Morgan also believes that bath and shower gels are marketed as a new, improved way of cleaning the skin and that conveys a message of well-being to the consumer. The use of ingredients such as chamomile, water lily and aloe vera adds to the expectation of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Greenstein usually recommends brands without perfumes, but people who don’t have sensitive skin or fragrance allergies might see additional benefits from brands such as Kiss My Face, which boasts aromatherapy properties.

“Although I do not think they serve any additional medical purpose for the skin, they do make for a very relaxing, pleasant bath experience,” he said.

Some believe the addition of Vitamin E and C in some brands offers anti-aging properties, but this is still a controversial area, Morgan said.

Not all bath and shower gels and body washes are created equal.

“Gels clean the skin, but many contain alcohol and can be quite drying to the skin,” said Dr. Mary Gail Mercurio, a Rochester, N.Y., dermatologist.

She recommends that women, who often experience drier skin as they age, seek out a product that emphasizes moisturizing the skin. And anyone with dry or sensitive skin should avoid products with fragrances and preservatives, she said.

All three doctors recommend following any shower or bath with an application of a rich lotion to seal in moisture.

Both Mercurio and Greenstein suggested Oil of Olay’s Moisturizing Body Wash and Greenstein said he also recommends Cetaphil and Aquanil.

“I am not partial to any brand … since this is mostly a matter of personal preference,” he said.

Unlike moisturizing agents that can be made cheaply at home with Vaseline, olive oil or rose water and glycerin, Morgan said he doubted the ingredients for a good cleansing gel were lurking in the medicine cabinet or the refrigerator.

“I suppose we could dip people in Jell-O,” he said, laughing.

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