Those with sensitive skin know that shopping for bath products is no easy feat. Whether it's shampoos, bubble baths, or body washes—not knowing what products and ingredients will get you clean without irritating skin can spark feelings of uncertainty. These "shower scaries" take the fun out of bathing—especially when a new product backfires and leaves you irritated.
Rather than scrubbing with something suspect, get your hands on a body wash for sensitive skin. Thanks to insights from board-certified dermatologist Kenneth Mark, MD, combined with first-hand editor experience, we rounded up the best of washes for dry, itchy, and fussy skin for fool-proof suds.
Body wash ingredients to avoid for sensitive skin
Reminder: Not all ingredients are skin-friendly. Even if bathing products are marketed as "skin-friendly," it's important to do your due diligence when shopping. Dr. Mark previously told us the biggest red flags to look out for are alcohol, fragrance, sulfates, essential oils, which can irritate sensitive skin instead of soothing it.
"Alcohol is typically found in gels and its niche is for those with oily skin but for sensitive skin, it can cause inflammation," Dr. Mark said. "[And] even though essential oils have a positive connotation, those with sensitive skin are more likely to have a reaction to anything including it."
As for sulfates, those are the chemicals that make body wash bubbly. While bubbles certainly make bath-time fun, Dr. Mark says they can actually dry you out—not ideal for sensitive skin. Same goes for fragrance, an additive that can cause breakouts, itchiness, dry patches, and more. Instead, stick to plant-based products that skip out on these "red flag" ingredients. Find our best body washes for sensitive skin below.
The 14 best body washes for sensitive skin
At the top of our list is Dove, a derm-favorite for sensitive skin and otherwise. This ultra-mild cleanser is hypoallergenic and pH-balanced, designed to gently wash away dirt and grime without disrupting your microbiome. And it comes in a recycled bottle that’s milder for the planet, too.
Nope, not all sensitive skin-friendly body washes have to be fragrance-free. If you want something that smells good and is gentle enough to leave your skin happy, we recommend Alaffia’s Everyday Shea Body Wash. It’s sulfate-free, crafted from fair-trade unrefined shea butter and virgin coconut oil, and doesn’t contain any synthetic fragrances (if you know your skin can tolerate some essential oils, this fragrance formula is fairly safe—but it’s always smart to do a patch test if you’re unsure). Choose from heavenly scents like vanilla mint, passion fruit, and lavender.
Another dermatologist favorite is Cerave. Just like the brand’s beloved face lotion, this body wash is gentle on fussy skin. It’s paraben, sulfate, and fragrance-free, and is infused with hyaluronic acid for an extra burst of hydration on even the thirstiest skin.
If you have eczema, psoriasis, or are just prone to itchy, dry skin, derms recommend getting a body washed made with colloidal oatmeal.
Board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, perviously explained that this ingredient acts as a natural anti-inflammatory that nourishes, protects, and soothes skin, sensitive and otherwise. If oatmeal baths aren’t your thing, check out this body wash instead.
St. Ives also makes a decadent body wash that’s great for treating itchy, irritated skin. Like Aveeno, it’s infused with oatmeal, but layers on an additional burst of shea butter, too. The result? A dreamy lather that hydrates and helps skin rather than irritating it.
Maude’s minimalist body wash also doubles as a bubble bath, so if you’re in the mood for a soak without the scratch, throw this bad boy into your tub. It’s formulated with a batch of body-loving vitamins and omega-3s, is pH-balanced, and is unscented, though there are other scented options to shop if that’s more your speed.
If you have combination skin that occasionally dries out or gets oily, Dr. King recommended shopping for washes that combine hydration with natural surfactants. Something like Necessaire’s The Body Wash, which uses plant-based surfactants combined with niacinamide for a gentle cleanse that won’t dry you out or leave you oily. It’s also fragrance-free, so you don’t need to worry about any irritation coming from scents.
This body wash is technically for babies, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a spot in your adult shower. After all, if it’s gentle enough for Baby, then it’s definitely gentle enough for you. That’s thanks to its mostly natural formulation, swapping harsh chemicals for skin-savers, like soothing jojoba oil and coconut oil. Plus, it doubles as a shampoo that’s just as sweet on sensitive scalps.
Odele launched a line of body washes last year, including this mild cleanser that’s specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Thanks to an infusion of oats, skin is left smiling with every wash. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and made without any harmful chemicals that might lead to a flare-up.
Like the brand’s hair-care products, Ouai’s Body Cleanser is made using the best of the best. There’s no parabens, sulfates, or phthlates—just skin-friendly ingredients, like jojoba and rosehip oils, that are safe on all types of skin. This one does have a citrus scent—while it’s not overwhelming, you may want to try on a small patch of skin before using the soap all over.
We have yet to meet an Avene product we didn’t like, but we’re particularly keen on this body wash which is safe for sensitive skin. That’s because it’s formulated with all the goodness you want in a body wash, including the brand’s legendary thermal spring water which soothes, calms, and restores.
This body wash has just about everything you want in a sensitive skin-saver: there’s African black soap (a cleansing superhero), organic shea butter (for hydration) and oats (to protect the skin). It’s particularly helpful if you have acne-prone skin, too, as it’s strong enough to clear blemishes without drying skin out or irritating it further.
Want to soothe skin on a budget? Then get this sulfate-free cleanser from Public Goods that’s just $5. It’s formulated with a stack of essential oils (again, just be aware that this *might* cause irritation if you have extra sensitive skin that doesn’t tolerate essential oils!), all handpicked to soothe skin, not upset it. The juicy, fresh scents will transport you to a spa almost instantly.
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