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When it comes to lathering up in the shower, shampoos and facial cleansers tend to get all the love. But seeing as a majority of your largest organ is located below the neck, it's definitely worth designating a product to the skin on your body.
We're talking about body wash, of course, which comes in a range of formulations. Some merely cleanse the skin while others tackle other concerns like sensitivity, breakouts, or discoloration.
So, what's the crème de la crème of body washes? We caught up with a few skincare experts to find out. Scroll down for the best body washes out there today.
Best Overall: Nécessaire The Body Wash
Good for sensitive skin
Relatively small amount
Nécessaire gets a lot of hype in the world of body care, and we're here to tell you it's all that and more. A favorite of Byrdie associate editorial director Hallie Gould and available in your choice of fragrance-free, spa-like eucalyptus, or marvelously musky sandalwood, The Body Wash is for everyone.
It's formulated with skin-loving ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E, and marula oil to cleanse, smooth, and soften, plus niacinamide (vitamin B3) to nourish, replenish, and balance the skin barrier. You'll notice a difference in your dermis after one use and won't have to worry about irritation if you have sensitive skin.
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, glycerin, vitamin E, marula oil | Benefits: Nourishing, replenishing, softening | Size: 8.4 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Budget: Dove Dryness Relief Nourishing Body Wash
"I personally love Dove's deep-moisturizing body wash," Worden tells Byrdie. Containing unsung hero glycerin and earth-sourced oils like jojoba and argan, it delivers an ultra-creamy lather that hydrates dry and sensitive skin.
Active Ingredients: Jojoba oil, glycerin, argan oil | Benefits: Moisturizing, nourishing | Size: 22 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash
Good for sensitive skin
Not Byrdie clean or cruelty-free
From the drugstore aisle, we're big fans of Aveeno Skin Relief. This hefty 33-ounce pump bottle contains a fragrance-free blend of ingredients like oat flour and coriander oil to gently cleanse, nourish, and soothe all skin types.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, oat flour, coriander oil | Benefits: Moisturizing, soothing | Size: 33 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: Byredo Gypsy Water Body Wash
Paying top dollar for body wash is an undeniable luxury—but there's nothing wrong with splurging once in a while. Byredo Gypsy Water cleans and clarifies with glycerin and castor oil, then leaves an enchanting scent in its wake. Featuring notes of bergamot, lemon, pepper, and juniper berries, the French fragrance lasts for hours.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, castor oil | Benefits: Clarifying, invigorating | Size: 7.6 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Scent: Davines OI Body Wash
Can be tricky to dispense
Skincare authority and expert cosmetic injector Kristina Kitsos stands behind the Italian-made Davines OI Body Wash. "The roucou oil that they use in this formula is loaded with beta-carotene and antioxidants," she tells Byrdie. "Also, it smells divine. I can't stop smelling myself when I use this."
Active Ingredients: Roucou oil, glycerin | Benefits: Protective, moisturizing | Size: 9.46 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Aromatherapy: Dermalogica Conditioning Body Wash Eucalyptus + Lavender
Replenishes the skin barrier
When it comes to relaxing and refreshing scents, there may be no better combo than eucalyptus and lavender. Dermalogica's spa-level Conditioning Body Wash soothes with vitamin E, clarifies with tea tree oil, and delivers a pleasant dose of stress-relieving aromatherapy with a blend of essential oils.
Active Ingredients: Tea tree oil, vitamin E, orange peel oil, essential oils | Benefits: Invigorating, moisturizing, softening | Size: 10 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Unscented: The Seaweed Bath Co. Unscented Body Wash
Made with organic ingredients
Good for sensitive skin
For those who prefer fragrance-free formulas, we highly recommend this unscented concoction from The Seaweed Bath Co. Containing upwards of 65 vitamins and minerals, plus aloe, coconut oil, and spirulina, it works hard to nourish your skin from head to toe.
Active Ingredients: Minerals, vitamins, spirulina, coconut oil, aloe | Benefits: Moisturizing, replenishing, nourish | Size: 12 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Bar: DHC Coenzyme Q10 Body Soap
Not ideal for eczema-prone skin
The best bar for sudsing up in the shower is DHC's Q10 Body Soap. In addition to plant oils and aloe vera, the star of the cleansing bar is Coenzyme Q10 (aka CoQ10), an effective ingredient that tackles free radicals and soothes stressed skin.
Key Ingredients: Coenzyme Q10, olive oil, castor oil, aloe | Size: 4.2 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Organic: Suzanne Organics Wild Orange Vanilla Body Wash
Board-certified dermatologist Marie V. Hayag, MD, of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics likes Suzanne Organics Body Wash. With glycerin, white tea, oat extract, and coconut oil, this high-end cleanser works overtime to moisturize, nourish, and soothe inflamed skin.
Active Ingredients: White tea, glycerin, oat extract, coconut oil | Benefits: Moisturizing, nourishing | Size: 16 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Exfoliating: Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash
Exfoliates as it cleanses
Helps prevent ingrown hairs
Can cause sun sensitivity
"I recommend this body wash because it contains a high percentage of glycolic acid, which can help exfoliate the skin, as well as prevent ingrown hairs from shaving, and help counteract sun damage," says celebrity aesthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab. "One thing to note is that this product will make you more sun-sensitive, so make sure you are using sunscreen and only use it at night."
Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, glycerin | Benefits: Exfoliating, retexturizing, softening | Size: 6.7 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Gel: Jurlique Softening Shower Gel Rose
Scent may be too strong for some
If you're all about that gel, you'll love Jurlique. Boasting a medley of glycerin, aloe, and healing honey, this Australian body wash gently clarifies while softening and replenishing the skin barrier. Oh, and did we mention it smells incredible?
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, aloe, honey | Benefits: Softening, clarifying, replenishing, healing | Size: 10.1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Oil: Glossier Body Hero Daily Oil Wash
Contains seven nourishing oils
Replenishes the skin barrier
Scent may be too strong for some
Love oil-based skincare? Grease up with Glossier Body Hero. This moisturizing body wash flaunts a seven-oil blend that lifts dirt, grime, and body odor away from your skin and replenishes it with plant-based nourishment.
Active Ingredients: Coconut, meadowfoam, olive, and grapeseed oils | Benefits: Moisturizing, replenishing | Size: 8.4 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser
Replenishes skin barrier
Relatively small amount
Sensitive skin? Worden recommends Drunk Elephant Kamili, a supremely creamy and notably gentle body wash that "does the job and doesn't dry out your skin." This luxe cleanser calls on natural oils and an amino acid blend to remove dirt and replenish thirsty skin without irritating or stripping it.
Active Ingredients: Passionfruit oil, sweet almond oil, marula oil, amino acids | Benefits: Soothing, nourishing, replenishing | Size: 8 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Sulfate-Free: Alaffia Everyday Coconut Body Wash
Pump can be finicky
If you prefer to keep sulfates out of the shower, your best bet is Alaffia EveryDay Wash. This whole-body cleanser contains antioxidant-rich coffeeberry extract, plus Mother Nature's go-to nourishers coconut oil and shea butter to moisturize and brighten your skin from head to toe.
Active Ingredients: Coffeeberry extract, coconut oil, shea butter | Benefits: Moisturizing, toning, brightening, nourishing | Size: 32 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Clean
Best Multi-Use: Clean Rebellion Organic Castile Soap
Can be used on face and hair
Oil may settle at the bottom of bottle
Looking for a one-and-done formula you can use on your body, face, and even your hair? Clean Rebellion has your name on it. This sizable bottle of ultra-gentle organic castile soap contains nourishing olive oil and a light fragrance from a blend of essential oils. (An unscented version is also available).
Active Ingredients: Organic castile soap, olive oil | Benefits: Moisturizing, nourishing | Size: 17.6 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
The best option overall is undoubtedly The Body Wash by Nécessaire (view at Sephora), a luxurious cleanser containing skin-loving ingredients like vitamin E, marula oil, and niacinamide. However, if you're looking for a more wallet-friendly formula, go with Dove Dryness Relief (view at Walmart), an esthetician-approved body wash boasting an incredibly creamy formula.
What to Look For in a Body Wash
The main thing to look for when shopping around for a body wash is the ingredients list. Most formulas clean the skin with glycerin, castile soap, and other emulsifiers. In addition to being moisturizing, plant oils such as jojoba, coconut, argan, and castor oil are naturally antimicrobial, meaning they repel bacteria.
If you have sensitive or eczema-prone skin, you might want to look for soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, vitamin E, and aloe vera. Those with acne-prone skin should keep an eye out for skin-clearing actives like tea tree oil and exfoliating AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) such as glycolic acid or lactic acid.
Body washes are often scented with synthetic fragrances or essential oils. A lot of skincare experts recommend steering clear of products containing fragrance to avoid irritation. However, the skin on your body might be less sensitive than the skin on your face, in which case a light scent may not cause a reaction.
If you prioritize overall value and ease of use, look for a large pump bottle. The pumps are user-friendly, allowing you to dispense the product without lifting the container, plus they often yield several months' worth of use.
That said, there are some really great higher-end products that come in smaller containers without pumps, as well as cleansing bars with no container to speak of. In the end, it's a matter of preference.
What are the benefits of body wash?
Compared to traditional bar soap, body wash tends to offer a substantial lather and an all-around more luxurious bathing experience. What's more, some formulas are moisturizing and nourishing, while others provide exfoliation or skin-clearing benefits.
Gel-filled bottles and pump containers are also convenient and easy to use. Additionally, liquid body washes can be used for bubble baths.
How do you use body wash?
Cleansing with body wash is pretty straightforward. Start by dispensing a small amount into your hand (somewhere between the size of a dime and a quarter). Gently rub your hands together to disperse the product and create a lather. Next, rub it all over your body, starting with your pits and bits, then rinse thoroughly.
Can you use body wash on your face?
"It's not advisable to use body wash on your face," says Kitsos. "This is because the skin on the face is normally a bit more sensitive than the skin on the body, and it's possible that body washes may be too harsh and abrasive."
However, she notes, "If you are in a pinch and need to use it as face wash once in a while, it will work to clean the skin." Just be sure to start with a very small amount, rinse thoroughly, and follow with a moisturizer.
Why Trust Byrdie
Theresa Holland is a freelance commerce writer and copyeditor specializing in beauty and wellness. For this article, she interviewed a board-certified dermatologist, two celebrity estheticians, and a cosmetic injector, gathering their product recommendations and insight into formulations. Before making her final selections, she pored over user reviews, combed through ingredients lists, and considered dozens of body washes from a range of retailers. From the above brands, Theresa is a fan of Nécessaire, Glossier, Dove, Aveeno, DHC, and The Seaweed Bath Co.
Meet the Expert
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough body washes from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.