Last updated on Nov 20, 2019

The Best Body Washes

Get clean without drying out your skin ​
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3 experts interviewed

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20 body washes tested

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6 top picks

The Best Body Washes

The best body washes will clean your skin without drying it out too much — a delicate balance to strike. After talking through ingredients with three dermatologists and testing 20 popular body washes on our own skin, we found our top picks: products free of harsh cleansers like sodium lauryl sulfate but chock-full of moisturizers and conditioners, which foamed, bubbled, and left us feeling clean.

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The 6 Best Body Washes

    The Best Body Washes: Summed Up

    Best for
    Price
    Price per ounce
    Primary cleanser
    Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Crème with Orange Blossom
    Normal skin
    $24 for 13.5 fl oz
    $1.78
    Ammonium lauryl sulfate
    Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash
    Price
    Scent (women’s)
    $18.57 for 6.8 fl oz
    $2.73
    Decyl glucoside
    Every Man Jack
    Scent (men’s)
    $5.47 for 16.9 fl oz
    $0.34
    Sodium coco-sulfate
    Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash
    Acne-prone skin
    $6.47 for 8.5 fl oz
    $0.76
    Sodium olefin sulfonate
    CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
    Sensitive skin
    $10.99 for 10 fl oz
    $1.10
    Sodium cocoyl glycinate
    Beessential Body Wash
    Dry skin
    $8.99 for 8 fl oz
    $1.12
    Glyceryl laurate

    Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Cream Orange Blossom

    Best for Normal Skin
    Le Petit Marseillais

    Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Cream Orange Blossom

    Pros

    Moisturizing and exfoliating
    No harsh cleansers
    Crowd-pleasing scent and texture

    Cons

    Clunky bottle

    Why we chose it

    Moisturizing and exfoliating

    If you’re not trying to target particular issues (like dryness or acne), our favorite body wash was Le Petit Marseillais Extra Gentle Shower Crème with Orange Blossom, a cheap drugstore option that blew us away during testing. It includes two excellent moisturizers — glycerin and almond oil — plus citric acid to exfoliate and promote the growth of new skin cells. An alpha hydroxy acid like citric acid was a must for our “normal” skin picks, with Dr. Chiu explaining that they “promote exfoliation, helping to get rid of dead skin cells along with some of the dirt and oils that can build up on the skin. [They do] this gently, unlike some of the scrubs out there, which really can be traumatic to the skin if used too frequently.”

    No harsh cleansers

    Le Petit Marseillais skips overly drying cleaning agents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), relying instead on the gentler ammonium lauryl sulphate (ALS) as its primary cleansing ingredient.

    Crowd-pleasing scent and texture

    Le Petit Marseillais dispenses as a creamy gel that works into a bubbly, foamy lather. The label calls its scent a “floral fragrance,” but our testers thought it just smelled like oranges: a light, citrusy scent that we found gender-neutral.

    Points to consider

    Clunky bottle

    The only real drawback to Le Marseillais is its packaging. It comes in a hefty rectangular bottle that looks like something you’d find in the dollar store. It’s not going to jazz up your shower, but we thought this was a small trade-off for its stellar performance.

    REN Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash

    Best Scent for Women
    REN

    REN Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash

    Pros

    Luxurious look and feel
    Complex, delicate aroma

    Cons

    Less lather than most
    Expensive

    Why we chose it

    Luxurious look and feel

    For a more luxurious option, we highly recommend REN Moroccan Rose Otto body wash. It has a smooth, lush texture that left our skin feeling soft and clean, with glycerin and panthenol as moisturizers. REN’s packaging is equally well-crafted. You get a slim, cylindrical bottle with a pink and silver color scheme and a small pump-top.

    Normal Skin Top Picks for Body Wash

    Complex, delicate aroma

    In a sea of artificial scents, REN’s floral aroma stood out, reminding us of high-end perfume: complex, feminine, and not overly sweet. “I don’t usually like rose-scented products,” said one tester, “but this actually smells like roses.” REN comes by its scent from a combination of natural fragrance plus oils of damask rose, geranium, and lemongrass.

    Points to consider

    Less lather than most

    The body wash itself is closer to oil than gel; it’s on the runny side and produces fewer suds than Le Petit’s thick, creamy formula. If you enjoy lathering up, this is REN’s one major drawback.

    Expensive

    For all of its good points, REN is also one of the most expensive body washes we tested. Its relatively small 6.8-ounce bottle retails anywhere from $19 to $27, far more than our other top picks for normal skin (Le Petit Marseillais and Every Man Jack).

    Every Man Jack Body Wash and Shower Gel

    Best Scent for Men
    Every Man Jack

    Every Man Jack Body Wash and Shower Gel

    Pros

    Gently cleans and exfoliates
    Popular fragrance with testers
    Least expensive wash we tested

    Cons

    May be drying
    Bottle too large for some

    Why we chose it

    Gently cleans and exfoliates

    Every Man Jack Body Wash passed our ingredient cuts with flying colors. It includes glycerin and castor oil as moisturizers, plus citric acid to slough away dead skin. The product comes as a thick, clear gel, which was popular among testers.

