The 9 Best Body Washes of 2021

These stand-out washes are guaranteed to keep your skin soft and supple

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First Look

Best Overall: Cerave Hydrating Body Wash at Bed Bath & Beyond

"It's packed with three different ceramides to lock in moisture as well as glycerin and hyaluronic acid."

Best for Acne: Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Treatment Body Wash with Salicylic Acid at Amazon

"It's a powerful acne-fighting option because it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores."

Best for Eczema: Zerafite Creamy Cleanser and Shaving Cream at parsamd.com

"This is designed to tackle eczema and gently cleanses while removing makeup and sunscreen."

Best for Dry Skin: Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash at Amazon

"Free of sulfates and parabens, it's designed to be gentle on the skin’s microbiome while washing away dirt."

Best Natural: Rahua Body Shower Gel at Amazon

"It’s designed to be invigorating, gentle, and nourishing."

Best for Men: Nivea Men Maximum Hydration 3-in-1 Body Wash at cvs.com

"This packs a punch and serves as a body wash and shampoo all in one powerful bottle."

Best for Women: Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser at Amazon

"Leave your skin buttery soft thanks to this product's plant oils and skin-restorative amino acids."

Best Smelling: Hesperides Grapefruit Bath Shower Gel at Amazon

"Not only moisturizing, but it's blooming with fruity, garden scents that will awaken the senses and leave you feeling energized."

Best Anti-Bacterial: Derma-nu Antifungal Antibacterial Body Wash at Amazon

"It's organic and features a mighty concoction with key ingredients like tea tree oil, peppermint and eucalyptus."

Searching for the perfect body wash isn’t an easy feat. With countless options on store shelves, it can be hard to find the right product that will leave your skin squeaky clean, hydrated, and healthy.

Experts tell us it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients depending on your skin type to avoid stripping away your body’s moisture and to tackle conditions like acne and eczema. Leslie Baumann, M.D., a dermatologist, researcher and author based in Miami, shares with Verywell Health that it’s best to go for body washes with minimal foam that won’t dry out the skin, but will leave you feeling soft and hydrated.  

Not all luxurious lathers are alike. Dr. Baumann says people with acne should avoid ingredients like coconut oil and emollients such as isopropyl myristate, which clog pores and can lead to breakouts. Meanwhile, those with dry skin should look for products that include ceramides, shea butter and hyaluronic acid. She reveals a common problem is “overusing” body washes, which can strip skin of moisture. She says, “If you need to shower more than once a day, the second time concentrate on areas with apocrine glands like the armpits and groin,” where bacteria tends to build up first and can cause odor.

If you're looking for a new cleanser, check out a few of the best body washes on the market.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Cerave Hydrating Body Wash

Cerave

Cerave’s Hydrating Body Wash is packed with three different ceramides to lock in moisture as well as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which binds water to skin cells to keep it hydrated and plump. Best of all it’s available at drug stores making it an easily, affordable find. Cerave’s body wash is also accepted by the National Eczema Association, meaning it’s also great for people with dry, eczema-prone skin.

Dr. Baumann suggests using a gel-like, gentle body wash with minimal foam for normal skin and this formula will hydrate the skin’s barrier without drying you out when you leave the shower.

Best for Acne: Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Treatment Body Wash with Salicylic Acid

Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Treatment Body Wash with Salicylic Acid is a powerful acne-fighting option because it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores. The salicylic acid penetrates deep into the skin to exfoliate and help with oiliness. The glycerin in the formula assures it won’t leave skin dry and tight.

Dr. Baumann suggests acne body washes free of coconut oil, SD or denatured alcohol, which promote skin dryness, and emollients such as isopropyl myristate, which can clog pores and lead to more pimples. She also advises avoiding lotion-like products saying, “A creamier wash is more likely to cause acne than a gel wash,” making Neutrogena’s Body Clear Acne wash a perfect option.

“Avoid products with comedogenic ingredients like coconut oil, and look for acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is an excellent pore-clearing ingredient because it exfoliates the surface of the skin and penetrates into pores to remove oil,”Hadley King, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist

Best for Eczema: Zerafite Creamy Cleanser and Shaving Cream

Zerafite Creamy Cleanser & Shaving Cream
Courtesy of Parsamd.

Zerafite Creamy Cleanser and Shaving Cream is designed to tackle eczema and gently cleanses while removing makeup and sunscreen.

