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Dry, itchy skin? These are the body washes dermatologists recommend — starting at $4

Plus, derms answer: Can body washes actually dry out skin?
Woman using body wash in the shower
Kara Birnbaum/ TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Between regular hot showers and using harsh or drying body soaps, we put our skin through a lot on a daily basis. So it's not surprising when skin starts to dry out and feel a bit tight. While there are many steps you can take to effectively keep your skin healthy and hydrated — from taking shorter showers to moisturizing soon after bathing to lock in moisture — many dermatologists we spoke with agreed: Using a moisturizing body wash can make a huge difference.

But not all body washes are created equal. The products most effective at moisturizing dry skin come in a variety of formulas, which include various ingredients that trap moisture in your skin and leave you feeling soft and smooth almost instantly.

From creamy formulas to soap bars for sensitive skin, these are the best body washes for dry skin that dermatologists recommend to their clients on a regular basis. We also included a few bestselling picks that customers are raving about based on their ratings and reviews. Keep scrolling or use the links below to jump to your desired category.

Derm-approved body washes | Body washes for dry skin under $10 | Body washes for itchy or eczema-prone skin | Body washes to hydrate acne-prone skin | Best-smelling hydrating body washes | Dry skin FAQs | Meet our experts

Best body washes for dry skin, according to derms

CeraVe Body Wash for Dry Skin

The last thing you need while dealing with dry skin is potentially irritating ingredients, and that's where this gentle, foaming formula comes in handy. Dr. Danilo C. Del Campo, a board-certified dermatologist based in Chicago, regularly recommends this "go-to" non-comedogenic cleanser and swears by its moisturizing formula.

So does Dr. Marisa Gashick, a board-certified dermatologist who serves patients in New York and New Jersey.

"It offers a gentle foaming cleanse to help eliminate dirt while helping to replenish moisture and restore the skin barrier," she says, highlighting key ingredients hyaluronic acids and ceramides, which help hydrate support the skin barrier, respectively.

"It's also a great option for those with dry or sensitive skin," she adds.

Del Campo advises: "You always want to use the least amount of any chemical whenever possible, so my patients are instructed to avoid products containing sulfates, parabens and fragrances."

Vanicream Gentle Body Wash

Love that squeaky clean feel that soapy body washes provide but hate the dry, tight feeling they leave behind? Dr. Deanne Robinson, a board-certified dermatologist based in Connecticut, suggests grabbing a soap-free formula that moisturizes as it cleanses to help protect your skin's essential oils.

Plus, it's great if you have sensitive skin, Garshick says: "This body wash is sulfate-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, formaldehyde-free and cocamidopropyl-betaine-free. It offers an effective cleanse while still being gentle on the skin."

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

Garshick also pointed to the formulation of Dove's body wash as one that's great for all skin types.

"This not only works to cleanse the skin, but [it] also contains ingredients, such as the Moisture Renew Blend [a proprietary combination of moisturizers that Dove says works with the skin to produce its own ceramides], to help replenish moisture to prevent dryness of the skin. It is sulfate-free and gentle on the microbiome."

Related review: Read how Dove's Sensitive Skin Body Wash calms and smooths one writer's eczema-prone skin.

The Seaweed Bath Co. Body Wash

A range of hydrating oils (coconut, castor seed and olive fruit, for starters) in this seaweed-infused body wash keeps skin nice and moisturized so you can tackle dry skin head-on.

"This is a great body wash at a very affordable price point. It contains bladderwrack seaweed, which is loaded with vitamins and minerals," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, who's based in New York, says.

"It also contains spirulina, a blue-green algae that is rich in antioxidants such as beta carotene, which is required for normal growth and also for renewal of skin cells," she adds.

Shea Moisture Olive & Green Tea Bubble Bath & Body Wash

Who knew a relaxing bubble bath could also nourish your skin? This multitasker is free of harsh ingredients like parabens, phtlalates and sulfates and is ideal for sensitive, dry skin. It's also formulated with shea butter, an effective hydrator Jaliman swears by: "Shea butter is extremely moisturizing due to its natural vitamins and fatty acids. It has cinnamic acid and is anti-inflammatory."

