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Dry, itchy skin is something most of us experience at some point, especially when dealing with extreme temperatures or chronic skin conditions. The good news is adhering to a daily routine of showering with the right body wash can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with dry skin.
With so many products, combinations of ingredients, and price ranges, it can be overwhelming to know which body wash will work best for your dry skin. That’s where we come in.
We scoured online reviews and talked with a few experts to get their suggestions on ingredients, brands, and best practices for using body wash.
Read on to learn more about the 16 best body washes for dry skin.
We considered many criteria when choosing our top body washes for dry skin. Some key features include:
- Types of ingredients. We examined the labels and looked for formulas that contain moisturizing ingredients as well as products without added fragrance and harsh chemicals.
- Top choices from reputable organizations. For dry skin that’s also prone to eczema, we chose products with the National Eczema Association (NEA) seal.
- Opinions of experts in the field. We spoke to two board certified dermatologists who regularly recommend body washes to patients. We asked for their input on what ingredients to look for and avoid.
- User reviews and customer feedback. We considered user reviews and customer feedback from various websites that sell the products.
When shopping for a body wash, Dr. Suzanne Friedler, a board certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology, says to look for a formula that contains natural oils and hyaluronic acid, which help replenish moisture.
She also stresses the importance of bathing with warm or lukewarm water and keeping your shower under 10 minutes. For dry, sensitive skin, use body washes only in areas that need extra cleaning and follow bathing immediately with heavy cream or ointment.
If you have sensitive skin or eczema, Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum, a board certified dermatologist with Spring Street Dermatology, recommends being careful about the body wash you choose.
“It’s important to choose a cleanser that is gentle and fragrance-free to avoid worsening eczema or causing an allergic reaction,” she explains.
When it comes to best practices for using a body wash, Birnbaum says that unless you have visible dirt or you’re excessively sweating, it’s not necessary to wash your body with soap every day. She also says you don’t need to wash every part of your body with soap.
“The only parts of your body that need soap are your groin and underarms (again unless you have dirt on your skin or you have been sweating),” she explains.
To wash, Birnbaum recommends washing with your fingertips instead of a washcloth or loofah to be as gentle as possible on the skin. Then, after washing, she recommends patting yourself dry and applying moisturizer while you’re damp to lock that moisture in your skin.
The price of beauty products can range from very affordable to outrageously expensive. We aimed for the middle range and chose body washes you can purchase online or in stores. With that in mind, here’s how we indicate cost:
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$15
- $$$ = over $15
CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
Key features: Dermatologist-recommended CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash is our top pick for the best moisturizing body wash. It’s also a favorite of Friedler’s since it’s packed full of ceramides, which help repair the skin’s protective barrier and hyaluronic acid to help retain your skin’s natural moisture. In addition to being free of parabens, soap, and fragrances, CeraVe also carries the NEA seal and is approved for use on eczema-prone skin.
Considerations: Some users are disappointed in the thickness of the wash and say it’s difficult to squeeze out of the bottle.
CeraVe Soothing Body Wash
Key features: CeraVe Soothing Body Wash carries the NEA seal of approval and is recommended by dermatologists for cleansing and calming eczema-prone skin. Safe and gentle enough for daily use, this formula contains three essential ceramides and omega oils, which help maintain and restore your skin’s protective barrier. It’s also free of parabens, soaps, fragrance, and sulfates.
Considerations: Some users are unhappy with the thin consistency of the body wash and lack of foaming ability. It’s also more expensive than other over-the-counter body washes for eczema.
Dove Deep Moisture Instant Foaming Body Wash
Key features: If smooth, soft skin is what you’re after, then give this foaming body wash from Dove a try. Self-foaming and hydrating, this formula combines their NutriumMoisture technology with mild cleansers to deep-clean your skin without leaving a greasy layer. Users say the pump is easy to use and you can’t beat the affordable price.
Considerations: This wash has a fragrance, so avoid if you’re sensitive to smell. Plus, be aware that it takes several pumps to get a good lather on a washcloth.
Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash
Key features: Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, Cetaphil’s Ultra Gentle body wash is an excellent choice for anyone with dry, sensitive skin. It’s also formulated with aloe vera and vitamin B5, which helps keep skin soft and smooth. This hydrating formula will thoroughly clean your skin without leaving it feeling tight and dry. Plus, it’s paraben and phthalate-free.
Considerations: It does contain sulfates, which may irritate the skin, scalp, and eyes.
Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash
Key features: All of Aveeno’s products are known for their soothing and calming properties, but their Skin Relief body wash is a top pick to battle winter dry skin. This daily wash is strong enough to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria, yet gentle enough to avoid irritation. Formulated with colloidal oatmeal to help relieve dryness and emollients to replenish moisture, Aveeno Skin Relief body wash is another favorite of Friedler. It’s also fragrance-free, soap-free, and dye-free.
Considerations: Contains sulfates, which may cause irritation to the skin, scalp, and eyes. This formula also comes scented, so if you need fragrance-free, make sure to check the packaging before purchasing.
Aveeno Positively Radiant Exfoliating Body Wash
Key features: Removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin requires exfoliating with some heavy-duty body wash. But if you don’t want to cause dryness and irritation, it has to be the right formula. Aveeno Positively Radiant Exfoliating Body Wash consistently earns high ratings. This soap-free wash combines moisture-rich soy complex with crushed walnut shells and other natural exfoliants to rid your body of dry skin.
Considerations: Contains sulfates, which may cause irritation to the skin, scalp, and eyes. While it’s suitable for daily use, you may want to opt for an every-other-day routine with an exfoliating wash if you have sensitive skin.
