If you have dry skin, you have many choices when it comes to cleansing your body in the bath or shower. Several body washes are available that are formulated to treat dry, dehydrated, flaky, and chapped skin that will remove dirt, oil, bacteria, and other impurities.
This post will review some fantastic body washes that will not only cleanse and soothe your dry skin but also protect your skin barrier. But first, what is your skin barrier, and why is it so important to protect it?
What is Your Skin Barrier and How Does It Work?
The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin. This includes the stratum corneum, the outer layer of the epidermis. In the stratum corneum, you’ll find not only skin cells but also lipids and natural moisturizing factors such as amino acids and fatty acids. (If you are wondering why you notice dry skin as you age, it is because our bodies produce less of these lipids the older we get.)
Imagine that this layer of your skin as a brick wall. Think of your skin cells as the bricks and lipids (oils) and fats as the mortar that glue the walls together. The skin barrier regulates and keeps moisture in while keeping environmental stressors like UV radiation and pollution out. Its happy place is around a pH of 5.0.
If your skin barrier is damaged, you can not only experience issues with environmental stressors such as sun damage and pollution, but this can allow other environmental irritants, chemicals, and infections in while letting moisture escape from the skin. This is when irritation, inflammation, redness, and dryness can creep in.
You may not know it, but you may unknowingly be contributing to added stress to your skin barrier if you over-exfoliate or use skin care products that are too strong or wrong for your skin type. Also, keep in mind that genetics may play a part in how your skin barrier interacts with its environment.
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How to Protect Your Skin Barrier
Sometimes limiting the number of products you use on your skin is your best bet. This article from The NY Times about how we are damaging our skin with too many products is rather eye-opening.
It’s also essential to wear sunscreen on your body when your skin is exposed to UV rays. Sunscreen will not only keep your skin looking younger as you age, but it will also protect you from damaging UV rays which can compromise your skin barrier, making dry skin worse.
Choosing a gentle body wash such as one from this list will not only clean but also soothe dry and dehydrated skin. Remember that treating your skin in the shower is not your last line of defense. Be sure to moisturize the skin all over your body to seal in hydration.
Onto the best body washes for dry skin! Scroll down to the bottom of the post for more ideas on treating and preventing dry skin.
The Best Body Washes for Dry Skin
CeraVe Soothing Body Wash is formulated for very dry skin and comes to us from a company dedicated to effective, affordable skincare. This body wash is formulated to remove not only dirt but also calms dry, itchy eczema-prone skin.
This foaming cleanser is formulated with ingredients that you might find in anti-aging skin care products, like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. This helps dry skin to retain the much-needed hydration that hyaluronic acid provides. Three essential ceramides (Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1) help support and maintain the skin’s natural barrier. Omega oils soothe dry, itchy skin.
This body wash with ceramides is delivered through patented, controlled-release technology and helps restore the skin’s protective barrier and lock in moisture all day. It was developed by dermatologists and is accepted by the National Eczema Association. It is non-comedogenic, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and soap-free.
Olay Body Wash with Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin B3 is formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin. Did you know that hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water? That’s how hydrating this sought-after skincare powerhouse is. Vitamin B3 hydrates, nourishes, and replenishes the skin barrier.
You can create a luxurious bath or shower experience with the rich lather and pleasant floral scent of this premium body wash. Even though this body wash is thick and creamy, it rinses clean without leaving your skin feeling oily or coated in product. It leaves your skin very smooth and supple.
While this body wash may be a little less mainstream than some of the other body washes in this post, don’t be fooled into thinking it isn’t a fantastic body wash for dry skin. Korres Guava Shower Gel is a gel-to-foam shower gel that is formulated with activated aloe extract, wheat protein, and marshmallow root to maintain the skin’s natural moisture level and lock in moisture for supple, healthy skin.
Aloe contains vitamins A and B, folic acid, enzymes, proteins, and amino acids to support the skin’s immune system. Marshmallow root extract is known to comfort problem skin by forming a protective barrier to help balance the skin’s moisture levels. Plus, this shower gel supports collagen and elastin synthesis to help reduce the visible signs of aging.
Dermatologically tested, this shower gel may contain traces of wheat/nuts. It is made with 91.4% natural ingredients and contains emollients and humectants to maintain moisturize. It is suitable for vegetarians and comes in recyclable packaging. Cruelty-free. The scent is lush and mouth-watering.
TIP: Follow with their Vanilla Guava Body Butter is formulated with shea butter for the complete luxury body skincare experience.
Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Body Wash with Coconut and Carrot Seed Oils is formulated especially for dry skin and is formulated with the warm scent of Frankincense and Myrrh extracts. This is a proprietary essential oil blend with essential oils derived from natural sources.