A bonus? It doubles as a massage oil.

Dove Instant Foaming Body Wash

Prefer a light and airy formula? This foaming body wash from Dove is formulated with the brand's so-called NutriumMoisture technology, which its site says includes a gentle cleanser that helps minimize protein damage, as well as fully skin-compatible natural moisturizers that fully absorb into skin to replenish lost lipids. One of these "natural moisturizers" is glycerin, which helps replenish dry, tight skin.

We also like the pump formula, which is helpful for ease of use in the shower.

"This lightweight foam is a gentle but effective cleanser for the body. I love it because it cleans and moisturizes at the same time," Robinson says.

Naturium Glow Getter Multi Oil Hydrating Body Wash

Another favorite of Garshick's for dry skin is this multi-oil body wash that turns into a gentle lather.

"This cleanses without stripping the skin of its natural oils," she explains.

The key is the humectant glycerin in its formulation, which draws moisture in, "as well as a blend of linoleic-rich oils and plant-derived squalane to keep the skin feeling soft and smooth," Garshick adds.

Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body and Face Cleanser

This multitasking cleanser is gentle enough for your face but strong enough to hydrate your body. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. David Lortscher swears by the soap-free, non-comedogenic formula to help preserve the skin's pH level.

Necessaire the Body Wash

For a body wash that both moisturizes and is packed with nourishing vitamins, go for Necessaire's body wash, another Garshick favorite.

"This niacinamide-containing cleanser helps to nourish the skin and is also rich in vitamins and fatty acids to help balance the skin. This gel-based cleanser can be massaged into a gentle foam to effectively cleanse the skin," she says.

Not only is it available in three soothing scents like Eucalyptus, but it's also offered fragrance-free.

Bliss Lemon & Sage Soapy Suds Body Wash

Sometimes, you just need a fruity fragrance to boost your mood while you're treating dry skin. This foamy body wash transforms into a silky lather and leaves behind a subtle lemon smell.

The vegan formula aims to nourish skin with the help of moisturizers like glycerin and aloe vera, one of Lortscher's go-to ingredients: "Aloe, another staple ingredient known to soothe skin, has become increasingly more popular in skin care products recently and is highly moisturizing," he says.

Budget body washes derms and shoppers recommend

Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter

Formulated with hydrating shea butter and Olay's vitamin B3 complex, Garshick says this indulgent body wash this body wash helps to nourish and hydrate the skin.

This combination, she explains, "leaves the skin soft and smooth while also supporting the skin barrier."

More reasons to go for this pick: According to the brand, in a clinical study they saw a 95 percent dry skin improvement in women. Walmart reviewers rave that it leaves skin "silky smooth" and is "super moisturizing."

Another pro: It rings up at just under $10.

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Refreshing Body Wash

Living up to its "ultra gentle" name, this hypoallergenic formula is particularly beneficial for those with the most sensitive dry skin, Garshick says.

This is because it's formulated not just with a blend of moisturizes, but also aloe vera and vitamin B5, a combination that helps soothe the skin, according to the derm.

"It cleanses without stripping the skin of its natural moisture," she adds.

OGX Hydrating Moisture Body Wash

Whether you're genetically predisposed to dry skin or are simply drying out because you've been using harsh soaps, skin can crave moisture for a variety of reasons, according to Del Campo.

This hydrating body wash is filled with two superstar hydrators: coconut oil and shea butter.

Dove Beauty Bar

For those who prefer bars to liquid washes, Garshick recommends this OG beauty bar from Dove.

"This bar effectively cleanses and washes away dirt without drying out the skin, as it helps to replenish moisture lost — unlike ordinary soaps which can strip the skin of its natural oils," the dermatologist explains.

She highlights the moisturizing cream that's part of its ingredient list, which, instead of leaving skin tight like regular bar soap, "helps to leave the skin feeling soft and nourished," she adds.

