Reviewed: Cetaphil's Ultra Gentle Body Wash

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Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash

Rebecca Norris/Design by Cristina Cianci

What We Like
  • Scented options smell great

  • Pudding-like texture that's rich and nourishing

  • As gentle as it says, so great for sensitive skin

  • Has a fragrance-free option

  • Accessible price point

What We Don't Like
  • Formulated with sulfates, which can be irritating

  • Can take longer to rinse due to thick texture

  • Fragrance-free version still has a bit of a scent

If you love a rich, pudding-like body wash that feels like it deeply cleanses the skin, you’ll love Cetaphil's Ultra Gentle Body Wash. But while it’s hydrating and gentle, it does contain sodium laureth sulfate, which can be irritating for those with dry and/or sensitive skin. As such, it’s best to do a patch test before slathering it all over your body in the shower.


Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash

Rebecca Norris/Design by Cristina Cianci

We put Cetaphil's Ultra Gentle Body Wash to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

When taking stock of your shower, you probably keep a few products in mind: shampoo, conditioner, a good face cleanser, and body wash. Today, we’re here to talk about the last item on this core list. Unlike some of the other shower must-haves, body washes can be some of the most low-key skincare products on the market. Nevertheless, skin on the body can still benefit from proper nourishment, and it helps to have a well-formulated product when it comes to rinsing from neck to toe. With this in mind, and knowing that beloved drugstore brand Cetaphil recently launched a new collection of gentle body washes, we set out to test Cetaphil’s Ultra Gentle Body Wash range. Is it time to make some room in your shower for one of these body washes? Ahead, read our unfiltered review of the products to determine for yourself.

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash

Best for: All skin types, including sensitive skin.

Uses: Deep but gentle cleansing that's safe to use regularly.

Potential allergens: Sodium laureth sulfate, lauryl lactate

Active ingredients: Aloe vera, vitamin B5, glycerin

Price: Typically $8

About the brand: Tested and recommended by dermatologists, Cetaphil focuses on creating gentle yet effective products for sensitive, dry, and acne-prone skin types. The brand has been a cult-favorite skincare staple since its debut in 1947.

About My Skin: Sensitive and prone to small breakouts

My facial skin is combination and sensitive, and the rest of my body also has sensitive skin, which is prone to small breakouts. If I don’t immediately—and I mean immediately—shower after sweating, I will end up with at least a couple of breakouts along my bra line, waistline, and on my chest and bum. It’s unsettling, to say the least. 

Because of this—and because my skin is reactive to overly fragranced body washes—I was intrigued when Cetaphil, known for products that are friendly to sensitive and acne-prone skin, debuted their line of body washes. As sensitive as my skin is, I often still reach for subtle scents, and I was pleased that Cetaphil has both lightly scented and fragrance-free options. 

In order to best determine my final feelings toward Cetaphil’s Ultra Gentle Body Wash, I swapped out my go-to—Dove’s Cucumber & Green Tea Cool Moisture Body Wash—and fully committed to testing whether Cetaphil's product is as gentle, refreshing, and soothing as it claims.

The Feel: Thick, like a rich and delicious pudding

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash Texture

Rebecca Norris/Design by Cristina Cianci

From the moment I first tried Cetaphil's Ultra Gentle Body Wash, I knew that I was working with an ultra-thick, pudding-like formula. And with water and glycerin as the first two ingredients in each wash, that makes sense. While I personally love the thick, goopy nature of the wash, some Amazon reviewers complain that it’s too thick for their liking, partly due to the extra time necessary to fully rinse it off.  But given my love for long showers, the texture—extra rinse time and all—wasn't enough to deter me.

