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Dry, itchy skin? These are the body washes dermatologists recommend — starting at $5

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

Best moisturizing body washes | More expert- and shopper-loved options | FAQs | How we chose | Meet the experts

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 — 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.

Best body washes for dry skin

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Best overall moisturizing body wash:

Size: 20 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick points 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.”

Best moisturizing body wash for sensitive skin:

Size: 12 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, panthenol (vitamin B5)

Love that squeaky clean feel that soapy body washes provide but hate the dry, tight feeling they leave behind? Dr. Deanne Robinson, a Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist, 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.”

Best budget-friendly body wash for dry skin:

Size: 3.75 oz | Key ingredients: Moisturizing cream

For those who prefer bars to liquid washes, Garshick recommends the 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,” she 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.

Best moisturizing body wash for eczema-prone skin:

Size: 13.5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide, shea butter

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. “Together this helps to gently cleanse, while also protecting the skin and providing 24-hour hydration.”

Best for moisturizing body wash acne-prone skin:

Size: 10 fl oz | Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, blue tansy extract, glycerin, shea butter

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% 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.

More expert- and shopper-loved body washes for dry skin

Dermatologist recommended body washes:

Dove Instant Foaming Body Wash

Size: 13.5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, glycerin

Prefer a light and airy formula? This foaming body wash is formulated with the brand’s so-called NutriumMoisture technology, which they say 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.

“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.

Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body and Face Cleanser

Size: 16.9 fl oz | Key ingredients: Panthenol, glycerin, castor oil

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.

Shea Moisture Olive & Green Tea Bubble Bath & Body Wash

Size: 8 fl oz | Key ingredients: Vitamin E, jojoba oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, green tea extract, shea butter

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.”

Bonus: It doubles as a massage oil!

The Seaweed Bath Co. Body Wash

Size: 12 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, aloe leaf juice, coconut oil, panthenol, spirulina | Scents: Eight, including unscented

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

“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.

Bliss Lemon & Sage Soapy Suds Body Wash

Size: 17 fl oz | Key ingredients: Aloe leaf juice, glycerin

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.

CeraVe Body Wash for Dry Skin

Size: 10 fl oz | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin

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 Garshick.

"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 and support the skin barrier, respectively.

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

Naturium The Glow Getter Multi-Oil Body Wash

Size: 16.9 fl oz | key ingredients: Glycerin, jojoba seed oil, squalane

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.

Necessaire the Body Wash

Size: 8.4 fl oz | Key ingredients: Vitamins A, C, E and F, marula oil, niacinamide

For a body wash that both moisturizes and is packed with nourishing vitamins, opt 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.

Budget-friendly body washes for dry skin:

Nivea Nourishing Body Wash

Size: 20 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sunflower seed oil, sweet almond oil, castor seed oil

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 such as sunflower seed and sweet almond oils, which help lock in moisture long after your shower is over.

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Refreshing Body Wash

Size: 16.9 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, panthenol, aloe vera

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

Size: 20 fl oz | Key ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter

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.

Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash

Size: 18 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, oat, coconut oil

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

Size: 10 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, hyaluronic acid

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!

Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash with Shea Butter

Size: 30 fl oz | Key ingredients: Shea butter, niacinamide, vitamin B3

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."

Body washes for itchy or eczema-prone skin:

Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus Shea and Lavender Oil Body Wash

Size: 18 fl oz | Key ingredients: Soybean oil, shea butter, lavender oil

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.

Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash

Size: 16.9 fl oz | Key ingredients: Soybean oil, castor seed oil, omega oils

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.

Curél Itch Defense Calming Body Wash

Size: 10 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, panthenol, jojoba seed oil

Over 3,600 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% of what they were originally.”

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash

Size: 33 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, oat

This Aveeno pick 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.

Skinfix Eczema+ Oil Foaming Body Wash

Size: 12.5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, jojoba seed oil, rosemary leaf extract, sunflower extract, colloidal oatmeal

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.

Nakery Intensive Repair Treatment Eczema Relief Soothing Treatment

Size: 10 fl oz | Key ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, aloe, niacinamide, argan oil, vitamin E, hibiscus

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% colloidal oatmeal work together to support the skin barrier and provide healing to eczema, dermatitis and dryness without providing further flare-ups."

Hydrating body washes for acne-prone skin:

AcneFree Oil-Free Acne Cleanser

Size: 8 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, ceramides, benzoyl peroxide

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% 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 Body Wash

Size: 8.5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, salicylic acid

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 SA Body Wash for Rough & Bumpy Skin

Size: 10 fl oz | Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide

CeraVe‘s 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 22,200 verified five-star ratings on Amazon, 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.”

Murad Acne Control Acne Body Wash

Size: 8.5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, date seed powder, green tea extract, licorice root extract

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. Plus, it has green tea and licorice root extracts for soothing irritated skin.

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:

SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Body Wash

Size: 13 fl oz | Key ingredients: Shea butter, panthenol, coconut oil, honeysuckle

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.

Kopari Beauty Coconut Hydrating Body Wash with Aloe and Sea Kelp

Size: 9 fl oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, aloe leaf juice, coconut water, horsetail kelp extract

“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. 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.

Sabon Shower Oil

Size: 10.5 fl oz | Key ingredients: Jojoba oil, avocado oil, olive oil, wheat germ 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) is made with the brand's "secret recipe" (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. After washing, it leaves a delicate scent that lasts all day.

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4 Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel

Size: 13 fl oz | Key ingredients: Cupuaçu butter, coconut oil, açaí oil, sunflower seed oil, glycerin

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.

Buttah Skin Egyptian CocoShea Body Wash

Size: 10 fl oz | Key ingredients: Sweet almond oil, cocoa seed butter, shea butter

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. Combined, the brand says these ingredients will leave your skin moisturized for up to 72 hours.

How we chose

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.

Meet our experts