
Best body washes for oily and acne-prone skin
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
This wash is good for both acne-prone skin on the face and body and is recommended because it “uses 4% benzoyl peroxide to clear acne breakouts and also contains ceramides to soothe and moisturize the skin,” said Dr. Grayman. It’s a cream-to-foam formula that’s fragrance-free and won’t leave your skin feeling stripped of moisture.
CeraVe SA Body Wash
“This body wash contains salicylic acid, which is excellent at debriding dead skin, and ceramides which restore the skin’s barrier and prevent the skin from drying out,” said Dr. Grayman. The brand recommends users massage CeraVe Salicylic Acid Body Wash into skin in a gentle, circular motion while using a washcloth or shower loofah.
Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap
A longtime favorite among skin-care gurus, Mario Badescu has several lines for various skin types. “It uses glycolic acid and fruit enzymes to exfoliate the skin and also contains oatmeal, which soothes the skin,” said Grayman. Like many body washes, the brand suggests using a soft cloth, washcloth or loofah when washing.
Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash
“This body wash contains salicylic acid, which helps to exfoliate and unclog pores, making it an excellent choice for those with oily or acne-prone skin,” Dr. Sajic said. According to the brand, this wash also contains glycerin to help prevent dryness.
Avène Cleanance Cleansing Gel
According to Dr. Sajic, “this body wash is specifically formulated for oily, acne-prone skin and contains glyceryl laurate, which helps to regulate oil production and reduce shine. It also contains Avène Thermal Spring Water to soothe and calm the skin.” Avène suggests using this body wash twice daily for best results.
Best body washes for mature skin
Olay Cleansing & Renewing Nighttime Body Wash with Retinol
Dr. Grayman highly recommended this body wash because it contains vitamin B3 and retinol, which both help increase cell turnover while promoting the skin’s collagen production. It’s also affordable, at around $10, and has a 4.7-star average rating on Olay’s website.
Alpha Skin Care Moisturizing Body Wash
This body wash is specially designed to help slow down the process of aging and contains glycolic alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), vitamin E, aloe vera to lift away dull, dead skin cells and encourage collagen growth, says the brand. It has a 4.4-star average rating from over 2,400 reviews on Amazon.
Best body washes for relaxation
The Seaweed Bath Co. Sleep Foaming Body Scrub, Calm Scent, Vetiver & Geranium
This gentle, vegan body scrub features glycolic acid and aloe with an incredible spa-like scent. The wash sloughs off dead skin with several ingredients, including bladderwrack seaweed and walnut, while chamomile calms your senses for a better night’s sleep. It has a 4.4-star average rating from over 500 reviews on Amazon.
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash
Sometimes basic is best. And this daily moisturizing body wash is creamy and hydrating, with a light scent, so it won’t overwhelm you while you’re trying to catch some Zs. It’s affordable, at just around $10, and it’s recommended if you have sensitive skin. The packaging is 100% recyclable and it’s one of the highest-ranked body washes on this list, with a 4.8-star average rating from over 30,000 reviews on Amazon.
Neutrogena RainBath Refreshing Shower & Bath Gel Original
It seems this old school bath gel and body wash has been around for decades and has been handed down from generation to generation, but for good reason. It’s multi-functional in the shower, bath, and for shaving, and has the scent that rocks a baby to sleep. It gives a refreshing wash and lathers well, is affordable, and it has that spa-like scent that will make the entire household want to use it. This wash also has a 4.8-star average rating from almost 18,000 Amazon reviews.
Best method for using a body wash
Water temperature and how often and how long you shower is also important, said Grayman. She advises her patients to bathe once to twice per day based on their activity level. “If a second shower is needed, it should focus only on intimate areas and be very short. Use warm, not hot water, as hot water strips the skin and can leave it dry and itchy,” she said, adding that showers and baths should be less than 10 minutes to avoid drying out your skin.
Regardless of your skin type, Dr. Grayman suggested the following hygiene routine to achieve glowing, clean skin:
- Use moisturizing, gentle washes and soaps that will restore the skin’s natural barrier and won’t strip the skin of its natural oils.
- Use a soft washcloth or loofah to avoid scrubbing the skin.
- Cleanse thoroughly and use a long-handled brush to cleanse hard-to-reach areas.
- Exfoliate only once or twice per week.
- Pat the skin dry with a soft towel instead of rubbing vigorously post-shower or bath.
- Moisturize with lotion or cream immediately after bathing to lock in moisture.
Meet the Experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Dr. Debra L. Grayman is a board-certified dermatologist and the owner and medical director at Pure Skin Dermatology and Aesthetics in Orlando, Florida.
- Dr. Dusan Sajic is an international board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist and director of the Derma Skin Institute in Ontario, Canada.
Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.