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Believe it or not: Your body wash just might be your ultimate beauty tool to help ease dry skin. Nourishing and luxurious, the right body wash for your skin type can help you deal with some of the trickiest symptoms of dry skin.
Best body washes for dry skin
- Best for men: Paula’s Choice: PC 4 Men Body Wash
- Best soothing: Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Yogurt Body Wash
- Best fragrance-free: Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Fragrance Free Body Wash
- Best scented: Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter
- Dermatologist recommended: CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
- Best for eczema: Vanicream Gentle Body Wash
- Best body wash for glowing skin: La-Roche Posay Lipikar Syndet AP+ Shower Gel
- Best vegan body wash for dry skin: Frank Body Clean Body Wash: Unscented
- Best body wash and shampoo for flaking dry skin: Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash
- Best foaming body wash for dry skin: Skinfix Foaming Oil Body Wash
- Best body wash for dry skin and acne: Necessaire The Body Wash
We know you’re (literally) itching to know what makes a good body wash for dry skin. We got you.
The key is in the ingredients, so we dug into the latest research and chatted with Dr. Mary Ramirez, a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas, to figure out which ingredients are the sh*t for dry skin.
Ingredients to look for
According to experts, when shopping for a product that’ll hydrate your skin, you should consider a formula that has natural oils, like vitamin E. These oils can help protect your skin from damage and can even help it heal.
Naturally found in the skin, hyaluronic acid (HA) helps hold on to water in the skin, keeping it hydrated and plump. HA‘s hydration and plumping skills are so good that it’s commonly used on the face to help reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Also naturally found in the skin, glycerin draws water to the surface of the skin from the atmosphere and from the deeper layers of the skin. Like HA, it also helps strengthen your skin’s barrier to lock that moisture in.
Ingredients to avoid (or use cautiously)
Ramirez gave us this handy little cheat sheet of ish to avoid if you can:
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), urea
All three of these are chemical exfoliants and can make your skin even drier — and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.
OTOH, these ingredients can be helpful for removing top layers of dead skin cells, revealing newer skin that’s fresh ‘n ready for hydrating, but you should only use them sparingly — like once or twice a week — rather than daily.
Ramirez says to make sure that if you want to use a body wash with these ingredients, make sure that they’re paired with hydrating ingredients (like glycerin or hyaluronic acid) in order to counteract the chemical exfoliants.
Retinol or retinoids
Although these are powerful and proven for reducing acne and signs of premature aging, they have to be paired with a thick cream after each use in order to counteract the dryness.
Benzoyl peroxide, alcohol, and antibacterial soaps
Benzoyl peroxide, alcohol, and antibacterial soaps can def decrease bacteria on skin (great for acne), but can strip your skin of much-needed oils, making
Fragrance and deodorant soaps
If you have eczema or your skin is particularly sensitive, you already know the drill: No fragrances allowed. And according to the American Academy of Dermatology, if you have dry skin or atopic dermatitis it’s best to choose a body wash that’s not just “unscented” but “fragrance-free.” You should also avoid deodorant soaps that are designed to mask any bodily smells.
Wondering how we sifted through the mass market to find our fave body washes for dry skin? Here’s the deal:
- Ingredients come first. We chatted with a derm and busted open research to learn which ingredients can actually help with dry skin and which are just not it. With that in mind, we gave extra love to washes with glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E and we swerved away from ones with fragrance, alcohol, benzoyl peroxide, AHAs (like glycolic acid), BHAs (like salicylic acid), and retinol/retinoid.
- Formula faves. Formulas that stick to just the good stuff made it to our priority list. Meaning we picked ones free of parabens, perfumes, and animal products when possible. Though not all on this list are considered perfectly “clean,” so keep that in mind when you shop ‘em.
- Rave reviews. We did a deep dive into reviews, checking carefully that the washes are *for real* loved by actual customers.
- Nice price. We keep price in mind, OFC. You’ll see washes with teeny price tags and the ones with a little more heft to ‘em.
