Body Wash Basics

Body Wash and Skin Type

Just as with any type of skin cleanser, the type of body wash you use will depend on your skin type. There are four common skin types -- normal, oily, dry and sensitive. The best way to find out which skin type you are and which body wash is right for you is to experiment. If possible, try out free samples of body wash or buy the travel sizes until you find the one that best suits your skin type. Then you can commit to a full-size bottle.

If you have dry skin, strong soap may be too harsh for you, because it removes a lot of the oils that your skin already lacks. Instead, use a mild cleanser, which will often have the words "cream" or "oil" in the name. Try to look for body washes that contain glycolic acid or lactic acid, since these ingredients are moisturizing.

If you have normal or oily skin, you don't have to worry about using mild cleansers -- regular soap or body wash should work fine, but soaps are typically better at removing oil. There are also many body washes on the market designed especially for oily skin, however, and some are even designed to help clear up body acne caused by excess oil.

People with sensitive skin may have the hardest time deciding which body wash to use. If you have allergic reactions to certain beauty products, such as redness or itching, try to avoid body washes that have fragrances or a lot of preservatives, since sensitive skin will commonly react negatively to those two ingredients [source: SkinCareGuide].

See the links below to find out more information about body wash and skin care.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Dry Skin and Keratosis Pilaris." (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • Bruno, Karen. "Women's Skin Care for a Soft Body." WebMD. Aug. 6, 2009. (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • DermNetNZ. "Soaps and Cleansers." June 15, 2009. (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Skin Care: Top 5 Habits for Healthy Skin." Dec. 28, 2007. (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • "Cleansers for Various Skin Types." April 1, 2008. (Aug. 24, 2009)
  • "Skin Cleansers - An Overview on Soap." April 1, 2008. (Aug. 24, 2009)