Soap and body wash abound at the store, and without the luxury of trying before you buy, choosing the right body cleanser can be overwhelming. Your skin is your largest organ, and cleaning this barrier between you and your environment is important. But it's challenging to know which cleanser to use for each body part.
The reason we need soap is simple: to clean. Your grandparents probably had a small selection of bar soaps to choose from, but today, you can clean your body with bar or liquid soap, exfoliate your feet with a scrub and wash your face with a cream cleanser -- all during the same shower. Manufacturers are constantly creating new soaps and scrubs that do everything from remove excess oil to treat acne [source: New Zealand Dermatological Society]. The key to finding a body wash or cleanser that's right for you is to understand their ingredients and what they can do for your skin.
Traditional antibacterial and deodorant bar soaps lift dirt from the skin, but harsh ingredients can cause sensitive or dry skin to itch and flake. To counteract dryness, emollients and humectants can be added to body washes to help the skin retain moisture -- soaps with added moisturizers clean skin without stripping it of valuable oils [source: Bruno]. Although many bar soaps and some liquid soaps have antibacterial qualities, most liquid body washes aren't antibacterial -- they contain mild synthetic detergents to cleanse the skin without overdrying [source: Draelos]. Read on to learn more about selecting a body wash that will work with your skin's unique composition.