What Happens If You Use Shampoo As Body Wash?

Jennifer Rhodes

By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated

What Happens If You Use Shampoo As Body Wash?

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Ideally, you would always bathe your skin with body wash. That being said, there may be times when you have to improvise to stay clean. Will shampoo work as a substitute in these situations?

Shampoo can be used as an effective skin cleanser if you ever run out of body wash. However, you should avoid applying it to your face or private parts since it may cause irritated skin. Additionally, shampoo isn't effective at washing away oils and may leave you feeling slimy.

To clear things up, this article describes the effects of using shampoo as a body wash—and some alternatives you can try.

The effects of using shampoo as body wash

Generally, applying shampoo as a body wash won't cause any issues in the short term. Since shampoo soaks over your scalp, it's designed to be safe for your skin. Plus, these two products usually contain many of the same ingredients.

Still, you may notice a few differences when using shampoo instead of body wash.

For example, applying shampoo may make your skin more slick than usual. This is because shampoo helps retain natural oils, while body wash strips them away. As a result, you might feel greasy after hopping out of the shower.

Shampoos are milder cleansing solutions than body washes. In other words, they're not as good at scrubbing away dirt and grime.

Shampoo can also cause skin irritation—particularly if you have sensitive skin. To be safe, avoid lathering it on your face and private areas.

Risks of using shampoo as body wash

While typically safe, applying shampoo as a body wash can pose several risks. And the longer you substitute it, the more these risks increase.

Below are some issues you might run into:

  • Dryness: Shampoo is usually acidic, while body wash is alkaline. As a result of this pH difference, lathering shampoo may cause your skin to become more dry and dull.
  • Irritated skin: In rare cases, using shampoo as body wash can lead to rashes or swelling. It's more common where your skin is sensitive, such as your face and private areas.
  • Odor: Body wash is more efficient at cleaning off dirt and sweat than shampoo. So you may smell less fragrant than usual when using shampoo instead.
  • Greasiness: While shampoo can make skin dry, it may also have the opposite effect. Since the ingredients help retain oils, you may feel greasy after using shampoo as a body wash.

Differences between shampoo and body wash

Despite their similarities, there are many differences between shampoo and body wash. And by knowing these differences, you'll understand why they don't make great substitutes for each other:

  • pH levels: Shampoo typically has an acidic pH between 5 and 7. Meanwhile, body wash averages closer to 9 or 10 pH. So your skin might get irritated when substituting one for the other.
  • Moisturization: Shampoos are usually better moisturizers than body wash. This is because they help coat and retain natural oils in your hair and skin.
  • Cleansing strength: Body wash is the overall superior skin cleanser. Applying shampoo instead may leave unwanted dirt and odors.
  • Fragrance: Shampoo bonds fragrance mostly to your hair, not skin. So these pleasant aromas are much less noticeable when used as a body wash.

Alternatives to shampoo for washing your body

Shampoo isn't your only option if you run out of body wash. Several other products found in your bathroom are just as good—or even better.

Below are body wash substitutes besides shampoo:

  • Soap bars: Soap bars are an excellent option for washing your body. Plus, they use fewer ingredients than shampoo and rarely cause skin issues.
  • Shower gels: Shower gels are similar to body washes but thicker and less runny. Consider keeping a spare bottle in your bathroom for when you're in a pinch.
  • Cleansing oils: Using shower oils can simultaneously cleanse and moisturize skin. For the best results, apply the product before stepping into the shower.
  • DIY scrub: Believe it or not, you can make your own shower scrubs! In addition to being a fun project, they're a good backup for when you run out of body wash.
  • Hand soap: In a pinch, hand soap is a decent body wash. But only resort to this when nothing else is available since it may feel harsh on your skin.

Try keeping a variety of the above products in your bathroom. That way, you always have a substitute available if you run out of body wash.

Can you use body wash as shampoo?

You might think that body wash can serve as shampoo since the opposite is true. But as it turns out, you should usually avoid putting body wash in your hair.

The main reason is that your hair must retain its natural oils to stay healthy. And unfortunately, body washes can easily strip those same oils. As a result, your hair is more likely to become brittle and dry.

Another problem is pH balance. As mentioned earlier, body wash is typically far more alkaline than shampoo. And since scalp skin is sensitive, this imbalance may result in itchiness, irritation, or even dandruff.

However, these problems generally only occur if you apply body wash to your hair on a regular basis. Using it just once in a while likely won't cause you any noticeable issues.

You can also take steps to mitigate the damage of body wash on hair. For example, putting conditioner in after rinsing the body wash out can help prevent dryness.

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