The body wash is made with certified organic shea butter. Shea butter is highly moisturizing, which makes it ideal for dry, rough skin. Shea butter is high in Vitamin A, which fights against skin issues such as dermatitis, eczema, wrinkles, pimples, and even skin allergies.
In addition to shea butter, this body wash also contains nourishing mango butter and argan oil to soothe and revitalize dry, dull skin and help prevent the early signs of aging.
This body wash is ideal for all skin types, including sensitive, and can even be used as a face wash. Shea Moisture body washes formulate their body washes at a pH of 5.0–7.0.
From the #1 dermatologist recommended body wash brand comes Dove Dryness Relief Body Wash. It is formulated with jojoba oil, which can seal in moisture even in the driest of climates. The effective body wash is made with a naturally-derived cleanser with a plant-based moisturizer. It gently washes away dirt, bacteria, and germs while leaving your skin smooth, nourished, and silky.
This body wash has a rich, creamy lather and soft bright floral fragrance. It is made with skin-natural nutrients and a plant-based moisturizer. This formula is gentle on your microbiome – your skin’s living protective layer. Dove’s Moisture Renew Blend technology provides moisture with its mild formula.
Perfect for daily use and dry, parched skin, this body wash is pH balanced and is paraben and sulfate-free. The bottle for this body wash is made with 100% recycled plastic.
OGX Extra Creamy + Coconut Miracle Oil Ultra Moisture Body Wash is formulated for even the driest skin to restore moisture levels and soothe the skin. You’ll find coconut oil, essence of tiare, and vanilla bean extract that creates a tropical scent in this creamy and rich body wash. The pH range of this body wash is 5.5-7.0. It is paraben and sulfate-free.
This body wash is formulated for oily, dry, normal, combination, and even sensitive skin.
If the tropical scent is not to your liking, OGX has an extensive line of body washes. OGX Radiant Glow Argan Oil Of Morocco Extra Hydrating Body Wash contains Argan Oil of Morocco and silk proteins to hydrate dry and thirsty skin and leave it silky soft. It contains OGX’s Moisture-Lock system that helps restore skin elasticity thanks to the rich and creamy formula. This formula is extra hydrating with its light but luxurious fragrance.
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash nourishes dry skin and gently cleanses while removing dirt, oil, and bacteria from the skin. Aveeno is known for its oatmeal formulas that help with dry and itchy skin. Dermatologists recommend oatmeal since it can help to restore the skin’s pH and support the skin’s barrier.
This body wash is formulated with oatmeal and other emollients to replenish moisture and lock it in. The body wash is lightly scented and provides a rich and creamy lather. It’s soap-free and dye-free. It works for all skin types, including sensitive.
If your skin is not only dry but also sensitive and irritated, try Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Body Wash which soothes dry, itchy skin. It contains colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin and is allergy-tested, soap-free, and dye-free, making it perfect for dry and sensitive skin.
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Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body and Face Cleanser is formulated for normal-to-dry sensitive skin. This soap-free formula supports the skin barrier, as it is formulated at a pH of 5. It gently cleanses and rinses clean without leaving any residue. This body wash is non-comedogenic and is fragrance-free and dye-free.
The bonus with this body wash is that you can also use it on the face, so in a sense, you are also getting a face cleanser for the price of this body wash. Plus, it’s fragrance-free, so it works well for sensitive skin.
There are no extra bells or whistles with this body wash, but it’s effective and non-irritating. Pair it with Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream for additional moisture.
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Dove Derma Series Dry Skin Relief Body Wash is formulated for severely dry, itchy skin. This gentle body wash removes dirt, oil, and bacteria while nourishing your skin. It’s formulated with a blend of skin-natural lipids, sunflower oil, and mild cleansing actives and has a rich and creamy texture. This body wash provides 10x more nourishment than a regular body wash and is ideal for very dry, flaky, and irritated skin.
This body wash is recognized by the National Eczema Association as being suitable for eczema-prone skin. It’s also suitable for psoriasis-prone skin. The plant oils, glycerin and skin-natural lipids in this body wash deliver nutrients and nourishment to the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin’s epidermis).
This body wash is clinically proven to be non-irritating, so it’s the best Dove body wash for dry skin. It’s tested with dermatologists, is fragrance-free and soap-free.
NIVEA Nourishing Care Body Wash is formulated with nourishing serum, a blend of plant-derived oils, essential skin lipids, and vitamins. This body wash cleanses without drying skin but instead leaves skin soft and healthy. NIVEA Nourishing Care Body Wash has a pleasant floral scent and moisturizes the skin. You can also use this body wash for shaving.
So often, we take hot showers that strip the skin of essential oils and compromise our skin barrier, which results in moisture loss. NIVEA Nourishing Care Body Wash locks in moisture for up to 48 hours. This body wash is paraben-free and microplastic particles-free.
Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash is formulated for even the most sensitive skin. It contains aloe vera, vitamin B5 and moisturizers that won’t strip skin of its natural moisture while supporting the skin’s moisture barrier.
