Body Wash for Very Sensitive Skin?
July 18, 2011 2:48 PM   Subscribe

What is a gentle body wash that I can use that won't make me break out?

I need a new body wash, since Dove for Sensitive Skin apparently isn't cutting it anymore. I have recently broken out on my back, shoulders, chest, and neck and I think it must be related to the Dove. Is there anything gentler than Dove?
posted by Locative to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Cetaphil has helped me tremendously with this.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 2:49 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Eucerin Calming Body Wash works for me.
posted by corey flood at 2:52 PM on July 18, 2011

I have sensitive skin and Dr. Bronner's (the Almond version) has been great. I used to use Cetaphil, too, but it's not as easy for me to find (plus Dr. Bronner's is really versatile.)

In my experience, commercial body washes aren't particularly gentle, even if they say they are.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:52 PM on July 18, 2011

Cetaphil is the gold standard, but a couple of troubleshooting steps:

How old did that last bottle of Dove get?
Is your shampoo/misc hair shower product rising off your body entirely before you finish showering?

I have had body wash just get old and weird on me, especially in the summer when it was probably stored/transported in the heat, and I run across products that give me the second problem (I have a crapload of hair, and because I apply product to dripping wet hair I end up kind of coated in it around the back/shoulders/chest/neck and it doesn't wipe off very well) sometimes.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:53 PM on July 18, 2011

Dr Bronners is the way I go. (I like the peppermint, but it requires aggressive rinsing of tender bits.)
posted by restless_nomad at 2:56 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might want to consider factors other than your soap as well...such as bed sheets, laundry detergents, humidity levels (causing perspiration and subsequent pore blockage, etc). In other words, there may be other things enabling the breakouts worth looking into that would be just as easy to address.
posted by samsara at 3:06 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'll third Cetaphil. I'll also say that I don't use body wash: I don't see the need unless I've done some hardcore gardening and gotten really grubby. I leave my skin's natural oils alone and they strike a balance. Just a thought.
posted by Specklet at 3:08 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thirding Dr. Bronner's. If you are very sensitive to fragrance/essential oils, maybe avoid the lavender/rose/peppermint choices and go for the almond or plain "unscented" version. They also have baby version which might be even gentler. You can water the Bronner's down and it will still do a good job of cleaning you up.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 3:19 PM on July 18, 2011

Oh, and if your break-outs are of the itchy, rashy variety, some cooked oatmeal in a nylon stocking (pantyhose) will be very soothing and leave you with very soft skin.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 3:20 PM on July 18, 2011

I like the aveeno unscented body wash; if you like it, family dollar sells a generic that seems pretty comparable for under $2/bottle.
posted by bizzyb at 3:33 PM on July 18, 2011

I like Trader Joe's Tea Tree body wash.
posted by quodlibet at 3:35 PM on July 18, 2011

I like both Cetaphil and Dr. Bronner's for this. I find that Cetaphil is gentler on my skin, but it doesn't always give me the sense that I'm squeaky-clean.
posted by hic sunt dracones at 3:37 PM on July 18, 2011

I am not a doctor or your doctor, but I have sensitive skin that was unhappy with me until I cut out the body wash recently. My dermatologist told me that body wash is a no-no in general; she suggested Ivory soap or Cetaphil. I prefer the Cetaphil, myself.
posted by anonnymoose at 4:05 PM on July 18, 2011

I've heard amazing things of Black Soap. Maybe you can try it in liquid form.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2011

I definitely recommend Aveeno body wash. Unscented for sensitive skin, or even the Stress Relief with Lavender Ylang Ylang I find is very very gentle.

We've used Cetaphil for our kids for cleaning up after eating. Works wonders, and you don't need water with it.

Aveeno and Cetaphil are all-around excellent brands for sensitive skin.
posted by minx at 4:38 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Much to the amusement of everyone who has ever been in my shower, I have used Baby Magic hair and body wash since I was, well, a baby. Every attempt to switch to a different "gentle" brand has brought me a rash within a week, although I can usually handle about a day or two of even the worst hotel soap before I start really having problems. Recently, I started using Cetaphil on my face and have not had any problems, but that said, it is Baby Magic that I would recommend. This is not to be confused by that horrible imitator, Johnson & Johnsons Baby Wash, which looks the same but just doesn't cut it.
posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 4:58 PM on July 18, 2011

Try baby wash -- the clear yellow kind (not shampoo, but the generic versions of "Johnson's "Head to Toe Baby Wash"). The "for babies" is of course just marketing dross, it is just soap, but, I am pimple-prone and a huge % of soaps leave me red, itchy, and rashy, and the clear yellow baby wash has been working well for me for over twenty years.

The reviews are not particularly kind to the "Dove for Sensitive Skin," I notice; several mention irritated lady bits, which is always a throw-this-out-now red flag for me. I have never found any Dove product to feel mild/gentle; rather the opposite.

