The best body wash for men
Liquid body washes for men are gentle enough to use on hair, tough enough to remove surface dirt from hands, and they moisturize skin. Although different body wash blends are marketed toward men or women, the basic difference is fragrance. Body washes for men tend to include more masculine scents such as wood or musk, while body washes for women are often more floral or herbal.
Some body washes are formulated specifically for skin, not hair. Others are promoted as 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 combinations, meaning they can be used as shampoos, conditioners, and body soap. There is some criticism that 3-in-1 formulations don't perform any of those functions particularly well, but many customers prefer the convenience of using one product for their entire bodies.
If you're considering a new body wash for men, read our buying guide. At the top of our list is Jack Black's Turbo Wash Energizing Cleanser for Hair and Body, a salon-quality 2-in-1 product formulated with numerous botanicals and herbs to provide superior skincare.
Considerations when choosing body washes for men
Number of functions
Some body washes perform more functions than others. A single purpose body wash is formulated to remove dirt and oil from the skin by breaking down a natural surface tension. Body wash is essentially a surfactant, in the same category as bar soap, detergent, or shampoo. Fragrance can be added to a single purpose body wash, and it should rinse off easily with water.
Some formulas include ingredients commonly found in hair shampoos, so a 2-in-1 body wash is safe to use on the scalp and body. The hair shampoo side of a 2-in-1 formula may not be quite as strong as a regular shampoo, however, because some ingredients would be too harsh on body skin.
Because hair conditioning is an important part of the process, some body wash formulas include special conditioners. A 3-in-1 body wash contains oils that resist the rinsing process and cling to the hair follicles. This is a little different than traditional hair conditioners, which must be left in the hair for several minutes to reach maximum effectiveness.
One controversial ingredient found in many body wash and shampoo formulas is parabens. Parabens are chemical preservatives that extend the life of many cosmetic products, but they also mimic the effects of estrogen on the body. Body washes formulated for men should state "paraben-free" on their packaging or company website.
Another common ingredient in shampoos and liquid soaps is some form of sulfate. Sulfates increase the volume of foam a product can generate, but they can also dry out sensitive skin. Look for the word "sulfate" on the list of ingredients before purchasing, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin.
Higher-end salon formulas may replace sulfates and parabens with more natural ingredients. One popular choice is jojoba oil, a natural moisturizer. Aloe vera gel is a common alternative, because it's organic and contains hydrating agents and vitamins. Glycerin, an ingredient often found in body lotions, is also a good thing to see on the product label.
Many body wash formulas contain a light fragrance, much like shampoos or liquid soaps. Men's body washes often lean towards masculine scents such as musk, wood, or spice. Very few brands have a floral or citrus-based scent. Some body washes are part of a larger product line, so they match the fragrance of a brand name cologne or aftershave lotion.
Ease of use
Many body washes are packaged in squeezable plastic containers, just like shampoos or conditioners. This allows the user to dispense just enough product to meet their needs. Some higher-end brands are stored in tubes and may be more concentrated than a 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 brand. One convenient way to dispense body wash is through a pump, which minimizes the residue left behind.
The least expensive body washes can cost $5 or less for a 16-ounce supply, but the formula can be more chemical than natural. Paraben- and sulfate-free body washes with more natural ingredients generally retail between $5 and $15. Expect to pay at least $15 to $25 for salon-quality body washes, and up to $60 for premium all-natural brands.
Q. Should I use a loofah or washcloth when I apply body wash?
A. Both a loofah or a soft washcloth help create lather and exfoliate the skin. However, they're not required accessories. Too much scrubbing with an abrasive loofah can make dry skin even worse.
Q. Can my wife and I use the same brand of body wash?
A. Formula-wise, body washes marketed for men and women are very similar. You and your wife could use the same product and get the same results. However, there may be a noticeable difference in fragrance.
Body washes for men we recommend
Best of the best: Jack Black's Turbo Wash Energizing Cleanser for Hair & Body
Our take: This comprehensive salon-quality body and hair wash may be more expensive, but the ingredients don't dry your skin like standard body washes can.
What we like: Works well on all parts of the body, including hair. Natural formula does not strip away body oils. Rinses off with minimal residue.
What we dislike: Does not generate much lather. Some complaints of defective packaging.
Best bang for your buck: Olivina Men's Hair, Face and Body All-in-One Wash
Our take: Has a definite and long-lasting scent, but users with oily skin may want to try another brand. Appealing price point for a salon-quality product.
What we like: Very masculine bourbon and cedar fragrance. All-natural formula doesn't irritate sensitive skin. Works well on dry or combination skin.
What we dislike: Strong patchouli fragrance may not appeal to every user. Packaging can leak.
Our take: This is a high-end body and hair wash with a salon price tag, but a small amount of product goes a long way, and the formula helps energize the skin.
What we like: Formula includes eucalyptus oil, which is invigorating on skin. Easy to apply product with pump. Works well on all skin types, from sensitive to oily.
What we dislike: Does not lather well. Some complaints about the scent.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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