Dr. Baumann says these types of creamy cleansers are better than foaming ones that have lots of detergents and can irritate eczema-prone skin. She advises to steer clear of ingredients like ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which disrupt the skin’s natural oils and can lead to irritation. This wash checks all those boxes.

“Fragrance is really high up there in terms of irritation and in terms of contact allergy. So especially if you have that eczema or have that really dry skin that’s the one, two, and three thing to look for is looking for fragrance-free body wash or soap.”—Abigail Waldman, M.D., a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and member of Women’s Dermatologic Society

Best for Dry Skin: Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash
Courtesy of Amazon.

Dove’s Deep Moisture Body Wash is free of sulfates and parabens and designed to be gentle on the skin’s microbiome while washing away dirt. The creamy lather feels silky upon the skin and the soft floral fragrance will awaken the senses. You’ll be surprised by how instantly soft your skin will feel. Dove’s body wash, which is frequently praised by dermatologists, comes in a recycled bottle and at a friendly price, making this a shower staple. 

Dr. Baumman says searching for a body wash for dry skin is similar for those with eczema and that a creamy hydrating formula is key.

“For dry skin or those who live in a cold or dry climate, a creamy body wash with humectants and moisture rich ingredients would be most beneficial,”Jeaneen A Chappell, M.D., a Dallas, Texas-based dermatologist

Best Natural: Rahua Body Shower Gel

Rahua

Rahua’s Body Shower gel is an indulgent plant-derived wash made with USDA-certified organic ingredients with luscious scents of scents of lavender, eucalyptus, vanilla, and palo santo. It’s designed to be invigorating, gentle, and nourishing. 

Not only is it vegan and cruelty free, it’s formulated without gluten and made with USDA-certified organic ingredients. This wash includes sacha inchi, which is rich in omega 3 lipids and antioxidants to restore the moisture balance of skin and quinoa to promote healing and moisture retention.

Best for Men: Nivea Men Maximum Hydration 3-in-1 Body Wash

Nivea Men

Nivea Men’s Maximum Hydration 3-in-1 Body Wash packs a punch and serves as a body wash and shampoo all in one powerful bottle. It offers long-lasting hydration thanks to its key ingredient aloe vera and customers rave that it makes their skin feel supple and soft. Fans of the product say it’s strong enough to scrub away dirt and sweat and balance out oily and dry skin.

The best part is its drug-store price tag, making it a perfect option to refresh your skin without breaking the bank. Not only is this an effective cleanser, product reviewers say they love leaving the shower with the wash’s fresh, cool scent.

Best for Women: Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser

Drunk Elephant

Drunk Elephant’s Kamili Cream Body Cleanser gently cleanses while leaving your skin buttery soft thanks to plant oils and skin-restorative amino acids. Enjoy the suds made of sacha inchi seed oil and passionfruit oil, which has skin soothing benefits, and a multi-amino acid blend that quickly absorbs and moisturizes the skin. 

This product is designed to keep your pH level balanced and is appropriate for all skin types, even sensitive. It’s free of sulfates, silicones fragrance, and drying alcohols meaning it won’t irritate the skin.

Best Smelling: Hesperides Grapefruit Bath Shower Gel

Fresh

Hesperides’ Grapefruit Bath Shower Gel is not only moisturizing but blooming with fruity, garden scents that will awaken the senses and leave you feeling energized. Notes of Italian lemon, orange, grapefruit, bergamot make lathering up a lush experience while shea butter and vitamins C and E will moisturize and soften the skin.

This is also a great option for those with sensitive skin as it’s free of parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. Customers say once they’ve tried this wash they used it for months and found it to work just as well for a luxurious bubble bath.

Best Anti-Bacterial: Derma-nu Antifungal Antibacterial Body Wash

Derma-Nu

Derma-nu’s Antifungal Antibacterial Body Wash is organic and features a mighty concoction with key ingredients like tea tree oil, peppermint and eucalyptus, which prevent bacteria and fungus from gathering on the skin. It’s designed to treat athlete’s foot, body odor, nail fungus, ringworm, as well as back acne and eczema all while leaving a fresh and uplifting scent as it deep cleans and washes away bacteria.

Athletes and customers with active lifestyles love this product and say it’s helped with their fungus on toenails, athlete’s foot, and even helped clear up their facial acne.

