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Suave Naturals Rainforest Fresh Body Wash — Should You Go Wild Over It?

Having grown up in Puerto Rico, I’ve spent some time in the island’s rainforest, El Yunque —and, I have to say: there’s something really magical about the La Mina and La Coca waterfalls. Not only are they visually striking, but there’s a serenity that overcomes you when you hear the water rushing over rocks and surging down steep mountain sides, soothing you as if it were Mother Nature’s own lullaby.  It’s been years since I’ve had the pleasure of looking upon one of these waterfalls, but one thing that stays with me is the way the air smelled, that mix of damp soil, tree bark, wet Sierra palm, Tabonuco tree leaves,Yagrumo leaves, and moist moss. It’s a very difficult fragrance to recreate—  as is any rainforest smell, for that matter —b ut that’s what Suave has attempted to do with its new Suave Naturals Rainforest Fresh Body Wash ($2.49 at Drugstore.com). 

Now, the Rainforest Fresh Body Wash’s scent didn’t exactly transport me back to El Yunque since it lacks some of the lush green notes and woody, muddy, earthy notes that would make it more authentic, but it does have a refreshingly atmospheric, breezy, dewy quality, likely due to the bamboo and aloe extracts in the formula.

These same ingredients are also responsible for the body wash’s gel-like quality, which is part of its charm since it feels light on the skin and won’t leave any residue behind, as can be the case with creamier formulations. That being said, I strongly advise using a sponge or loofah when using this body wash since its consistency can be pretty blubbery and hard to maneuver in the shower (in other words, if you squeeze a dab onto your slippery palm, don’t be surprised if it slips right off).

As for the body wash’s skin benefits, the bamboo  extract works as an anti-irritant, helping to alleviate any redness, discomfort, or dryness, plus it helps to exfoliate dead skin cells, revealing a new layer of radiant skin. The aloe, meanwhile, is soothing, calming, and cooling, while the vitamin E in the formula hydrates and conditions your skin while also protecting it from free radicals. That being said, there are some worrisome artificial ingredients in the formula that could cause allergies — starting with Blue 1 and Yellow 5 and escalating to ammonium chloride (used in a small quantity as a pH balancer) and sodium laureth sulfate, a detergent used to create a lather in hair care and body care products and that has been found to strips away the natural oils essential to skin and scalp health. Herein lies the dilemma: on the one hand, the body wash does include skin-soothing plant extracts but, on the other, their benefits are practically negated by the inclusion of artificial fragrances, dyes, and chemicals that could not only cause skin irritation but also lead to dehydrated or sensitized skin.

Overall, I consider this an “in-a-pinch” body wash —meaning that, if you’ve completely run out of shower gels and need something with which to cleanse your skin, then you can reach for this bottle and do as you must. Otherwise, I’d recommend an SLS-free body wash that’s packed with more hydrating and soothing ingredients — particularly if you have sensitive or dry skin.

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