The 13 Best Soaps For Sensitive Skin — Your Dry, Itchy Skin Will Thank You
For those with sensitive skin, you know just how damaging a poorly formulated soap or body wash can be. In a single use, your body may break out into irritated, dry flushes. Even if you're not aware of it, you may be irritating your skin by using products with too much fragrance or some not-so-gentle cleansing agents. What can you do about it? Well, finding a soft soap that's safe for your sensitive skin is a great first step. We're going to go over what to look for and list some of our favorites so you can find your next go-to that much faster. Let's get into it.
What to look for in a sensitive skin body wash:
Want to know how we picked out our favorites? Here's the things we look for when it comes to sensitive skin.
- Sulfate-free: For those with sensitive skin, it's vital that you find a gentle product that respects the skin barrier and preemptively helps soothe any inflammation. So what are some key markers to look for? Well, you'll want to make sure it's a gentle surfactant and ideally botanically derived and contains no drying and stripping sulfates.
- Thick consistency: You may also want to consider the texture and consistency of the formula, as those with dry skin will likely want to find something that has a cream base.
- Extra hydrating ingredients: Additionally, look for those with extra ingredients to help restore the barrier function. This could be hyaluronic acid, ceramides, aloe vera, shea butter, botanical oils, oat extracts (a derm-favorite recommendation), etc.
- Fragrance free: Finally, opt out of fragrance, as many with sensitive skin find it to be irritating. Although not everyone is reactive to fragrance, it may be worth testing out more simple formulas to see if it helps ease your sensitive skin.
Sound like a lot of work to find a body wash? Don't worry; we did it for you.
Best sensitive skin body soaps & washes:
- Native Unscented Body Wash ($13.99 for 2); amazon.com
- Dr. Bronner's Baby Unscented Pure Castile Liquid Soap ($9.99); amazon.com
- Babo Botanicals Sensitive Skin Fragrance Free Hydra Therapy Face & Body Wash ($16.14);amazon.com
- Shea Moisture African Black Soap Eczema & Psoriasis Therapy ($3.98);amazon.com
- Necessaire The Body Wash Unscented ($25); sephora.com
- Honest Company Purely Sensitive Shampoo & Baby Wash ($9.49); amazon.com
- Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser ($20); sephora.com
- SkinFix Eczema+ Foaming Body Oil ($26); sephora.com
- Sisters Gentle Body Wash (22.40);anthropologie.com
- Ethique Unscented Solid Cream Body Cleanser ($14.50);amazon.com
- Shea Moisture Soothing Oatmeal and Vitamin E Body Wash ($7.57);amazon.com
- Pai Gentle Genius Body Wash ($34);paiskincare.us
- Gallinée Cleansing Bar ($18); gallinee.com
Native Unscented Body Wash
A simple wash that sticks to only what it needs to get the job done: coconut-derived surfactants, pH balancers, and stabilizers. The joy to this option is that it foams much like a traditional body wash and so is ideal for those who find that sort of lather sensorially appealing.
Pro: Good lather
Con: No extra nourishing ingredients
Native Unscented Body Wash ($13.99 for 2); amazon.com
Dr. Bronner's Baby Unscented Pure Castile Liquid Soap
One trick sensitive-skin individuals can use to help identify something suitable for them is finding baby- or children-geared formulas. Why? Well, these types of products are made for the most delicate of skins, so they'll likely be gentle enough for yours. Bonus: If you have kids, you don't have to make two soap selects!
Con: no lather
Dr. Bronner's Baby Unscented Pure Castile Liquid Soap ($9.99); amazon.com
Babo Botanicals Sensitive Skin Fragrance Free Hydra Therapy Face & Body Wash
A multipurpose option, this goes from face to body for an all-in-one experience. (The formula is so gentle and hydrating that it's able to do both.) The base is made from aloe vera, a popular ingredient for those with dry and easily irritated skin.
Pro: Contains oat & calendula
Con: More geared towards the face, if you're looking for a strictly body option
Babo Botanicals Sensitive Skin Fragrance Free Hydra Therapy Face & Body Wash ($16.14); amazon.com
Shea Moisture African Black Soap Eczema & Psoriasis Therapy
Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis are, by their very nature, sensitive. (Even if you don't have these issues, they can act as a good marker for products; if they are safe enough for eczema, they're safe enough for run-of-the-mill sensitivity.) This uses African black soap and shea butter.
