Why You Might Want To Rethink the Moisturizing Body Wash—And What To Use Instead

Photo:: Getty/Tanja Ivanova
The desire to multi-task is great—but when it comes to your shower, it's not always the best idea. For example, while dads sing the praises of two-in-one shampoos and conditioners, few others find these products particularly appealing. And so, too, may you want to reach for a moisturizing body wash so you can skip lotion all together. Why, exactly? We'll explain.

Many of these formulas contain sugar-derived surfactants and other ingredients that can put you more at risk for developing folliculitis. It's a problem that the brains behind the new Sweet Spot Labs Microbiome-Balancing Body Wash ($20) are setting out to fix.

Sweet Spot Labs Microbiome Wash — $20.00

This body wash is developed specifically to help to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria and yeast that can lead to folliculits.

Folliculitis is a condition that happens when hair follicles get inflamed, which tends to involve a proliferation of bacteria and yeast. As it happens, lipophilic ingredients—things like ceramides, fatty acids, esters, and amino acids—which are all great for dry skin, can feed yeast and bacteria, which further angers already prickly hair follicles. "We wanted to develop something that could, on one hand, help purify sebum or bacteria, but also importantly [that wouldn't trigger] Malassezia yeast growth," says Julie Chamberlain, Sweet Spot Labs general manager. "There's a widening amount of research in that area, whether it applies to fungal acne, fungal folliculitis, and we really want to be on the cutting edge of that."

In creating the new body wash, the team even had to look at the surfactant—or soaping agent—itself. Commonly, many surfactants are derived from coconuts, but because many of these contain sugars, they can feed yeast. So the chemists instead used a clay-based surfactant to absorb and nix debris in conjunction with green tea seed and green tea leaf extract to soothe the skin, without feeding the flora that live on skin surrounding the bikini line.

All of this chemistry is important, says Tamika Cross, MD, an OBGYN, because the modern ways that we remove pubic hair can leave us all more at risk of developing folliculitis. Anytime you shave the skin, teeny-tiny microscopic cuts occur and leave tiny little openings. "When you think about it, it doesn't necessarily have to be cuts that are bleeding, but just tiny little scratches, it doesn't take a lot," she says. "Bacteria like staph aureus and things that live on your skin can get in there." By washing with a formula that both nixes that bacteria and fungus (and doesn't feed it with ingredients to help it again grow), you might be able to see improvement in folliculitis.

I've tried the body wash for myself, and can honestly say that my biggest worry was that my skin would feel drier than it does when using other formulas; however, the formula is actually really creamy and my skin still feels highly moisturized. What's more, I'm marathon training and I tend to see more folliculitis flare-ups  when I'm sweating heaps, but this body wash has helped to keep those at bay. The formula is unscented, pH balanced, and it has peptides and prebiotics, which helps strengthen the skin barrier and prevent damage down the line.

Dr. Cross says that the formula, while made particularly with inflamed follicles in mind, can be good for anyone with yeast on the skin. "Sometimes there are patients that have yeast on the skin where it's not necessarily a folliculitis picture, but sometimes they have just irritation or tiny little bumps," she says.  "Obviously, this is more for the intimate parts, but it can be used anywhere on the body." And in microscopically ridding our skin of these aggressors, we can hopefully have happier, healthier skin down the line.

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