Shower Gel Vs Body Wash: Which Should You Choose?

Many of us don't think too much about what we use to wash our bodies. Soap, shower gel, body wash: is there really a difference? There is, and you should consider these differences before buying your next one. We've researched shower gel and body wash and have put together this guide to help you understand which is best for you.

Shower gel is a translucent type of cleanser that is usually highly-fragrant and brightly colored. It isn't naturally moisturizing. Body wash, on the other hand, is creamy and contains ingredients to help your skin feel moisturized and refreshed. Both of them have their place, but you should probably use body wash as your daily cleaner. 

Keep reading for an explanation of each product, when and why you should use each one, and answers to more questions about shower gel and body wash. Here we go!

Different bottles for shower gel, body wash and other cosmetics product, Shower Gel Vs Body Wash: Which Should You Choose?

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Difference Between Shower Gel And Body Wash

Dispenser bottles in a row on a bathroom countertop

Even though both are liquid forms of soap, there are some differences between shower gel and body wash that might make you think twice about which you use. Here is a simple explanation of each product.

Shower Gel

Shower gel is a type of cleansing agent. While body wash is creamy in texture, shower gel is translucent and gel-like, hence its name. It typically comes in beautiful, elegant fragrances and attractive colors.

In fact, this is a difference between many shower gels and body washes. Shower gels are designed more for fragrance and appearance than body wash. Shower gels contain more emulsifiers than body wash, which makes them thick and sudsy. They're also made with water, detergent, surfactants, and preservatives.

Is Shower Gel Bad For Your Skin?

Though not necessarily bad for your skin, shower gel might not be the best option for people with uniquely dry skin. Since these products are targeted more toward appearance and luxurious scents, they aren't as easy on the skin as most body washes. They don't contain as many emollients or other moisturizers.

Thus, if you have extremely oily skin, you might do well to use a shower gel. Even if you don't have oily skin, shower gel won't necessarily hurt your skin. Over time, it might irritate it and dry it out, but not immediately. If you mix it in with other types of soap, you won't notice any harm.

Like we mentioned above, there are some shower gels specifically designed to moisturize your skin. For more info, check out this article: 13 Best Shower Gels For Dry Skin.

Body Wash

Body wash also has some added fragrances, but are generally less concerned with how they look. Additionally, body wash often contains more moisturizers than shower gels, in the form of emollients. These emollients help the skin feel soft and remain on the skin even after being rinsed.

Does Body Wash Actually Clean You?

Body wash cleans just as well as a bar of soap. The body wash contains detergents and emulsions that are designed to dissolve and break apart dirt, grime, and sweat. Then, it gets rinsed off in the water.

It does take some pressure to accomplish that task, though, so simply wiping the body wash on once without rubbing it in won't work. Emulsifiers work to create a lather, but they only do that through friction. Body wash works best if you use a washcloth, loofah, pouf, or some other scrubbing material.

Click here to view these poufs on Amazon.

Are Body Washes Better Than Soap?

For a long time, a bar of soap has been the go-to format of cleaner. But nowadays, body wash is gaining in popularity. Bar soap is designed to dissolve the dirt on your skin -- the sweat and natural body oils that create bacteria. But it indiscriminately dissolves all of it without replacing it or moisturizing the skin, so you're left feeling dry (similar to how shower gel works).

Most body washes, on the other hand, do the same thing. But once they've broken up and dissolved all the dirt, they moisturize the skin. This is what the emollients are designed to do. This is important because dry skin, flakiness, and clogged pores can be caused by a lack of moisture.

On the other hand, soap is cheaper and, for some, more convenient. Plus, some soap is made with moisturizing ingredients, like the ones shown below.

Click here to view this soap on Amazon.

What Is The Best Thing To Wash Your Body With?

So, what's the verdict? The best thing to wash your body with depends on your specific needs. Each type of washing substance -- generally grouped into shower gels, body washes, and bar soap -- has its advantages and disadvantages.

Dry Skin: Body Wash

If you have persistently dry skin, body wash is best for you. Dry skin is marked by itchiness, flakiness, irritation, or other skin discomforts. Soap and shower gels (unless otherwise noted) cause dry skin and don't do enough to replace the moisture they're removing.

Look for a body wash with moisturizing power. This moisturizing ability comes from either lipids, which replace the oil the body wash is removing, or emollients, which stay on your skin and trap in moisture. The following ingredients signify some sort of moisturizing factor: shea butter, olive oil, almond oil, aloe vera, or glycerin.

This one, for instance, contains shea butter:

Click here to view this moisturizing body wash on Amazon.

This one, on the other hand, contains glycerin, a type of emollient:

Click here to view this moisturizing body wash on Amazon.

Excessively oily skin: shower gel

Shower gel, as we mentioned above, gets rid of all the oils on your skin. Thus, if you're battling oil and grease on your body, shower gel will counteract it effectively. Some shower gels, like the ones below, are designed specifically for oily skin.

Click here to view this shower gel on Amazon.

Or try this lemon-scented one for a refreshing lift:

Click here to view this shower gel on Amazon.

Most luxurious: shower gel

If you're looking for a fragrant, beautiful product, you'll find shower gel most useful. Need to de-stress and enjoy your bathtime? Look no further than a lovely-scented gel like the ones below.

Click here to view this shower gel on Amazon.

Plus, you can always use lotion like these after you finish in order to replace the moisture that the shower gel removed.

Click here to view this lotion on Amazon.

Click here to view this lotion on Amazon.

Is there a right and a wrong way to use shower gel? This article will answer that question: How To Use Shower Gel (With And Without A Loofah)

Best for everyday use: body wash

Even if you don't have dry skin, body wash will help you retain your natural moisture. Over time, too much shower gel that isn't intended to moisturize will have adverse effects. Here are some great, affordable body washes that you can use every day.

Click here to view this Dove body wash on Amazon.

Click here to view this Aveeno body wash on Amazon.

In Closing

Blue and white bottles for shower gel, body wash and other cosmetics product

Both shower gel and body wash are liquid forms of soap that serve different purposes. Body wash moisturizes as it cleans, which is perfect for those with dry skin. Shower gel is luxurious and relaxing and can be used as long as you have other ways to moisturize your skin. We hope this article will help you decide which product to purchase next!

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