- There are five main types of body cleansers to choose from – shower gel, moisturizing body wash, foam-based body cleanser, body scrub (physical or chemical), and bar soap.
- Look for pH-balanced, gentle, moisturizing, sulfate-free body cleansers, preferably without fragrances.
Few things in this world feel better than taking a nice hot shower after a long day. It’s amazing how therapeutic it can be to treat yourself to a nice-smelling body wash that will not only clean your skin but also nourish it and provide protection.
It’s a good thing that shower gels and body washes aren’t typically expensive, so you can rotate them as often as you can buy new ones. So, what are your options? Here, we have collected the ultimate list of 27 shower gel and body cleanser products, among which you can find the best body wash for your needs.
We also discuss the different types of body cleansers and how to pick one for your specific skin type and needs. Ultimately, we have some useful tips for using your body wash for a gentle, total cleanse.
In this article:
- Our Picks for the Best Body Washes
- What to Look for in the Best Body Wash for You?
- How to Use Your Body Wash?
Best Body Washes Overview
- Best Overall: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4 Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel
- Best Formula: Nécessaire The Body Wash
- Best for Dry Skin: Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash
- Best Unisex: Jack Black Turbo Wash Energizing Cleanser for Hair & Body
- Best Eco-Friendly: REN Clean Skincare Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Body Wash
- Best Oil Cleanser: Glossier Body Hero Daily Oil Wash
- Best Multi-Purpose: Philosophy Amazing Grace Shampoo, Bath & Shower Gel
- Best for Active Lifestyle: Aveda Rosemary Mint Hand & Body Wash
- Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash Pink Grapefruit
- Best Cream: Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser
- Best Exfoliating: Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Murad Acne Body Wash
- Best Basic: Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash
- Best Gel: Fresh Brown Sugar Bath & Shower Gel
- Best Versatile: Paula’s Choice All Over Hair & Body Shampoo
- Best Balancing: OUAI Body Cleanser
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Skinfix Eczema+ Foaming Oil Body Wash
- Best Nourishing: Dove Body Wash Sensitive Skin
- Best AHA: Mario Badescu A.H.A Botanical Body Soap
- Best Luxurious: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Foaming Shower Gel
- Best Woody Scent: Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt Body & Hand Wash
- Best Bar Soap: Chanel N°5 The Bath Soap
- Best Budget: OGX Coconut Coffee Body Wash
- Best Hydrating: CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
- Best Scent: Le Labo Shower Gel Hinoki
- Best Cult-Favorite Scent: Byredo Gypsy Water Body Wash
- Best for Skin Glow: Oribe Côte d’Azur Replenishing Body Wash
Our Picks for the Best Body Washes
From cream to gel, we have rounded up the best body washes for every skin type and concern below. Pick up yours to test it!
This shower cream-gel is packed full of natural ingredients from the deepest corners of the Amazon region. Not only is this product great for showering, but it also doubles as shaving cream if necessary. With the multitude of high-quality ingredients, this shower gel will leave your skin looking and feeling conditioned and rejuvenated. Those who use it also adore the very scrumptious fragrance of sweet caramel and pistachio. What’s not to love? Pick it up from Sephora!
This body wash provides you with multiple options for your skin. You can choose to use the variant without any fragrance, which is especially appreciated by those that have sensitive skin or are allergic to fragrances. This specific body wash that does contain fragrance gets it from a mix of sandalwood and eucalyptus essential oils and smells divine.
The great thing about this product, aside from premium ingredients such as niacinamide that soothes and protects the skin from breakouts and premature aging, is that it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Nécessaire has also made sure that this gel-type body wash is vegan and isn’t tested on animals. You can find it for sale at Nordstrom and Sephora.
Aveeno’s rich and comforting body wash is specially made to be kind and nurturing for dry skin. If you’re one of those people that are having trouble finding a good shower gel that will not dehydrate your dry skin even more than it already is, look no further.
This emollient creamy wash is gentle enough for your sensitive skin to be used every day, thanks to oats. It will add moisture that your skin desperately needs and leave you feeling clean and soft. Do keep in mind that it’s lightly fragranced, although it’s also listed as hypoallergenic. Get it online from Amazon!
This body cleanser is primarily aimed at men; however, there’s nothing in it that says that women can’t use it – quite the contrary. If you enjoy exercising and are looking for the best body wash to use afterward, this Turbo Wash is an awesome choice.
It’s dual-purpose, meaning it can be used to wash your body and hair, which is great practicality if you’re not into having a mountain of bottles for different things. Eucalyptus and rosemary will provide you with an exciting aroma, while arnica and juniper berry will help you relax and feel clean. You can also use this body cleanser before exercise or after exercise, depending on the effect you’d like to achieve. Pick it up online from Nordstrom!
