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Hydrate dry, itchy skin with these 12 dermatologist-recommended body washes

The start of an effective moisturizing routine isn't what you'd expect.
Close-up of unrecognizable woman washing upper body in shower and three different bottles of body wash
TODAY Illustration / Grace Cary / Getty Images / Amazon
/ Source: TODAY

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Between lounging out in the sun and swimming around in saltwater and chlorine pools, we put our skin through a lot during the summer. Throw in regular hot showers and harsh body soaps, and it's not surprising when skin starts to dry out and feel a bit tight. Keeping your skin hydrated is important all year long and an effective moisturizing routine for your whole body starts before you even step out of the shower.

Shop TODAY spoke with several dermatologists about how to tackle dry skin and they all agreed: A moisturizing body wash can make a huge difference. The best moisturizing body washes come in a variety of formulas, boasting different ingredients that can trap moisture in your skin and leave you feeling soft and smooth from the moment you step out of the shower.

From creamy formulas to nourishing oils, these are the products and ingredients they recommend to their clients on a regular basis.

Best moisturizing body washes, according to experts

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 Del Campo regularly recommends this non-comedogenic cleanser for clients and swears by its moisturizing formula that's filled with restorative ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid.

"This is my go-to and has all the key properties that I look for in a body wash," the dermatologist said. "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? Deanne Robinson, a dermatologist based in Connecticut, suggests grabbing a soap-free formula that moisturizes as it cleanses to help protect your skin's essential oils. This gentle formula is free of dyes, fragrance and parabens and it's full of all the great stuff your skin needs to restore its protective barrier.

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 said. "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."

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."

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 said.

Dove Instant Foaming Body Wash

Prefer a light and airy formula? This foaming body wash from Dove is formulated with the brand's NutriumMoisture technology and moisturizing glycerin that helps replenish dry, tight skin. The pump formula is also super easy to 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 said.

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 David Lortscher swears by the soap-free, non-comedogenic formula to help preserve skin's pH level.

Preventing dry skin starts with the right body wash, but Del Campo cautions against overdoing it: “Less is more when it comes to bathing and showering. Showers should be less than 10 minutes, using lukewarm water and sensitive skin cleansers."

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.

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."

Jergens Wet Skin Shea Oil Body Lotion

Dermatologists highly recommend moisturizing after showering, but it's something that 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 said.

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!

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 said. The fragrance and 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 Premium Body Wash with Vitamin B3 and Hyaluronic Acid

Want to really give your skin a hydrating boost? Reach for a body wash with hyaluronic acid. "It's a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the skin and the environment to increase the skin’s ability to hold water. Hyaluronic acid is especially good at delivering water into the skin and keeping it there," Lortscher said.

Other top-rated moisturizing body washes

Curél Itch Defense Calming Body Wash

Over 2,300 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. One reviewer even said that it "might as well be liquid gold!"

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! This body wash boasts a 4.7-star average and over 4,600 five-star ratings.

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 oil and sweet almond oil that help lock in moisture long after your shower is over. This creamy lather that touts a 4.6-star average can also be used as a shaving cream!

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

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil

You can work this rich formula into a lather to transform it from an oil to a milk-like cleanser that increases shine. It boasts an earthy scent thanks to ingredients such as almond proteins and almond oil. The brand also states that it can act as a base for shaving.

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This article was originally published on March 24, 2020.