10 Body Washes That Seriously Cut Down on B.O.

Photo: Getty Images/Ridofranz
While some people might argue that the scent of warmer weather is sweet-smelling flowers, cotton candy, or ocean spray, I'd like to counter that the real aroma (shall we say?) that reminds me of this time of year is... body odor. In the middle of a heatwave, there isn't an armpit among us that isn't tinged with a funky smell. It's certainly not a bad thing, but if you're looking to find a body wash that can bust through even the strongest odors, look no further. These sudsy formulas are able to cut through the bacteria that often leads to B.O.

Experts In This Article
  • Melanie Palm, MD, board-certified dermatologist based in San Diego
  • Mona Gohara, MD, board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale University

"Body odor comes from bacterial byproducts," says Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. "There is a type of gland called the apocrine gland that produces bacteria, which produces smelly byproducts that we know as B.O." So it's not even your sweat that can lead to a not-so-nice smell—it's the bacteria living on your body (which sweat can feed).

Smelling sweet, sans B.O., comes down to a healthy microbiome, or the millions of bacteria that live on your skin. "Making sure your microbiome is intact so that the smelly bacteria doesn't grow out of control is essential," says Dr. Gohara. With your body wash, she says it's critical to opt for something gentle. "Harsh soaps disrupt the microbiome, which allows bacteria to grow out of control and enter smellsville, U.S.A." (Keep in mind that factors like your diet can also affect how you smell1—for example, there are certain foods that cause body odor, and even alcohol can cause body odor, too.)

As far as ingredients go, look for something with skin-friendly ingredients, such as ceramides, niacinamide, and fatty acids, which you'll find in all the best body washes for body odor.

Melanie Palm, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Art of Skin MD, advises looking for something that has antibacterial properties to avoid stripping the skin barrier. "Since antibacterial body washes can sometimes be drying, I also recommend looking for formulas that are fortified with hydrating ingredients," she says, which is where ceramides and fatty acids come in.

"Stick with pH-neutral, sulfate-free, and microbiome-gentle body washes," says Dr. Gohara. "This makes sure your barrier remains intact and the skin's living, protective layer is working optimally."

Keep scrolling to shop one for yourself, and be on your merry way to a funk-free personal fragrance.

Best body washes for body odor

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash
Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash — $10.00

Dr. Gohara’s top recommendation? This Dove body wash, which leaves your skin soft and moisturized after ridding your skin of dirt and grime. It includes a blend of plant-based and skin-natural moisturizers that are gentle and nourishing for the skin, and effectively wash away bacteria.

Necessaire The Body Wash
Necessaire The Body Wash — $25.00

This body has already reached cult status because it’s chic, gentle, and effective. The formula contains niacinamide to nourish your barrier and uses mild, plant-based surfactants to do its cleansing job. It’s available in a fragrance-free version, or a eucalyptus or sandalwood scent.

Organic Bath Co. Zesty Morning Organic Body Wash
Organic Bath Co. Zesty Morning Organic Body Wash — $15.00

Pep yourself up in your morning lather with this invigorating body wash, which is infused with citrus essential oils plus aloe vera, glycerin, and coconut oil for a soft, smooth finish. It’s sulfate-free, so it won’t lather as much, but your skin will feel clean and soft afterward.

Rahua Body Shower Gel
Rahua Body Shower Gel — $32.00

Teleport yourself to the Amazon with this tropical body wash, which comes in a gel texture and is filled with antioxidants and fatty acids that feed your skin. The rainforest-grown ingredients provide a natural way to clean your skin and reduce free radical damage.

Love Beauty & Planet Coconut Water And Mimosa Flower Body Wash
Love Beauty & Planet Coconut Water And Mimosa Flower Body Wash — $14.00

This moisturizing body wash has a gorgeous coconut scent that adds to the so-fresh feeling you’ll get after sudsing up with the skin barrier-friendly formula. It’s infused with both coconut water and organic coconut oil to hydrate your skin and leave it feeling smooth and moisturized.

SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Hydrating Body Wash
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Hydrating Body Wash — $8.00

Moisturizing shea butter is the star ingredient in this body wash. It’s soothing for all skin types, and keeps your natural moisture intact post rinse thanks to soy milk, panthenol, and silk proteins. Frankincense and myrrh extracts help brighten up your skin, too,

Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hydrating Body Wash
Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hydrating Body Wash — $14.00

This body wash is made from flower, fruit, and root extracts, as well as minerals and essential oils — it has no synthetic fragrances or toxic chemicals. The combo of sea buckthorn berries and sesame oil in this bubbly leaves your entire body silky-soft and smelling like fresh citrus.

Urban Hydration Vanilla Body Wash
Urban Hydration Vanilla Body Wash — $15.00

Rinse away B.O. with this sweet vanilla body wash, which has vitamins A and E, and coconut oil for a hydrating shower sesh. It’s free of sulfates and parabens, and it can be used on sensitive and eczema-prone skin.

Kiehl’s “Made for ALL” Gentle Body Cleanser
Kiehl’s “Made for ALL” Gentle Body Cleanser — $30.00

Kiehl’s body wash is made with 95 percent naturally-derived ingredients, and is gentle so it can be used from head to toe. Dr. Palm says she likes that this dermatologist-tested body wash is formulated with aloe vera, which helps to add moisture back into the skin. “Bonus points for the body wash also being paraben- and fragrance-free.”

Vita Vie Antibacterial Body Wash
Vita Vie Antibacterial Body Wash — $12.00

Get rid of 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria with this body wash, which is made with all organic and natural ingredients. It has a light scent and nourishes while it cleans. Another recommendation from Dr. Palm, this antibacterial body wash is also gentle enough for sensitive skin types.

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Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Mogilnicka, Izabella et al. “Microbiota and Malodor-Etiology and Management.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,8 2886. 20 Apr. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21082886

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