REN prides itself on high-quality products for the face and body. This moisturizing body wash is no different. With nourishing properties and a custom blend of essential oils that aim to combat fatigue, this body cleanser will make your shower experience an ultimate indulgence. Customers point out that they love the fact that the bottle packaging is made from 100% recycled material from land and ocean. This is why their bottles aren’t completely see-through and have a slight grayish tint. Find it online at Sephora!
Here’s something a bit different from our previous contenders. Body Hero is an oil body cleanser that is inspired by facial oil cleansers. This means that it will cleanse your body much more efficiently than standard shower gels or other cleansers while helping your skin retain its natural oils and stay supple.
The seven oils inside this amazing body wash attract sweat and impurities from your wet skin. Once you start washing it off with water, it will lather into a milky soft foam that just slides off your body along with the nasty stuff. Get it directly from Glossier!
Everybody loves multi-purpose products because they’re convenient and save money. Amazing Grace will grace you with its gorgeous scent that matches the beloved fragrance under the same name. This shower gel is so popular it even won an award!
The formula provides a gentle cleanse and conditioning of your skin as well as your hair. Buyers are simply raving about this product that gives you a luxurious cleansing experience, which you can layer with a spritz or two of the Amazing Grace fragrance. Get it from Sephora or Amazon!
If you have to take frequent showers due to your lifestyle, but every body wash out there dries out your skin, we have a treat for you. Aveda’s dual-purpose cleanser features a gentle formula that has a gorgeous pearly hue. It’s enriched with peppermint and rosemary that will balance your body and hands even if you shower several times a day.
The aroma of this body wash is simply heavenly, especially if you prefer your body wash to give you an invigorating boost each time you use it. With the added benefits of organic aloe vera, you’ll feel hydrated and ready for new challenges of the day. It can be purchased online from Nordstrom.
This body wash is in a gel form and ideally suited for people who have body acne they want to get rid of. The formula is oil-free and contains maximum strength salicylic acid in combination with Neutrogena’s MicroClear technology that fights bad oils on your skin.
Obviously, this product is non-comedogenic, meaning that it won’t clog your pores and cause new breakouts, which is of the utmost importance when battling acne. Customers who love this shower gel report that the pink grapefruit scent isn’t overbearing since it comes from a naturally derived extract. Grab it online on Amazon!
If you’re into skincare even just a little bit, you’ve heard about Drunk Elephant. The company is known for its extremely high-quality, rave-worthy products that do exactly what they claim. This body cleanser is no different.
It’s a creamy cleanser that uses gentle surfactants to cleanse your skin and plant oils (without added fragrances) to protect and replenish. Kamili is a body cleanser with neutral pH, appropriate for every skin type, even if it’s extremely sensitive. It is also recyclable and hasn’t been tested on animals. Pick it up online from Sephora!
This body wash is slightly different from all the previous ones on this list, insomuch as it’s also an exfoliant for bumpy skin. This is great news for anyone suffering from keratosis pilaris, as this body cleanser uses glycolic acid to smooth your skin texture and remove dead skin cells. This encourages collagen reproduction and results in smooth skin that looks and feels healthy.
Customers are loving this exfoliating body wash and use it to take care of their knees, elbows, rough skin on the back of their thighs, and similar. Even though glycolic acid is very gentle to the skin, make sure you consult with your doctor if you have a skin condition and want to use this product more than once a day. Check it out online at Dermstore!
From a similar category as Neutrogena’s Pink Grapefruit, Murad’s medicated body wash is another champion in the good fight against body acne. Aside from salicylic acid, this body cleanser contains licorice root, green tea extract, and date seed powder for added exfoliation. Buyers report that the body wash works quickly to provide great results, even with skin that has a long history of acne issues. It’s especially great for persistent cystic acne that is difficult to get rid of. Grab it online at Sephora!
As the name suggests, this is your basic body cleanser that is gentle enough to be used on very sensitive skin. Even though it’s basic in its ingredients, Cetaphil’s body wash does an outstanding job of cleansing the skin thoroughly without tearing down its natural, protective oils.
You’ll be happy to know that this body wash isn’t fragranced and won’t clog pores, causing pimples or acne. It also won’t irritate your skin if you have very sensitive skin that is worn down by the use of acne medication or harsh products. It’s available online on Amazon.
Who doesn’t like sugar? Even when you can’t taste its sweetness, sugar is an amazing natural exfoliant. This is why Fresh has decided to use it in their shower gel so you can have the most amazing bathing experience.
