Road Test: Shower Gels

Make a clean sweep

It's spring, and with summer just around the corner, showers are the order of the day. Whether we're dashing into the bathroom for our morning ritual or looking for a quick pick-me-up on a muggy summer afternoon, we want the same refreshing, soft and moist feeling that comes after a long soak in the tub. Today, shower gels promise to provide this luxury, in products that are infused with extracts and essences of flowers, fruits or nuts '- yes, nuts. And they come in a wide range of fragrances, including calming florals, exhilarating citruses, exotic herbs and the sweet aroma of baked confections. But do they leave us feeling clean, fresh and silky smooth? We sent a few of our favorites to our testers, and here's what they found worthy.

Product name: Bliss Lemon + Sage Soapy Sap
Claim: This product claims to be a lightweight body wash with quick-rinsing skin softeners that can stand up in any shower or double as an in-bath bubble.
Tester says: "Soapy Sap '- when I heard the name I laughed out loud. Well, I like lemon and I like soap. With that combination, I knew it would be okay. It turned out to be better than I imagined. I opened the bottle and a sweet lemon fragrance wafted out at me. I liked the way it made me feel right then. In the shower, the lather was perfect and it rinsed off easily. There was no soap left on my skin; I really felt clean. I was glad this 'sap' wasn't sticky, as the name suggested. I also tried it in the bath, and it made a tub full of bubbles. My kids liked it too '- a little too much. I had to put the bottle out of their reach so there'd be some gel left for me."
Price: $23

Product name: Fresh SugarBath Lychee Shower Gel
Claim: This sugar-infused shower gel promises to generate gentle, rich lather that leaves the skin glistening, clean and moist.
Tester says: "My grandmother used to mix brown soap and sugar together to make a poultice for cuts and sores. It worked. Never in my wildest dreams would I think to put sugar and soap together in a shower gel, but I'm glad somebody did. This gel is awesome. I came out of the shower feeling like I'd had a long hot bath. It's not oily or greasy, and it left my skin feeling moist and smooth. What I loved most was that it left my very dry skin so moist I didn't need to apply moisturizer before bed. (I guess that's because the product contains shea butter.) When I got up in the morning, my usual dry patches were still smooth."
Price: $26

Product name: L'Occitane Vanilla Bath and Shower Gel
Claim: This gentle, sweetly scented shower gel claims to cleanse the skin while leaving a sweet, sultry fragrance.
Tester says: "I am an overweight person who believed that bath and shower gels were made for 'the thin,' so to speak, and that people like me needed to use soap and water, even if that meant drying our skin out and leaving it ashy. When I was asked to test this gel, I decided to live on the wild side and try it. I have to say, I love it! There hasn't been a soap that has made me feel this refreshed, both inside and out. This L'Occitane body gel is so exhilarating, moisturizing and aromatic that I don't want to go back to soap."
Price: $17

Product name: Body Bistro Grapefruit + Gotu Kola Shower Gelle
Claim: A natural cleansing gel made of grapefruit peel oil, vitamin E and other extracts, this product claims to stimulate and harmonize skin while helping to reduce visible signs of aging.
Tester says: "I've been using the same fragrance-free liquid soap since I was a child, and I love it. I didn't think I'd like a gel, but I told myself to keep an open mind. I'm glad I did. I was surprised, because this gel is so different from what I'm accustomed to. It doesn't smell strong, but the grapefruit scent is enough to be refreshing and even invigorating, especially in the morning. I guess I would describe it as subtle, gentle and effective. After drying off, my skin still felt soft and toned."
Price: $28

Product name: MOR Marshmallow Body Wash
Claim: The claim is that this cleansing formula is enriched with natural extracts of peach, mango, soybeans and ginger, and that it provides a fresh and invigorating alternative to soap.
Tester says: "I have sensitive skin, so this gel, with its light scent and light sudsing action, was good for me. It's as good as a bar of soap for getting you squeaky clean, but it left my skin feeling lotion-soft."
Price: $18

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