Final Verdict

Body washes and soaps are intended to clean the skin from any dirt or grime, but you don’t want that to come with drying out or irritating the skin barrier. Pay attention to the types of ingredients that you’re using in your product. The list of ingredients can be overwhelming to look through, but some of the main ingredients to avoid include sodium lauryl sulfate and added fragrances because of how they can dry out and irritate the skin. Ingredients to look for include glycerin, vitamin E, and shea butter. 

A go-to body wash option, no matter what your skin type may be, is Cerave Hydrating Body Wash (view at Amazon) because it’s gentle and hydrating. A second similar and safe option is Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash (view at Amazon), which similarly works for a variety of skin conditions from normal to eczema-prone. The best part is both are budget friendly.

What to Look for in a Body Wash

Ingredients:

One of the most important considerations someone should look for when purchasing a body wash is the types of ingredients used in the product. In terms of beneficial ingredients, Hadley King, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City recommends looking for products with emollients included. “Emollients are saturated and unsaturated variable-length hydrocarbons—which help in skin barrier function, membrane fluidity, and cell signaling leading to overall improvement in skin texture and appearance,” she says. “Examples include cholesterol, squalene, fatty acids, fatty alcohols and ceramides.” Other beneficial ingredients that add moisture to the barrier include glycerin, vitamin E, and shea butter. 

Additionally, there are “occlusives”, which are “oils and waxes which form an inert layer on the skin and physically block transepidermal water loss,” Dr. King says. Look out for these beneficial ingredients in the form of petrolatum, lanolin, and zinc oxide.

Consistency:

There is no significant difference in using a bar soap versus a body wash versus a cream-based body wash, says Abigail Waldman, M.D., a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and member of Women’s Dermatologic Society. Her one recommendation for everyone was to avoid a body wash that provided a foaming response or a lather, as the ingredients that give this response in the product typically dry out the surface of the skin.

“People love a foaming ingredient, but I think more and more people are realizing its drying,” she said. When a product says “sulfate free”, that means it's removed some of the agents that cause this foaming response, Dr. Waldman said. So that can be a good indicator if the product will be drying or not. 

Strength:

Antibacterial options are good to consider if you have stronger body odor, fungus, athlete’s foot or severe acne. If not, Dr. Baumann warns “they will throw off your microbiome—your skin’s natural bacteria.” If you're unsure whether or not you have one of these conditions, check with your dermatologist.

FAQs

How much body was should I use?

One common mistake that people make when using body wash is the amount they use and how often they scrub the skin. “Over washing your skin can lead to excessive dryness, rashes, and skin break down. I wouldn’t recommend showering more than one to two times per day,” says Jeaneen A Chappell, M.D., a dermatologist in Dallas, Texas, and member of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. 

In terms of amount, Dr. Waldman recommends using a little bit in the areas where you really need it to remove dirt or odor. “If you could just use a little bit in areas that really need it that will cause less drying, less irritations, less rashes than if you’re using a lot of it, especially if you’re not completely washing it off,” she says. Also make sure to dispose of your body wash if it’s past its expiration date to ensure it does not irritate the skin. 

Can my body wash cause an allergic reaction?

It's possible. One of the biggest indicators to look out for when testing a new skincare product is if it’s leaving your skin dry, irritated, or with some kind of rash. The ingredients are where to look when you experience a reaction, but sometimes it is hard to determine what exactly in the product is causing the irritation. Dr. Waldman says a patch test given by your dermatologist can better determine what ingredients might be causing a skin reaction. 

Ultimately, dermatologists recommend for people to listen to their skin when using a product to best determine how hydrating it is for the barrier.

“If you come out [of the shower] and you feel squeaky clean and it hurts almost when you move, then that is too irritating, that is too drying,” Dr. Waldman says. “It actually means you’re stripping the outer layer of skin or you’re changing the PH in a way that is going to lead to rashes.” 

Avoid harsh detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate that can strip the skin of its natural oils and lead to dryness and irritation. Dr. Hadley King, a dermatologist based in New York City

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As a health writer, Marlene Lenthang knows just how important it is to find the right product for your body and mind. Over the years she has written about health crises, vaccines and product guides. She takes careful note of doctor recommendations, medical research and customer reviews in every product review to assure readers can choose quality products and understand the science behind them.

Additional reporting to this story by Danielle Zoellner

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

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  1. National Eczema Association. Eczema products.