The Best Shower Gels For Dry Skin

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If you're prone to dryness, irritation, itchiness, or eczema, you probably already know how big of an impact the right (or wrong) body wash can have on your skin. That's why it's so important to do your research before bringing any new products into the shower. So, when shopping for the best shower gels for dry skin, look for a formula that's sulfate-free and enriched with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid — or better yet, barrier-strengthening ceramides, which may be able to prevent your skin from becoming dry over the long-term.

Why sulfate-free? Well, sulfates, which are a type of surfactant, basically do too good of a job at cleaning — which means they can wind up stripping skin of its natural oils, thus exacerbating dryness. Also, they can be irritating, especially if you have skin that's already on the sensitive side.

Other bathing advice for people who have dry skin? Rebecca Baxt, a board-certified dermatologist — with whom Bustle spoke for this article — suggests keeping your shower water from getting too hot (no matter how great it feels!), and immediately applying moisturizer after you step out of the shower, while your skin is still damp. "It's all about staying ahead to keep your skin barrier protected, before it cracks," she says.

With that in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best body washes for dry skin, ahead — all of which cost $20 or less, and are conveniently available on Amazon.


The Ultimate Body Wash For Dry, Sensitive Skin

If you have very sensitive, dry skin, Vanicream should be your go-to brand. All of the brand’s products, including their body wash, are made without common irritants and harsh drying ingredients such as sulfates. This fragrance-free body wash is approved by the National Eczema Association, so if you have such a skin condition, you know you can use it safely.

Relevant review: “It's unbelievable how hard it is to find a body wash that is fragrance-free AND non-drying. This is it. I use unscented products because I don't like the way 99% of them smell. I don't have allergies. But Vanicream/Free & Clear makes exceptional products, which are very gentle and yet effective. The body wash is much more gentle and moisturizing than the regular cult-favorite cleanser. It also has a thicker texture. Overall, this is probably the best body wash I have ever used, mainly because it causes no dryness yet does not leave a film on skin, either. Perfection.”


A Certified-Natural Shower Gel With A Lavender Scent

A calming lavender scent makes this body wash a particularly nice choice for people who usually shower before bed. This is a proper shower gel, but it’s made with nourishing ingredients like aloe vera juice and quinoa protein, so it shouldn’t leave your skin feeling dry. It’s also fragrance-free, sulfate-free, and certified natural by NSF.

Relevant review: “I have been using this body wash for a week, usually before bed because the lavender scent has calming properties. Finally a product that does not dry my skin, it actually moisturizes my skin while cleansing it. The bottle pumps out a good amount so you don't need to pump multiple times [...]”


A Fan-Favorite Body Wash Made With Nourishing Shea Butter

If you prefer fragrance-free skin care products, this fair-trade, vegan, and cruelty-free shower gel is a great daily body wash to keep in your shower. It's super gentle, and it contains no sulfates or added fragrance, so even people with the most dry, sensitive skin should be able to use it safely. In fact, it contains just five ingredients altogether, including moisturizing shea butter and coconut oil.

As another bonus, proceeds from Alaffia's sales go back to supporting their womens' cooperatives in Togo, West Africa, which fund community empowerment and gender equality projects. Just another reason to feel good about picking up this body wash.

Relevant review: “If you are looking for an excellent, moisturizing, unscented shower gel for sensitive skin, this is the best I've found. It has only a few ingredients; it doesn't have a whole list of unpronounceable chemicals along with a teeny bit of shea. This is the real thing. It does have a little bit of a scent to it that I can't describe, but it isn't unpleasant. It suds up pretty well and seems to help keep moisture in.”


A Salicylic Acid Body Wash That’s Great For Dry, Bumpy Skin

If you have keratosis pilaris or skin that’s bumpy, dry, and rough, this is the body wash you want. CeraVe’s best-selling SA Body Wash is made with salicylic acid to unclog congested pores and promote smoother skin, but because it’s balanced out by strengthening ceramides and soothing niacinamide, it won’t exacerbate dryness.

Relevant review: “Wow, finally something that works! I’ve been fighting breakouts on my back and chest since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, most products made for this are either ineffective or too harsh. This body wash cleared up my breakouts within 2 weeks and did not irritate or dry out my skin. One bottle lasts at least one month and is well worth the money.”


A Citrus-Scented Body Wash From A Popular Spa Brand

Bliss has made such a winner of a shower gel here. Just like the shower gel they use at their day spas, this one has a refreshing, citrusy scent, contains moisturizing ingredients like aloe leaf and glycerin, and contains no sulfates. As with all Bliss products, it's cruelty-free and adorably packaged; Plus, despite costing a bit more than the average body wash, you are getting a ton of product.

Keep in mind that this body wash does contain fragrance, which people with sensitive skin, or conditions like eczema, might find irritating. If you know your skin does fine with fragrance, however, this is a great, invigorating option to consider.

Relevant review: “This is my favorite body wash of all time. I’ve tried high end and bargain priced body wash and this is by far superior to everything else I’ve used. It’s super sudsy so I shave with it. My skin isn’t dry or tight after showering anymore and I have eczema so my skin used to feel dry 24/7. After discovering this Bliss body wash I’m not constantly applying lotion or using prescription creams as often as I used to. [...] I don’t know how they make it smell so good, suds so well, AND moisturize at the same time but I’m thrilled with this product. [...]”


