13 Best Shower Gels For Dry Skin

Dry skin is a problem for many people.  For some, it occurs mainly during the winter months; others struggle with dry, irritated skin year-round.  A variety of factors -- including age, low environmental humidity, and harsh soaps -- can strip away the protective oils that maintain the skin's moisture.  You may be wondering whether there are body washes that can help keep your skin moist and healthy.  We've done the research, and we have the answers for you!

We scoured the internet for dermatologist-recommended body cleansers and selected the best from each category for this list.  As a bonus, we identify the best body wash for men and a wet-skin body lotion that locks in moisture after your shower. 

Overall Best Quality:    

  • CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar
  • Vanicream Gentle Body Wash
  • Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash
  • Cetaphil Pro Dry Skin Soothing Wash

Best Value:

  • Dove Sensitive Skin Nourishing Body Wash
  • Olay Moisture Ribbons Plus Shea and Lavender Oil Body Wash
  • Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash
  • Nivea Nourishing Body Care Wash


  • Tom's of Maine Prebiotic Moisturizing Body Wash
  • Shea Moisture Olive and Green Tea Bubble Bath and Body Wash
  • Kamili Cream Body Cleanser

For Men:

  • Nivea Men Maximum Hydration 3-in-1

After-Shower Moisturizer:

  • Jergens Wet Skin Shea Oil Body Lotion

With all the great options out there, how do you choose the cleanser that's best for your skin?  Do you have sensitive skin and need to avoid irritants?  Do you just need a moisturizer to combat dryness?  Is it important to you to use vegan or cruelty-free products?   Keep reading: we'll help you sort out the pros and cons of each of the products listed above.

Small and big bottle of blue shower gel, 13 Best Shower Gels For Dry Skin

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What Are The Best Cleansers For Dry Skin?

Overall Best Quality

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar

Surprisingly, the overwhelming favorite of dermatologists is not a shower gel or a body wash, but a bar.  The CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar incorporates all the features dermatologists look for:

  • Noncomedogenic (specially designed not to block pores)
  • Moisturizing formula includes
    • ceramides (to repair the skin's protective barrier)
    • hyaluronic acid (to retain moisture)
  • Free of irritants, including sulfates, parabens, and fragrances
  • Approved by the National Eczema Association (NEA) for use on eczema

Click here for CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar on Amazon.

Vanicream Gentle Body Wash

Dermatologists also love Vanicream Gentle Body Wash.  It costs a bit more than most of the items on this list but has many standout features:

  • Free of soap, so it won't leave your skin feeling tight
  • High level of moisturizer
  • Excellent for sensitive skin: no parabens, dyes, fragrances, or sulfates
  • Approved by the NEA for use on eczema

Click here for Vanicream Gentle Body Wash on Amazon.

Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash

This product is an excellent moisturizer but is not recommended for sensitive skin.

  • Moisturizers include omega fatty acids, castor seed oil, and soybean oil
  • Free of dyes, soap, and fragrance
  • Contains sulfates, which can irritate skin, scalp, or eyes

Click here for Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash on Amazon.

Cetaphil Pro Dry Skin Soothing Wash

This body wash is on the pricey side, but it is a favorite of dermatologists and many users say that it's the only shower product that works on their sensitive skin.

  • Shea butter moisturizer
  • Free of dyes, parabens, and soap
  • Approved by NEA for use on eczema

Click here for Cetaphil Pro Dry Skin Soothing Wash on Amazon.

Best Value

Dove Sensitive Skin Nourishing Body Wash

This light, foaming body wash is a one-quarter moisturizer.  Other features include:

  • Glycerin is the main moisturizer
  • Free of sulfates, parabens, dyes, and other irritants
  • Very mild and excellent for use on sensitive skin

Click here for Dove Sensitive Skin Nourishing Body Wash on Amazon.

Olay Moisture Ribbons Body Wash

This is one of the few scented products on the list.  It provides outstanding moisturizing features, as well as the soothing effects of lavender.

  • Shea butter provides hydration
  • Lavender's anti-inflammatory properties make it excellent for inflamed skin, especially rosacea
  • No irritants to harm sensitive skin
  • Light lavender scent

Click here for Olay Moisture Ribbons Body Wash on Amazon.

Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash

The gentle, creamy formula of this body wash leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.  Aveeno Skin Relief also features:

  • Moisturizers: colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, and coconut oil
  • Free of parabens, dyes, soap, fragrance (a coconut-scented version is available, so be careful when you order)
  • This product contains sulfates, which can irritate skin, scalp, or eyes

Click here for Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash on Amazon.

Nivea Nourishing Body Wash

This body wash features a rich, creamy lather.  It is primarily a moisturizer rather than a product for sensitive skin.

  •  Nourishing serum contains sunflower seed oil and sweet almond oil
  • Free of parabens

Click here for Nivea Nourishing Body Wash on Amazon.


Tom's of Maine Prebiotic Body Wash

This body wash contains fragrance:  it comes in four scents -- orange, green apple, lavender, and rose.

  • Sunflower seed oil for hydration
  • Lactic acid sloughs off rough skin patches

Click here for Tom's of Maine Prebiotic Body Wash on Amazon.

Shea Moisture Olive and Green Tea Replenishing Body Wash

This is one of the more expensive products on our list, but it is vegan, cruelty-free, and organic.

  • Moisturizing formula includes shea butter and olive, avocado, and coconut oils
  • Excellent for sensitive skin: no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances
  • Contains anti-inflammatory cinnamic acid

Click here for Shea Moisture Body Wash on Amazon.

Kamili Cream Body Cleanser

This cleanser is also vegan and cruelty-free.

  • Passion fruit oil and amino acids for moisturizing
  • Free of sulfates, silicons, fragrance, dyes, and alcohol

Click here for Kamili Cream Body Cleanser on Amazon.

For Men

Nivea for Men Maximum Hydration 3-in-1 Body Wash

While most of the products listed above can be used by men, they are generally marketed to women.  This body wash is formulated with men's body chemistry in mind.

  •  Rich lather, no residue
  • Aloe vera provides moisturization
  • Contains sulfates, which can irritate the skin, scalp, or eyes

Click here for Nivea for Men Body Wash on Amazon.

Post-Shower Wet-Skin Moisturizer

There's no better time to moisturize your skin than just after you step out of the shower.  This product is not a cleanser; rather, it's designed to be applied to your wet skin immediately after your shower.  Water and the essential oils bond to seal in your skin's moisture.  This moisturizer isn't cheap, but it gets rave reviews from users.

Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer

Click here for Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer on Amazon.

Does Shower Gel Cause Dry Skin?

All shower products contain surfactants -- cleaning agents that strip oil from the skin.  As a general rule, the more lather a cleanser forms, the more surfactants it contains, and the drier it will leave your skin. If dry skin is an issue for you, stick with gentler cleansers.  And make sure to rinse it all off before you step out of the shower.

Are Hot Showers Bad For Dry Skin?

There's nothing better than a long, hot shower on a chilly winter day, right?  Well, not from your skin's point of view!  Hot water can strip natural oils and leave your skin dry. Dermatologists recommend that you limit your showers to a maximum of 10 minutes and use lukewarm water.

Is It Better To Air Dry Or Towel Dry?

Rubbing your skin dry with a towel causes irritation and can wipe away moisture and natural oils.  Air drying can cause the skin's moisture to evaporate.  Dermatologists recommend gently patting the skin dry with a towel.  Pay particular attention to areas where moisture might accumulate, such as armpits, groin, and under folds of fat or skin; you may need to pat these areas dry two or three times.

Is Dove Body Wash Good For Dry Skin?

Dove Body Wash is an excellent choice for dry skin.  Its unique non-soap formula strips fewer lipids and proteins from the skin than most other body washes and leaves skin smooth and moisturized.  Dove Body Wash is safe for sensitive skin and is formulated as a unisex cleanser, compatible with the body chemistry of both men and women.

In Conclusion

If you're struggling with dry and/or sensitive skin, there are a number of shower products that you can use to help moisturize and soothe your skin.  Several of the Overall Best products are approved for use on eczema; others are tailored for sensitive skin in general.  For people whose skin is dry but not overly sensitive, there are several products that focus solely on moisturizing.  Using one of these cleansers and following dermatologist-recommended showering practices can help you keep your skin moisturized and itch-free.

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