- Very vetted. Our list goes through a detailed vetting process, checking that brands aren’t making any bogus health claims or are involved in any sketchy business practices.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$20
- $$$ = over $20
Byeee dry. These products all passed our test to join this list of the best body wash for dry skin.
Best body wash for men with dry skin
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: aloe, panthenol (vitamin B5)
- Size: 12-oz bottle
- Pros: clean rinse, soothing, doubles as shampoo
- Cons: not great for longer hair
This wash slays away dirt and grime (and sweat!) without drying you out. We love that it can double as a shampoo if you’re into that (and if you are, it’s supposed make your hair hella soft). OFC, this is fragrance-free too.
Ramirez points out this body wash contains aloe which hydrates and soothes inflamed dry skin. “The gel texture body wash makes the skin feel clean without feeling stripped of oils and nutrients.”
It also contains panthenol (aka vitamin B5), an ingredient that helps soothe irritated skin, moisturize, and repair your skin barrier. We love a triple threat.
Though this body wash as marketed “for men,” anyone can use it — some reviewers even say they steal it from their hubbies because they love it so much. But if you have longer hair, you might want to skip using this as a shampoo. A few say it doesn’t quite get the job done.
Best soothing body wash for dry skin
- Price: $ ($$$ for pack of 3)
- Key ingredients: glycerin, oat flour
- Size: 18-oz bottle (pack of 3)
- Pros: soothing, good value
- Cons: contains sulfates and fragrance
As the name suggests, this body wash contains yogurt powder, which makes it one of the creamiest products on this list. It also has soothing oat flour to moisturize and reduce itching and inflammation.
Ramirez says that the combo of soothing oat and yogurt provides an emollient (aka skin softener) and probiotic component, helping maintain the skin’s natural flora.
One drawback is that it contains sulfates, which can be too harsh for people with sensitive skin. Ramirez also notes that it contains a vanilla fragrance, which can be irritating to people with eczema or sensitive skin — so if that’s you, keep scrolling.
Best fragrance-free body wash for dry skin
- Price: $
- Key ingredients: glycerin, aloe, panthenol (vitamin B5)
- Size: 16.9-oz bottle
- Pros: can find in drug store, no parabens
- Cons: contains sulfates
This dermatologist-tested body wash is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, so it’s a perfect choice if you have dry, sensitive skin. It also contains aloe vera and vitamin B5, both of which help keep your skin smooth and hydrated.
Ramirez reminds us that glycerin hydrates the outer layer of the skin (stratum corneum) and provides protection against irritants: “Glycerin is a humectant, which pulls water into the outer layer of the skin to hydrate. I recommend this product to my pediatric patients with eczema.” Good to know!
Reviewers love how gentle this body wash is, but it does contain sulfates, so it may not be the best fit if your skin is extra sensitive.
P.S. This one is also paraben-free and shouldn’t clog your pores.
Best scented body wash for dry skin
- Price: $
- Key ingredients: petrolatum, niacinamide (vitamin B3), shea butter
- Size: 30-oz bottle
- Pros: amazing smell, huge bottle
- Cons: contains sulfates and fragrance
OK, this one has fragrance. But if you happen to have dry skin and know that your particular skin type is fine with fragrance, this one could be for you.
Ramirez is obsessed with the smell of this body wash, actually giving it a *chef’s kiss* moment.
It also has petrolatum, niacinamide, and shea butter as its main ingredients, making it a powerful moisturizer —which is obvi our point here.
Some reviewers note that the scent is strong, BTW. So, it may not be the best option if you have eczema or very sensitive skin.
Dermatologist-recommended body wash for dry skin
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid
- Size: 10-oz bottle
- Pros: contains multiple hydrating ingredients, no fragrance, sulfates, or parabens
- Cons: thick formula
Here’s your dermatologist-recommended pick.