Dial Clean + Gentle Hypoallergenic Aloe Body Wash

It's one of our most affordable picks, but that doesn't mean that this well-reviewed hypoallergenic body wash skimps on clean ingredients or hydration. It's made of a vegan formula that's pH-balanced and free from things like parabens, phthalates, dyes and silicone. But your skin will still end up softer and subtly smelling like aloe.

Nivea Nourishing Care Body Wash

Showering too often or with hot water can really put your skin to the test, but this moisturizing body wash is formulated with a nourishing serum that's meant to restore skin to its optimal moisture levels. It does so with the help of moisturizers like sunflower seed and sweet almond oils, which help lock in moisture long after your shower is over.

Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash

Soothing oat joins forces with hydrating glycerin and coconut oil to form a trifecta of hydrating ingredients in this powerful body wash. Ideal for sensitive skin, the gentle, creamy formula helps maintain skin's natural moisture barrier and gets rid of dirt and impurities easily. Oh, and it's also got a relaxing, tropical coconut scent!

Jergens Wet Skin Shea Oil Body Lotion

This convenient shower moisturizer blends with water to lock in hydration with the help of shea butter, cocoa seed butter and glycerin. Simply apply it after you finish your shower but before you dry off — no need to rinse it off!

Body washes for itchy or eczema-prone skin

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

If you've got extra-dry skin that's prone to itching or eczema, we've got you covered. This foaming body wash, which is accepted by the National Eczema Association, is designed for extra-dry or sensitive skin, says Garshick. She adds that it can even be used on babies or individuals undergoing chemotherapy.

"It incorporates La Roche-Posay's prebiotic thermal water, shea butter to help support the skin barrier, glycerin to draw moisture in, and niacinamide which is soothing on the skin," she explains, adding, "together this helps to gently cleanse, while also protecting the skin and providing 24-hour hydration."

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash

Like our earlier Aveeno pick, this one also uses the power of oat — prebiotic oat, to be exact.

This ingredient, says Garshick, "helps soothe the skin while also nourishing the skin and boosting the skin’s moisture. It offers a light scent for those who prefer a scented option, while still being gentle on the skin," she adds.

Nakery Intensive Repair Treatment Eczema Relief Soothing Treatment

Garshick also loves this "ultra-lathering" body wash designed by woman-owned brand Nakery, whose mission, its site says, is "bringing you clean, highly effective products that celebrate the feminine body."

This intensive repair treatment is especially designed for those with eczema-prone skin.

Garshick explains, "Ingredients like hibiscus, niacinamide and 2 percent colloidal oatmeal work together to support the skin barrier and provide healing to eczema, dermatitis and dryness without providing further flare-ups."

Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash

Omega oils and natural lipids are the superstars of this soothing body wash that's meant to tackle dry, itchy skin with ease. "Omega fatty acids immediately hydrate and calm irritated skin," Robinson says.

The soap-free formula helps lock in essential oils without leaving any residue behind and offers just enough hydration with the help of soybean oil and castor seed oil.

Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus Shea and Lavender Oil Body Wash

Finding an effective, moisturizing body wash that also smells great can be challenging, but this rich, creamy formula soothes dry skin with ease thanks to hydrating shea butter. As an added bonus, it also tackles a range of other skin woes with the help of lavender.

"Lavender has exceptional anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and is a good choice for people with sensitive skin. Lavender is particularly good for people with redness due to rosacea," Jaliman says.

Curél Itch Defense Calming Body Wash

Over 3,400 verified Amazon reviewers have given this body wash a full five stars. It's made with a soap-free formula designed to gently cleanse and hydrate dry, itchy skin. Moisturizing ingredients include jojoba oil and olive oil.

One reviewer even said that, after just two weeks of use, "My eczema patches are 50 percent of what they were originally."