Pro: Contains shea butter to nourish the barrier
Con: Bar soaps can get messy in the shower
Shea Moisture African Black Soap Eczema & Psoriasis Therapy ($3.98); amazon.com
Necessaire The Body Wash Unscented
This wash is formulated to keep your at an ideal pH of 5.5 to 6.5, which is vital for barrier support and the microbiome. From there it also includes a host of healthy additives, like the antioxidants vitamin C and E, as well as several fatty acids.
Pro: Contains many antioxidants
Con: The texture is a a bit thin
Necessaire The Body Wash Unscented ($25); sephora.com
Honest Company Purely Sensitive Shampoo & Body Wash
A bestselling wash that works for the body and hair, this is also great for the whole family—everyone from kids to parents can use it. The blend uses aloe for ample hydrating and extracts from calendula, camomile, and coconut for soothing.
Pro: Several soothing ingredients
Con: Wouldn't use this on very curly & dry hair
Honest Company Purely Sensitive Shampoo & Baby Wash ($9.49); amazon.com
Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser
Cream cleansers are quite popular for their lush sensorial experience: They feel like you're blanketing your skin in the shower with rich oils and botanicals. The heroes are a nutrient-dense passion-fruit oil and an amino acid blend for barrier strength.
Pro: Creamy consistency
Con: Not a ton of product
Drunk Elephant Kamili Cream Body Cleanser ($20); sephora.com
SkinFix Eczema+ Foaming Body Oil
This brand is widely loved for its medicinal and herbal properties—this oily-to-foam wash is no exception. This dermatologist-approved product uses a blend of jojoba, sunflower, and apricot kernel oils to hydrate and soothe dry, irritated skin.
Pro: Transforming texture
SkinFix Eczema+ Foaming Body Oil ($26); sephora.com
Sisters Gentle Body Wash
Just because you have sensitive skin doesn't mean you need to only use clinical-looking brands. Sisters, a trend-forward beauty brand, is proof. What makes this so ideal for those with sensitive skin is the peptides, which are essential for the barrier.
Pro: Trendy packaging
Con: Not as hydrating as some of the other options
Sisters Gentle Body Wash ($22.40); anthropologie.com
Ethique Unscented Solid Cream Body Cleanser
If you're on the hunt for a sustainable option that's good for the planet and your sensitive skin, this cream body bar might be the way to go. The bar is pH balanced and super hydrating. Creamed coconut works wonders for dry skin and makes the bar smell divine, sans added fragrance.
Con: Purposefully low-lather, so avoid if like foam
Shea Moisture Soothing Oatmeal and Vitamin E Body Wash
One skin-loving ingredient those with sensitive skin should keep an eye out for? Oatmeal. This breakfast staple doubles as a soothing topical ingredient. This body wash is packed with shea butter and vitamin E—two superstar hydrators that ease sensitive skin and maintain the moisture barrier.
Pro: Contains loads of oatmeal
Con: Slight smell from the natural ingredients
Shea Moisture Soothing Oatmeal and Vitamin E Body Wash ($7.57); amazon.com
Pai Gentle Genius Body Wash
As we said earlier, not everyone is sensitive to fragrance. So if you do want a sensitive-skin friendly pick that contains natural fragrance, this one by Pai is a great pick. It's been patch-tested for eczema and dermatitis prone skin. Don't worry—it's sulfate free and contains hydrating agents, so it passes our sensitive-skin friendly test.
Pro: Natural fragrance, if you want the best of both worlds
Pai Gentle Genius Body Wash ($34); paiskincare.us
Gallinée Cleansing Bar
Another eco-friendly pick, with a major bonus: This bar works wonders for your skin microbiome. This is key for sensitive skin (and everyone with skin, to be honest). If you're looking for a body wash that doubles as a face cleanser, this formula is gentle enough to do both.
Pro: Multi-use bar that's pretty in your bathroom
Con: Thicker, if you're into a lighter slip
Gallinée Cleansing Bar ($18); gallinee.com
mbg review process
At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).
Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hands. We endorse products we've tried and loved.
Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.
Finding a body wash that works for sensitive skin is no easy task, but hopefully this took some of the guess work out of it for you. Remember, keep an eye out for hydrating ingredients, a sulfate-free label, a thick consistency, and play it safe and opt for fragrance-free if you're not positive your skin can handle it. No matter how sensitive-skin friendly these washes may be, they certainly don't replace a body lotion. If you're in the market for a staple body moisturizer that checks all of the sensitive-skin boxes, check out our top picks here.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.