Can You Use Shampoo as Body Wash? Or, Can You Use Body Wash as Shampoo?

Posted By Raw Sugar on August 30, 2022

It happens to everyone from time to time. You get into the shower, pick up your body wash bottle and give it a squeeze. To your dismay, you end up with only a little dribble of the gel or liquid and a few sudsy bubbles. Now what?

You scan the other products within quick reach and find yourself eyeing the shampoo bottle. Both products create a lather and wash away oil and impurities. So, can you use shampoo as body wash? The reverse can also happen: an empty shampoo bottle may have you asking, "Can you use body wash as shampoo?" This guide will give you the answer about whether it's a good idea to use body wash as shampoo, so you can make an informed decision the next time you have one of those uh-oh moments.

What Is Shampoo?

Before we get into whether or not you can use shampoo as a body wash, you need to know a little bit about what each type of beauty product actually is. You likely know shampoo is a viscous liquid cleanser used to clean scalp hair, but how exactly does it produce those results?

Let's start with why you need shampoo in the first place. Throughout the day, environmental impurities build up on your scalp. Your body is also producing natural oil called sebum to hydrate your scalp skin. That mixture of impurities and excess sebum can cause your hair to look greasy, lose volume or have an unpleasant smell.

Simply rinsing your hair with water isn't enough to clean it. That's because sebum and many common impurities are oils that water won't mix with. Shampoo is the solution to this problem. It contains cleansing agents called surfactants that lower the surface tension of oils. By doing so, they allow water to mix with oily substances more readily so that they can be washed away.

Surfactants account for roughly 10 to 20% of the total volume of shampoo. The hair care products may also contain other ingredients like:

  • Suspending agents that keep ingredients from separating
  • Boosters to increase lather
  • Conditioners that soften and hydrate hair
  • Colorants and other substances that give shampoo its appearance
  • Balancing agents that keep pH levels in a skin-friendly range
  • Preservatives to extend shelf life
  • Fragrances or essential oils for scent

What Is Body Wash?

Like shampoo, body wash contains surfactants that help water mix with sebum found on the skin and other impurities like sweat and dirt. It differs from bar soap because it usually contains moisturizers that hydrate the skin, people often use it with a shower loofah. Some products also feature supportive ingredients that address skincare concerns like acne or widespread dryness. Curious about the difference between shower gel vs body wash? Usually, body wash is thicker than shower gel and contains more hydrating and supportive ingredients.

Beyond surfactants, body washes share other types of ingredients with shampoo. They are also likely to contain lather boosters, colorants, balancing agents, preservatives, fragrances or essential oils.

Can I Use Shampoo As Body Wash?

At this point, you might be thinking that shampoo and body wash must be interchangeable. After all, they have the same basic types of ingredients and they work the same way. Both of these statements can be true, but shampoo and body wash still aren't the same.

Your hair and skin have different needs. One major difference is pH. Your hair is more acidic than your skin. As a result, manufacturers balance shampoo formulas to be between the pH of your scalp and your hair. Because body wash is intended for your body only, the pH is optimized only for your skin. The increased acidity of shampoo makes it less than ideal to use all over the skin, especially in sensitive areas, and the more alkaline properties of body wash may not make it effective at thoroughly cleansing hair.

This is why when comparing ingredient listings for shampoos and body washes side by side, you're likely to see different ingredient names. Some substances work better in body wash than in shampoo and vice versa. Even when an ingredient can function in both types of products, the amount needed may vary.

So what does this all mean? Generally, it's probably not wise to consistently use shampoo as a body wash or to use body wash as a shampoo. Doing it one time in a pinch may not lead to any issues, but repeatedly substituting one for the other could cause problems or poor results.

Can Body Wash be Used as Shampoo?

We’ve already determined above that it’s generally not wise to consistently use shampoo as body wash. But, what about the question of ‘Can you use body wash as shampoo or ‘Can you wash your hair with body wash’? The short answer: No, you probably shouldn’t use body wash as shampoo. As mentioned above, because of the difference in pH, body wash is probably not going to make your hair as silky-smooth as shampoo. When in doubt, try to use organic, sulfate free, vegan shampoo, which is specially formulated to be good for your hair.

What About Two-in-One Products?

Some brands do offer two-in-one personal care products that work as shampoo and body wash. Often, these products are targeted at children or men, but there are some marketed for women and as unisex options. When creating two-in-one products, manufacturers choose ingredients that are suitable for use from head to toe and choose a compromise level when it comes to pH.

Opinions about two-in-one products are mixed. Some people find them to be convenient and just as good as standalone products, while others may think the products aren't as effective as conventional shampoo and body wash. Where you fall on that spectrum will depend on your personal preferences, your skin and hair types, which specific products you choose and if you have any special concerns, such as skin sensitivity.

The Final Takeaway: To avoid using body wash as shampoo or vice versa, stock up on both body wash and shampoo

The best way to avoid having to use shampoo as a body wash or body wash as shampoo is to stay stocked up on the products that are the best match for your hair and skin. Here at Raw Sugar, we offer a diverse assortment of shampoos and body washes that are free of harmful chemicals and are sulfate free and vegan. Using Cold Pressed Technology, we extract key vitamins, minerals and enzymes from botanical ingredients, so you can benefit from nutrients with every use. And because we never test on animals, you can feel good about choosing our products. Shop the body wash and shampoo selections now to discover the right products for you, so you’re never again in a pinch asking, ‘Can you use shampoo as body wash’ again!

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