If you're someone who likes to lather up in the shower or bath with body wash, it's easy to see why. Unlike a bar of soap, most body washes are actual liquids that are quick to create bubbly suds that you can clean your body with — and they're also usually accompanied by a pleasant fragrance that lingers long after your shower is through.
In fact, adding scent is the only purpose of these fragrances — these ingredients do not play a role in the actual cleansing of your skin. The downside: Fragrances can be sensitizers to the skin, meaning they may cause irritation or negative reactions.
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"Those with sensitive skin are more often likely to have contact allergies, of which fragrance is a common allergic trigger or allergen," says Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, a cosmetic and medical dermatologist with Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York and clinical instructor of dermatology at NY Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center.
If you have sensitive skin, look for gentle, fragrance-free body washes that incorporate moisturizers, Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends.
The Best Fragrance-Free Body Washes for Sensitive Skin
- Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body and Face Wash ($10.44, Amazon)
- Cetaphil Fragrance-Free Ultra Gentle Refreshing Body Wash ($22.71 for 3, Amazon)
- Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash ($9.47, Amazon)
- La Roche Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Body & Face Wash ($18.99, Amazon)
- Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Body Wash ($9.78, Amazon)
- The Honest Company Eczema Soothing Therapy Body Wash ($11.59, Amazon)
- Seventh Generation Fragrance-Free Body Wash ($16.99, Amazon)
How We Chose
We chatted with dermatologists, who broke down the most important attributes of fragrance-free body wash. Our top picks are based on their criteria, including:
- Active ingredients
For more information on how we choose and cover products, click here.
1. Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body and Face Wash
This is one of Dr. Murphy-Rose's favorites, and one that she frequently recommends to patients who have sensitive skin or are in search of a gentle face cleanser.
"This cleanser is pH balanced, so it won't aggravate sensitive skin, and is free of both fragrances and dyes," Dr. Murphy-Rose says. "It was developed for dry and sensitive skin, incorporating a mix of very mild surfactants and cleanses effectively yet gently without stripping the skin of its natural oils, which could further cause irritation."
2. Cetaphil Fragrance-Free Ultra Gentle Refreshing Body Wash
Cetaphil is well known in the skincare industry for its ingredients list that almost never contains fragrance. Their products are incredibly gentle and incorporate fewer ingredients than most. This body wash is a great fragrance-free option for sensitive skin.
"It is also formulated with gentle surfactants and moisturizers to cleanse without irritating and supporting the skin barrier as opposed to stripping it," Dr. Murphy-Rose says.
3. Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash
The name says it all — this body was formulated for sensitive skin. It's incredibly gentle, free of fragrance, hypoallergenic and sulfate-free.
It contains the same types of hydrating ingredients found in traditional moisturizers, making it especially ideal for sensitive skin types that run dry, notes Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. It also cleanses without compromising the integrity of the skin barrier, so you don't have to worry about any unexpected irritation.
4. La Roche Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Body & Face Wash
This nourishing body wash is gentle enough to use on your face, making it double-duty and ideal for people with sensitive skin. It's formulated with non-irritating ingredients such as glycerin, niacinamide (vitamin B3) and shea butter and is even safe for babies and children.
"It respects the skin's microbiome with prebiotic ingredients, encouraging growth of healthy bacteria on the skin for optimal skin health," Dr. Zeichner says.
That's why it also made our list of the best face washes for dry skin.
5. Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Body Wash
The main ingredient in this fragrance-free body wash is oatmeal colloids, which help trap in moisture for those with eczema or inflamed skin conditions, explains Purvisha Patel, MD, dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. It's allergy-tested and free of dyes and is gentle enough to be used on your face as well as on children.
6. The Honest Company Eczema Soothing Therapy Body Wash
The Honest company has garnered quite a reputation for all-natural ingredients, such as colloidal oatmeal and coconut oil, that are free from fragrance. This body wash is especially formulated with gentle ingredients that soothe sensitive skin, even those prone to eczema, which can cause painful and itchy rashes. Their products are also cruelty-free, meaning they are never tested on animals.
7. Seventh Generation Fragrance-Free Body Wash
Here's another brand that's well known for fragrance-free products. This Seventh Generation body wash is dermatologist-tested and formulated to be extra gentle on sensitive skin types, thanks to the use of botanical ingredients that are not harmful on the skin.
It's also eco-friendly, made with a water-friendly biodegradable formula and packaged in bottles that are 70 percent recycled.
What to Look for in a Fragrance-Free Body Wash
Here are three features dermatologists recommend looking for when shopping for a fragrance-free body wash.
1. Fragrance-Free Label
The first step to ensure that you're purchasing a body wash that's fragrance-free is to look for that wording on the labels. Note: "Unscented" may sound the same as "fragrance-free," but per the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), unscented products may use potentially skin-irritating chemicals to cloak scents.
If you don't see the words "fragrance-free" anywhere, you can always check the ingredients list. Fragrance will be listed as "fragrance," usually high up on the ingredients list, but not always, so make sure to browse through every ingredient listed.
The term fragrance itself often refers to a mixture of ingredients. You may also see other terms, such as fragrance mix, perfume (or parfum) or aroma, as well as specific ingredients that impart odor, like bergamot, Balsam of Peru or limonene.
Fragrance is hardly the only ingredient that can cause irritation on your skin, especially if it's sensitive.
Other ingredients that may be hard on sensitive skin include PEGs, sulfates and dyes, which Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends avoiding. For instance, sodium lauryl sulfate is best avoided if you have dry skin, per the Mayo Clinic.
If there's an ingredient that you know typically causes a skin reaction, stay away.
For those with allergic contact dermatitis, bar soaps may be better than liquid body washes. Bar soaps usually have fewer ingredients such as preservatives.
Body wash is not a place you need to splurge in your skin-care routine, according to Dr. Murphy-Rose. "There are excellent fragrance-free cleansers that you can find at your local drugstore for under $10 and that should last you quite some time, because they're large in size," she says.
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