    Popular fragrance with testers

    We tested Every Man Jack’s Cedarwood formula, which uses juniper and rosemary oil to create a woodsy fragrance. While we tend to think of it as a more “masculine” scent, both male and female testers loved it.

    Least expensive wash we tested

    Compared with some of the more “upscale” body washes we tested, Every Man Jack is an amazing bargain. A large 16.9-ounce bottle retails for about $6, or roughly 36 cents an ounce — almost eight times cheaper than REN.

    Points to consider

    May be drying

    While most testers liked Every Man Jack’s gel consistency, some found it more drying than oil- or cream-based formulas like Le Petit Marseillais or REN. If your skin errs on the side of dryness, we recommend sticking with a body wash like the Le Petit Marseillais.

    Bottle too large for some

    About the only downside we could find with Every Man Jack is that it comes in a large, heavy bottle. Its size, especially when the bottle is full, may be awkward to handle in the shower.

    Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

    Best for Acne Prone Skin
    Neutrogena

    Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

    Pros

    Fights breakouts
    Leaves skin feeling soft
    Lots of lather

    Cons

    Thick gel squeezes out quickly

    Why we chose it

    Fights breakouts

    Our top pick for battling acne is Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash, thanks to its 2% salicylic acid, the highest concentration permitted by the FDA in over-the-counter treatments. San Diego-based licensed dermatologist Dr. David Lortscher explained that “salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid, provides exfoliation that helps to prevent and treat blocked pores, and may help diminish some types of superficial hyperpigmentation.” In other words, it helps keep your pores from clogging and can tone down red splotches.

    Leaves skin feeling soft

    Neutrogena’s gentle feeling also surprised us. It took extra scrubbing to leave our skin clean, but unlike some other acne-treatment washes we tested, our skin felt soft afterward — not stripped dry.

    Lots of lather

    This product features Neutrogena’s classic orange gel, which has a thick, slightly viscous texture that some testers found a little off-putting. But it lathers into a healthy foam with lots of bubbles and has a mild, clean scent that reminded us of fresh laundry.

    Points to consider

    Thick gel squeezes out quickly

    Some online reviews note that it’s easy to dispense a little too much of the thick, viscous gel in one squeeze. A little goes a long way, so if you’re used to absently squeezing a dollop on your hand or washcloth, you might have to pay closer attention to avoid using too much.

    CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

    Best for Sensitive Skin
    CeraVe

    CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

    Pros

    Totally irritant-free
    Dermatologist-recommended

    Cons

    Low lather

    Why we chose it

    Totally irritant-free

    When it comes to sensitive skin, the simpler the better. Our top pick for sensitive skin, CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash, has zero fragrance or artificial dyes — both common culprits behind skin irritation. “I tell people, if you have sensitive skin at all, be boring!” says Dr. Michele Green, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with a private practice in the Upper East Side of New York City. “Stick to the boring, plain stuff. No fragrances, no dyes. I know it’s less fun, but it will work and your skin won’t get irritated.”

    Dermatologist-recommended

    CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash is a drugstore product that looks like something you’d get from a dermatologist. And indeed, it came highly recommended by all three of our dermatologists. Dr. Green points out that even if you don’t have sensitive skin, it’s a great option because it’s so gentle and moisturizing.

    Points to consider

    Low lather

    CeraVe has a texture that’s closer to lotion than body wash, and it creates more of a bubbly foam than a rich lather, in part due to the absence of any harsh surfactants. It still left our skin feeling soft, soothed, and moisturized, but the lathering experience wasn’t quite as satisfying.

    Beessential Natural Body Wash

    Best for Dryness
    Beessential

    Beessential Natural Body Wash

    Pros

    Ultra-moisturizing
    Feel-good company
    Natural ingredients

    Cons

    Somewhat low lather

    Why we chose it

    Ultra-moisturizing

    When we went hunting for a dry skin pick, we knew we wanted as many moisturizing ingredients as we could find. Our top choice, Beessential Body Wash, is chock-full of them. The first five ingredients on its list (after water) are coconut oil, olive oil, hemp oil, vegetable glycerin, and aloe, moisturizers that came highly recommended by our dermatologists. In fact, given that there are only 11 ingredients total, most of what you’re getting in Beessential is moisturizers. The formula includes honey, too, a powerhouse ingredient that studies have found does everything from slow the formation of wrinkles to — you guessed it — moisturize.

    Feel-good company

    We also loved that Beessential is made in small batches on a family farm in Ohio. The honey in the body wash is from beehives on the farm.

