Can you use shampoo as body wash?

Can you use shampoo as body wash?

When your favorite body wash is out of stock or not available at the store, do you find yourself in a pinch? You don't have to worry because you can use shampoo as a body wash. 

Although some will tell you it's okay to use shampoo for your body. However, there are many reasons why we do not recommend it.

For starters, shampoo is typically made with chemicals that aren't intended for the skin—and maybe irritating or drying depending on what kind of ingredients they contain, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is found in most shampoos. 

Furthermore, it often contains fragrance and artificial colors, which can irritate skin and eyes.

In today's post, we will talk about whether or not you can use shampoo as a body wash. Before we get started, let first say that this is a fairly common question people have and the answer varies based on who you ask. 

Table of Contents

Can you use shampoo as body wash?

Yes, we can use it but occasionally. "This is a sort of cycle. If we repeat this process time and time, dirt and soap can build up on the hair shaft and scalp, resulting in seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp and even telogen effluvium-type hair loss," says Dr. Nathaniel Josue.

The shampoo is made of different ingredients to help clean the hair by removing dirt and oils. However, it usually contains chemicals that can irritate the skin on some occasions. Thus, you have to use it cautiously when applied to the skin as shampoo may cause skin irritation.

When you need to use shampoo as body wash, consider choosing baby shampoo because it has fewer chemicals and fragrances, making it a great alternative to body wash. You can find this type of shampoo at any drugstore or supermarket.

In addition, you should avoid using shampoo with harsh chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sometimes called Sodium Laureth Sulfate, on the skin because it may irritate your skin. SLS is a common ingredient in shampoos that are known to penetrate through the skin.

What is a shampoo made from?

Can you use shampoo as body wash?

The shampoo is made from different ingredients like Cocamidopropyl betaine, primary surfactant, secondary surfactant, deionized water, and many other chemicals. 

These ingredients help the shampoo remove dirt and oil from your hair. However, these same chemicals can be very harsh on the skin. That's why it may not be a good idea to use shampoo as a body wash.


In shampoo, the surfactant is the main ingredient that helps break up the oil and dirt in your hair. Unfortunately, when used alone, these surfactants are very harsh on your skin because they may cause dryness, irritation, or even scratches on the skin.

Chelating agent:

As a chelating agent, it combines calcium and magnesium from hard water with surfactants formed as a result of the reaction between the sulfate and the metallic ions.

As well as preventing these metals from precipitating out of solution which can cause them to form deposits on your scalp or skin.


The fragrances found in shampoo are also why you should not use shampoo as a body wash. These fragrances can be very irritating to your skin, and they may even cause allergic reactions on those with sensitive skin.

Deionized water:

This ingredient acts as a solvent that can dissolve minerals and salts. It is added to the shampoo to maintain the pH level. In other words, it keeps the shampoo from being too high or too low in acidity levels.

Conditioning emollients

The conditioners are another ingredient found in shampoo that is not meant to be used on your skin. These can clog pores and prevent them from breathing which may cause acne problems.

You have to go with a body wash to avoid these moisturizing ingredients, especially sensitive or dry skin.

The shampoo and body wash both works to help remove dirt and oil from your skin. However, the shampoo contains ingredients that make it a harsher option for your skin. You can use it as a body wash, but only occasionally will you see the benefits of using it as a replacement for a regular body wash.

What is a body wash made from?

Now that we went over what shampoo is made out of. Let's talk about what body wash is made from and why you should use it for your skin instead of shampoo.

For starters, body washes are typically designed to be used on the skin versus shampoo, which can strip away your hair's natural oil. This means that the ingredients in a body wash won't dry out or irritate your skin.

In addition, most body washes also contain moisturizers that soften the skin without clogging pores to prevent acne breakouts. If you use shampoo as a body wash, the smell might not be good. A body wash has unique fragrances that might not have been in the shampoo.

How Does Body Wash Work?