The body wash is aimed at those customers looking to freshen up their skin and tackle some of those dry areas that need a bit of extra TLC. The formula also contains several plant oils such as almond, primrose, jojoba, and apricot kernel to keep your skin soft. The added citrus fragrance helps you start the day feeling refreshed and ready to go. Pick it up from Sephora!
Now, this isn’t your typical body wash or shower gel. This is a so-called body shampoo. If you’re not familiar with it, it is basically an all-in-one type of product that cleanses your body and hair in a single application. In addition, it is suitable for all hair types, even color-treated! So practical, don’t you think?
This body shampoo rinses clean and will not dry out your skin or hair. Buyers that have tested this product love the fact that it’s formulated without soap or fragrances and can even be used on hair that has been chemically treated and is now brittle and dry. Get it directly from Paula’s Choice or Amazon!
Now, how about some luxury poured in a modern, greyish bottle? Ouai’s body cleanser is everything you’ll ever need for your evening body routine when it comes to cleansing. It’s appropriate for all skin types, even though it does have added fragrances.
What makes this body cleanser special is the fact that Ouai has added lactobacillus to help your skin balance its probiotic levels, which is not something your standard shower gel will ever be able to do. With jojoba and rosehip oil, your skin will become bouncy, hydrated, and incredibly soft. Grab this luxury from Nordstrom or Sephora!
If you’re finding it difficult to find an appropriate body wash because your skin is so sensitive that every product you’ve tried seems too harsh, say hello to Skinfix. Their body wash is not only in the form of foam to be as gentle as possible to your delicate skin, but it also rinses clean with no added effort.
Packaged in a pump dispenser bottle, this body cleanser actually has a gel-like texture that foams up when mixed with water. It doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils, which makes this product great for sensitive, dry skin prone to eczema. It’s available exclusively at Sephora.
Being a household brand, Dove needs no special introduction. However, we do want to introduce you to their amazing body wash specifically formulated for sensitive skin. It is extremely nourishing and mild, providing sensitive skin with the cleansing and protection it deserves.
The formula contains a special blend that renews moisture in the deep layers of the skin. It is also sulfate-free and won’t disturb your skin’s protective layer, which is an important factor when it comes to sensitive skin. The ingredients incorporated in the formula are 100% natural and appropriate for every skin type. Grab it from Amazon!
This body soap may look plain and basic, but trust us – it is anything but. It is made to cleanse and refresh the skin with every application. Its vegan formula contains alpha-hydroxy acids that gently exfoliate your skin and are mild enough to be used on all skin types, especially those with dry or bumpy skin that needs a bit of revitalization. You can also layer this product with Mario Badescu’s Special Cleansing Lotion ‘O’, if you experience acne or blemishes that are hard to get rid of. Get it from Amazon or Ulta!
Aaah, Coco! If you’re like us, you simply adore Coco Mademoiselle, and you were ecstatic when the shower gel with the same scent came out. Now, let us tell you why you’re going to love this shower gel.
This foaming gel has a perfectly balanced oriental fragrance that just envelops you with its notes. Its peachy colored gel texture lathers up nicely when mixed with water and helps wash off all of the impurities from your skin. Considering the hefty price of the original fragrance, the shower gel is a perfect substitute that won’t empty your wallet. It’s available directly from Chanel and at Sephora.
Another luxurious body wash that not only gently cleanses but also conditions the skin just perfectly! Enriched with meadowfoam seed, sea salt, and sage, it will invoke the feelings of fresh air and white, foamy waves.
This exquisite cleanser formula aims to keep your hands and body clean, soft, and conditioned in only one go. Don’t let the clear gel fool you into thinking that the formula is flat and watery – quite the contrary! Once you mix it with water, it lathers up nicely and dissipates the delicate fragrance for all of your senses to enjoy. Grab it online at Nordstrom!
The first and only soap on our list, directly from Chanel! What we can say about this bath soap is that it leaves the skin so perfectly scented with the magical fragrance of N°5. It’s sensual, with its floral notes dominated by jasmine and rose, while at the same time being mysterious and peaceful. Considering how iconic the original fragrance is, it’s no wonder customers are simply in love with this moisturizing, gentle body soap. Get it directly from Chanel or Nordstrom!
Once more, an exfoliating body wash enters our recommendations list. But not just any kind of exfoliant! Get ready to acquaint yourself with the combination of sweet coconut and invigorating coffee. This body scrub doubles as a wash that gently cleanses and smooths the skin while leaving it deeply nourished through the magic of coconut oil. The fresh coffee scent will most definitely help you wake up in the morning, even before you turn on your coffee machine. Find it on Amazon!