Skinfix Eczema+ Oil Foaming Body Wash

This ultra-mild body wash by Skinfix is gentle enough for daily use, even for sensitive, eczema-prone skin. The sulfate-free formula softens skin using coconut-based cleansers that won't strip your skin of its lipids. Combine that with ingredients like aloe vera, colloidal oatmeal and jojoba oil, as well as no fragrance, and you're sure to leave the shower with clean, soft, soothed skin.

Best hydrating body washes for acne-prone skin

AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Cleanser

If you've got dry skin that's also susceptible to acne (and believe me, I can relate), Garshick luckily has a recommendation for that.

"For those with acne-prone skin, this cleanser contains 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide to help address breakouts, while still being gentle on the skin using ceramides to help support the skin barrier." she explains.

Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash with Glycerin

Another affordable pick that's safe for sensitive skin, Neutrogena's oil-free acne body wash contains breakout-fighting salicylic acid, but it's still gentle enough for all skin types. It's also got deeply moisturizing glycerin, so you can tackle body acne and hydrate it at the same time.

One reviewer raved, "I use this for back acne I get due to sweating at work. ... It works great and smells great as well, [and] doesn't leave a weird residue feeling on my body."

CeraVe Body Wash with Salicylic Acid

CeraVe is a brand known for it's moisturizing products chock-full of skin-protecting ceramides, and this acne-targeting body wash is no different.

The fragrance-free formula combines three ceramides with exfoliating salicylic acid, and it adds hyaluronic acid and soothing niacinamide to the mix.

It's even garnered over 25,600 reviews on Amazon (with an average rating of 4.6 stars), with one reviewer saying, "I dealt with severe back acne and eczema on my arms — this body wash has done wonders for my skin! I now have little to no back acne and my eczema is much less severe."

Some reviewers urge, however, to stick to moisturizing after the shower, especially if you have extra-dry skin.

Differin Acne-Clearing Relief Body Wash

We've touted Differin in various forms for both its anti-aging and acne-fighting powers, and you can get that now in body wash form.

The secret of this cream-to-lather product lies in its combination of 2 percent salicylic acid, super-hydrating hyaluronic acid and blue tansy extract, which the brand says helps soothe dry skin for up to 24 hours. Its gentle formulation makes it safe to use daily.

Related review: Read about the spot treatments one writer claims helped her get rid of zits overnight.

Murad Acne Control Body Wash

Murad calls this acne-control body wash a triple threat: That's because it has salicylic acid for unclogging and breakout prevention; date seed powder and glycolic acid for extra exfoliation; and green tea and licorice root extracts for soothing irritated skin. Plus, it's got none of the bad stuff, like phthalates and parabens.

One Ulta reviewer gushed, "Used [this] daily to treat my shoulder acne after spending hundreds of dollars on products/back facials. After keeping it simple with just this product plus moisturizer, my skin is clear."

Best-smelling body washes that still hydrate

Sabon Shower Oil

For a super rich formula that's made of multiple nourishing natural oils, so you know you'll come out of the shower feeling both clean and adequately hydrated, go for one of my shower go-tos. Sabon's sweet-smelling formula (it comes in scents like Citrus Blossom and Delicate Jasmine, my favorite) consists of jojoba oil, avocado oil, wheat germ oil and olive oil.

You can rub the shower oil, which lathers into a nice gentle foam, directly on your skin, and after washing, it leaves a delicate scent that lasts all day.

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4 Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel

Yearning for soft, velvety skin but still want to pamper it with luxurious bubbles and a sweet scent? This shower cream gel fits the bill. Not only does it contain ingredients like cupuaçu butter and coconut oil that work hard to condition your skin and keep it elastic, but it also boasts Sol de Janeiro's signature fragrance that many reviewers said smells amazing and, one raved, "lasts all day."

Kopari Beauty Coconut Hydrating Body Wash with Aloe and Sea Kelp

"You feel like you're transported to one of the islands as you sip your cool and refreshing drink, with your feet in the sand," wrote one reviewer about using Kopari's hydrating body wash. They're not just talking about the delicious coconut milk scent, either (though that's a bonus). Thanks to a sulfate- and paraben-free formula that uses coconut water, aloe vera and sea kelp, you'll feel like you just took a cleansing and nourishing dip in the ocean.

