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11 best organic body washes

Be kind to your skin with a product free from harmful chemicals

Beauty brands lack the same strict standards that the food industry must obtain to be classed as organic, instead look for the symbols ( iStock )

Whether for ethical, environmental or health reasons, increasing numbers of us are looking for natural and organic beauty products. We want to know exactly what’s in the products we use on our skin, where they come from, and feel confident they don’t contain any chemical nasties that might cause irritation, or worse. But, as we found when researching the best shower gels, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

“Unlike with organic food, which must adhere to strict EU standards, there are no legal standards for the use of the terms ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ on beauty product packaging, so any brand could label itself so,” says Georgia Barnes of the Soil Association.

“Look for a logo that says a product has been independently certified as organic, which will mean a high proportion of the ingredients are organic (usually 95 per cent or more),” adds Barnes.

The gold standard? The Soil Association Cosmos Organic logo, which certifies formulations made using organically farmed ingredients that have been grown without being genetically modified and with no herbicides or synthetic fertilisers. They’re sourced and manufactured using sustainable ingredients, not tested on animals, are free from harsh chemicals, nano particles, parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes and artificial fragrances. Brands pay to be certified and go through a strict process to get there. 

Other certifications around the world include Ecocert, the EU green leaf symbol, US Department of Agriculture Quality Assurance International (QAI) mark and NaTrue, although each will have slightly different standards. 

When it comes to shower gels and body washes, however, it’s important to note that key ingredients such as water and some minerals (salt, clay) cannot be certified organic as they are sourced from the earth rather than grown or harvested. The Cosmos Organic certification allows for this but not all standards do, and the Cosmos Natural logo means means a product may not be organic but is 95-plus per cent natural.

Here, we’ve tried to provide as much information about the products tested as possible. You can be sure that anything recommended is, if not wholly certified, then at least natural, cruelty free, free of the most controversial chemicals and with a decent proportion of organic ingredients. We’ve also looked at price, and, of course, how effective and pleasant to use the product is. 

Neal’s Yard Remedies seaweed and arnica shower gel 200ml: £14, Neal’s Yard Remedies

It’s heaven in a bottle. Washing with this aromatic elixir releases the uplifting scent of lemon, juniper, lavender and pine essential oils (like the Mediterranean countryside) to revitalise the mind while you shower or bathe. The active ingredients are wild mountain arnica to soothe and organic seaweed to condition skin, both from France. Comes in Neal’s Yard Remedies’ classic blue bottle with an easy-to-use nifty lid. Not cheap but a treat for tired, aching muscles, especially after exercise. 

Certification: Soil Association Cosmos organic

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Green People moisturising shower gel neroli and marshmallow 200ml: £13.50, Amazon

A thick gel that lathers up well and feels soft and gentle on the skin. The scent of neroli fills the shower and lingers faintly on the body. Yucca has natural cleansing properties while marshmallow and aloe vera rejuvenate and nourish skin and the product is described as suitable for those with eczema or psoriasis. Fairly pricey but a little goes a long way. This won best buy in The Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards 2018 and is a lovely product to use.

Certification: 84.7 per cent certified organic ingredients by Organic Food Federation (non food), Vegetarian and Vegan Society Approved, Cruelty Free, Ethical Consumer

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Lavera regenerating shower cream organic argan oil and cranberry 200ml: £6.45, Amazon

This has a thin, milky consistency and doesn’t really form a lather, but feels creamy and nourishing to wash with. It smells fresh and fruity and the argan oil leaves you feeling soft and moisturised. A good choice for dry to very dry skins. Good value for money but not as high an organic content as many of the products on offer.

Certification: 100 per cent natural by NaTrue, 24 per cent certified organic ingredients. Vegan

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Carina Organics citrus moisturising body wash 360ml: £11.50, Live in the Light

This smells absolutely divine, an orange scent that’s just the tonic for an enlivening morning shower. The thick gel foams up nicely and a small handful is enough to cleanse your whole body. It feels gentle and moisturising and the larger than average bottle lasts. A lovely product with excellent organic credentials.

Certification: QAI/USDA 98 per cent organic. Vegan. Cruelty free

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Urtekram no perfume shower gel 500ml: £7.35, Beauty Naturals

As the name suggests this has no scent – a clear, no-nonsense gel with simple ingredients. As such it’s ideal for children, sensitive skins or anyone with skin conditions. A decent-value, large bottle that does the job well and is pleasant to use with soft bubbles. A family bathroom must.

