For a long time, I didn’t quite notice much difference between the body wash and the bathing gel apart for their consistency. I would just pick any from the shelves that was cheaper. Note that I have been using each of these for years (if not decades) without much fuss until a friend pointed out that there is a big difference between the shower gel and body wash.
You can imagine the embarrassment I was in.
Anyway, if you are clueless like I was or are just stuck on whether to pick a shower gel or body wash stay here with me as I share the findings of my one-month long research. You will not only learn what their difference is but what they are made up of and how and when to use each.
Let’s put an end to this shower gel vs body wash knowledge struggle.
Shower Gel vs Body Wash Ingredients
Both the shower gel and body wash are body cleaners in liquid form however they vary greatly in what they are made of. Let’s look at what they are made of.
Shower Gel Ingredients
If no one has ever told you this, then know that it’s very important to check the ingredients of any product that you use on your skin and that goes for shower gels and body washes as well.
In all the shower gels these are the basic ingredients you will find. These ingredients work together to cleanse, moisturize, and exfoliate your skin.
Water: This is the base of the shower gel and is often listed as aqua. It acts as the solvent for all the other ingredients.
Detergents: This is the formulation that keeps your skin clean.
Surfactants: This is the ingredient responsible for the lather.
Emulsifiers: This creates the foam in the shower gels. They are also responsible for the thick consistency of the bath gels.
Preservatives: For long shelf life, bathing gels contain preservatives.
Fragrances: This is what makes bath gels smell so heavenly. They range from essential oils to plant extracts.
Also Read: How to Get Rid Of Mold in Shower Grout
Body Wash Ingredients
Unlike shower gels, body washes from different manufacturers may vary in formulation but they have a number of basic ingredients.
Surfactants: It is a combination of lipophilic (fat-soluble that dissolves dirt) and hydrophilic (petroleum agents and mineral oils which are water-soluble that washes away the dirt).
Emulsifiers: They act as the binding agent for all the chemicals to prevent them from separating into layers.
Antiseptics: To kill the bacteria on your skin and get rid of body odor.
Preservatives: To give the washes a long shelf-life.
Fragrances: To give you a pleasant scent after you shower. However, the fragrances are in low concentration.
Shower Gel vs Body Wash : Detailed Comparison
A lot of folks use shower gel and body wash interchangeably. Of course out of lack of knowledge but these two are very different even though they are both used to clean the body. Here’s how:
Take a bottle of each and try shaking them gently. See any difference?
Now, smear a sizable amount of each on your palms. Notice any difference?
The shower gel is thicker, firmer, and is gel-like in consistency hence the name shower gel. The body wash on the other hand is thinner, more like liquid soap. That is the first difference between the two.
2. Fragrance Concentration
Now sniff each of the two bottles starting with the body wash. Notice how strong the scent of the shower gel is. It almost chokes you while that of the body wash is mild and you can sniff for longer without sneezing. That’s the other main difference. Shower gels have a higher fragrance concentration while body washes have a significantly lower fragrance concentration.
However, both come in a variety of scents just like perfumes. You can get a shower gel and a body wash with a fruity scent, woody, citrus, herbs, or a combination. Just like perfumes, you can get them in just about any scent you can think of.
Even though both are used for cleaning the body, they vary in uses.
First of all, shower gels are better used during the warmer months. You can also use a bathing gel in any season if you live in the tropical region. Body washes on the other hand are great for cold months or if you live in cold regions. This is because shower gels are less moisturizing than body wash. Body washes contain more moisture and occlusive agents that help seal in moisture. The cold makes your skin dry hence the need to use a product with high moisture content.
Also because of the high moisture in body washes, they are most ideal for people with dry skin and those with sensitive skin as they need more moisture to keep their skin healthy. People with oily skin and normal skin are safe to use shower gels. In fact, people with oily skin will benefit from the clarifying benefits of the shower gel.
A little caution when using body washes for their moisturizing effect; don’t scrub your skin when bathing. Instead, use a washcloth to apply the body wash onto your skin. Scrubbing takes away the moisture leaving your skin dry. If you have a break-out prone skin and you ever noticed a breakout after using a body wash then know the reason was the scrubbing.
To seal in the moisture from the body wash, experts recommend that you apply a moisturizer after you shower.
Although this is not something you should do often, you can use your shower gel as an alternative for a shampoo should you ever run out of shampoo and you badly need to wash your hair. Shower gels are also a good substitute for bubble baths.
From our section on ingredients, you can see that shower gels and body washes differ in their formulation even though they both have water as the base. Shower gels have ingredients that work towards clarifying and exfoliating while body washes lean towards moisturizing. This difference in the formulation is what makes them differ in uses.
Shower gels are rich in exfoliating formulations which body washes seem not to have. Exfoliating formulations help to scrub away the dead skin cells leaving your skin feeling renewed and supple. If you’ve been keen on shower gels you will have noticed some with exfoliating agents like brown sugar, oatmeal, sea salt, or coffee.
Also Read: 9 Best Shower Head Filters For Hard Water
Shower Gel vs Body Wash : Pros and Cons
A look at the pros and cons of each should also help you decide what will suit you most.
Pros and Cons of Shower Gel
Pros and Cons of Body Wash
Q1: Is it OK to use a Body Wash on your Hair?
A1: You can use your body wash to clean your hair however that will be damaging your hair in the long run. Your hair has different needs from the rest of your body. Using a body wash will strip off the oils and moisture making the hair really dull.
Q2: Does Shower Gel kill Germs?
A2: Shower gels do not contain antiseptic formulations that help in killing germs. What they do is get the germs off your skin but not kill them.
Q3: Are Shower Gels And Body Washes Hygienic?
A3: The only way to tell whether a shower gel or body wash is hygienic is by checking what ingredients each is made of. This is why it’s important to always read the labels when buying. Some ingredients are harmful to the skin.
Q4: How do you use Shower Gel on your Body?
A4: Start by wetting your body and the washcloth or a loofah. Then dispense a small amount of the bathing gel on the washcloth and rub it against itself to create lather and foam. Now using the lathered washcloth clean your whole body.
Q5: Are Antioxidants Important in Bath or Shower Gel?
A5: Antioxidants in a bath or shower gel are beneficial to your skin. They help protect your skin from the damages of free radicals. They are also important in skin firming, anti-inflammation, treatment of scars, and repairing the damages of sun exposure.
Also Read: 9 Best Bath Bombs for Sensitive Skin
Final Thoughts – Which One is Best for You?
Which one to pick boils down to your skin type and your preference. If you have dry and sensitive skin then you have no business investing in a shower gel. It won’t work for your skin. If your skin is normal to oily, well, have a blast.
You can also use them interchangeably. During the warmer months, you can use a shower gel and shift to body washes for the colder months.
In short, both the shower gel and the body wash are effective when used correctly. If you are not sure how each responds to your skin, try each out and judge from the results.
I hope we have finally settled this shower gel vs body wash debate once and for all.