Liquid body washes are composed of a combination of synthetic and natural ingredients -- a combination that works with many skin types. Synthetic detergents are less drying than traditional soap, and they're less likely to leave a soapy residue on the skin. Glycerin and sunflower seed oil -- natural ingredients frequently used in body washes -- are humectants and emollients that help keep skin hydrated [source: Bruno].
Body washes are gentler than most other soaps because they contain large amounts of petrolatum, an ingredient that moisturizes and lubricates the skin. But while the gentle nature of liquid cleansers makes them ideal for dry or sensitive skin, their composition can make them less effective at removing oil, dirt and odor from your body. If you have oily skin, a deodorant or antibacterial bar soap may be a better choice for you. If you have acne-prone skin, select a bar or liquid soap that contains benzoyl peroxide or another acne-fighting ingredient that can help prevent blemishes [source: Draelos].
Liquid body washes often come in a variety of scents, but these added fragrances can cause allergic reactions. If scented products irritate your skin, look for fragrance-free body washes, which are less likely to cause irritation [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of other cleansers to decide which soap is right for you.