    Natural ingredients

    Beessential is preservative- and sulfate-free and is comprised totally of plant-based soap, moisturizers, and scent. The lavender scent we tested was light and herbal, and it put us in mind of an aromatherapy session. Unlike the slightly sticky feeling left behind by contenders like Puracy Natural Body Wash, Beessential also had no noticeable residue.

    Points to consider

    Somewhat low lather

    Some may consider less lather to be a plus, but as our experts reminded us, Americans tend to expect a thick, rich foam from their body wash. Beessential is less frothy than typical shower gel, though we still really enjoyed its sudsy, fragrant wash.

    How We Chose the Best Body Washes

    Popularity

    We started with a list of 273 body washes — turns out, there are a lot of body washes out there. Our list included best-selling brands from retailers like Amazon, Walgreens, Ulta, and Sephora. We also scoured “Best of” lists from beauty publications like Real Simple and Allure.

    Mildness

    You know how some body washes leave you feeling “squeaky clean”? That sensation isn’t good for you. “The squeaky sensation is your natural protective moisture barrier getting totally removed from your skin,” says Dr. Annie Chiu, who runs The Derm Institute in North Redondo Beach, California. “The harshest surfactants will usually leave you feeling that way.” All of the dermatologists we spoke with suggested steering clear of two surfactants in particular: sodium lauryl sulfate (otherwise known as SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), both common — but extremely harsh — cleaning agents.

    Moisturizers

    Even mild cleansers, like the coconut-based surfactants used by most of our top picks, will strip a little moisture from your skin, so a good body wash should also have an effective moisturizing ingredient. Our experts suggested looking for at least one of the following: aloe vera, avocado oil, almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil, any type of seed oil (like sunflower or grape), oatmeal, ceramides, niacinamides, glycerin, vitamin E, or vitamin B.

    Top brands

    From there, we divided up our contenders into four categories: good for sensitive skin, good for acne-prone skin, good for dry skin, and good for “normal” skin with no specific issues. (For more on our criteria for different skin types, check out the product reviews for each category below.) For each skin type, we hand-selected the top brands: products that came highly recommended by our dermatologists, plus those getting five-star reviews on Amazon or frequent recommendations on forums like Reddit. We then ordered in our finalists to see how they stacked up against each other during hands-on testing.

    Mild scent

    Keeping in mind that fragrance is a personal preference, we prioritized formulas that didn’t elicit any extreme negative reactions from testers. If a body wash had a scent, we overall preferred it to be light and fresh rather than thick and cloying.

    Lather

    We preferred brands that were able to produce at least a light lather. We weren’t alone: The dermatologists we spoke with all mentioned that consumer tests (and their own experience) show that most Americans favor sudsy body washes.

    Pleasant skin feel

    We wanted to leave the shower with skin that felt smooth and hydrated, so we gave low marks to products that left behind sticky, tacky films or that cleaned so thoroughly that our skin felt dry and uncomfortable.

    Convenient packaging

    Our testers preferred products that came with pumps versus flip caps — it was easier to dispense the wash in a wet shower. Tubes with caps on the bottom received the lowest marks. These caps tended to fill up with water in the shower, which can lead to mold growth.

    Group Shot for Body Wash

    How to Find the Right Body Wash for You

    Choose a price range

    The price of body wash varies more than you might think. Our favorite men’s scent, Every Man Jack, is almost eight times cheaper (per ounce) than our favorite women’s scent, REN. Depending on how often you use your body wash, the added cost can accumulate quickly. The good news is that there are still great, affordable options for every skin type; you just might end up sacrificing some glamour in order to keep a bottle in your shower.

    Avoid potential irritants

    We discarded products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), both common surfactants that have the potential to irritate skin. But if you have particularly sensitive skin, or specific allergies, you’ll want to take a close look at the ingredients list on any potential body wash. It’s also worth noting that even products you’ve used before can cause temporary contact dermatitis — a reaction in which your immune system overreacts to chemicals that are normally harmless.

    Know your skin type

    If you have normal skin with no discernible sensitivity, you can afford to go with your favorite fragrance and at least one alpha hydroxy acid, like lactic acid or citric acid. However, if you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to avoid AHAs, as well as fragrance and artificial dyes. For dry skin, you’ll want as many moisturizers as you can get. And if you’re looking to treat acne, you’ll need either salicylic or glycolic acid.

    Pick a scent

    Keeping in mind that most fragrances also have the potential to irritate skin, you may want to steer clear of aroma altogether. But if you look forward to the smell of your body wash, there are practically infinite options. Men’s products typically feature more woodsy aromas like cedar or sandalwood, while women’s products are more likely to have floral scents like rose or lavender. If your tastes differ, go ahead and use the scent you prefer — both categories will get you clean.

    Body Washes FAQ

    Our Other Skin Care Reviews

    Looking for more of the best bets to keep your skin clean, moisturized, and youthful-looking? Read about some of the top products we’ve found:

    About the Authors

    The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.