Affiliate Disclosure

Stylized i character

None of our reviews are sponsored. We earn a commission when you purchase items through our links.

The Best Soap for Sensitive Skin

To find the best soap for sensitive skin, we consulted a dermatologist, researched soothing and hydrating ingredients and tested the pH of 10 highly rated soaps formulated especially for delicate skin. Our top pick is the extra-mild CeraVe – Hydrating Body Wash, which has a soothing, lotion-like consistency and contains moisture-promoting ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. With its hypoallergenic formula, our runner-up is the Aveeno – Skin Relief Body Wash, which contains colloidal oatmeal, a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Our Top Choices

Top Pick


CeraVe

Hydrating Body Wash

Runner-Up


Aveeno

Skin Relief Body Wash

To find the best soap for sensitive skin, we consulted a dermatologist, researched soothing and hydrating ingredients and tested the pH of 10 highly rated soaps formulated especially for delicate skin. Our top pick is the extra-mild CeraVe – Hydrating Body Wash, which has a soothing, lotion-like consistency and contains moisture-promoting ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. With its hypoallergenic formula, our runner-up is the Aveeno – Skin Relief Body Wash, which contains colloidal oatmeal, a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Table of contents

Dermatologist recommendations

This year, 60–70% of women and 50–60% of men reported having some degree of skin sensitivity. To understand exactly what kind of soap is most beneficial for sensitive skin, we first consulted Dr. Tiffany Jow Libby, a board-certified dermatologist who has sensitive skin herself.

Soap’s alkalinity, as Dr. Libby points out, plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin. The pH scale, which measures how acidic or alkaline a solution is, ranges from 0 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline). Since the skin’s surface prefers to be acidic (to help it stay moisturized and fend off the effects of pollution, bacteria and allergens), soap makers sometimes try to match that acidity level, which usually ranges in pH from 4.5 to 5.5. Soap with a pH ranging from 4 to 7 is considered “pH-balanced” — meaning it falls within the pH range of normal, healthy skin.

“Ideally, we want to keep skin in this range to maintain a healthy barrier function,” says Dr. Libby. “Many bar soaps have a pH within the range of 9 to 10 and therefore tend to be more alkaline, which can disrupt the skin’s pH.”

Dr. Libby also recommends checking the ingredients list for added artificial dyes, synthetic fragrances, harsh exfoliants or other irritating ingredients. “Just because it says ‘made for sensitive skin’ doesn’t always mean it is,” she warns.

How we selected products to test

After speaking to Dr. Libby, reading through articles by trusted review sites like Business Insider and scouring Reddit and the MakeupAlley.com message boards for soap recommendations, we drew up this list of features to look for as well:

  • Fragrance-free: While “unscented” often means an ingredient was added to mask the scent of a soap, “fragrance-free” means no extra fragrances were added to those that are naturally occurring.
  • Paraben-free: These preservatives can irritate sensitive skin — especially conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
  • Methylisothiazolinone-free: This mouthful of a preservative has a high incidence of allergic reactions in the skin.
  • No denatured, isopropyl or SD alcohols: Unlike fatty alcohols, which are non-irritating and good for dry skin, denatured, isopropyl and SD alcohols can dry out and erode the skin’s surface.
  • No harsh exfoliants: This includes physical exfoliants, such as nut shells.
  • Beneficial ingredients: Chamomile, glycerin, coconut oil, colloidal oatmeal, comfrey, allantoin, calendula and aloe can have a soothing effect on sensitive skin.

We used this list to sort through the highest-rated soaps and body washes for sensitive skin and zero in on the most beneficial and non-irritating of the bunch. We also aimed for soaps that wouldn’t break the bank, with price points below $20.

