Body wash is one of the most popular skin cleansing products on the market right now. It's not as common as regular soap, but over the last 10 years or so, many consumers, especially women, have come to prefer this scented, soapy liquid for their skin care needs [source: Portland Tribune].
There are several reasons for body wash's recent rise in popularity. Unlike traditional soaps, most body washes don't dry out skin. Also, because they're bottled, they tend to feel more luxurious and personal. Plus, they're easier to share -- a houseguest using your bar of soap and squirting a dollop of body wash onto a washrag are two very different things.
Body washes are typically a combination of detergents, but because the end result is in a bottle (not a solid bar) manufacturers have a bit more leeway when it comes to the consistency of their product [source: WebMD]. For example, many body washes contain large quantities of petrolatum (think Vaseline) to help prevent dry skin and increase hydration.
These ingredients might add up to smooth skin, but using body wash may come at a price. For instance, petrolatum is considered to be a possible carcinogen [source: Environmental Working Group]. Of course, bar soaps may be filled with potentially harmful ingredients and chemicals as well, so, as with all skin cleansing options, make sure you know what a product has in it before you begin using it regularly.