How to choose the best body wash for sensitive skin

Your body wash should leave your skin feeling calm, smooth, and soft. That's a tall order when you have sensitive skin. Depending on the product you choose (and its ingredients), your skin might be tight, dry, or even rashy after washing. Those are symptoms you obviously want to avoid.

Unfortunately, many body washes at all price points contain ingredients that irritate or dry out sensitive skin. You might already know that you can spend hundreds of dollars trying products before you find a sensitive skin body wash that works for you. An easier path is to learn what to look for  and what to avoid  on a body wash label. 

Read on for an introduction to your skin's moisture barrier, plus specifics on how to interpret a body wash label and its list of ingredients.  

Your sensitive skin's moisture barrier

Your skin naturally has a moisture barrier that protects it from dryness, irritants, and plain-old dirt. When that moisture barrier is compromised, your skin responds with a range of symptoms  dryness, itchiness, redness, flakiness, roughness, and a higher incidence of breakouts. Those symptoms should sound familiar because your sensitive skin acts the same way. Protecting the moisture barrier is important for everyone, but it's especially important for those with sensitive skin.

A body wash that's too harsh can easily damage the moisture barrier of sensitive skin. This can begin with a tight feeling after washing, but that tightness over time may evolve into itchiness, cracking, flaking, and breakouts. Or, your skin might react in the opposite way, by producing excessive oil.

The best body wash for sensitive skin can remove dirt and impurities while protecting the moisture barrier. And a healthy moisture barrier helps keep your skin calm and balanced.

How to choose the best body wash for sensitive skin

Testing body wash before you buy is the best approach, but that's usually not possible  especially if you shop online. In that case, you'll rely on reading the label to choose a body wash that will be gentle on your sensitive skin.

Read the label

To start, be cautious of any body wash that claims to clarify, tone, exfoliate, treat acne, or remove dead skin cells. These actions often require harsh ingredients that can irritate or physically damage your skin. Even the products that can accomplish these outcomes gently should not be used more than once weekly on sensitive skin. 

Also, some products that claim to be gentle will have ingredients that are known irritants. Sulfates, for example, are commonly used in body washes as foaming agents. Sodium laureth sulfates (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can clog pores and aggravate sensitive skin.

Other skin care ingredients to avoid include:

  •       Alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids
  •       Pumice particles, crystals, or granules
  •       Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide
  •       Ethanol, isopropanol, and methanol
  •       Tea tree oil or eucalyptus
  •       Parabens
  •       Gluten

What you want to see on a sensitive skin body wash label are nourishing, moisturizing ingredients, such as: 

  •       Aloe vera
  •       Glycerin/glycerol
  •       Panthenol
  •       Oatmeal
  •       Mild natural oils like argan oil and moringa oil

As an example, Verb’s Body Wash contains four of the five ingredients on this list  aloe vera, glycerin, panthenol, and moringa oleifera seed oil. Moringa oil is a moisturizing powerhouse that contains oleic oil, which supports a healthy skin moisture barrier. Moringa oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well. Antioxidants promote skin healing, while anti-inflammatories calm skin redness and irritation.

Check the scent

If you're shopping in a store, smell the body wash before you buy it. A heavy fragrance can be annoying as well as irritating. Gage your reaction to that first whiff carefully. If the scent is surprising, that's usually a bad sign. A light, comforting scent is more appropriate for your sensitive skin.

If you're shopping online, read the brand's description of the scent. Then, read the product reviews. Many online retailers allow you to filter reviews by keyword. Use that feature to read exactly what others have to say about the product's fragrance. Users describe the scent of Verb body lotion as "gentle" and "soothing."

After you buy a body wash

Ultimately, you won't know how a body wash feels until you use it for a few days. After the first wash, your skin should feel smooth and supple -- and clean, but not dry.

It's a great idea to apply a light body moisturizer after washing for another layer of protection. Just know that moisturizer could also cause your sensitive skin to flare up.

If you don't have a suitable moisturizer on hand, try Verb's lightweight, fragrance-free Body Lotion as a companion to Verb body wash. Verb body lotion also contains soothing aloe vera and moringa oil. Users describe it as, "amazing" and "hydrating, light, and fresh."

Another easy step you can take to manage your sensitive skin is installing an inline water filter to your shower head. Sometimes the compounds that aggravate sensitive skin come from hard water and not your products.

At Verb, we specialize in high-quality hair and body products without the cost. Our products contain nourishing ingredients that deliver results, without parabens, gluten, and harmful sulfates. Whether you need to solve for sensitive skin or frizzy hair, we have a solution. Shop our line-up now.