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After testing the best bar soaps, the best body wash battle royale wasn't far off. After all, "bar soap versus body wash" is basically the “boxers or briefs” of bathing, and we’d never leave half of all guys hanging. You either like to rub a solid bar all around your angles, or you want to lather liquid on your chest-loofah and spread it around like cream cheese on a bagel. (OK, some people like them both. But for most of us, it’s one or the other.)
If you’re in the body wash corner of that debate, you need a cleanser that’s equally hydrating as it is thorough. And it’s gotta smell fresh, and turn your daily shower into a steamy oxygen bar.
For us, the testing tour of duty was far from tough: Lathering with body wash means stimulating the senses via aromatherapy, scrubbing away dead skin cells (with the grittier options), and nourishing the skin with a ton of hydrating ingredients. One thing all of our winners have in common: each leaves skin feeling healthy and soft, unlike the grip of washes we tossed aside after round one. So, from scrubs to sinus clearers, drug store to designer, here are the body washes that distinguished themselves. If you’ve yet to find a body wash that deserves your loyalty, consider the 11 below. They’ll cover all those bases, and will give body washes one big vote of confidence over the competition. (But if you’re into solids, have a look at our favorite bar soaps, too.)
The Best Body Wash for Some Aromatherapy
Necessaire sandalwood body wash, $25 at Nordstrom
This antioxidant-rich formula combines oils of marula, meadowfoam, and cacay nut oil for a luxurious lather. Of Necessaire’s three scents (one of which is a lack thereof), we prefer the sandalwood option—it smells as refreshing as a hike through the mountains, and adds an extra layer of aromatherapy to an already rejuvenating rinse.
The Best Budget Body Wash
Harry’s “Stone” body wash, $7 at Target
Harry’s sulfate-free body wash comes in a jumbo size and at an affordable price—but that high-quality value is nothing new from the brand that innovated the men’s grooming industry. We’re big into all three scents, but it’s “Stone” that wins top prize, for its citrus and mineral finish. Or, stock up on all three; they’ll probably last you a whole year.
The Best Fancy Body Wash
Jack Black “Black Reserve” body wash, $52 at Amazon
If what you fancy is a fancy wash, then add Jack Black to cart. In particular, add its newest release, a limited edition “reserve” with a layered aroma: It’s got notes of lavender, bergamot, coriander, patchouli, cedarwood, and cardamom. Better yet, it soothes and fortifies skin with aloe vera, Vitamin B5, coconut surfactant, shea butter, and jojoba. Technically, this one is a 2-in-1 body wash and shampoo, which is nice, but we can't bring ourselves to fully endorse the duality of such products. Instead, use this one as a body wash, which will only prolong its shelf life. (And at 33 fl. oz, that’s already a long shelf life.)
The Best Body Wash to Kickstart Your Day
Kiehl’s “Body Fuel” wash, $20 at Sephora
If you haven’t experienced the skin-tingling magic that is Kiehl’s Facial Fuel assortment, then now is your chance to get acquainted. Their body fuel cleans, hydrates, and energizes skin, kind of like a buckwheat or espresso shot in the morning shower. (That’s no surprise, since it contains caffeine, as well as refreshing and soothing menthol.) It’s pitched as a shampoo, too, but just use it on everything below the neck.
The Best Body Wash for All-Over Anti-Aging
Davines Oi body wash, $25 at Amazon
Davines’ body wash is loaded with antioxidant-rich roucou oil. It has a creamy consistency—kind of like a top-notch hand soap that leaves your hands feeling soft and cleansed. It helps restore your skin to its healthiest state, after a day's worth of environmental damage and UV rays. Use it regularly as an added defense against the signs of aging, and you might look a decade younger than your friends in as many years.
The Best Upgrade-from-the-Drugstore Body Wash
Huron body wash, $14 at Huron
You might recognize Huron from our very own Best Stuff Box, or maybe your local CrossFit gym (the fitness chain is steadily stocking its bathrooms and retail shelves with this new men’s skincare line). This affordable, 100% vegan, no-frills lather is everything your college shower caddy's goopy gel isn't—effective without being overly drying, and a genuinely handsome addition to your shower ledge.
The Best Small Batch Body Wash
PLANT Apothecary “Calm Down” body wash, $18 at Dermstore
If you don’t have time for a head-clearing, skin-soothing soak, then stock up on PLANT’s aromatic, aptly named body wash. “Calm Down” uses ginger and lavender to permeate the senses and scrub away stresses, while a blend of coconut, olive, and jojoba oil soaps cleanse and nourish the skin.
The Best Do-it-All Body Wash
Dr. Bronner pure-castile peppermint liquid soap, $14 at Amazon
Dr. Bronner’s claims its liquid castile soap is an “18-in-1” cleaner, renewing everything from clothes to dishes, pets to laundry, floors to food, and body to hair. That’s an impressive lineup, but it’s not the only reason this one makes our shortlist. Its peppermint blend—among many stellar scents—comes with a satisfying skin tingle like none other, and a roster of organic oils (coconut, palm, olive, hemp, and jojoba) preserve the skin’s moisture while the soap deep cleans dirt and grime.
The Best Exfoliating Body Wash
Malin + Goetz peppermint body scrub, $35 at Birchbox
Malin + Goetz’s shower gel seems humble and unassuming, but it’s a serious multi-tasker. The gel foams on application to wash away dirt and grime, while a blend of bamboo and pumice also exfoliates dead skin. Peppermint lingers on your newly cleansed and hydrated dermis. And best of all, the formula preserves your skin’s precious pH balance.
The Best Available-Everywhere Body Wash
Dove Men+Care Sportcare Active+Fresh, $6 at Target
This post-workout body wash smells like you did CrossFit in a pristine meadow.
The Best Absurdly Luxe Body Wash
Tom Ford neroli shower gel, $68 at Blue Mercury
Tom Ford’s neroli body gel zips you to the Italian Riviera with citrus, floral, and amber notes. It may be an investment, but it’s no letdown: The lavish lather and aromatherapy do as much for the sinuses and nerves as they do for the skin. Also, let's face it, Tom Ford in the shower caddy means bragging rights.