How To Use Shower Gel (With And Without A Loofah)

If you've been in the hygiene aisle at the store lately, you might have noticed - there sure are an awful lot of ways to get clean! Didn't showering used just to involve a bar of soap, maybe a washcloth? Now there are products as far as the eye can see - soaps, creams, body washes, shower gels. What does it all mean? Not to mention the ways to apply them - fancy loofahs, shower brushes, and more. Do you really need all that? Not to worry, we've sorted out top recommendations and tips from dermatologists to let you know exactly what you need to know for shower time.

Shower gel, like body wash, is similar to soap. It is intended for cleaning the whole body. There are four simple ways to apply shower gel. You can put shower gel on with your hands, with a loofah, with a wet washcloth, or with a shower brush. 

So in what ways is shower gel the same as body wash, and how is it different? And what was wrong with the old bar of soap, anyway? Keep reading, and we'll explain everything you need to know about shower gel for the most relaxing and productive shower experience ever.

Small bottles of shower gels inside a bathroom, How To Use Shower Gel (With And Without A Loofah)

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What Is Shower Gel and How Do You Use It?

Shower gel is a specialized product, similar to liquid soap. It's made primarily from water, betaines, and sodium laureth sulfate. Soap, however, uses lye while shower gel relies on synthetic detergents to clean. This means that shower gel has a lower pH than soap and might feel less drying on the skin.

Shower gels use milder detergents than shampoo, which means that shower gel can double as shampoo in an emergency. However, it may not provide the same conditioning or other treatment that you depend on for your hair care. It will give approximately the same result as using a standard moisturizing shampoo (though that may not be as high of a quality as your standard products). Already have dry hair? Learn how to condition here.

How to use shower gel

Shower gel can be applied in four typical ways:

  • With your hands. Squeeze some into your wet palms in the shower and rub into a lather. Apply all over, then rinse off.
  • With a loofah. Apply gel to the loofah, wet, then rub all over until it foams and lathers. Rinse off. Don't scrub hard - the loofah exfoliates on its own. Too much force can irritate the skin.
  • With a wet washcloth. Apply gel to the damp cloth and work into a lather. Rub all over, then rinse.
  • With a shower body brush. This is a great option for someone with limited mobility. Have a hard time bending over to reach the bottoms of your legs? With a long shower brush, you won't have to stretch so much. Simply apply the gel to the wet brush, rub it all over, and then rinse.

Click here to see this shower brush on Amazon.

What Are The Benefits of Shower Gel?

Sure, you could just use a regular bar of soap in the shower. And you'd get clean, more or less. But there are some definite perks to shower gel that make it a step above, such as:

Skin treatment

Shower gel comes in more formulas and combinations than soap. It doesn't matter whether you need something for dry or oily skin, something with built-in antiperspirants, something to exfoliate, or more. If you can think of a beauty treatment you want your gel to do, then it's probably out there, somewhere. On the other hand, soap tends to be more of a one-trick pony. It cleans. Period.


While soap does have a distinctive clean scent, shower gel simply has more varieties. Much like how gels blending abilities mean it can cater to various skin needs, the same anything-is-possible spirit applies to the smell. Amazon rain forest, calming lavender, or ocean spray - you can find a shower gel to smell like just about anything you might desire.


Soap, once open, sits exposed and open to contamination from...well, anything. Shower gel, on the other hand, is bottled. A little is squeezed out and used, but the rest remains in the bottle, untouched. Nothing really can faze the gel inside, unlike a bar of soap that can collect stray hairs or other gross particles. Did you ever pick up a bar of soap and just not want anywhere NEAR your body, much less responsible for cleaning it? Due to the improved storage for shower gel, multiple people can even share one bottle, but no germs. Try that with a bar of soap.

Dry bar of soap in a white background

What Is the Difference Between Body Wash And Shower Gel?

Body wash and shower gel are so similar that many people use the terms interchangeably. This isn't entirely correct; however - there is a difference between body wash and shower gel.

Body wash and shower gel both clean the body. But they have a different texture or consistency - body wash is similar to liquid soap. On the other hand, Shower gel is thicker and firmer, like the word gel in the name implies.

As a general rule, body wash tends to be more moisturizing. Body wash offers more hydration for dry skin. Shower gel offers a greater combination or variety of scents and ingredients.

Can You Use Shower Gel Daily?

Dermatologists all seem to agree; shower gel can be used daily. It's meant to clean and can be used as often as needed. If you experience stress to the skin, likely, it isn't the shower gel - it's how you're applying it. Some common problems include:

Using too much.

Read specific directions on your body wash. However, most washes require an amount about the size of a quarter. And most people use at least 3x that much or more. Not only is too much soap drying and harsh on the skin, but it can be hard to rinse off. This leaves skin filmy and sticky.

Using the wrong kind.

If your skin is dry or oily, you need to use a gel that reflects that. Using shower gel that isn't compatible with your skin's pH can worsen or aggravate any skin conditions.

Not letting the water do the work.

Unless your skin is visibly dirty, running water is effective at cleaning most skin. You don't need to scrub tons of cleaner into the skin abrasively. Simply swipe the shower gel lightly over the skin, then let the water rinse the dirt away.

Rinsing with hot water.

Hot water strips the skin of oils and moisture. Use lukewarm water, especially if your skin is already dry.

After your shower, be sure to moisturize properly - learn how here.

Best Shower Gel For My Skin Type

Dry Skin

Click here to see this Aveeno Body Wash on Amazon.

Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

Click here to see this Neutrogena body wash on Amazon.

For Stress Relief

Click here to see this Aveeno Stress Relief body wash on Amazon.

For Sensitive Skin

Click here to see this Vanicream Gentle Wash on Amazon.

For Men

Click here to see Nivea Men's body wash on Amazon.

For Overactive Sweat Glands and Fungus Prevention

Click here to see this Tea Tree body wash on Amazon.

For Natural Beauty

Click here to see this Puracy natural body wash on Amazon.

In Summary...

Shower gel is similar to liquid soap but meant for cleaning the whole body during a shower or bath. It can be applied to the hands directly, a wet washcloth, loofah, or shower brush. Just add some water, then work into a lather. Apply to the body, then rinse off thoroughly. Be sure to use the right amount, which is about a quarter-sized amount. There are many kinds of shower gels for different skin types and pH - pick the best kind for your skin type and concerns. Also, use warm, not hot, water as it is the best for keeping skin healthy and moisturized.

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