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Body washes are like the Matthew McConaughey of skincare; we were all quite happy putting them in a box that we neither loved nor hated until they started properly acting. Around the same time that everyone’s favorite Texan went from rom-com mainstay to Oscar-winning icon (can you tell I’m enjoying this comparison?) body washes had a renaissance of their own. Gone were the 3-in-1 formulas so pumped with fragrance and astringents that they left behind flushed skin and thinning hair; they were replaced with nourishing botanicals, active ingredients, and aromatic scents that work as much on the body as they do on the mind.
As blokes, a body wash has been one of few products we were told is essential (blame the teenage years of sweat and smell), which is why so many of us were disenchanted with the category well before its revamp. I was even apprehensive stepping into testing, having relied on traditional soaps for the past decade. Now, I am a full convert, with some of my favorite brands on the market producing products that rival the results of their facial serums, masks, and creams.
Here, we're sharing the best body washes for men that are anything but boring. Get lathering, boys.
Best Overall: Le Labo Santal 33' Shower Gel
If Le Labo’s Santal 33 doesn’t at least ring a bell, fragrance is probably not your forte. The scent (icon might be a better word, really) has garnered cult status with its genderless appeal and spicy notes, quickly becoming the signature smell of the in-the-know.
It's available in body wash form with a botanical blend (think olive leaf extract, aloe vera, and flaxseed) that retains its olfactory origins of leather, smoke, and spices. Long story short: This formula is the equivalent of Timothée Chalamet in an invigorating lather, so you basically need it.
Best for Sweaty Skin: Bamford BGD Sport All-Over Body Wash
If you're the type of guy who likes to sweat it all out at the gym, a utilitarian wash is just the ticket. Bamford, English connoisseurs in luxury, botanical body care have formulated a lightweight hair and body wash in a sleek, sharp bottle. (Side note: I keep this one at the forefront of my shower because it looks that good.) Throw in the antibacterial tea tree to banish smell and anti-inflammatory patchouli oil to soothe tired muscles and you’ve got a product worthy of your gym bag.
Best Luxury: Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land Body Wash
Florals aren’t something I’d typically look for in a body wash. In fact, I’m not sure many men would want to smell like raspberry blossom or Turkish rose. How wrong I was; the light scent lingers like a delicate dream, making the need for cologne almost redundant. It’s not nearly as delicate as you’d think either, with notes of pink pepper, white amber, and papyrus creating a far more grounded, earthy aroma. If you are off to a black-tie function, consider this the best accessory.
Runner-Up, Best Luxury: Aesop Coriander Seed Body Cleanser
Aesop has been a staple in the moodily-tiled warehouse conversion’s of Brooklyn aficionados everywhere for a few years now, a kind of well-to-do statement by the millennial bourgeois. You want to roll your eyes and then you smell, feel, and see the product. Warm, woody, and wrapped in a graphic glass casing, the Coriander Seed Body Cleanser feels completely indulgent but absolutely essential at the same time. Its low-foaming, heavily aromatic quality had me standing in the shower for far too long but thankfully the scent lingered on my skin for most of the day.
Best for Body Acne: Mario Badescu A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap
Blame our thicker skin, sweatier systems, or (not to stereotype) less fastidious habits of self-care, but body acne and clogged pores hit the male community hard. In those hard-to-reach spots, infection and inflammation can build up, so a body wash that packs more than just perfume is needed.
Mario Badescu (if you haven’t tried his drying lotion, do yourself a favor and get on it) does just that with his botanical body soap, made with fruit enzymes, that dissolves dead skin, dirt, and debris for a smoother, spot-free solution to our body woes.
Try to lather it in and leave on for a few minutes in the shower, allowing the AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) to get to work.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Kiehl’s “Made For All” Gentle Body Cleanser
If you're trying to steer clear of dry, stripping formulas that can aggravate sensitive body skin, reach for this Kiehl's body wash that—as its name suggests—is safe for everyone, including babies. It's a nourishing, moisturizing, and non-irritating miracle, which cleanses the skin and reduces redness. It doesn't hurt that formula is also made with 95% naturally-derived ingredients. Technically you can share this body wash with friends and loved ones since it's made for all, but chances are you'll want it all to yourself—and we don't really blame you.
Best Invigorating: Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Hand + Body Wash
I suppose the essence of a body wash is to cleanse, clarify and refresh your body. In this, Malin+Goetz’s might be unbeatable. I’ve been a fan of the brand's Eucalyptus Deodorant (view on Nordstrom) since its debut, which uses the antibacterial ingredient to remove smell and sweat in equal measure. This hand and body wash does the exact same thing—removing sweat, smell, and leaving a lingering feeling of complete cleanliness. No tightness either, which is probably down to hydrating heavyweights like glycerin and amino acids. Bliss.
Best Exfoliating: Bevel Body Wash
Exfoliating body washes cleanse the skin and remove dead cells at the same time, helping to reduce the risk of clogged pores and acne. We're big fans of this ultra-masculine formula available in three scents; choose from Dark Cassis which boasts notes of dark berries and botanical blooms, Supreme Oak which features sweet almonds layered with bourbon and birch, or Black Bergamot with citrusy notes of bergamot and French lavender.
Best Natural: Seed to Skin The Purity Restorative Hand and Body Cleanser
Nestled in a Tuscan estate that is Instagram gold (seriously, check out @borgosantopietro), Seed To Skin is blended onsite with natural, mineral-rich ingredients native to the area. Loaded with thermal water, olive leaf, probiotics, and sheep's milk (which adds a nice touch of lactic acid), the cleanser feels like more of a sacred ritual than quick lather.
Best for Irritated Skin: Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Restorative Cream Body Cleanser
On the tree of skincare, prebiotic products have well and truly become a fully-formed, flowering brand of their own. Oddly the category doesn’t have much presence in body care, which is why Aurelia’s Restorative Cream Body Cleanser is such a smash. A botanical blend of sweet almond, baobab, Kigali Africana, and hibiscus (all rich in antioxidants and essential omega acids) are held in a base of prebiotic-rich aloe vera and coconut oil.
The scent alone is enough to sway you but stay for the nourishing, therapeutic effect. It literally calmed all the irritation I was experiencing, so much so that I happily took it to my face to sort out some shaving rash.
Best Cream Formula: Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser
Beloved brand Drunk Elephant has taken the ingredient-first approach that has made them a household name and applied it to this body cleanser, which is free from sulfates, silicones, fragrances, alcohols, and dyes. What’s left, I hear you cry? All the good stuff, like marula oil, passionfruit oil, and a multi-amino acid blend that soothes, strengthens, and moistures tough skin. Again, really make sure you are leaving this to sit on the skin for a minute or two so it can really absorb the beneficial blend.
Best for Tired Skin: REN Clean Skincare Atlantic Kelp & Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Wash
Body washes at the best of times can feel quite frivolous, but a new wave of brands are slowly revamping the category to be as efficacious as they are easy. REN, a no-fuss brand that leads the way in clean, sustainable beauty, has infused their most recent lather with magnesium PCA—a deeply relaxing ingredient also available as a supplement that can help promote better sleep—and an essential oil blend that helps regulate neurotransmitters for a calmer nervous system. It sounds a bit farfetched but I promise you, the science is there.
To really capitalize on this formula, try pouring it into a bath and soaking it all in.