Skin + Hair Basics

Body Wash 101

Body wash is much more than a cleanser. It also soothes and nourishes skin, if you buy one with the right ingredients—here is how to find the best body wash for men.
Body Wash 101

You know that phrase they use in real estate—”Location! Location! Location!” The idea being that, when all is said and done, the property needs to be well situated in a great locale. Well, when it comes to skincare products, we have a similar approach. Only in our field, it’s “Ingredients! Ingredients! Ingredients!” Any old body wash, for example, can rinse away the sweat, grime, and dirt from your skin. But only the best body wash will do that task while simultaneously nourishing and soothing the skin, preserving moisture levels, and mitigating things like acne and odor.

So, then: Which ingredients comprise the best body wash for men? Read on and find out. First, though, let’s answer a few common body wash FAQs:

What is the best way to use body wash?

You want to build a lather somehow, whether it’s with a loofah, a shower brush, wash cloth, or even your own body hair (seriously, a chest full of hair is perfect for collecting a generous body wash lather). Step away from the shower stream while building this lather, since it can flush away half of your base product, and note that warmer water builds a better lather than cold water. Apply it evenly around your entire body, from the neck down, adding more product as needed. 

Is body wash better than soap?

The debate of soap vs. body wash will forever rage on. It really just boils down to one’s own preference, because what matters most is—you guessed it—the ingredients. As long as the bar soap or body wash that you use checks all of the necessary boxes (like cushioning skin while cleansing) and can prove it with a thoughtful roster of ingredients, then it’s a terrific product in our book. But, if you find it difficult to build a lather with soap, or that the bar keeps slipping out of your hands as you go, then maybe a body wash is a better pick for you. The same can be said for replacing products: You’ll likely have to replace the bar of soap far more often than a bottle of body wash.

Can body wash be used on the face, or as a shampoo?

Certain brands will formulate a multitasking body wash—one that is gentle enough on the face and can also flush grime away from the scalp and hairs. While there is no singular, solitary answer for this question, our best answer is still ‘no’. We recommend buying dedicated products for your face, body, and hair. This way, you can ensure that targeted ingredients are working individually one each area, rather than trusting a singular formula on all of these very different parts of your body. (Everything above the neck, for example, is far more finicky.) And if you think consolidating the products is saving you money, then think again: The less you use a product, the longer it lasts. So, three dedicated products will last longer than one dedicated product used everywhere. Plus, it only requires like 3 extra minutes—you can manage that much more time in the warm, soothing shower. 

Most importantly, though: Never trust a brand that touts a body wash as a shampoo-conditioner-body wash. No product that cleans the hair and body is going to properly condition the hair. You need a standalone conditioner for that, which should always be the last thing you do to your hair in the shower.

The Best Body Wash Functions (And Ingredients)

Since there are so many different (and great) ingredients that tackle a bevy of the same problems, we suggest taking a reverse look at the product recipe: Make sure the product checks all of your needs with whichever ingredients it offers. So, it should do X, Y, and Z, and it should include the right roster of ingredients for those duties, even if the specific ingredients differ slightly from the next terrific option.

The best body wash should do the following functions with its ingredients. We’ll include some top-choice ingredients that perform each function—which, by the way, all appear in Cardon’s own Vital Body Wash.

1. Hydrate and nourish all skin types—even the driest or most sensitive

The biggest difference between a good body wash and a bad one is whether or not it leaves skin feeling soft and supple after each use. A bad one will dry out the skin as it parches away all natural oils, while a good one will only remove excess oil while preserving the skin’s moisture levels. On top of that, a good body wash will also add moisture and nourishment to the skin, which can mean the driest, most sensitive skin types doubly benefit. 

Example ingredient: Glycerin, which traps moisture inside the skin while softening surface texture simultaneously. 

2. Prevent body acne and balance oil levels

If you frequently get acne around your back, shoulders, and in the nether regions, then you need a body wash that counters inflammation and prevents pore clogging. Secondly, if you have naturally oily skin, then you need a product that helps balance these oil production levels in the pores, without completely parching the skin in the process.

Example ingredients: Green tea extract, which tempers oil levels and prevents clogged pores while also soothing the skin. Tangerine fruit extract is microbial and can counter bacterial proliferation which otherwise might cause acne. Also, baikal skullcap, an herbal extract, lessens inflammation from acne while simultaneously soothing.

3. Prevent odor

While a shower and scrubdown will remove the day’s odors, a superior body wash will also pack antibacterial/antimicrobial ingredients which will also prevent odor accumulation. These ingredients will neutralize the bad bacteria that create body odor.

Example ingredient: Tangerine fruit extract, an antimicrobial ingredient that counters bacteria, thus mitigating both odor and acne.

4. Smooth skin texture

While rough, physical scrubs can help smooth skin twice a week, they are also less necessary when your body wash contains gentle exfoliating ingredients—and not necessarily physically gritty ones, either. Some natural ingredients can gently slough away the topmost layer of dead skin cells, giving you smoother, softer skin (and preventing clogged pores at the same time). 

Example ingredient: Papaya extract, which is both an anti-inflammatory and a natural, gentle exfoliant.

5. Soothe tired skin

Your ideal body wash contains some kind of soothing. Calming ingredient that comforts stressed out skin, whether it’s from a mentally demanding day, (which you’ll feel all over), or a weather-tested one (like the heat, sun, dry temps, or heavy winds). 

Example ingredient: Cica grass, a supreme soother that remedies redness, inflammation, and irritation.

6. Fortify skin against environmental threats

The world around us is dense with cell-damaging free radicals/toxins—especially from car exhaust and industry pollution—and the everyday threat of UV rays adds another layer of skin threats. Antioxidants are thus an imperative ingredient in any skincare regimen, to fortify skin and to neutralize these everyday threats, as well as preventing permanent long-term damage (from wrinkles to hyperpigmentation to skin cancer, too). 

Example ingredient: Sea buckthorn, a superfood for skin that pumps moisture and antioxidants into the dermis.

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