A Tea Tree Body Wash For Under $10

This budget-friendly shower gel is loaded with tea tree oil, an ingredient that's popular for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, and which helps promote smoother, less congested skin. To balance out the tea tree, the formula contains moisturizing ingredients like vitamin E, pro-vitamin B5, aloe vera, and safflower seed oil, plus skin-soothing allantoin.

Despite their affordable price points, Jason is a clean, eco-friendly brand known for their high-quality, plant-based products. This body wash is no exception, being biodegradable, cruelty-free, vegan, and free of common chemical irritants, including sulfates.

Relevant review: “Tried dove and all sorts of other body washes, always still itchy and dry. Started using this a month or more ago and LOVE it. Free of all the nasty stuff that can make your eczema/sensitive/itchy/dry skin worse and makes them all disappear. Also if you have an issue with itchy scalp due to dermatitis/eczema/itchy/sensitive skin their shampoo and conditioner (tea tree) works amazing on the days you don’t need or want [an] alternative to the dermatology shampoos or ointments!”


A Shower Gel & Shampoo That Smells Like Almond Pastries

If you love the smell of sweet almonds, pick up this shower gel from The Honest Company. The sulfate-free formula is enriched with jojoba and almond oils to keep your skin moisturized and soft, and it can be used as shampoo, too.

Relevant review: “This is my go-to soap now, hands down! The scent is subtle but lovely and it doesn’t dry out my little guy’s skin. Since switching, he doesn’t have dry skin like he did with other baby soaps. Love it!”


A Nourishing Shower Oil From A French Pharmacy Brand

If you have very dry skin, you might want to consider switching to a shower oil. This one, from Bioderma's Atoderm line, will leave skin smooth and soft instead of dry and itchy, and the brand even says it'll keep your skin moisturized for up to 24 hours post-wash. Packaged in an enormous, 1-liter bottle, the soap-free formula is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, so it won't clog your pores, while ingredients like glycerin, tocopherol, and the brand's own blend of plant biolipids provide soothing and moisturizing benefits. Despite being an oil, it's lightweight, silky, and has a non-greasy feel.

Relevant review: “I have been struggling with excessively dry skin this winter, in spite of constant moisturization. So, I thought I’d try this. I LOVE it! After 3-4 uses in the shower, my skin feels so much better. The scent is almost nonexistent, it doesn’t irritate my very sensitive skin, and it doesn’t leave you feeling greasy. If you’re on the fence, I HIGHLY recommend!!!”


A Moisturizing Body Wash Made With Good-For-Skin Prebiotics

This new body wash from Tom’s of Maine comes at a very budget-friendly price, and the sulfate-free formula is ideal for dry skin. Sold in four scents — green apple, orange, lavender, and rose — it’s made with moisturizing glycerin, sunflower seed oil, and soybean oil, as well as prebiotics to support strong, healthy skin.

Relevant review: “Smells like a jolly rancher! Using this instantly brightens my mood. And it didn’t dry out my skin or anything.”


A Fragrance-Free Body Wash For Dry, Itchy Skin

Whether you’re dealing with eczema or just generally dry, itchy skin, this is a great body wash to keep in your shower. It’s absolutely loaded with hydrating ingredients (including aloe, shea and cocoa seed butters, coconut oil, and oat protein) that will help keep your skin moisturized, which can in turn help relieve itching and other symptoms associated with dryness. You can use the fragrance-free, hypoallergenic cleanser on your face, too.

Relevant review: “My skin has been terrible so dry and itching I’ve scratched so much. Searching and trying different products I’ve had no results for relief until now! I was excited when it arrived and used it the evening it got to me. It is amazing!!! I have relief my skin is not dry feeling or itching like it was. This is great product and I will continue to use. I have eczema on different areas of my Body that were so bad and inflamed and this has calmed it down.”


A Hydrating Body Wash From A Fan-Favorite Drugstore Brand

For seriously dry skin, try this dermatologist-favorite CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash. This is a soap-free, fragrance-free, sulfate-free formula, and it includes those essential barrier-repairing ceramides to keep your skin strong, as well as hyaluronic acid, which works by pulling water to the skin's surface to help it retain moisture. This body wash also boasts the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, so even if you have delicate, irritation-prone skin, it'll likely be a good match for you.

Relevant review:


Bonus: 8 Bars Of Nourishing Soap Made With Farm-Fresh Goat’s Milk

And last but not least, if you prefer to use bar soaps in the shower, consider stocking up on this eight-pack of Australian Botanical Soap. It’s made with deeply nourishing ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, soya bean oil, and goat’s milk, which the brand sources straight from the farm in South Eastern Victoria, Australia. For just under $25, you get eight bars of soap, so you’ll literally be set for a year or more.

Relevant review: “I can’t use any other soap after this one! The goat milk is very moisturizing and I like that there is no added fragrance. If my skin is dry and cracking, usually soap would make it worse, but this soap actually will help with the cracking/dryskin, almost like I used a lotion! Very pleased with this soap. I first bought this at Costco but unfortunately they are no longer carrying it, so Prime it is!”


Rebecca Baxt, M.D., M.B.A, F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New Jersey.