Are You Using The Right Body Wash? 4 Ways To Tell

Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
It’s the tail end of winter (fingers crossed) and most likely the driest your skin is going to be this year. I’m sure you’ve heard all of the tips by now: don’t take hot showers, use a humidifier, pick the right moisturizer — the list goes on and on. At this point, some of us are willing to try anything to achieve supple skin. But, that doesn't mean you have to fall into the hype and add unnecessary steps to your routine to get the job done. In fact, a lot of it comes down to using the right body wash. 
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Natural body washes don’t use chemicals that strip skin of nutrients and dry it out (giving you reason to reach for another product to moisturize in the shower). Thanks to fruit acids, antioxidants, and natural oils — instead of harsh chemicals — natural washes clean skin while providing antiseptic, antibacterial, and astringent properties. They also use natural oils that your body is already adapted to in order to keep your moisture levels balanced. 

So, instead of adding more to your shower routine, I suggest you evaluate the body wash you’re currently using by asking these key questions: 

Do I understand all of the ingredients on the label?
The FDA requires companies to list ingredients by their INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names, which can be confusing. Don’t be frightened by the long names; take a moment to understand them. For example, tocopheryl acetate is actually vitamin E, which has many benefits for the skin. A quick search of the long name can help you determine if it is friend or foe.   
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Is alcohol on the ingredients list?
While alcohol can be a great cleaning astringent, it strips and dries out your skin when used topically. Think about what happens to you after a long night of drinking — you become dehydrated! The same happens to your skin (it can absorb up to 60% of what you put on it). I suggest choosing products that are water-based (labeled as "aqua") instead. You are what you apply!  

What about paraffinum liquidum? 
This is a fancy way of saying mineral oil, which is potentially problematic when used in cleansing products. An occlusive ingredient, it inhibits the skin from natural elimination and absorption functions, potentially causing sweat and bacteria to become trapped beneath it. While your skin might initially seem more hydrated, mineral oil may exacerbate ailments like psoriasis and eczema. 
Does it contain moisturizing agents?
When you take a shower, the outermost layer of your skin is broken down. That means your pores are open and extra susceptible to what you’re applying. To make sure your body wash is an effective multitasker, look for those with moisturizing properties, not ingredients that strip skin. Since INCI names can be confusing, here are two examples of natural and effective moisturizing choices: cocos nucifera (coconut oil) and simmondsia chinensis (jojoba). Reap the benefits of these natural oils as they penetrate skin easily and normalize your own oil production, so you stay hydrated throughout the shower and the rest of your day. Take my word for it: The right oils will make skin dewier long-term. 

Avoid the hype (and the extra money) by asking yourself these questions. You’ll see in no time that there’s no need to add an extra step into your busy schedule.       
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