There’s been a bit of a soap revival, lately (which is definitely the most eco-friendly way to get your body clean). But (despite the extra packaging) body washes remain extremely popular with our testers, probably for the sheer sensory pleasure factor of using them: they’re silky, scented – and tend to leave a trace of that fragrance on skin. Interestingly, though, two of the winners here are ‘shower oils’ – relatively new innovations within the body cleansing world, but becoming popular because of their replenishing effect on skin. (So many body washes can be drying, in our experience – but shower oils put back the oils that are taken out, and then some.) Here, we come clean with the winners, from dozens trialled – and do scroll down to see the Bronze winners, because there are some stonking performances here.
GOLD (JOINT) & BEST NATURAL AWARD This Works Energy Bank Shower Gel
When your get-up-and-go got up and went, our suggestion is to reach for the super-powered essential blend of ylang ylang, rosemary and geranium in this energising gel. (We’re big fans, personally.) A gentle foaming gel, it can be used on a sponge top-to-toe, poured into the hands or added to running water for a foamy yet skin-kind bath. Good in the mornings or to counteract daytime slumps, whatever you do don’t use this last thing at night – it’s really that effective.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘Perfect pump dispenser with no extra packaging. Good consistency – not too runny – and I absolutely love, love, love this fragrance, which gave me a boost each morning in the shower. A little goes a long way and it did not dry my skin; I occasionally used a body cream over the top when I was going out. I will absolutely buy it and it’s going on my Christmas list’ • ‘Nice to use and smells absolutely gorgeous. It foamed enough though I wouldn't have minded more - but I know that would have meant more foaming agents and, as with all This Works products, there are no nasties in the ingredients’ • ‘I would definitely buy this again! It is good value because a little really did go a long way. The fragrance was lovely and energising. It promised an energy blockbuster to kick-start your day: it definitely helped me to wake up in the morning and I really looked forward to the fragrance filling my bathroom’ • ‘I love this shower gel, which is more of an in-shower body lotion and left my skin very moisturised and supple. A little goes a long way and it lathers nicely although it is not really foamy. The fragrance is invigorating, with oils of geranium, ylang ylang and rosemary’• ‘I can't praise this product enough. I LOVE the fragrance and have never wanted to get out of my bed so quickly in the morning to have a shower’
£18 for 250ml - click to buy
GOLD (JOINT) & BEAUTY STEAL AWARD Senspa Relaxing Body Wash
One for the opposite end of the day to the This Works option, when you want to wind down and switch off, this is a super-affordable wash from a brand developed by Careys Manor hotel in Hampshire, found principally in the Waitrose beauty aisle. In a practical flip-top tube, it’s free from SLS, mineral oil and parabens, fragranced with essential oils of jasmine, patchouli, bergamot, lavender and geranium, and is 97% natural in all. A great achievement, SenSpa, against some stiff competition!
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I was very impressed with this rich body wash, based on botanical ingredients. I recommend it after a stressful day: get in the bath and lightly massage in the product taking your time to breathe in the lovely relaxing fragrance. Bliss’ • ‘This certainly left skin moisturised, supple and non-itchy, though I still used body lotion on my extremely dry legs’ • ‘It promises to relax and calm and soothe the mind, which it did. The strong lavender fragrance is blended with others so it doesn't smell too granny! Skin felt lovely and smooth and had a slight glow. This came out on holiday and then home with me whereas I would normally just leave any unused product behind’ • ‘I'm delighted to have the opportunity to try natural products and it has really changed the way I think about what I put on my body. I love the light natural smell of this body wash and felt really refreshed after using it. It didn't foam as much as some of the more popular brands but that didn't matter as it really moisturised and softened my skin. I'll definitely be looking further into the Senspa range’ • ‘A very good body wash and I liked the packaging. The opener was at the bottom of the bottom, easy to open and squeeze out, then shut fast after use and stand back up on the shelf without it leaking’
£5.95 for 200ml - click to buy
SILVER (JOINT) AWARD Bramley Body Wash with Grapefruit, Lavender & Sweet Orange
The fact this now comes in a one-litre size tells you everything ahout how popular this body wash is with customers of Coldswolds-based Bramley. Based purely on natural botanicals and with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, this particular gently sudsing body wash – which doubles as a bath foam when added to running water – contains 98% ingredients. (In contrast to the giant size, there’s a 50 ml version if you want to dip your toe in the grapefruit-, lavender- and sweet orange-scented waters.)