Buttah Skin Egyptian CocoShea Body Wash

There are so many things to love about this luxurious yet nourishing body wash by black-owned brand Buttah Skin. For starters, the proprietary formula is packed with hydrating agents like African cocoa and shea butters, as well as vitamin extracts, all of which, combined, is said to leave your skin moisturized for up to 72 hours.

We also love that this body wash is formulated for melanin-rich skin, which, according to one happy reviewer, makes her "feel like the Queen of Sheba whenever I use it."

SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Body Wash

Dry, rough skin will be greeted with rich shea butter, vitamins and essential fatty acids that work to repair the skin, thanks to this SheaMoisture body wash.

Other key ingredients in the formula include coconut oil and frankincense and myrrh extracts that boast hydrating properties. The body wash is also free of synthetic ingredients, parabens and other potentially harmful ingredients.

One Walmart reviewer who gave it a perfect five stars wrote, "My skin is very dry, and I've had a hard time finding the right body wash for myself — but after using this my skin has never felt better!"

Questions about body washes for dry skin, answered

Can certain body washes dry out skin?

In short, yes, "especially if they use certain surfactants that can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin’s pH," says Garshick. This can, in turn, negatively affect the skin’s natural barrier and leave it susceptible to moisture loss.

That's why, she adds, there's a balance to be struck when bathing: Thoroughly cleaning skin but also being careful not to strip it of its natural oils, which leaves the skin feeling tight.

"Generally, if the skin feels squeaky-clean, chances are your body wash is too harsh. This is why it can help to use a wash that contains gentle surfactants, or a wash that also incorporates nourishing and moisturizing ingredients to leave some moisture behind," she advises.

She also encourages those with dry or sensitive skin to steer clear of harsh soaps (like some bars of soap) or abrasive scrubs.

"Look for body washes containing ingredients such as ceramides, which help support the skin barrier, as well as humectants like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which help to draw moisture," Garshick adds. These ingredients do doubly duty, helping the skin feel softer and smoother while minimizing the potential for dryness, the doctor explains.

What body wash should I use if I have extremely dry skin?

If you have extremely dry skin, it's best to avoid fragrances or potential irritants, our experts say. But another practice you apply now is taking short and non-scalding showers, and at most once a day, they add.

“Less is more when it comes to bathing and showering. Showers should be less than 10 minutes, using lukewarm water and sensitive skin cleansers," recommends Del Campo.

Garshick echoes this advice, adding, "For someone who is dealing with eczema or very dry skin, it is also helpful to note that unless areas are visibly dirty, only the underarms, groin and feet need to be washed with body wash daily. For the other areas, simply rinsing with water may be sufficient."

What are do's and don'ts when for bathing if I have dry skin?

Dermatologists highly recommend moisturizing after showering, but it's something many of us tend to forget. "When you get out of the shower and the skin is still moist, it’s important to put your cream on because this binds the water molecules to the outer layers of the skin," Jaliman says.

Garshick also says that after bathing or showering, "it is important to pat dry, as opposed to vigorously rubbing the skin with a towel, which can be drying on the skin."

Meet our experts

  1. Dr. Danilo C. Del Campo, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist currently practicing at Chicago Skin Clinic. Known as "Dr. Danny" to his patients, he specializes in diseases and conditions related to skin, hair and nails, as well as cosmetic services.
  2. Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist for Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. She serves patients in Manhattan, as well as Clifton, New Jersey. Her focus spans various medical and cosmetic dermatological procedures.
  3. Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, is a New York-based board-certified dermatologist who focuses on both general and cosmetic dermatology. She also penned "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist."
  4. Dr. David Lortscher, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco. He is co-founded and is board chair for Curology.
  5. Dr. Deanne Robinson, MD, is a board-certified and fellowship-trained dermatologist based in Connecticut. She's also the president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology of Connecticut.