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8 Best Body Washes for Mature Skin That Do More Than Just Cleanse Your Body

Dermatologists share application tips too

If you’ve never given much thought to the body wash you’re using, it’s time to do so. And if you’re not using a body wash at all, it’s definitely time to incorporate one into your routine. Nothing against good old-fashioned bar soap, but body washes offer a unique list of benefits (more on those in a moment) that their solid counterparts don’t. Not to mention there are a host of incredible options to choose from — many of which are super affordable — that can do so much more than their intended cleansing duties. At the end of the day, you’re likely showering and washing your body daily already, so why not use a product that’s going to make the experience that much more effective and enjoyable? Ahead, top dermatologists explain exactly what makes body washes so great, share top advice for choosing (and using) them and reveal the best body washes that will work for you.

The benefits of using body washes

body wash dispenser

Spoiler alert: It’s not just cleansing, although they definitely do that.

They cleanse skin

Body washes are effective for removing dirt, sweat and impurities from the skin, explains Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York.

They hydrate skin

“They also often contain moisturizing ingredients that hydrate and prevent dryness,” explains Dr. Garshick. “And some formulations offer exfoliation, helping to slough off dead cells for smoother skin.”

They enhance your shower routine

Many are also scented, offering an easy way to transform your run-of-the-mill, routine shower into a relaxing, luxurious, spa-like experience.

Related: “I Tried the Newest Self-Care Trend — the ‘Everything Shower’ — and Loved How It Made Me Look and Feel!”

They work for all skin types/concerns

Plus, because there are so many different kinds of body washes out there, you can really customize what you’re looking for based on skin type and preference for a completely tailored and personalized experience, notes Dr. Garshick.  

What ingredients to look for in body washes

Hydration is the name of the game. Dr. Garshick recommends seeking out humectants — ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin — which attract moisture to the skin, as well as ceramides, which support the skin barrier and help lock that moisture in. Given their intended purpose, all body washes are going to contain some type of cleansing ingredients (AKA surfactants), but ideally you want a formula that contains gentle versions so as to avoid any excessive dryness, Dr. Garshick points out.

Amy Freeman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Millburn, New Jersey agrees, adding that lauryl glucoside is one good option that fits the bill. She also notes that, especially if you have sensitive skin, seeking out soothing ingredients such as oatmeal and shea butter is a good idea, too.

Similarly, if you have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to avoid fragrance. Yes, it’s what makes your body wash smell good, but it can be problematic if you have sensitive and/or dry skin to begin with given that it’s a common irritant and allergen, says Dr. Garshick. She also suggests steering clear of alcohols, commonly found in some body wash formulations, as they can exacerbate dryness.

Tips for using body washes

woman washing legs with body wash
Rattankun Thongbun/Getty

It’s best to pay a little closer attention to your sudsing strategy so that you can reap even more benefits from your body wash. For starters, wash your body after you’ve shampooed and conditioned your hair: “This will help ensure there’s no residue from the hair products left over on your body,” says Dr. Garshick. (FYI, this type of residue is a common culprit behind body breakouts, especially on the upper neck and back.) Simply take a quarter-size amount of body wash and massage it onto your skin in circular motions, which will both help cleanse your skin thoroughly as well as boost circulation, she explains.

While you can use a loofah or a washcloth, Dr. Garshick says that applying body wash with your hands is actually the preferred methodology. Both poufs and washcloths can be breeding grounds for bacteria, so, if you are going to use one, just make sure that you’re cleaning it/replacing it regularly, she advises. Then, rinse skin thoroughly, making sure there’s no residue left behind. But the actual most important part of the cleansing process comes after the shower. “The key part to washing is to moisturize immediately after you shower,” says Dr. Freeman. (Yes, even if you used a moisturizing body wash.) Apply a generous amount of body lotion or cream while skin is still damp, as it will help lock in all of that moisture.

Related: The 10 Best Body Lotions for Mature Skin That Hydrate, Firm and Smooth Skin Fast

The best body washes

Add any of these dermatologist-approved standout sudsers to your shower line-up.

Best overall body wash

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

This is a top pick for Dr. Garshick, who lauds it for its unique “moisture renew blend” — a combo of ingredients that help replenish moisture and prevent dryness. She also calls out that it’s sulfate-free and excellent for cleansing purposes.

Best drugstore body wash

CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash, one of the best body washes

CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

There are plenty of great body washes to be found at the drugstore, but this is an especially good option. “It’s formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help support the skin barrier,” says Dr. Garshick of another one of her favorites, adding that it’s gentle but still foams nicely.

Best fragrance-free body wash

Vanicream Gentle Body Wash

Vanicream Gentle Body Wash

If you’re sensitive to fragrance, or just want to avoid it, both dermatologists we spoke with recommended this body wash. “It’s extremely gentle with zero fragrance or masking scents, plus is packed with hydrating glycerin,” explains Dr. Freeman.

Best exfoliating body wash

Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash

Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash

Looking to streamline your routine? Choose an exfoliating body wash in lieu of using a body wash and a separate scrub. Dr. Garshick recommends this option in particular, noting that it’s especially good for anyone with rough or bumpy skin. The glycolic acid in the mix exfoliates dead cells, improving overall texture and tone, she notes.

Related: How to Get Rid of Textured Skin: What Women Over 50 Need to Know for Smoother, Youthful Skin

Best body wash for dry skin

Naturium Glow Getting Multi-Oil Hydrating Body Wash

Naturium Glow Getting Multi-Oil Hydrating Body Wash

“This transforms from an oil into a gentle lather, cleansing without stripping the skin of its natural oil,” says Dr. Garshick of this standout formula. “It’s made with glycerin, a humectant that draws moisture to the skin, as well as a blend of oils and plant-derived squalane to keep the skin feeling soft and smooth.”

Best body wash for sensitive skin

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Wash AP+
La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Gentle Foaming Moisturizing Wash

Another cleanser that both our pros love, this is a safe bet for even the most sensitive skin types. So much so that Dr. Freeman notes that it has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Approval. She also likes that it lathers nicely and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth. Dr. Garshick calls out that it contains hydrating shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide.

Best splurge body wash

Nécessaire The Body Wash

Nécessaire The Body Wash

For those willing to spend a bit more on a body wash, this one is worth every penny. Dr. Garshick likes that it contains skin-nourishing niacinamide, as well as vitamins and fatty acids. We also appreciate the spa-like eucalyptus scent, naturally-derived from eucalyptus oil, a win for those sensitive to synthetic fragrance.

Best for body wash for skin issues

CLn Body Wash

CLn Body Wash

If you’re dealing with eczema, acne or folliculitis, Dr. Freeman recommends this formula. “It contains sodium hypochlorite, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.”

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