Certification: 100 per cent cosmos natural; 39 per cent cosmos organic, vegan, cruelty and fragrance free. Danish Asthma and Allergy Association

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Roots & Wings lavender and chamomile shower wash 250ml: £5.99, Ocado

A pleasant-smelling, relaxing wash that softens skin and bubbles up nicely, which is nice to use before bed for a soothing shower or soak. And it’s one you can pick up with your weekly shop, too. Roots & Wings is a UK-based organic and natural brand producing both food and hair and bodycare. It’s well priced and 10 per cent of all profits are donated to children’s charities.

Certification: 76 per cent Soil Association certified organic ingredients, vegetarian and vegan, endorsed as cruelty free by the Naturewatch Foundation

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Eco by Sonya Driver coconut mint body wash 500ml: £13.28, Fragrance Direct

The minty smell and tingly sensation makes this our go-to wakeup body wash. A nice lather with a silky feel that leaves a slight oily, mositurised layer on skin. It’s a generous-sized bottle with easy pump dispenser. This Australian company specialises in natural tanning products, and the product won gold in the 2017 Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards.

Certification: 80 per cent certified organic ingredients by Organic Food Chain Australia. Vegan and vegetarian. Choose Cruelty Free. Accredited Toxic Free by Safe Cosmetics Australia

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Ermana Soothe organic hand and body wash 250ml: £15, Ermana

Another fragrance-free option for sensitive skins or those who prefer a simpler product, it’s a thin liquid with gentle lather. Ermana is a handmade, botanical range from the UK, and this product is made from plant-based ingredients including aloe vera juice, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. We loved the eco-friendly amber glass bottle and easy-to-use pump dispenser. It feels and looks like quite a luxurious product, prettying up bathroom shelves while looking after your skin.

Certification: Soil Association Cosmos natural, with 72 per cent certified organic ingredients

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PAI Gentle Genius camellia and bergamot body wash 200ml: £18, PAI skincare

This London-based brand specialises in products for very sensitive skins and this body wash is so gentle it’s suitable for people with eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis – and makes a luxurious change from greasy, petroleum-based and medicinal-smelling emollients usually recommended by doctors. The camellia keeps skin soft and moisturised, magnolia berries soothe and protect, while bergamot gives an uplifting, floral scent. The box also contains a natural konjac sponge that helps create a lather. An all-round pleasure to use. We particularly liked the fact the PAI website is very transparent about what’s in its products and the certifications it has – it’s very easy to find out exactly what’s going on your skin. Plus there’s a 90-day satisfaction guarantee should you find any products don’t agree with you.

Certification: Soil Association Cosmos natural with organic ingredients, Vegan Society, BUAV cruelty free.

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The Organic Pharmacy rose shower gel 200ml: £25.96, The Organic Pharmacy

Contains Persian rose extract, which smells as beautiful as it sounds. Ingredients also include an olive oil detergent from Italy to cleanse without drying, plus conditioning extracts of aloe, propolis, St John’s wort, and healing marigold and rosehip. The combination leaves you feeling fresh, clean and subtly fragrant and is gentle enough to use on the face, too.

Certification: 63 per cent organic certified by Ecocert

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Dr Bronner’s 18-in-1 pure-castile liquid soap peppermint 946ml: £19.49 for 946ml, Dr Bronner’s

Something of a cult beauty product, the Dr Bronner’s range of liquid castile soaps is known and loved for its quirky packaging and the claim of 18 different uses (from washing the dishes to freshening up your pets). The peppermint was the original formulation, although it’s now available in seven more scents and colourful, Instagrammable bottles. It certainly contains a generous amount of organic essential oil, the peppermint is super tingly on the skin and has a sinus-clearing, almost eye-wateringly potent effect (tip: avoid it on your nether regions). As a liquid soap it’s runny so best applied on a sponge, which helps create a foamy lather, and a small squirt will cover your whole body. Afterwards, skin feels squeaky clean – but this does mean it’s not ideal for those with dry or reactive skins.

Certification: the Dr Bronner’s range as a whole is USDA certified (95 per cent organic); the soaps are 90 per cent organic, vegan, Fairtrade and cruelty free

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The verdict: organic shower gels

Neal’s Yard Remedies seaweed and arnica shower gel is a therapeutic product that would look good on any bathroom shelf and brings a host of body benefits. But, importantly, it was the only product we found with full Cosmos organic gold standard certification. For a cheaper, no-nonsense product with reliable, natural ingredients and ethical credentials, Urtekram’s no perfume shower gel is our budget choice for sensitive skins.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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