If the generic clear yellow baby stuff is too...boring, there are all sorts of interesting things nowadays made for infant washing and sold for biggish prices in health food stores, and most are pretty gentle, and some are quite pleasant to use. Healthy Times Honeysuckle Baby Bath is a treat, smell-wise.

[on preview: we don't have the Baby Magic brand here, but it looks like exactly the clear yellow sort of wash I'm talking about. I have found the generics to be preferable to Johnson's, FWIW, and steer well clear of all the Johnson's variations on the baby wash theme -- I have tried a number of the fragranced ones only to find myself itching and raw]
posted by kmennie at 5:02 PM on July 18, 2011

minx: "I definitely recommend Aveeno body wash. Unscented for sensitive skin, or even the Stress Relief with Lavender Ylang Ylang I find is very very gentle.

We've used Cetaphil for our kids for cleaning up after eating. Works wonders, and you don't need water with it.

Aveeno and Cetaphil are all-around excellent brands for sensitive skin.

Seconding minx on all points here. I recently started a medication that wreaks havoc with my already-dry skin, and the Aveeno body wash has been a godsend for me. I also have used Cetaphil for a facial cleanser.
posted by misha at 5:16 PM on July 18, 2011

Another vote for Dr. Bronner's Peppermint (you can find it at Trader Joe's and other places); but unlike restless_nomad, I love that little zing it gives to the naughty bits -- it wakes me up in the morning!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:20 PM on July 18, 2011

Oh, that reminds me: Aveeno Lightly Scented Baby Wash & Shampoo is very good, even for the "irritated lady bits" as kmennie put it. :)

Btw, I think most Aveeno products have oatmeal in them.
posted by minx at 6:04 PM on July 18, 2011

Use body wash only on parts of your body that really need it; the sweaty places - armpits, groin, feet, and oily places - face. The rest of your body is probably just fine with rinsing in water, maybe a swipe with a wet but not soapy washcloth. Baby wash is quite gentle. Also, the breakout could be caused by hot weather. When the weather gets warm, and I get "glow-y" it quite often causes trouble.
posted by theora55 at 6:10 PM on July 18, 2011

Cetaphil, as so many others before me have said.

I also echo what theora55 posted above me, this is exactly what my GP told me.
posted by liquorice at 6:22 PM on July 18, 2011

I have super-sensitive skin and the one I use is Shikai. It's hard to find, though; I can get it at Yokes Fresh Market and Fred Meyer stores, but I haven't seen it anywhere else. I especially like the gardenia scent, though the cucumber-melon is nice, too. I really wanted to like the honeysuckle, but it doesn't smell anything like honeysuckle.

The only thing I can use on my girly bits is Cetaphil Sensitive Cleanser.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:37 PM on July 18, 2011

Plus one for baby wash. The Jonson & Jonson head to toe body wash is nice and there's a "bedtime" variety that has lavender, if you're looking for something subtly scented. Burt's Bees also makes some pretty swanky baby wash that's incredibly gentle.
posted by sonika at 8:47 PM on July 18, 2011

I don't know where you can get SpectroJel in the US, but it is pretty great.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 9:45 PM on July 18, 2011

A friend got rid of a bad breakout on his back, chest and shoulders by using Head & Shoulders (classic).
posted by essexjan at 1:04 AM on July 19, 2011

Dr. Bronner's. For what it's worth, Aveeno (tried the Skin Relief body wash because my dad had some) makes me unbearably and oddly itchy considering it's supposed to combat itching among other things; give it a try because it does work for many pepole, but speaking as someone who used to make soap, Aveeno has many less-than-gentle ingredients. Dr. Bronner's has basically the bare minimum ingredients needed in a liquid soap, and they make a fragrance-free version. I quit using harsh detergent-laden soaps years ago and it eliminated all my skin problems (break outs, rashes, etc). I also recently started using the oil-cleansing method on my face instead of soap of any kind and it's worked wonders to keep my oily skin under control when no soap would. I also finally tried the "no shampoo" method (I use a baking soda rinse, followed by a fresh lemon juice rinse) and I no longer have any problem with dandruff or oily scalp, which is incredible considering I used to get dry damaged ends and still my hair would be too oily to skip washing for one day -- plus my thin, limp hair has more body than it did when I used many hair products. (This definitely varies for some people; I cannot use just water like some people can.)

Point is, I've found that for me, the typical detergents used in most soaps fuck me up, and my skin and hair problems were all because they are so harsh on oil. I had these problems for a long time because I'd think I needed to try a specially formulated product for my particular issue, when in the end most commercial soaps have harsh detergents in them no matter the formulation. Something to consider if you find other options don't work!
posted by Nattie at 6:42 AM on July 19, 2011

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