This foaming wash has two of our derm-recommend ingredients: glycerin and hyaluronic acid. It also has ceramides, another skin barrier-restoring moisturizer that can work wonders for folks with dry skin.
Bonus after bonus: It’s free of fragrances, parabens, sulfates, annnd it has the National Eczema Association seal of approval, so it’s a good pick for eczema-prone skin.
Call out: Some reviewers say this one is hella thick, making squeezing it out a little bit of a workout.
Best body wash for dry skin and eczema
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: glycerin, panthenol (vitamin B5)
- Size: 12-oz bottle
- Pros: no fragrance, parabens, dyes, or harsh soaps
- Cons: doesn’t have a great lather
We mentioned we love brands that leave the garbage out — and this gentle wash really gets that.
Ready for the long list of stuff this wash doesn’t f*ck with?
To name the biggies:
- harsh soaps
It also has glycerin and vitamin B5 to lock in moisture and reduce any irritation you might be having. And reviewers are loving it. They say it has a pretty good smell despite there being no added fragrance and helps keep irritation at bay. But some wish it lathered a bit more.
Best body wash for glowing skin
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: glycerin, niacinamide, shea butter
- Size: 13.52-oz bottle
- Pros: can be used on face and body
- Cons: contains sulfates
This pick is formulated for extra dry, sensitive skin. It’s accepted by the National Eczema Association and is supposed to be foaming and soothing.
In addition to glycerin and shea butter, this one has niacinamide — that hydrating and skin barrier-restoring ingredient we mentioned earlier. It also goes to work on acne, brightens your skin, and helps reduce hyperpigmentation (bonus!). That’s why this is our pick for gettin’ that glowing skin.
We also appreciate that it’s noncomedogenic and free of fragrance and parabens.
This one is suitable for babies too (2 weeks old and up), so you know it’s super gentle.
Best vegan body wash for dry skin
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: glycerin, aloe, panthenol (vitamin B5), plum, coffee, and pomegranate extract
- Size: 12.17-oz bottle
- Pros: multiple moisturizing ingredients, gentle enough for private parts, vegan
- Cons: not as widely available
Looking for something safe for your nether regions? We’ve got you covered with this vegan wash.
In addition to some familiar faves like glycerin, aloe, and panthenol, this unscented pick contains kakadu plum extract, pomegranate extract, and coffee seed extract. The brand says this trio softens, soothes, cleans, and energizes the skin. It’s also supposed to be pH balanced, which is what makes it a better choice for cleaning intimate areas than other body washes.
This one is fragrance-free, soap-free, sulfate-free, and cruelty-free.
Since it’s made using natural extracts, make sure you aren’t allergic before applying it all over the place (especially your privates!). This means doing a patch test first.
Best body wash and shampoo for flaking dry skin
- Price: $$
- Key ingredients: zinc pyrithione, glycerin, panthenol, licorice root extract
- Size: 8-oz bottle
- Pros: doubles as a shampoo, vegan, cruelty-free
- Cons: more expensive than other picks
If you live for multi-tasking and would love a body wash that also works at shampoo AND can help tackle intense dandruff, check this one out.
The formula includes zinc pyrithione, which goes to work on a type of yeast called Malassezia that causes dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
It also contains panthenol and licorice root extract to soothe irritation and reduce redness. Talk about a multitasker!
It’s not only vegan and cruelty-free, it’s also dye-free, sulfate and phthalate-free.
Best foaming body wash for dry skin
- Price: $$$
- Key ingredients: glycerin, hyaluronic acid, tocopherol (vitamin E), squalene, aloe, panthenol (vitamin B5)
- Size: 12.5-oz bottle
- Pros: multiple moisturizing ingredients, vegan
- Cons: pricey
This vegan pick is fragrance-free and is supposed to be that girl for dryness, redness, and irritation.
This foaming option is sulfate-free and is made with sensitive skin in mind (that includes eczema-prone skin). It’s loaded with basically every soothing, hydrating ingredient we’ve talked about so far — plus another skin smoother called squalene.
