We all have days when we smell ... not great. This isn't due to sweat, which is odorless, but when our sweat and bacteria mix. So when shopping for the best body washes for body odor, formulas that target bacteria on the skin will be the most effective, says Dr. Roberta Del Campo, Director and Founder of Del Campo Dermatology and Laser Institute, who adds that odor varies from person to person depending on the amount they sweat, as well as the density of bacteria in a given area.
In particular, Dr. Del Campo recommends the antibacterial ingredient benzoyl peroxide, because it's typically well-tolerated and effective. Don't overdo it with the use of harsh body washes, though. "When specifically targeting body odor, I am commonly asked about 'scrubbing away' the odor or using drying agents such as alpha hydroxy acids. These may not make the odor worse, but they are not a targeted approach and can actually cause significant irritation in such sensitive areas such as the underarms and groin," Dr. Del Campo explains.
In addition to bathing regularly, Dr. Del Campo suggests using antiperspirants, which help prevent odor by minimizing sweating, and wearing breathable clothing. "Odor when stuck in synthetic fabrics can be amplified so choosing light, breathable cotton clothing is best. Sweat wicking [materials like Dri-Fit] can also be helpful."
Now that you're armed with those key tips, scroll on to shop six of the best body washes for fighting odor in the shower.
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1. Expert’s Pick
“Panoxyl is my go to!” says Dr. Del Campo. She advises using cleansers that contain bacteria-busting benzoyl peroxide for anyone who feels they're not smelling their best. Though benzoyl peroxide is used in face washes, too, this cleanser contains a high concentration of the ingredient (10%), so it's best reserved for use on your body only.
2. Another Benzoyl Peroxide Body Wash To Consider
Similar to Panoxyl, this body wash from Humane contains 10% benzoyl peroxide to effectively fight odor- and acne-causing bacteria. But you might prefer this one for keeping in the shower, since it comes in a bigger bottle (8 ounces vs. Panoxyl's 5.5 ounces) and has a handy pump-top dispenser.
Be aware that benzoyl peroxide can stain sheets and towels, so be sure to rinse carefully when using products that contain it. You can also invest in BP-resistant sheets!
3. The Best Tea Tree Body Wash
Tea tree oil, aside from smelling great, is another great (but totally natural) bacteria-busting ingredient that is typically well-tolerated by most skin types. If you prefer botanically derived ingredients to potentially harsh chemicals, reach for this body wash instead. In addition to tea tree oil, it contains other refreshing, natural deodorizers like peppermint and rosemary, while ingredients like coconut, jojoba, and olive oils work to keep skin moisturized and soft. You'll feel and smell great from your neck to your toes.
4. The Best Charcoal Body Wash
Designed for athletes or anyone who wants a deep, invigorating clean and a refreshing scent to match, this activated charcoal body wash uses a mix of purifying charcoal, moisturizing aloe vera, and bacteria-fighting tea tree to get the job done. You can't go wrong with this universally beloved Cool Eucalyptus scent, but it also comes in Energizing Citrus.
5. The Best-Smelling Body Wash
If you prefer warm, yummy fragrances to refreshing herbal scents, you'll love this line of body washes from Jergens. True, they don't contain any antibacterial ingredients to fight odor, but if you're simply looking to smell good in the immediate, these will get the job done nicely. The moisturizing formula, which has a rich, creamy lather and leaves skin oh-so soft, comes in four scents: shea, coconut, argan, and cherry almond (IMO, the most delicious).
6. This Body Wash That Completely Eliminates Any Smell
In a market that's typically all about vanilla, eucalyptus, and lavender, Dead Down Wind Body & Hair Soap is all about a total absence of scent. Designed for people who spend a lot of time in the woods, the natural enzymes in this product work to remove any odor from your hair and body, leaving you smelling like ... nothing!
Dr. Roberta Del Campo, Director and Founder of Del Campo Dermatology and Laser Institute