The Bad Stuff in Your Body Wash

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Maybe it all started with a preteen Bath & Body Works obsession, but there's something deeply satisfying about slipping into the shower and soaping up with some sweetly scented body wash.

But there's some bad news: Those perfumey suds are packed full of stuff that could be screwing with your skin. If you have dry, or irritated skin, what you're using to get clean could actually be the cause of your biggest skin woes.

Don't believe us? We spoke to Annet King, director of Global Education for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica to find out what's lurking in your body wash.

If you find that your skin feels irritated, your pretty soap could be to blame.

"Artificial fragrance can be a skin sensitizer and is a common allergen for some people," says Annet. "Artificial or synthetically made fragrance does not have skin benefits and can irritate the skin, making it dry, itchy and flaky. Always check your product labels for 'fragrance' or 'perfume.' It's very misleading as products labeled 'natural' and sometimes even 'organic' will have artificial or synthetically made fragrance compounds. Why? Because it's cheaper and the fragrance is used to cover up other 'bad' smells."

For dry skin, there could be another culprit.

"In soaps and body washes, it's often the high level of surfactants (that make bubbles and strip away barrier lipids that can make [skin] dry," says Annet. According to Annet, it's hard to tell how many surfactants are in a product from its label, but generally, a lot of foam and bubbles will clue you in to its presence. If your skin feels tight after getting out of the shower, the surfactants in your body wash are probably too harsh for you.

At the store, be sure to look out for products that use real plant botanicals and pure essential oils. They might be a little more expensive, but are totally worth the splurge for clear, healthy skin.


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