Reviewers call this a life-saver, many pointing out how well it works on their eczema. But a couple of reviewers mention a smell they don’t care for.
Best body wash for dry skin and acne
- Price: $$$
- Key ingredients: glycerin, tocopherol (vitamin E), niacinamide, camellia sinensis leaf extract (green tea)
- Size: 8.4-oz bottle
- Pros: contains multiple moisturizing ingredients, anti-acne, hypoallergenic
- Cons: pricey
Ramirez says this one has a crisp and refreshing scent, and it makes the skin feel smooth and sleek with vitamin-rich ingredients including niacinamide (the acne-fighter) and green tea extract (the inflammation-fighter).
Reviewers looove this stuff, saying it has a luxurious feel and gently clears up body acne. Just be sure to opt for the fragrance-free version if you have sensitive skin (it’s also available with a eucalyptus scent).
This product is free of sulfates, silicones, parabens, and PEGs (polyethylene glycols). So, we’d like an “amen” for that. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, and noncomedogenic — v v nice of them.
This is easy breezy. Ramirez suggest taking a lukewarm shower or bath (we repeat: not hella hot) using your choice of body wash. (Generally speaking, it’s probs best to use your hands instead of a loofah, to prevent dry skin from becoming too irritated).
Afterward, gently pat yourself dry so that there’s still dampness on your skin.
Lastly, she says to trap this water in with a thick moisturizer, to lock up that hydration.
Pro tip: Skip hot showers
What is the best body wash for dry skin?
The best washes for dry skin contain: glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E.
The worst washes for dry skin contain: fragrance, alcohol, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and retinol/retinoid.
What body wash do dermatologists recommend for dry skin?
How often should you use body washes for dry skin?
Ramirez suggests using a bar soap (like Dove Bar Soap for Sensitive Skin) every other day, alternating with a gel or cleanser like LaRoche Posay Lipikar Shower Gel or Eucerin Advanced Body and Face Cleanser.
What are the benefits of body washes for dry skin?
According to Ramirez, a body wash made for dry skin helps clean the skin without stripping essential nutrients and oils.
BUT just because a brand labels its body wash as “good for dry skin” or “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free of irritating ingredients — so always check that the product’s ingredient list is free of fragrance, essential oils (if you know those are irritating to you), alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, retinols/retinoids, and alcohol.
Which is better for dry skin: shower gel or body wash?
Ramirez says gels often contain alcohol, so she recommends body washes.
But again, check the product’s ingredient list to get the real picture — some brands might label a product a gel that’s actually perfectly suitable for dry skin.
Why does body wash dry my skin?
The most common cause of dry skin from a body wash, Ramirez says, is ingredients in the body wash like alcohol or alpha/beta hydroxy acids, or an irritating ingredient such as benzoyl peroxide or retinol.
It might take some time to find the right body wash for your dry skin, but fear not! By being aware of your skin type and knowing what ingredients are most likely to harm your skin, you’ll be more informed when shopping for your next body wash.
If you’ve tried a lot of body washes and still can’t get rid of that dry skin, it’s a good idea to check in with a dermatologist who can help uncover if something more serious is going on (like a thyroid disorder, kidney disease, or atopic dermatitis) and develop a personalized treatment plan for your specific symptoms.
Our process and why you should trust us
We consulted with a board-certified dermatologist to get tips for choosing the best body washes for dry skin. We used those tips to pick the products above.
Before writing about those products, we put them all through a thorough vetting process that checks for unsupported health claims (like “This body wash gets rid of itchiness in one use!”), shady business practices, and lawsuits concerning a company’s products. We also checked that the main ingredients in each product are evidence-based and actually do what the company says they do.
After wrapping up our recommendations and tips, we sent this entire article to a second medical professional specializing in dermatology (in this case, Clare Wightman MS, PAC, Dermatology, Medical Research) for review.
So basically, you can feel good knowing that we put in WORK to get you these recommendations.