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘10/10. Love it! And have already been on their website for more. Packaging is simple, the product is nothing fancy but has just the right amount of uplifting fragrance, there’s a lovely foaming froth, and no dry skin afterward. One of the few shower gels that didn't leave my legs feeling dry or calves tight. I didn't need to moisturize after. I love the natural ethos of the brand’ • ‘This foamed sufficiently but I was relieved to see it did not contain any high foam chemicals like sodium laureth/lauryl sulphates, as I have had itchy, dry skin after using product with those in before. I would rather have the soft low lather this produces than other products with harsh, cheap, chemical ingredients designed to foam madly. I felt cleansed and cosseted by this’ • ‘It promised to be a great body wash with natural ingredients and it was. The smell is amazing and my skin is soft and did not feel stripped. It is excellent value for what it is’ • ‘I liked the packaging design. It was simple but classy and looked good on the bathroom shelf. The wash didn't foam loads but more if used with a sponge. I would try other products in the range. I definitely like not having any SLS in a body wash’ • ‘It said on the bottle that it could also be used as a 'bubble bath' so I tried this and it worked well. I liked how the fragrance, which grew on me, filled the bathroom without being full on, and it had a good amount of bubbles’
£14 for 250ml - click to buy
SILVER (JOINT) AWARD Jurlique Softening Shower Gel (Rose)
Jurlique quite simply excel at anything to do with roses, which they cultivate on their own biodynamic land in Australia. (Anything Jurlique and rosy has pushed our testers’ buttons since the very beginning.) This softening shower gel is free from all the ‘nasties’ Jurlique have always avoided – silicones, sulfates, parabens, PEGs, artificial colours and fragrances – but instead harnesses chamomile, rosemary and licorice extracts, leaving skin smooth and quenched.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘10/10. This was an absolutely wonderful product. The rose smell was amazing and the texture of the gel made my skin very soft. It was lovely to use after a long day and really helped me to relax. I would definitely use this product again (and again!)’ • ‘I loved this product. It’s especially good for my irritable menopausal skin. It promised to cleanse and soften without drying and leave skin refreshed, glowing and scented. I would recommend to others and it has made me look at other products in the Jurlique range’ • ‘I thought I wouldn't like the rose aroma but I really liked this. A little went a long way and my skin felt soft and moisturised. Lovely though pricey’ • ‘The foam was perfect; enough to be able to see it on my skin but not too much that it struggled to go down the plughole. Two to three pumps were plenty on a body scrunchie’ • ‘This was so lovely to use - simply naturally perfect to start the day or use before a night out as it feels luxurious and soothing. Skin looked firmer and brighter the longer I used it, also softer and more moisturised, particularly on my chest and under arms’ • ‘A beautiful product. The intense scent adds to the positive experience of using it although you would definitely need to like the smell of roses’ • ‘Amazing body wash with explosion of rose fragrance, which lasts all day! After one week of using it my skin was so silky and soft I even stopped using moisturiser!!! The best part is that it’s free from harsh chemicals.’
