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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.
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!
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 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.
Reach for this drugstore standout if/when you have insanely dry skin. It’s 10 times more nourishing than any regular ol’ wash. It relies on glycerin, a humectant, to attract water to the skin, along with sunflower oil to help lock in moisture. It’s soap- and fragrance-free too, which makes it another great pick for the sensitive set.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.
Despite the fact that this is a gel, it still foams up nicely and delivers plenty of moisture. Aloe smooths and soothes the skin, as does vitamin E, and the formula is also packed with plenty of antioxidants that offer protective and anti-aging benefits (never a bad thing). FYI, there are six variants available but we’re partial to this one for the fresh and slightly fruity scent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.