Another gentle, no-nonsense body wash that simply does the job! CeraVe’s Hydrating Body Wash isn’t harsh on the skin but still manages to remove the dirt without effort. The formula contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides that provide and retain moisture that it desperately needs. This body cleanser is endorsed by dermatologists, which is always a great indicator that the product is safe and high-quality. It is most suitable for dry and normal skin, as it’s non-irritating and deeply hydrating. It’s available on Amazon.
Are you ready for this one? This shower gel from Le Labo is completely plant-based, paraben-, colorant-, and phthalate-free, with a scent inspired by hinoki trees that grow in a forest around Buddhist temples of Mount Koya, Japan.
This shower gel is nothing like the ones you’re probably used to. It has a very thick texture that cleanses the skin while supplying it with sesame, sunflower, and rosemary leaf oil that will protect it. It’s hard to describe how addictive the scent is, so you just have to try it for yourself. Of course, the product is cruelty-free and suitable for vegans. Find it on Nordstrom!
Another creation by Byredo that doesn’t disappoint! This body wash is incredibly silky and gentle, not only by how it hydrates your skin but also how it feels on your fingertips. The formula features premium raw materials that provide an amazing experience that transcends a simple shower routine. Buyers also seem to really enjoy the fact the scent is gender-neutral, so it makes a perfect gift for anyone. Feel free to layer it with other Byredo fragrances for intensely seductive aromas that last. Pick it up on Net-a-Porter!
The last but certainly not the least body wash on our list is Oribe’s Côte d’Azur. Packed with natural oils that help skin retain moisture and its youthful appearance, this cleanser is a big favorite. The formula is unique with its pearlescent sheen that creates a perfect summer-inspired glow. It has been tested and approved by dermatologists and is even gluten-free. Of course, it is also infused with Oribe’s best-selling scent Côte d’Azur, which makes this truly a deluxe product. It’s available at Nordstrom.
What to Look for in the Best Body Wash for You?
There are so many of these products on the market, and new ones just keep landing on the shelves that it’s completely understandable if you’re confused about how to choose the best body wash for your needs.
Let’s go over the essential things to help you find the perfect body cleanser.
Taking a shower doesn’t have to be a passing activity with the only goal of washing your skin. In fact, with the right products, it can definitely turn into a wonderful experience that helps you seize the day.
Here’s what to look for and what to avoid when choosing the perfect shower gel.
- Balanced pH
- Gentle cleansing
- Moisturizing properties
- Plant-derived surfactants
- Natural fragrance that isn’t overbearing or no fragrance at all
Avoid at all cost:
- Sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES))
- Artificial fragrances
- Synthetic colors
The things on our ‘to-avoid’ list include different ingredients that are scientifically known to cause adverse effects on the skin, and some, like parabens, are even connected to increased chances of cancer. So, make sure you memorize these two lists, as they will come in very handy.
Consider the Type of Body Cleanser
Body washes can be found in several different forms, with the most typical being shower gels, body cleansers, scrubs, soaps, and foam-based cleansers. The various formulas are intended to suit different skin types and needs. Let’s take a quick look at how these products differ.
The shower gel formula is typically very watery, and its main function is to remove the dirt and oil from the skin to make it as clean as possible. This also means that they usually include detergent-based substances, which may be too harsh for more sensitive skin types, so companies sometimes try to combat this effect with conditioning agents.
Shower gels also typically include fragrances, as they are marketed in many different scents, which is also a possible concern for sensitive, irritated or allergy-prone skin. However, shower gels are also on the more affordable price spectrum, which makes them a go-to for many people with more active lifestyles or those that are blessed with normal/ oily or non-reactive skin.
Moisturizing Body Washes
In comparison to shower gels, body washes have a much creamier texture, formulated to nourish and hydrate your skin. They also clean very effectively but won’t dry out or strip the skin of its natural oils.
These types of body cleansers are made to stick to the skin, not only during the lathering process but also after you’ve rinsed it away. They provide a protective layer that keeps moisture locked in the skin (it’s typically an oil-based layer from added sunflower or soybean oil, or other oils that are suitable for the skin).
Considering the added benefits when compared to shower gels, it isn’t surprising that body washes are more expensive and can feel almost too nourishing for some.
Bar soaps have been in use for a long time, however, they have largely been substituted for other types of body cleansers these days.
Firm soaps typically have a very high pH and are not very gentle to the skin. Their main job is to remove the dirt and oils, much like the shower gels, which means that they will also easily remove essential lipids from the surface of the skin and consequently break down the moisture barrier.