Aloe vera soothes the skin and helps reduce irritation and inflammation, while vitamin B5 hydrates and supports the skin’s barrier with its anti-inflammatory properties. This dermatologist-tested fragrance-free body wash is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. It won’t irritate your skin or clog your pores, leading to inflammation.
Bioderma Atoderm Shower Oil cleanses, restores, and soothes dry, and very dry to irritated sensitive skin. The formula is comprised of vegetal biolipids (coconut and sunflower esters), vitamin PP (also called vitamin B3), and Bioderma’s Barrier Skin Therapy patent. Vitamin B3 improves the skin barrier while its DAF (Dermatological Advanced Formulation) patented complex improves the skin’s tolerance threshold, reducing the feeling of tightness.
This oil formulation is a departure from the standard body wash cleanser with its rich vegetal biolipids. The oil-based formula is gentle enough to be used by the entire family, including babies. This shower oil is ideal for very dry and atopic-prone skin and can be used on your entire body. The shower oil foams just slightly and has a very light fragrance.
For men, you can’t beat Old Spice Steel Courage Hydro Body Wash from their Hardest Working Collection. This body wash fights dry skin at the source, with the long-lasting scent of liquid courage.
This hydrating body wash provides essential hydration while destroying odor and then treating dry skin. It provides 2x the clean with a lasting clean scent plus hydration all while providing a rich lather to bust the dirt, oil, and bacteria.
L’Occitane Cleansing And Softening Almond Shower Oil is our pick for the best luxury shower oil for dry skin. This best-selling body cleanser gently cleanses the body while keeping the hydrolipidic film of the skin intact.
This shower oil offers 2-in-1- benefits of cleansing and moisturizing while delicately perfuming the skin with the luscious scent of fresh almond. The oil transforms into a bubbly wash once mixed with water. It can also be applied to wet skin and be used as a shaving base to allow a razor to glide smoothly across the skin.
Curel Itch Defense Body Wash is the body wash to choose if your skin is not only dry but also itchy. This soap-free formula is formulated with a blend of cleansers and skin conditioners that are gentle on the skin. The body wash creates a rich lather and will not interfere with the skin’s moisture barrier. This body wash contains jojoba oil and olive oil to gently hydrate this skin. It has no added fragrance and has a rich creamy lather.
Curél Itch Defense Body Wash has been given the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance which indicates that it can be used for those with eczema or severe skin conditions. It also indicates that it meets the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance Criteria.
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How to Use Body Wash
Body wash can be used on a daily basis as part of your whole body skincare routine. Use body washes to remove dirt, oil, bacteria and other impurities on your skin. Body wash such as those listed in this post will not only clean the skin but also treat it with hydrating and moisturizing ingredients.
You can apply body wash onto a wet washcloth, a sponge, a pouf, or even your hands. Work it into a lather and rinse away with water.
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How to Prevent Your Skin From Drying Out in the Bath or Shower
Choose a pH Balanced Body Cleansing Product
Your best bet will be to choose a body wash that is formulated at the correct pH so as not to disturb your skin barrier, which as previously mentioned, keeps moisture in. Your skin’s pH is around 5.0, so note the pH of the body wash you choose. Several of the body washes mentioned above disclose the pH of their formulas so you know their impact on your skin barrier.
Water Temperature and Shower Length
You may be tempted to crank the dial to create a super hot shower, but try to resist, since hot water can stress the skin and wash away the natural oils on your skin. Try to limit your time under hot water and keep it under 100 degrees F, as the longer your skin is exposed to water, the longer that your skin’s barrier will be under duress. Also, if possible, try not to shower more than once a day if you have dry irritated skin and limit your shower to 5 to 10 minutes.
Don’t Overdo Exfoliation
If you exfoliate your skin in the shower, try to be gentle and don’t over scrub your skin. Some sponges, loofahs or even washcloths may be too harsh on the skin and their abrasiveness may compromise your skin barrier. If you really want to exfoliate but are suffering from dry irritated skin, try a product that lightly exfoliates, such as Dove Crushed Macadamia and Rice Milk Exfoliating Body Polish.
After Shower Tips for Dry Skin
Don’t forget that when you are finished with your shower, you should gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing too harshly, otherwise you risk irritating your dry skin even more.
Choose a hydrating body moisturizer in the form of a lotion, cream or oil that will provide hydration and soothe your dry skin. You may want to consider applying a body moisturizer while your skin is still damp. This will help seal hydration into your skin’s surface.
For additional information on treating dry skin, check out these dermatologists’ tips in this post from the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Any of these body washes for dry skin is the perfect addition to your body skincare routine that will support your skin barrier and will be the first step of knocking out dry skin. Thanks for reading, and here’s to your good skin health!