In addition to targeted ingredients, base ingredients are also important to consider—those ones besides water that feature at the front of the ingredient list, like glycerin and shea butter. Sometimes these will be the key hero ingredient in a body wash recipe, which is totally fine; just because a formula lacks any buzzy ingredient like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide doesn’t make it inferior. (You can always put that onus on your body lotion, too.)
How We Tested
As with any review I’ve written, the product picks are built on experience: I have been a grooming editor and writer since 2013, and have been with GQ since 2016. I receive and test thousands of products a year—often with the help of my partner, since that’s a lot of products. The ones that cut through the noise are those that you see here. I always crosscheck my opinion with the general reviews of these brands and products, too. While I stand by everything I believe, I want to acknowledge that my experience is singular, so it helps to see that others share a love of these products, too. And, when necessary, I like to get the input from dermatologists for their prescribed picks, too, which is why I got two different picks from my experts in this article.
Your Body Wash FAQs, Answered
What is the best body wash for men? After a decade of testing the top body washes, our pick for the best overall body wash is Geologie—and if we have to choose from their trio of fresh scents, we love the stress-reducing “Big Sur” best.
What body wash do dermatologists recommend?
While every dermatologist has a different go-to pick for their favorite body wash, the one that Dr. Mian likes best is Native. “Native uses citric acid, which is a great pH balancer to maintain our skin barrier, along with derivatives from plant-based oils that add hydration,” she explains.
Can you use body wash as shampoo?
If you insist on using a 2-in-1 body wash/shampoo—which, please reconsider—then there’s one clear winner: Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap can target skin and hair alike, by flushing away grime and excess sebum with its natural oils (like coconut, olive, and hemp).
Are synthetic body washes bad?
We don’t have any vitriol to spew about mass-made body washes. Many of the best men’s body wash picks on our list lack specific targeted ingredients (and even fully natural ingredients), in favor of tried-and-true synthetic surfactants. And it’s probably not worth diving so deep that we’re discussing whether an ingredient like “cocamidopropyl betaine” is going to damn your skin to eternity if it’s featured in a well-revered recipe.
Let’s just leave it at this: Read reviews. Go for reputable brands. When curious, do that research into the oddball ingredients. We’re not even 100% negative on sulfates here, because who doesn’t love a sudsy lather? But that’s because some sulfate-inclusive formulas are well-researched and will honor many skin types.
Plus, natural options might not be the best pick for the most sensitive skin types, says Dr. Mian: “Natural-leaning body washes will often use ingredients derived from plants to serve as cleansers and humectants. While I like plant and oil derivatives, if one has sensitive skin prone to allergies I would stay away from [these] oils.” (Namely essential oils.)
So, keep that in mind as you shop around. Sometimes the best choice is one of the most affordable drugstore body washes, because it’s probably also been tested on the most people—with the top-regarded scientists and researchers writing the script, no less.
The Dermatologists We Consulted
James Collyer is a board-certified dermatologist at Modern Dermatology in Seattle.
Kiran Mian is a board-certified dermatologist at Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery in NYC.