What’s the worst part about dry skin for you? Is it the itching or the flaking?
Maybe it’s how the skin looks dehydrated and ashy. All of these things are disagreeable, but not impossible to overcome. The cure starts with how you wash.
In a world where even plain water can dry out the skin, it’s hard to know what soap is safe. That’s why we searched for the best body wash for dry skin. We came up with the list of tried-and-true favorites below:
|Top body washes for dry skin||Why we love them|
|Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash|
|Cetaphil Pro Soothing Wash|
|Lipikar Wash AP+ Body & Face Wash|
|CeraVe Body Wash for Dry Skin|
|Buttah Skin by Dorion Renaud Egyptian CocoShea Body Wash|
We looked for a dermatologist-recommended body wash for dry skin. We gave a preference to products approved for sensitive skin because many times dryness is caused by an allergic reaction.
Table of Contents
- What do dermatologists recommend for dry skin?
- How to help dry skin recover
- The best moisturizing ingredients in body washes
- What to avoid when choosing a body wash for dry, sensitive skin
- Best Body Wash for Dry Skin in 2021
What do dermatologists recommend for dry skin?
Here are the criteria we used to select the bath products for dry skin:
- First, we chose body washes recommended by experts like the National Eczema Association and board-certified dermatologists.
- Next, we checked the list of ingredients for potent moisturizers as well as undesirable additives. (More on that in a moment.)
- Finally, we listened to user feedback, both positive and negative, to see what people are saying about the products.
For example, the American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests avoiding body wash with artificial fragrances. You might not think you have allergies, but if your skin is dry and tight, or red and itchy after bathing, it could be that delicious-smelling soap you’ve been using (1).
For a time, it’s also smart to avoid exfoliating body wash as it may be aggravating the condition. If you must remove dead skin, use a soft washcloth and gently massage the flaky patches. While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about how to bathe dry skin.
How to help dry skin recover
When you bathe, keep it brief and use warm water, not hot. Hot water and excessive exposure to water will strip the natural oil from the skin, leaving it drier than before. Aim for no more than ten minutes.
Second, use a fragrance-free body wash with lots of moisturizing ingredients. There’s no need to scrub the whole body if it’s not dirty – just take care of the smelly spots.
It helps if you can keep the bathroom humidified by closing the door while you shower. Blot the skin dry after rinsing and apply moisturizer immediately.
Also, drink more water than usual and use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry.
The best moisturizing ingredients in body washes
The most moisturizing body washes contain ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. (2) The first two are humectants that draw moisture into the skin. The third restores the skin’s barrier to help it retain moisture.
You might also see emollients like plant oils or shea butter. These seal in the hydration.
Aloe is not a moisturizer, per se, but anti-inflammatory and it soothes the skin, helping reduce itching. Oatmeal is also calming to the skin.
What to avoid when choosing a body wash for dry, sensitive skin
When shopping for a body wash, it’s smart to avoid sulfates if you know that your skin reacts to them. But most body washes these days use sodium laureth sulfate and milder surfactants. If the formula is properly balanced, these might not be the problem. Instead, it could be cocamidopropyl betaine, which was named Allergen of the Year in 2004 (3).
Cocamidopropyl betaine is derived from coconuts, but it’s synthetic. It’s not the same as coco-betaine, which is a natural ingredient. Unfortunately, it’s found in most “sulfate-free” bath products. If you’ve tried using non-SLS and SLES soap but are still experiencing dry skin, switch to a product that contains neither ingredient. They exist – just look at our first two reviews below.
Best Body Wash for Dry Skin in 2021
Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash
Let’s begin with a dermatologist-recommended body wash for sensitive skin. It relieves itchy, dry skin with natural lipids and omega oils. In fact, the first two ingredients are soybean and castor seed oils, some of Nature’s best emollients.
You might think that it would be greasy or leave a residue in the tub, but it doesn’t. It rinses clean with no need for hot water. Plus, it’s free of artificial fragrances, dyes, and soap (harsh detergent). There’s no sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate in the formula. It doesn’t have cocamidopropyl betaine, either.
We checked with the EWG (Environmental Working Group) database to see what they think of it. It carries a rating of 3, which refers to a few concerns over ingredients further down the label. But if you compare it to other popular body washes, you’ll see that it has a safer rating than most.
Of course, you can’t believe everything you see online. But when a product has thousands of positive reviews, we tend to take it seriously. Users say things like, “it leaves my skin feeling so soft that I don’t need to put on lotion afterward”. Even those who noticed the slight oily scent said that it disappears after rinsing.
- Dermatologist-recommended body wash soothes itchy skin and leaves it soft
- Relieves dryness with natural ingredients like soybean and castor seed oil
- Free of harsh ingredients like SLS/SLES and artificial fragrances
- Rinses clean with no residue on the skin or bathtub
- Slight oily odor disappears after bathing
Cetaphil Pro Soothing Wash
Here’s another of the best body washes for dry, sensitive skin. It’s dermatologist-tested and free of artificial fragrances, harsh sulfates, and parabens. It’s recommended for persons with psoriasis and eczema as well as those dealing with dry weather.
