When it comes to skincare, your face usually gets all of the attention. But the skin from your neck down is still skin, which means that it deserves the same level of care. Obviously, your body care routine starts when you step into the shower, which means that deciding what kind of wash you lather up with does matter.
"Body washes have come a long way from bar soaps of the 1950s,” says Virginia-based dermatologist Dr. Lily Talakoub of McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center. (Read about Dr. Talakoub's skincare routine here.) Back then, people didn’t realize just how drying plain-old soap could be to their skin, so they relied on drugstore bars to keep them feeling squeaky clean. Now, though, more of us are aware that a little leftover moisture is healthy. The beauty biz has evolved to include products that clean and nourish skin at the same time.
"We first had soap bars, then glycerin soaps, then body washes, then moisturizing body washes, and now body oil washes,” says Dr. Talakoub, who notes that the more actual soap (aka, the combination of water, oil and lye that you might know as “glycerine” on the label) a product has in it, the more drying it is to the skin. When trying to pick out the best body wash for your, well, body, Dr. Talakoub suggests living by this rule of thumb: The dryer your skin, the less lather you should be putting on it.
"As a general rule, the less soap the better,” she says, especially referring to those with dry skin. "We lose oil in our skin as we age. So protecting that oil, instead of lathering and rinsing it off, is crucial to having beautiful healthy skin.” If you tend to get ashy or flaky, she advises choosing a product that says “moisturizing” on the package or something with an oil base. On the other side of the spectrum, if your skin is oily or acne prone, go with a formula that has more soap in it and a heavier lather to help balance the oil.
"Most people, if they break their habit of using soaps, will see that their skin texture greatly improves with oil-based cleansers,” says Dr. Talakoub. Here is the dermatologist-approved guide on how to select the right body wash, so you’ll never be stuck wandering aimlessly down the drug store aisle again.
If you have dry skin:
Ashy elbows and knees be gone, thanks to ceramides and emollients. “Body wash for your skin should contain ceramides as they lock in moisture,” says New York dermatologist Dr. Michele Green. “A good body wash will contain a mild soap derivative and emollients so the skin is not stripped of moisture and left feeling dry after you shower.”
Dove’s Dry Oil Moisture Body Wash ($5) is the equivalent of a body wash/moisturizer meet-cute. It’s formulated with Moroccan argan oil, which is known for its nourishing, moisture-locking properties (You may know it as the oil you put in your hair for a super-sleek blowout).
The Eucerin Daily Shower Oil Calming Body Wash ($10) formula is made with natural omega oils that moisturize while you lather. Soybean and castor seed oil help to nourish your skin. Plus, it’s fragrance, soap, and dye free, so is likely a safe bet for even the most sensitive skin.
Have you ever taken an oatmeal bath? The Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Body Wash ($6) is like that, but in a bottle. Aveeno’s all-natural, oatmeal-infused wash is hypoallergenic and works for sensitive skin. It offers oatmeal’s skin-soothing properties and moisture-replenishing emollients.
If you have oily skin:
If you struggle with body acne, find a wash that helps to dry out the excess oil on your skin. "Oily skin needs exfoliating ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids,” says skincare and cosmetic dermatology expert Dr. Kenneth Mark. "Choose products that contain glycolic acid and salicylic acid.”
Back-ne, be gone. The Neutrogena® Body Clear® Body Wash Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment ($6) is made with salicylic acid, which helps treat breakout all over your body while preventing future ones from occuring. As a foam, it rinses off easily and won’t leave behind any residue to risk causing more zits in the future.
Consider alpha-hydroxy acids a hero for oily skin. The Mario Badescu a.h.a. Botanical Body Soap ($8) helps cleanse and exfoliate by getting rid of dead skin cells. The gorgeous papaya, grapefruit and ginseng scent is an added bonus.
Consider the Murad Acne Body Wash ($40) a do-it-all product. With salicylic and glycolic acids, it helps fight acne, prevents future breakouts, and gives your glow an external boost. It deep cleans your pores with its double-duty acids and is infused with antioxidants like green tea and licorice extract to give you a little bit of extra glow once your skin is cleared out.
If you have normal or combination skin:
If your skin falls under the umbrella of “normal,” the body wash aisle is your kingdom. While most options will do, treat yourself to something nourishing and pampering.
The Purpose Gentle Cleanser ($7) is Dr. Mark’s pick for combination skin. It is oil-free and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. It can also be used on your face, so you get two products for the price of one.
Love Beauty and Planet
The pretty packaging isn’t the only reason the Love Beauty + Planet® Mumuru Butter Rose Body Wash ($7) deserves to be a part of your shower arsenal. The natural formula includes an Amazonian murumuru butter and handpicked Bulgarian rose oil to refresh skin. It will leave you smelling so lovely, you’ll consider skipping perfume.
Kiehl’s Since 1851
Gels, like this Kiehl’s Since 1851 Bath and Shower Liquid Body Cleanser ($48) one, are a solid option for combination skin as they foam better than most cleansing milks and oils, resulting in a more thorough cleanse. This pick contains humectants, which will help your skin maintain its moisture.
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