Compare the best soaps for sensitive skin

Soap$–$$$$ ScalepH Level
1. Cerave - Hydrating Body Wash$$$6.8
2. Aveeno - Skin Relief Body Wash$$5
3. Eucerin - Skin Calming Body Wash$$$6
4. Aquaphor - Baby Wash$$4.7
5. Sukin Naturals - Sensitive Soap-Free Body Wash$$$5.2
6. Andalou Naturals - 1000 Roses Shower Gel$$6
7. Bioderma - Atoderm Shower Oil$$$6
8. Dove - Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar$7
9. Booda Organics - Suds of Love$$10
10. Lush - Olive Tree Bar$$$$10.1

How we tested

soap testing for PH

To test the pH level of each soap in our lineup, we used an Apera PH20 Waterproof pH Meter. Eight of our soaps fell within the “pH-balanced” range of 4–7, with four soaps in the ideal 4.5–5.5 range. The remaining two — both bar soaps, unsurprisingly — were 10 and 10.1, respectively.

soap testing

Our tester then showered with each soap and rated them based on how they affected her sensitive skin, judging by soap texture, added fragrance (or lack thereof) and whether her skin felt soft and moisturized or irritated and dry afterward.

Best body wash: CeraVe

Cerave

With a balanced pH of 6.4 and the creamiest formula in our lineup, the CeraVe – Hydrating Body Wash has a rich, lotion-like consistency that left our tester’s skin feeling smooth, clean and replenished. Truly fragrance-free, we couldn’t detect even a naturally occurring scent in this body wash.

The CeraVe body wash is a dermatologist favorite, and no wonder. It’s paraben- and sulfate-free and full of beneficial ingredients like glycerin, soybean oil, hyaluronic acid and ceramides — lipids that occur naturally in the skin and help keep it supple, but slowly deplete with age and sun damage. Using a product enriched with ceramides can help the skin restore moisture, soothe irritation and even reduce signs of aging.

“Think of the uppermost barrier of your skin as a brick wall, with each skin cell being one brick,” explains Dr. Libby. “The mortar holding the bricks together are the moisturizing factors and lipids, i.e. your ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol. Any decrease or disruption in these lipids can compromise the skin’s barrier and lead to inflammation.”

Top Pick: CeraVe - Hydrating Body Wash

Packed with soothing and moisturizing ingredients, the creamy, lotion-like CeraVe - Hydrating Body Wash leaves skin feeling clean, calm and hydrated.

The one downside of CeraVe is its rather stiff container, which makes it tough to get any product out when the bottle is less than full.

Key takeaways:

  • The CeraVe – Hydrating Body Wash has the texture of a creamy lotion, gliding smoothly over the skin and leaving it feeling clean and moisturized.
  • This 6.4-pH dermatologist favorite is free of fragrance, parabens and sulfates. It’s packed with moisturizing and soothing ingredients like glycerin, soybean oil, hyaluronic acid and ceramides.
  • The CeraVe’s stiff container makes it hard to squeeze the product out.

Runner-up: Aveeno – Skin Relief

Aveeno

Our runner-up, the Aveeno – Skin Relief Body Wash is richly moisturizing and feels luxurious. The Aveeno has a perfect pH level of 5, so our tester experienced zero irritation, and post-shower, her skin felt soft even without lotion. Though technically fragrance-free, we should note that the Aveeno wash does have a naturally occurring mild, citrusy scent.

Runner-Up: Aveeno

The hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic Aveeno - Skin Relief Body Wash has a neutralized pH and contains colloidal oatmeal, known for its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties.

Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores), the Aveeno wash is dermatologist-recommended and has no added dyes. In addition to glycerin — a humectant that helps the skin retain water — Aveeno’s star ingredient is colloidal oatmeal (“avena sativa” in the ingredients list), a soothing prebiotic that helps replenish the skin’s barrier.

“Colloidal oatmeal is a favorite of mine,” Dr. Libby says. “It’s a natural anti-inflammatory agent that helps soothe and alleviate dryness and itching, which may be seen in inflammatory conditions like eczema.”

Key takeaways:

  • With a pH level of 5, the mild Aveeno – Skin Relief Body Wash falls within the ideal pH range for sensitive skin.
  • The Aveeno wash is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic and contains colloidal oatmeal, a soothing natural anti-inflammatory.
  • This body wash doesn’t contain added fragrance ingredients, but it does have a mild, natural citrus scent.