More importantly, it carries the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association. This is not an easy accomplishment, and it means that this is a safe product that shouldn’t aggravate sensitive skin. Users say that it’s the only bath soap that doesn’t leave their skin dry and red or itchy.
What’s more, the EWG rates it a 1 as it uses non-toxic ingredients. That fact alone might convince you to try it.
It’s designed to calm irritated, dry skin and leave it hydrated and smooth. Some of the principal highlights include a filaggrin complex plus vitamins B3 and E. In case you’re not familiar with it, filaggrin is a protein in the skin that helps form a barrier against moisture loss and infection.
Lastly, this body wash is mild enough to use as a face wash. Just a little dab makes a lot of lather.
- Carries the National Eczema Seal of Acceptance and a safe rating on the EWG Skin Deep database
- Free of harsh ingredients like parabens, perfumes, and drying sulfates
- Has a filaggrin complex plus vitamins to calm and rehydrate dry, irritated skin
- Doubles as a face wash, cutting costs and saving space in the bathroom
- A bit pricier than other options
Lipikar Wash AP+ Body & Face Wash
La Roche-Posay is a European pharmacy brand that’s also sold in the USA. While in the US drugstore brands tend to be less expensive, in Europe it’s the opposite. It’s only the high-end products you’ll find there – the cheap stuff is in the supermarket.
Happily, this face and body wash isn’t as pricey as you’d expect. It’s a decent-sized bottle and you don’t need much of the soap to get a decent lather. It’s pretty much guaranteed to alleviate itching and heal dry skin. The effects are even more pronounced if you moisturize with the matching lotion after bathing.
The hydrating effects last for 24 hours. That’s not surprising as it’s packed with thermal spring water, glycerin, niacinamide, and shea butter.
Moreover, the formula is allergy-tested and free of parabens and artificial fragrances. It carries the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association. It’s even safe enough for babies.
- Moisturizing benefits last for 24 hours after a bath
- Mild enough for the face and non-comedogenic
- Safe enough for babies and potent enough for adults with eczema
- Pleasant lather with no fragrance that leaves the skin soft and itch-free
- The maximum benefits come from using the matching moisturizer after bathing
CeraVe Body Wash for Dry Skin
As we hunted for the best moisturizing soap for dry skin, we found CeraVe’s products. They offer both a bath bar and a liquid body wash. Some reviewers say they prefer the bar to the liquid as the soap is creamy and difficult to pump from the bottle.
In any case, both products are formulated with three essential ceramides, CeraVe’s trademark. By restoring ceramides in the skin, it helps reinforce the natural barrier against moisture loss. This is helpful whether you have dry skin because of the environment or because of a skin condition.
This body wash carries the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance because it’s free of sulfates and parabens and kind to the skin. It has no fragrance and makes plenty of foam that rinses clean.
The same company also makes an exfoliating cleanser with salicylic acid for keratosis pilaris and a body wash for psoriasis-prone skin.
- Fragrance-free formula with a pleasing lather that rinses clean
- Rehydrates the skin with three essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and other moisturizers
- Carries the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance
- Comes in liquid body wash or bath bar versions
- Body wash is thick and creamy and may be difficult to dispense
Buttah Skin by Dorion Renaud Egyptian CocoShea Body Wash
Up to this point, we’ve gone on about fragrance-free body wash. But not everyone with dry skin needs to steer clear of fragranced soaps. We discovered a luxurious body wash developed by a Black-owned company and we like it very much.
We were pleased by the lack of SLS and SLES – the harsh, drying sulfates. Instead, it uses gentle surfactants to avoid leaving the skin ashy or itchy. Plus, it has healing ingredients like purslane and marshmallow root.
Lastly, it’s enriched with vegetable glycerin, sweet almond oil, and shea butter, to name a few. These are excellent skin conditioners. It’s not until you reach the very last ingredient that you find the fragrance. And what a heavenly scent it is. It’s a blend of white lily, heliotrope, rose, white musk, and vanilla, and it will stay with you all day.
- Creamy texture and luxurious fragrance leaves the skin smooth and softly scented all day
- No harsh sulfates but plenty of skin conditioners and healing ingredients
- Formulated especially for all melanin skin tones
- Has an artificial fragrance, but it’s the last ingredient
Start soothing and healing that dry skin starting with the way you bathe. Choose a moisturizing body wash and enjoy the benefits from the very first use.
We hope we helped you find your new favorite bath product today. If you love it, please tell us about it in the comments below.
1. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/dermatologists-tips-relieve-dry-skin by the American Academy of Dermatology Association, accessed April 26, 2021
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885180/ Moisturizers: The Slippery Road, by Anisha Sethi, Tejinder Kaur, SK Malhotra, and ML Gambhir, published in Indian Journal of Dermatology, May-June 2016, accessed April 26, 2021
3. https://www.healthline.com/health/cocamidopropyl-betaine#side-effects Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP, Written by Rebecca Joy Stanborough, MFA, published August 29, 2019, accessed April 26, 2021