Can You Use Shampoo As Body Wash?

Jenna Jolls

Can you use shampoo as body wash? We bet you have asked yourself this question at least once in your life. Plus, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post if you weren't just a little bit curious about the answer. Can you really interchange the two? Or is it better to utilize them towards their proper purpose?

Whether out of curiosity or out of necessity (sure, it saves you money if you only buy one product), you need to understand the components of each product and why they should be used for their respective purposes.

Can You Use Shampoo as Body Wash?

Technically and as per expert advice, the answer is no.

Unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer, shampoos are made specifically to treat and clean the hair and scalp. Meanwhile, body washes are made for the body. Using shampoo as a body soap might result in unwanted effects on your skin, such as dry skin or skin irritation. This is especially true if you already have sensitive skin.

Are you willing to risk it? Read on to learn more...

What are the Similarities Between Shampoo and Body Wash?

The use of shampoo has become a part of our regular hygienic routine, but they are not one size fits all. Dermatologists need to know how shampoos and conditioners work with their specific ingredients so that they can provide the best advice to their clients. People think that they can use shampoo in replacement of body wash, and vice versa, due to the similarities these two products have.

It is true that shampoo and body wash share similar chemical structures, but can you use shampoo as body wash just because they have similar structures?

Still, the answer is no. Though there are similarities in their structure, both still work in different ways. Shampoo is best suited for washing hair, and body wash should be reserved for bathing your skin.

Most shampoos and body wash contain the same ingredients such as water, pH-regulating agents, fragrances, and other ingredients that provide the lather effects.

These similarities become the reasons why people often get confused between shampoo and body wash, especially if you remove their corresponding labels. A shampoo bottle and body wash bottle both look the same and feel the same to the touch.

You may be tempted to think that other kinds of shampoos could work, but the answer still stands. Whether you're using regular shampoo, baby shampoo, a shampoo bar, or even dog shampoo, it's not recommended to attempt to use them instead of body wash. We'll explain more below.

How Do Shampoo and Body Wash Differ?

Despite the similarities between shampoo and body wash, the reason why you cannot use them interchangeably lies in various factors. Keeping these factors in mind will make you realize the reason why the answer to can you use shampoo as body wash is a no.

Shampoo Works Specifically on the Hair (e.g. color treatments and hair damage)

Different shampoo labels state the exact mechanism for which the shampoo is made. Some are specifically made for color treatments, some for dry hair, some have a volumizing effect, while some have components to treat breakage and split-ends. The bottom line: Does your body need all of these?

The answer is no, right? We do not dye our body so color treatment shampoos are out of the equation. Neither do you worry about volumizing or treating split ends on your body. So can you use shampoo as body wash if the shampoo is meant for dry hair? Does it equate to dry skin? Again, the answer is no.

pH Level Differences

pH levels affect our skin and hair more than we’ll ever know. We have our skin microbiome, which strives at a certain pH level. Using a different pH level than what our skin needs can kill the good bacteria present in the skin and disrupt the skin’s microbiome.

Likewise, for the hair, the pH level of shampoos can affect our hair and scalp health. A study showed that all shampoos’ pH levels range from 3.5 to 9.0. Meanwhile, the skin’s pH is between 4.5 and 6.5. Some shampoos may have lower pH levels, while others have higher pH levels. These differences in pH are one of the logical reasons not to use shampoo as a body wash.

When choosing the right shampoo for your hair and the appropriate body wash for your skin, make sure that the products do not ruin your hair and body’s natural pH levels.

Body Wash Contains Exfoliants

Body wash is meant to remove oil and dirt FROM the skin. Hence, they have specific components that shampoos do not have such as exfoliants. Exfoliants help in removing excess sebum and dirt from the body, taming oily skin. The exfoliants work hard to accomplish this cleaning purpose, removing dead skin cells from your skin so that new ones can appear.

Can you use shampoo as body wash then?

If you use shampoo as a body wash, you won’t be able to achieve the same cleaning benefits as the actual body wash. Conversely, if you use body wash as shampoo, the exfoliating effects of the body wash can be damaging and unhealthy for your scalp.

Body Wash has Milder Ingredients

Though exfoliants may be bad for your scalp, other ingredients of the body wash are gentler than shampoos. Our skin is mostly more sensitive than our scalp. Hence, body wash contains ingredients that work to address the skin’s sensitivity

What Can I Substitute for Body Wash?

Now you know that you cannot use shampoo as body wash, do you still have other options?

  1. Oil Bath - Aside from the regular soap, you can try some natural ways to clean your body. An oil bath comes as the best solution for those people with dry skin. Since oil locks in moisture, it becomes an essential part of skin hydration and moisturizing.
    You can use different essential oil and therapeutic oil products when you take a bath. Just remember to keep a non-slip mat on the floor. Using oils may make the floor slippery, so you need to be extra cautious with your safety.
  2. Shower Gels - Shower gels have become a trend right now. Quite a lot of people use this as a replacement for body wash. There are even some who get confused between the two. Shower gels have a firmer texture than body washes. Shower gels also have a stronger fragrance than body wash.
    However, when looking to purchase a shower gel as a replacement for your body wash, make sure to choose products free from sulfates and other harsh ingredients that might damage the skin.
  3. Body Scrub - Body washes have exfoliating properties, but their exfoliating properties could not compare to that of body scrubs. A body scrub is purposely made for exfoliating. Thus, you can feel the beads and exfoliants better when using this body product. It helps remove dead skin cells and dirt from your skin to give your body healthy new cells and a better glow.
  4. Shower Foam - A body wash needs to be lathered on the skin to see its foaming effect; whereas shower foam produces the foam as soon as you pump something on your palm. Shower foams bubble a lot and it serves as a good alternative for body wash, especially for bubble bath loving kids.
  5. All-in-One Wash - You can also choose an all-in-one wash. If you want one product that can serve as a shampoo and body wash at the same time, then choose this cleansing product. Though rare in the market, few manufacturers perfected the formulation to work well in both the hair and skin. Moreover, this becomes convenient for people who travel a lot. You do not need to bring a lot of bottles for shampoo and wash. It reduces your luggage and it works the same as both shampoo and body wash.

What if I Use Shampoo as Body Wash?

The topic of can you use shampoo as body wash has been around for ages. While experts do not agree to use shampoo as body wash, there are still people who do and swear that it works just fine. Some people do use shampoo in replacement of a body wash, especially when caught in the middle of a shower and they run out of body wash.

If you use shampoo as body wash, it will feel stickier and harder to rinse off given its composition. When you use a shampoo on your body – whether it is accidental or not – just make sure to rinse it off well. Take time in ensuring that you rinse off all shampoo residue. Otherwise, it can make your skin dry, stripping it of its natural oils.


Experts do not recommend the use of shampoo as a body wash. However, some people still use it on their bodies. Aside from shampoo, there are different skin products you can use as a substitute for body wash. Using these products specifically formulated for the skin is better than using shampoo.

Also, you need to consider the ingredients and components of both shampoo and body wash. Shampoo works specifically on the hair, so you must utilize it that way. Whereas, body wash is intended to work well on your skin given your skin’s unique mechanisms and pH level.

What we use on our skin totally depends on us. Make sure that you choose nothing but the best for your skin.

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