Obviously, not all bar soaps are so harsh. If your skin is dry or sensitive, but you prefer the texture of bar soap, look for those enriched with humectants that will help draw in moisture. You can also try to find those with added fatty acids to make sure that you have a protective layer on your skin to avoid environmental irritation.
Body Scrubs or Exfoliants
There’s nothing better than a body scrub to get rid of all the dead skin cells that have accumulated on the surface. You’ll enjoy fresh, smooth skin that appears glowy and healthy.
Body scrubs can contain physical particles or granules that act as an exfoliant, which can be very harsh for sensitive skin. They can also be chemical exfoliants (usually with AHA or BHA acids) that are much gentler on the skin as they work chemically and not physically to remove the dirt and dead skin cells.
Even though it’s a great feeling to get to use a body scrub, make sure that you do not use it more than once or twice a week, as it can definitely be too intense and even damage your skin.
Foam-Based Body Washes
Body cleansers that are in the form of foamy goodness are usually suitable for all skin types, even the most sensitive ones.
Most of the foam-based body washes are specifically intended for damaged or irritated sensitive skin, as the formula does a great job of cleaning the skin without being harsh. These products are also very cost-effective, as you don’t have to use a lot of it to get the same effect, even though they might be a bit more expensive when first buying them.
The Right Formula for Your Skin Type
Consider the fact that your skin type should be the defining factor in choosing your ideal body cleanser. This isn’t to say that it’s the only factor, but it is definitely the most important one.
- If you have dry, sensitive, irritated, or damaged skin, you want to focus on gentle, preferably fragrance-free products that will allow your skin to keep its natural oils and will not further sensitize it. Avoid shower gels and bar soaps or any highly fragranced product, as it will not suit your skin type and may even cause an adverse reaction.
- If your skin is normal and resilient, you can get away with using most products. Even so, it’s smart to stay away from detergent-loaded washes, especially during winter months, as your skin can get drier than normal.
- If your skin is oily, you’ll want to find products that contain humectants that will add moisture without making your skin look greasy. Humectants will also help your skin be more efficient in retaining the moisture it already has, which is a great thing for dehydrated skin.
Read the Packaging
Even though most information can be gathered by finding out if a product has a solid, gel, or creamy formula, there are other things to look out for.
You want to look for added moisturizers, especially if you’re wanting to use a shower gel or a bar soap. This will ensure that the product will not strip your skin of its moisture and will make sure that it’s locked in your skin.
Other words to look for include;
This applies to all skin types, as no one is immune to the drying and irritating agents many body washes contain.
Get to Know the Brand
This is something most people overlook when researching skincare products. One of the reasons this is a smart thing to do is the fact that you will save yourself a lot of time while browsing through many different products.
By understanding the brand’s values, you can learn about their production practices and whether or not they use certain ingredients that might be a red flag for you. This also means that if a certain brand is known for coming up with products specifically made for people with acne, you’ll know that they aren’t a suitable choice for you if your skin is delicate and irritated.
On the other hand, knowing that a specific brand doesn’t use detergents in their products will help you put their body wash in your shopping cart without wasting too much time on researching the product.
How to Use Your Body Wash for Optimum Results?
You may be thinking: “I don’t need instruction on how to use a body wash! It’s just a wash… for your body, how complicated can it be?” Well, although it’s not exactly rocket science, it is skin science, and there are right and wrong ways to use a body cleanser.
Let’s go over some tips on how to make sure you’re getting the very best from your shower gel.
Don’t Use Too Much Product
Why not? I hear you say.
Most of us use way too much body wash, and it can have negative consequences not only on our wallet but also on our skin.
Using too much of the body wash in one go can effectively strip your skin of its good oils or can be tough to rinse off, which can leave you feeling sticky.
You want to use the product as directed on the packaging, but it usually means using a quarter-size amount of the body wash. You definitely don’t need more than that.
Use Warm Water
Using hot water to rinse off your shower gel will have an adverse effect on your skin, as it will dry it out.
Even if you’re comfortable with the water temperature, and it doesn’t seem too hot, if it’s warmer than lukewarm, then it’s too hot. You may not see the drying effects right away, but if you regularly take hot showers or baths, your skin will definitely suffer.
Whether your skin is perfectly healthy or damaged and sensitive, always use a body moisturizer after getting out of the shower. Yes, even if your body wash has moisturizing properties.
Typically, the ingredients in body cleansers that are responsible for retaining moisture don’t stay on the skin long enough to actually do the entire job on their own. This means that you definitely need an additional moisturizer for your skin within 5 minutes of getting out of the shower.
Don’t skip these tips, and you’ll be surprised how much better your skin will look in no time.
Photos via Instagram