Body wash is an essential skincare product — and lathering up with the right one can seriously upgrade your daily self-care routine. But buying an effective, high-quality body wash doesn't have to break the bank. Even if you're dealing with issues like dry, acne-prone or sensitive skin, there are plenty of excellent under-$20 body washes out there that rival luxury formulas — and you can find them at your local Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target or Rite Aid.
In the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab, our scientists and chemists are constantly testing the latest skincare innovations to help you achieve soft, beautiful skin, from body lotions to anti-aging serums to eye creams. To find the best body washes, we run a series of tests both in the Lab and with consumer testers. First, we use state-of-the-art skin imaging tools to measure skin hydration levels. Then, we send the body washes home with real consumer testers to get feedback on ease of application, lather, scent and, of course, the feel and appearance of skin after use. In our most recent test, we spent over 90 hours on in-Lab testing and parsed through 520 consumer surveys to find the best body washes on the market. Check out our picks below, a mix of GH Beauty Lab test winners, GH Seal Stars and editor favorites.
A quick look at our top picks:
1Best Overall Drugstore Body WashDeep Moisture Body Wash Dove Read More
2Best Hydrating Drugstore Body WashDaily Moisturizing Body Wash Aveeno Read More
3Best Drugstore Body Wash for Dry SkinDry Oil Moisture Body Wash Dove Read More
4Best-Smelling Drugstore Body WashMango Splash Body Wash Tone Read More
5Best Drugstore Body Wash for AcneBody Clear Pink Grapefruit Body Wash Neutrogena Read More
So don't settle for any old soap: Instead, stock up on one of these top-rated drugstore body washes that smell good all day long while keeping you under budget (our expert-vetted picks start at just $5!).
For decades, the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab has been testing skincare products in order to make the most informed and scientifically tested recommendations to our readers. In our most recent test of body washes, we evaluated 24 products, spending over 90 hours on in-Lab testing and tallying the responses from 520 consumer surveys. To test body washes, we first label-mask the bottles to eliminate bias. In the Lab, our chemists use state-of-the-art tools like the Corneometer device, which measures skin hydration levels to gauge a product's ability to moisturize (or dehydrate) skin. Our panel of at-home consumers also tries the products in order to evaluate attributes like application, lather, scent and look and feel of skin after use. Our experts made the picks featured in this guide based on this data, and also considered GH Seal holders, editor favorites and dermatologist-recommended products.
It's easy to just grab and go when you're shopping for a body wash, but our experts recommend taking a closer look at what you're buying. We tapped Monica Li, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the Department of Dermatology and Skin Science at the University of British Columbia, for her thoughts on how to find the best body wash for your skin type:
✔️ Prioritize the right skincare ingredients: For intense hydration, hyaluronic acid restores hydration at the skin surface while glycerin boosts moisturization effects, says Dr. Li. Ceramides help support a healthy skin barrier. For sensitive skin, look for colloidal oatmeal, which delivers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, she says.
✔️ Choose scents wisely: Those with sensitive skin should avoid fragrance formulas in general, says Li. It can increase skin irritation, intolerance and possibly even allergic contact dermatitis. Our Beauty Lab suggests that those with sensitive skin check out lightly scented products, like those from Aveeno, or seek out “unscented” or “fragrance-free” products from a brand like Cetaphil.
✔️ Find the right formula for your needs: Though totally up to personal preference, body washes in pumps and bottles allow for ease of use and better hygiene, since you can toss it in a gym bag or move it to another bathroom in the house without worrying about contaminating the formula, Li adds. If you're interested in soap bars, know that they are also "alkaline in nature, which are harsh and not compatible with the low pH of our skin surface," she says. "They can cause skin irritation and compromise a healthy skin barrier."
Danusia Wnek, a chemist in the GH Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab, oversaw the testing methodology behind this article. She has spent over seven years testing skincare products, including but not limited to night creams, neck creams, facial oils and moisturizing creams, while weighing in on the benefits of skincare ingredients like vitamin C, retinol and niacinamide. Her experience in operating specialized skin evaluation lab equipment means she can gauge changes in skin moisturization, firmness and facial features like wrinkles and texture to compare the before and after of product use. She also regularly polls our consumer testing panel on their purchasing and product use habits.
Beauty Director April Franzino has over 15 years of experience researching, writing and editing makeup-related content utilizing the expertise of top industry professionals such as makeup artists and cosmetic chemists. She is an expert in all makeup product categories, including eye, lip and face makeup; tools; professional services and more. April works closely with the GH Beauty Lab to coordinate makeup product testing and translate test results into best-in-class compelling, factually accurate science-backed content for GH.