Other finalists we recommend

Eucerin – Skin Calming Body Wash

Eucerin

The Eucerin – Skin Calming Body Wash has a pH level of 6.1 and is one of the more moisturizing soaps we tried. Its first ingredient is soybean oil, which has been shown to help skin retain moisture when applied topically. Its second is castor oil, an anti-inflammatory that also promotes moisture.
Sure enough, after showering, our tester’s skin felt cleansed but also soft and supple, and she didn’t feel she needed to apply lotion. The downside of fragrance-free Eucerin is the natural odor from the vegetable oils, though it disappeared soon after our tester dried off.

Aquaphor – Baby Wash

Aquaphor

The Aquaphor – Baby Wash, which has a pH level of 4.7 — the lowest of all the soaps we tested — is a clear gel that feels very mild on the skin. After showering, our tester’s skin felt cleansed but not particularly moisturized or dry.

Completely fragrance-free and paraben-free, the Aquaphor wash contains bisabolol, an anti-inflammatory alcohol extracted from chamomile.

Sukin Naturals – Sensitive Soap Free Body Wash

Sukin

The Sukin Naturals – Sensitive Soap Free Body Wash is very similar to the Aquaphor body wash in texture and consistency. While this wash doesn’t contain added fragrance, it does have a somewhat acrid naturally occurring scent.

The Sukin wash has a 5.2 pH level and skin-soothing ingredients, such as aloe, chamomile, glycerin, cucumber, green tea and avocado oil.

Andalou Naturals – 1000 Roses Shower Gel

Andalou

With its low pH level of 4.9, the Andalou Naturals – 1000 Roses Shower Gel felt great on our tester’s skin, leaving it both cleansed and hydrated. The Andalou wash has plenty of ingredients that are directly beneficial for sensitive skin: aloe, glycerin, allantoin, coconut extract and argan oil.

The downside of the Andalou wash is its combination of rose water and rosehip oil, which produces a natural rose scent (hence the “1000 Roses” name) that some people may find overwhelming.

Bioderma – Atoderm Shower Oil

Bioderma

The Bioderma – Atoderm Ultra-Nourishing Anti-Irritation Shower Oil feels luxe and nourishing on the skin; our tester loved how hydrated her skin felt afterward. We should note that the Bioderma oil has a potent added fragrance, though it didn’t irritate our tester’s sensitive skin.

The Bioderma wash contains skin-moisturizing glycerin and niacinamide, which helps stimulate the skin’s own production of ceramides. Though generally safe for sensitive skin, some people have experienced irritation after applying niacinamide to the skin; we recommend doing a patch test before using it in the bath.

Dove – Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar

Dove

Out of the bar soaps we tested, the Dove – Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar was the only contender that fell within the desired pH range. While the other soaps’ pH levels soared around 10 — which is normal for pure soap — the Dove bar tested at a 7.

The Dove soap is scentless and easy to rinse off, and it left our tester’s skin feeling clean but neither dry nor moisturized — just neutral. If you prefer your soap in bar form, we recommend this one as the best bar soap for sensitive skin.

Booda Organics – Suds of Love All-In-One Soap

Booda - Suds of Love

The Booda Organics – Suds of Love All-In-One Soap is truly fragrance-free and only contains five ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, fair-trade shea butter, artesian spring water and sodium hydroxide. However pure this soap may be, we can’t ignore the resulting pH of 10. A pH level this high could cause dryness and irritation for some people.

Lush – Olive Tree Bar

Lush

Though the Lush – Olive Tree Bar contains a wealth of moisturizing ingredients — glycerin and olive, coconut, cypress, petitgrain and rose oils — it was the only soap in our lineup that left our tester feeling itchy. With the highest pH of all the soaps we tested (10.1), this bar soap also has a very prominent scent that may irritate sensitive skin.

The bottom line

After gathering dermatologist recommendations and testing our lineup of 10 highly rated formulas, we determined that the best soap overall is the CeraVe – Hydrating Body Wash, which impressed us with its extra mild, soothing formula and stellar ingredients list.

Our runner-up is the Aveeno – Skin Relief Body Wash, which is both hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic and features the powerful natural anti-inflammatory colloidal oatmeal.

Best Body Soap for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe

CeraVe - Hydrating Body Wash is a neutral-pH soap with soothing and moisturizing ingredients. It leaves you feeling clean, and it doesn't have any distinct odor.

More Reviews