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Best smelling body wash 2023: Soap scents to create a spa at home

Whether you want to wind down or wake up, we’ve tested the most deliciously scented shower gels and body washes for you

Stepping out of the shower having just used a deliciously scented body wash is always a glorious, life-affirming experience. The scents in your body wash can help wake you up, invigorate you or help you relax, depending on which ones you choose.

Of course, scent is a highly subjective thing. What one person adores, another may hate. We’ve tried to cover all the bases here to find something that everyone will love, as well as options that will suit the widest range of budgets.

These gorgeous body washes may not create a spa-at-home feeling in your bathroom, but they absolutely will nourish your skin and leave you smelling clean and fresh all day long.

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Best-smelling body wash: at a glance

How to choose the best-smelling body wash for you

What is the best-smelling body wash?

As we say, smell is a highly subjective matter. You might also like different smells at different times of day. For example, many people find fruity scents – particularly citrus scents – help wake them up with a zingy blast first thing in the morning. However, when you’re trying to wind down at the end of a day you might want something more calming. It’s at this time that a lot of people reach for soothing scents such as lavender and eucalyptus.

And, of course, your personal preferences should inform your choice. Although having gendered scents seems a touch old-fashioned, many men still prefer to smell of deeper-toned scents. Think woody and musky smells such as amber and sandalwood. In contrast, floral tones still seem to be the preferred option for a lot of women.

Ultimately, with scents it’s always best to go with what you like, and what works for you. We’ve selected a broad range of body washes in this round-up, so there should be something for everyone here.

Is there anything I should avoid when it comes to body washes?

If you have sensitive skin you might want to avoid sulphates, as these can dry out skin. Other than that, what you are after is something hydrating. Body washes containing natural oils, such as argan and coconut oils, are going to be a treat for your skin as they help build a barrier to protect your skin.

And if you’re eco-conscious, then look out for packaging that’s recycled and/or recyclable. Up to 95 per cent of packaging from the beauty industry is thrown away and not recycled. Some brands now do eco-refills, which will help both your wallet and the environment.

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What’s the difference between shower gels and body washes?

Not a lot, in truth. As a general guide, body washes tend to be thicker and you’ll need less liquid to work up a decent amount of lather. Shower gels are a budget-friendly option, but you’ll need to use more to get a good, rich layer of bubbles going.

How we test smelling body washes

At Expert Reviews, we aim to deliver the most complete information about the products we feature via hands-on testing. To test body washes, we use each of the products for around a month to get a true picture of their performance. As well as considering the type of scent each product offers – from fruity to floral, to more masculine aromas – and its strength, we also note the formula type, whether oil or shower gels, for example, and how it feels on our skin.

In addition, we assess how well each body wash lathers, using the products in a fairly hard-water area, and whether it leaves our skin feeling hydrated and smelling fresh. And since this is a roundup of the “best-smelling” body washes, we also note how long a formula’s scent lingers.

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The best-smelling body washes you can buy in 2023

1. The White Company Nourish shower gel: The best luxury body wash

Price: £18 | Buy now from The White Company

This shower gel smells gorgeously clean without being aggressive. I loved the zingy notes of bergamot that refreshed and revived me in the morning. And the oatiness and amber provides warmth and sweetness without being too sickly. It’s a comforting and somehow familiar scent, that reminded me of salons and spas.

The foam on this body wash feels rich and a little goes a long way. We found that this is a great unisex option, too, as it’s not at all floral but nor is it musky or woody. And it’s also great whether you’re using it in the morning to cleanse, or in the evening. to wind down before bedtime.

Key details – Sizes: 250ml

Buy now from The White Company

2. L’Occitane Almond shower oil: The best shower oil

Price: £35 | Buy now from L’Occitane

If you’re looking for a rich, luxurious shower experience then look no further. Although it’s a shower oil, this amazing – and frankly iconic – body wash leaves you feeling clean without a hint of greasiness. The sweet, nutty fragrance of almonds is really heady in this oil. It filled our bathroom with the warm scent and left my skin smelling sweet but not at all sickly.

The oil smooths on to your skin and then emulsifies into a gorgeously rich soap. Almond oil is fantastic for the skin as it’s super-hydrating. My skin was left feeling soft and had a gentle sheen to it, but without feeling as if it had been in an oil slick. If you’re looking for an indulgent treat, then this is the perfect shower gel for you.

Key details – Sizes: 500ml, 500ml refill, 250ml, 75ml

3. Lush Rose Jam shower gel: The best floral-scented shower gel

Price: from £8 | Buy now from Lush

I think this scent is perfect for teenage girls, and that’s meant in the nicest possible way. It’s rich and luscious in scent, and suits younger people perfectly. Having said that, Rose Jam actually has a cult following in every age group and it’s easy to see why. This vegan-friendly gel is completely intoxicating – the rose scent is sweet and, well, jammy. It packs a punch and leaves our skin smelling delicious all day long. There are also hints of vanilla and lemon oil to cut through all that floral.

As with everything made by Lush, subtle smelling it is not… but I found myself reaching for this shower gel time after time during testing.

Key details – Sizes: 100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg

Buy now from Lush

4. Champneys Slumber body cleanser: The best shower gel for evenings

Price: £8 | Buy from Boots

Prefer a shower before bed but don’t want to be blasted with fruity scents before you hit the sack? Look no further than Champneys Slumber body cleanser. Its woody, musky scent created a tranquil, spa-like aroma in my bathroom, as well as a really relaxing atmosphere, doubtless thanks to the presence of lavender, eucalyptus, patchouli and sage.

This cleanser foams to a nice lather that feels really luxurious. It’s also worth noting that this option doesn’t contain sulphates, so it’s ideal for those with dry and sensitive skin. I found this the perfect choice for winding down before bed, helping me to relax and switch off from all the trials and tribulations of the day.

Key specs – Sizes: 350ml

Buy now from Boots

5. Tropic Mangosteen, Thyme and Mandarin body wash: The best fruity scented body wash

Price: £10 | Buy now from Tropic Skincare

Perfect for those dreary mornings when you wake up feeling a bit ‘meh’. This body wash is zingy and zesty and will have you bright-eyed by the end of a 10-minute shower. Infused with gentle, nourishing coconut cleansers, this purse-friendly option left my skin feeling soft and beautifully hydrated.

The body wash goes on richly and foams to a really decent lather. My bathroom smelt like a fragrant orange grove after I’d used it. This is largely down to the great selection of natural fragrances used: orange, mandarin, lemon and peach are all here, along with sweet notes of jasmine and neroli. This body wash is packed with high-end ingredients including nourishing coconut and avocado oils, as well as sweet almond oil.

Key details – Sizes: 250ml

Buy now from Tropic Skincare

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