£21 for 300ml - click to buy
BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD Aurelia Restorative Cream Body Cleanser
In an apothecary-style brown glass bottle with a pump action, this sulfate-free body cleanser is Aurelia’s first, working to rebalance skin’s pH levels via an emulsion that ‘gently detoxifies the skin of pollutants which can prematurely age the appearance’, they claim. The formula also features Aurelia’s signature probiotics, to balance skin, along with aloe vera, coconut, baobab, geranium, coconut, and vitamin E- and C-rich citrus peel oil. As you’ll guess from that, there’s a lovely zingy scent, too.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘10/10. Perfect product. I loved the really fresh smell and was amazed at how effective this is. It's the best product I have used in a long time. I didn't need to use a scrub, or a cream after. I have totally smooth skin and no more lumps on my arms’ • ‘It’s made me rethink what I spend on body products; before, I would have spent this type of money on a cream but not a wash. I love using this; it feels like total luxury and delivers great results’ • ‘I was impressed that all the ingredients are ethically sourced and cruelty-free. It is very economical as the pump only dispenses the amount you need’ • ‘I was pleasantly surprised by this product as it did exactly what is says: "leaves clean, hydrated skin that doesn’t feel dry, tight or irritated". Even after the first use there was a noticeable difference between the two sides of my body. The side that I applied the product to was noticeably softer and smoother, like having applied an exfoliator’ • ‘A very good product. I loved this body cleanser, which felt very luxurious. It left skin nice and clean and so moisturised I really didn't need to use a body cream after.’
£28 for 250ml - click to buy
BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD Argan+ Super Creamy Body wash
Definitely also beauty steal, considering it scored identically with five times pricier Aurelia product (as well as the Rituals product, right). A flip-top of this can set you back less than a fiver. Moroccan argan oil and shea butter feature, with the creamy wash morphing into a luxurious foam as you massage it into skin (they suggest loofah-ing it, actually.). Interestingly, we checked out a lot of online reviews while researching this write-up to get a bit more background – and it gets incredibly high marks from customers, as well as our testers.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘This feels like a more expensive body wash as the lather was so luxurious, I love the fragrance and it was a real treat to use. My skin felt very moisturised and so soft I didn't feel it was necessary to use body cream’ • ‘It promised to leave skin pampered and renewed – and it did!’ • ‘It's difficult to rave about a shower product, but this was one I enjoyed using. It had a really nice aroma, lots of small but rich bubbles, and I would be very happy to use it again. My skin felt quite moisturised after using it, but on areas where I have dry skin I needed to use moisturiser after showering. This is normal for me - the product didn't dry out my skin’ • ‘I liked the beautiful rich fragrance. This was certainly a nice body wash that made my skin feel softer. I mostly didn't moisturise afterwards but I still needed to exfoliate/moisturise regularly. It is less harsh then my usual body wash. If I had been in the sun all day, this was better and kinder to my skin’ • ‘One thing I really like is that it doesn't have SLS because I have a mild reaction to it and it dries my skin out a lot. Left my skin feeling much softer than usual so I didn't need any body cream. Very economical.’
£4.95 for 200ml - click to buy
BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD Rituals Indian Rose & Sweet Almond Oil Foaming Shower Gel
Been into a Rituals store lately? We think they’ve really upped their game. Testers definitely swooned for this rose-scented gel, which transforms into a rich, luxe foam when mixed with water in the hand or on a sponge. In a tall, slim, anodised metal pump, it’s part of the ‘Ritual of Ayurveda’ line – which we find surprisingly authentic, scent-wise – setting out to create a balance between mind, body and soul. Can a high street product do that? Here’s what the testers had to say.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I really liked this product. It had a delicious scent and left my skin feeling soft and supple. Would recommend and will continue to use as a treat, as it costs a little more than I would usually use for a shower gel’ • ‘This foamed well and I very much liked the fragrance. A little goes a long way and my skin felt more moisturised than usual after a shower. I would buy it’ • ‘This is a nice smelling body wash that foams and feels indulgent when showering. The smell is divine and I didn't need to wear a body spray after using. I have since purchased other scents to try, as it is now my new favourite shower wash. My skin felt lovely afterwards and I rarely used body cream as well, only when I was going out after showering’ • ‘I used this product after swimming as the strong fragrance (bit chemical-ly) was useful in getting rid of the chlorine smell. I would probably use it again for that because it’s so effective. It foams BIG time! You have to remember not to use too much or it takes over the shower’ • ‘This was very smooth and luxurious with thick foam. I loved the exotic scent. It made me clean and soft so ticked all the boxes for me. I would definitely buy it for myself and as a lovely gift.’
£8.50 for 200ml - click to buy