The Ingredients: Can be a mixed bag for sensitive skin

  • Aloe vera: Known to be incredibly healing and hydrating, aloe vera is a welcome ingredient in this body wash. It lends to the gentle nature of the product while strengthening and reinforcing the skin’s moisture barrier with each use.
  • Vitamin B5: B5 is best known for strengthening and softening the skin, two results that most people hope for with any grade-A body wash.
  • Glycerin: A humectant, glycerin helps draw water to the surface of the skin, keeping it hydrated and making it look supple.
  • Sodium laureth sulfate: A toned-down version of sodium lauryl sulfate, this is a popular skincare ingredient thanks to its ability to work as an emulsifier and product stabilizer. Unfortunately for those with sensitive skin, sulfates have a reputation for causing irritation. That said, research shows that so long as the manufacturer uses the proper amount, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. 

The Results: My body felt clean–simple as that

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash

Rebecca Norris/Design by Cristina Cianci

When it comes to a body wash, the results aren’t anything so stellar that I’d write home about it. And that goes for pretty much any body wash. After all, my main concerns when shopping for (or sampling) one is that it smells good and that it is non-irritating. I can attest that Cetaphil’s Ultra Gentle Body Wash checks the boxes I had in mind. 

While the wash takes a little longer than others to rinse off, once fully rinsed, it doesn’t leave any residue. What’s more, it didn’t cause any irritation on my body throughout my weeks of use. For that, I’m grateful and can recommend it as a lightly fragrant, non-irritating option worth considering. That said, will it replace my beloved Dove body wash? Doubtful. Though, ask me again come summer when my body breakouts are most common. 

The Value: On par with other drugstore brands

Cetaphil has a reputation as a higher-end (in terms of quality) drugstore product, but the price still reflects a budget-friendly option. Considering the body washes are dermatologist-tested and suitable for even the most finicky skin types, I’d say it stacks up nicely to the competition. 

Similar Products: You've got options

Dove Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Body Wash: Like Cetaphil’s Ultra Gentle Body Wash, Dove's Refreshing Body Wash ($7) is rich and pudding-like, though not as thick as Cetaphil’s newcomers. Unlike Cetaphil, this option from Dove is free of sulfates, likely making it even more gentle in nature.

Frank Body Clean Body Wash: Similar to Cetaphil’s, Frank Body’s new clean offering ($13) showcases a gentle formula fitting for even the most sensitive skin. However, it’s less thick and more of a lightweight gel, which might make it a good option for those who want something that rinses quicker. The only downside is that it’s less accessible, as it’s mainly sold online and at select retailers, like Urban Outfitters. 

Final Verdict

Overall, body washes are some of the less specific skincare products, in that they have fewer boxes to check in the grand scheme of things. If you, like me, simply want a body wash that smells good (or like nothing at all), makes you feel clean, and doesn’t lead to breakouts, then this new collection from Cetaphil is worth checking out. 


  • Product Name Ultra Gentle Body Wash
  • Product Brand Cetaphil
  • Price $8.00
  • Weight 16.9 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Water, Glycerin, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Betaine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Panthenol [Vitamin B5], Glycol Distearate, Lauryl Lactate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Citrate, Laureth-4, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Heliotropine, Polyquaternium-10, Sodium Hydroxide
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Fox LT, du Plessis J, Gerber M, van Zyl S, Boneschans B, Hamman JH. In vivo skin hydration and anti-erythema effects of Aloe vera, Aloe ferox and Aloe marlothii gel materials after single and multiple applicationsPharmacogn Mag. 2014;10(Suppl 2):S392-S403. doi:10.4103/0973-1296.133291

  2. Camargo FB Jr, Gaspar LR, Maia Campos PM. Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulationsJ Cosmet Sci. 2011;62(4):361-370.

  3. Milani M, Sparavigna A. The 24-hour skin hydration and barrier function effects of a hyaluronic 1%, glycerin 5%, and Centella asiatica stem cells extract moisturizing fluid: an intra-subject, randomized, assessor-blinded studyClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:311-315. doi:10.2147/CCID.S144180

  4. Bondi CA, Marks JL, Wroblewski LB, Raatikainen HS, Lenox SR, Gebhardt KE. Human and environmental toxicity of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): evidence for safe use in household cleaning productsEnviron Health Insights. 2015;9:27-32. doi:10.4137/EHI.S31765

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