Vanicream Gentle Body Wash
Key features: Dry, sensitive skin is easily irritated by harsh ingredients. That’s why Friedler recommends Vanicream Gentle Body Wash. It’s free of dyes, preservatives, lanolin, parabens, masking fragrance, soap, and sulfates. Unlike other body washes for dry or sensitive skin, this wash lathers up nicely and leaves skin feeling smooth. Vanicream also carries the NEA seal, is approved for use on eczema-prone skin, and is safe for kids.
Considerations: More expensive than other brands. Depending on your current product, Vanicream could cost you double.
Shea Moisture Olive and Green Tea Bubble Bath and Body Wash
Key features: If you want a natural body wash free of harsh chemicals but packed full of oils to help nourish and moisturize your skin, then lather up with Shea Moisture Olive and Green Tea Bubble Bath and Body Wash. Made with natural and certified organic ingredients, this non-drying body wash contains green tea, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and more. Plus, it’s free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, and other ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin.
Considerations: More expensive than other non-natural brands of body wash. It also has a light scent, so avoid if you need a fragrance-free product.
Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash
Key features: Relief from dry, flaky skin requires a moisturizing body wash strong enough to rid your skin of dirt and oil, yet gentle enough not to cause excessive dryness. Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash contains omega oils and other natural lipids to help condition and moisturize your skin while preventing your skin from becoming dry and flaky. It has a mild lather and is free from fragrance, soap, and dyes.
Considerations: Since it contains omega and natural oils, it may take time to adjust to the extra moisturizing properties. It also contains sulfates, which may cause irritation to the skin, scalp, and eyes.
Nivea Men Maximum Hydration 3-in-1 Body Wash
Key features: Nivea Men Maximum Hydration is for guys who want a body wash that’s tough enough to scrub away sweat and dirt while still leaving skin feeling smooth, soft, and hydrated — thanks to the added aloe vera. Plus, this body wash has a rich lather, and it doesn’t leave a greasy film on your skin.
Considerations: Contains sulfates, which may cause irritation to the skin, scalp, and eyes. Although users report a pleasant scent, avoid if you want fragrance-free.
Curél Skincare Itch Defense Body Wash
Key features: Dry, itchy, sensitive skin is no match for Curél’s Itch Defense Body Wash. Fragrance and soap-free, this formula contains jojoba and olive oils to help moisturize and restore balance and hydration to your skin. Curél Itch Defense also carries the NEA seal, is approved for use on eczema-prone skin, and is safe enough for babies ages 6 months and up.
Considerations: More expensive than other body washes for dry, itchy skin. The scent isn’t too strong, but avoid if you want fragrance-free.
Puracy Natural Body Wash with Citrus and Sea Salt
Key features: Ironically, the best body wash for women is also a favorite among men. Puracy Natural Body Wash with citrus and sea salt is formulated with plant-based ingredients, fruit and vegetable-derived moisturizers for hydration, and pink Himalayan sea salt to help purify and balance your skin’s pH. It’s also hypoallergenic and free from betaine, sulfates, salicylates, parabens, petroleum-based ingredients, animal byproducts (cruelty-free), perfumes, dyes, and gluten. Puracy leaves skin feeling soft, clean, and smelling like fresh citrus.
Considerations: While many users enjoy the fresh scent, this body wash does have a smell. Also, some reviewers expressed frustration with the pump dispenser not working.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Body Wash
Key features: You may know Mrs. Meyer’s as a popular cleaning brand, but their body wash is equally impressive. Formulated with aloe vera gel, essential oils, flaxseed oil, and other moisturizing and skin-boosting ingredients, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Body Wash is an excellent pick for dry skin. In addition to lavender, this also comes in basil, honeysuckle, and lemon verbena scent.
Considerations: The lavender scent is pleasant, but if you’re looking for a fragrance-free product, consider trying a different body wash.
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Bath and Shower Gel in French Lavender
Key features: Free from phthalates, parabens, and sulfates, Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Wash gently cleanses and hydrates skin without using harsh chemicals. Their sensitive skin formula is all vegetarian and contains aloe, lavender, and chamomile in a 32-ounce vape-sized bottle. No worries if lavender isn’t your thing: It also comes in coconut, honey mango, citrus, mint, and more.
Considerations: Doesn’t lather as well as other body washes.
Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter
Key features: For all-day moisture, consider trying Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter. Loaded with shea butter and vitamin B3 complex, this formula delivers extra hydration to help lock in moisture and prevent dry, dull skin. Plus, it works great on extra dry areas such as your elbows and knees. Although the body wash is thicker than other brands, it doesn’t leave a film or residue after washing off.
Considerations: The body wash has a strong but pleasant odor, so avoid if you’re allergic to fragrance. Not a great pick if you’re looking for a product that’s primarily made with organic or natural ingredients.
Cetaphil Pro Soothing Wash
Key features: Dry skin is synonymous with irritation. That’s why this soothing body wash from Cetaphil is a top pick. When used regularly, Cetaphil Pro Soothing Wash can help soothe dry, sensitive skin and provide nourishing all-day moisture. Plus, it’s paraben-free and fragrance-free, so you don’t have to worry about harsh ingredients irritating your skin. Cetaphil Pro Soothing Wash also carries the NEA seal and is approved for use on eczema-prone skin.
Considerations: More expensive than other brands with similar formulas.
Caring for your skin requires a daily routine that’s part cleansing and part moisturizing. Using products that work against dry skin can cause conditions to worsen and your frustration level to rise.
While it may take some trial and error to find the right body wash for your skin, knowing what to look for when you go shopping can help eliminate products that may cause more harm than good.
If you’ve tried several products and you’re still experiencing dry skin, talk with a dermatologist about the right treatment plan for you.