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Effectively combating dry skin requires a multi-pronged approach. There are lifestyle and habitual changes to make (think drinking more water or taking shorter showers) as well as important product protocol (like layering moisturizers with serums or oils). In terms of products, it’s important to remember that you can combat dryness at every step in your routine, not just with the moisturizer you choose. Exhibit A: Picking a hydrating body wash that will add back moisture to your skin, rather than stripping it.
Keep reading for the best body washes for dry skin on the market, now.
Best Overall: Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash
True story: We like to buy this derm-approved pick in bulk at Costco to ensure that we never, ever run out (the horror). It boasts a unique moisturizing complex that includes, among other things, glycerin and lipids to penetrate those top layers of the skin where hydration is most needed. On top of that, it’s also specifically formulated not to disrupt your skin’s microbiome, which is noteworthy because more and more research shows that a disrupted microbiome is the culprit behind all sorts of skin issues. It also sudses beautifully, rinses cleanly, and has a subtle yet fresh scent. And it’s cheap!
Best Budget: Olay Moisture Ribbons + Shea and Manuka Honey Body Wash
Byrdie associate editor Holly Rhue loves this cheapie pick. Despite the price, it feels just as luxe and special as much more expensive options, packed with shea butter to make it nice and creamy while you wash and leave skin feeling soothed and noticeably softer long after you get out of the shower, too. Olay offers several versions of this product, but we like this one for the subtly sweet honey scent.
Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
This formula omits pretty much anything and everything that could potentially stress out easily irritated skin. It’s paraben-, soap-, sulfate-, and fragrance-free, and is instead loaded with hydrating hyaluronic acid, emollients, and three different types of skin-strengthening ceramides. It’s so gentle, in fact, that it’s accepted by the National Eczema Association, making it a great option for those dealing with eczema.
Best for Face and Body: Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Face & Body Cleanser
As a general rule of thumb, using the same cleanser for both your face and body may not be the best move, but this formula is an exception to that rule. The soap-free sudser is gentle enough to use on both and is specially pH-balanced to preserve the skin’s protective barrier. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to worry about it clogging pores if you do in fact want to use it on your face.
Best Scent: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4 Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel
This brand is known for its signature scent—a sweet, gourmand blend of pistachio and caramel. You do in fact get the lovely fragrance from this wash, which devotees (including Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue) also say lasts long after you dry off. And per the hydrating part of things, it’s packed with skin-softening cupuacu butter and coconut oil, making the lather so luscious that it can easily do double duty as a shaving cream.
Best Oil: L'Occitane Cleansing and Softening Shower Oil
Oils are (obviously) one of the best ways to add a major dose of moisture to parched skin, so it should come as no surprise that a shower oil is a good option for those dealing with dryness. This particular one is our choice for the moisture it imparts (credit almond oil, which is rich in softening omega-6 fatty acids), but also because it transforms into a milky foam as you massage it in. This way, you still get that same sensorial experience of sudsing up as you would from a traditional wash. Plus, it rinses completely cleanly and never leaves a greasy residue.
Best Anti-Itch: Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash
There are lots of annoying side effects that come with dry skin (flakes, ashiness), but itchiness is arguably the most annoying and toughest to combat. Enter this solution. Natural lipids and omega fatty acids both moisturize and calm itch, so skin generally feels more comfortable after each and every wash. Plus, it’s free of soap, fragrance, and dyes, which are all things that can exacerbate itch. Top tip: Give it a good shake before using it.
Best Fragrance-Free: Nubian Heritage Shea Butter & Aloe Body Wash
It’s understandable to want a body wash that smells good, but if your skin is crazy dry (or if you’re also dealing with accompanying issues such as eczema or psoriasis), it’s a good move to steer clear of potentially irritating fragrance. That’s where this option comes up huge. It checks that box and contains ultra-moisturizing ingredients like aloe, shea butter, and cocoa butter.
Best with Vitamins: The Seaweed Bath Co. Citrus Vanilla Body Wash
What if you could find a body wash that not only effectively cleansed and hydrated but also delivered tons of good-for-your-skin vitamins and minerals? Here you go. A trio of olive, kukui, and neem oils check the hydration box, but there are also—wait for it—65 different vitamins and nutrients in the mix, many of which come from super potent blue-green algae.
Best with Shea Butter: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Body Wash
Shea butter shows up time and time again in rich moisturizers and creams simply because of how effective it is. A rich emollient, it both softens and smooths the surface of the skin and contains essential fatty acids and vitamins. Here, raw shea butter is paired with coconut oil (another heavy-hitting hydrator) to make for a super creamy formula. The icing on the cake? The addition of myrrh extract, which is naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial and is great for healing dry, cracked skin.
Best Soothing: Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser
This brand may be best known for its skincare offerings, but don’t sleep on this body wash, another favorite of Xue’s. Rather than using harsh sulfates for cleansing purposes, it relies on much gentler coconut-derived surfactants to do the washing. Meanwhile, maracuja oil and a special amino acid blend hydrate and soothe. It’s also formulated at the ideal pH to not stress to your skin barrier.
What to Look For in a Body Wash for Dry Skin
If you have dry skin, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King recommends looking for a body wash that’s rich in emollient ingredients, which work to support the skin’s natural barrier. Body washes that are rich in plant butters, oils, lipids, and fatty acids are great examples of emollient-rich products.
In addition to emollients, Dr. King says to look for occlusive ingredients, which help lock moisture into the skin. Plant-based ingredients like shea butter, castor oil, and squalane are great examples of occlusives, and other common ones include petrolatum, silicones, and beeswax.
Avoid Harsh Detergents
Finally, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner says to avoid using any harsh detergents or soaps that may strip the skin of its natural oils if you have particularly dry skini. “Overly scrubbing or using harsh soaps can disrupt the outer skin layer, making dryness even worse,” he says. “Look for gentle, non-soap cleansers that provide hydrating benefits alongside its cleansing effects.”
Meet the Expert
• Dr. Hadley King, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is also a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
• Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, is a dermatologist, as well as the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.