The function of body wash is based on its ingredients which are mainly said to be much gentler on the skin compared to shampoo. The body wash has more natural ingredients to cleanse, hydrate, and even nourish the skin.  

The main ingredient found in most body washes is sodium lauryl sulfate, which acts as a cleanser. However, it's also seen in many other products, including shampoos, detergents, toothpaste, shaving cream, etc. 

The general function of this chemical is to remove oil and dirt from your hands or face without causing damage or irritation.

Some of its components are also considered mild enough for sensitive skin types since they won't cause severe dryness or acne breakouts.

A body wash bottle typically comes in a gel form, and you can find it as blue or white. The ingredients include water, fluoride, glycerin, hydroxyethylcellulose, polyethylene, propylene glycol, and sodium Laureth sulfate.

Benefits of body wash

woman using body wash
  • It will smoothen skin.
  • It helps to remove blackheads.
  • A body wash helps to control excess oil on the skin.
  • It helps to remove the dirt and bacteria from the skin without causing irritation or dryness. You can use it for all types of skin.
  • It gives a cooling effect and refreshing, bubbly feeling, which is also suitable for summer.
  • The body wash contains fewer chemicals than shampoo.
  • It helps you to remove dead skin.

How Does Shampoo Work?

The procedure of working the shampoo on the body is based on its ingredients, including surfactants, chelating agents, fragrances, and deionized water. These elements can be said to be harsh and irritating on the skin when used alone.

Surfactants are similar to the soap you use in your kitchen. They work by attaching themselves to oil particles and dirt while they are dissolved in water. That results in the removal of the pollutant from your skin or hair.

However, when used alone, these agents can lead to other problems like flakiness on the scalp, dandruff which can lead to even worse issues if not removed immediately.

Benefits of shampoo

  • It will provide freshness to the scalp.
  • It helps to remove dust particles.
  • Shampoo prevents dandruff formation.
  • It increases metabolism in the body, which will help you to stay active throughout the day.
  • It cleanses dirt, germs, and bacteria from the scalp skin.
  • The shampoo helps in the rejuvenation process of your cells, giving a smoother look on your face and confidence in yourself, making you bolder in front of people.
  • It helps to improve blood circulation.

I recommend you to use both a body wash and shampoo, depending on the nature of your skin. For example, if you have dry skin, use shampoo twice a week, but use body washes daily to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized. Please don't be over-ambitious and think that using just shampoo or body wash will solve all your problems related to acne breakouts, oiliness, etc.

Shampoo and Body Wash differences.

We showed you what shampoo is made of that should not be applied directly to your skin. Let's go over what body wash ingredients are meant for your skin type to understand better why they are different.

Besides being gentle on the skin, body wash also comes with moisturizing ingredients, which you won't find in shampoo. The reason for this is because these elements are meant to lock in moisture rather than a strip. So it's away like what's seen in shampoos.

Body washes may also contain natural oils that nourish the skin while leaving it looking polished and radiant without clogging pores. That can be ideal for those who suffer from acne breakouts or dryness on the body.

On the other hand, the shampoo contains artificial fragrances that aren't suitable for your skin since they can cause irritation or even damage your overall health, incredibly if overused. 

The shampoo is made of harsh chemicals that function as cleaners, but body washes should perform this job instead due to their milder components.

The natural ingredients found in body washes are also designed to bring out the best in your skin texture, while the shampoo is meant for cleaning only. Thus, not treating or improving certain conditions like acne or dryness. 

If you suffer from any of these conditions, then use a targeted skincare product. Because that will help reduce their effects without causing additional damage to your skin.

Now that you know what makes body wash different from shampoo. Let's go over how many times you have to use it per day. You can even tell by now if it is ideal for your lifestyle.

Shampoo and body wash similarities.

After knowing how they work and what they contain as ingredients, let's discuss some of the similarities between these two products to make things clearer.

Surfactants are used in both shampoos and body washes to make them more efficient at their job of cleaning the skin/hair.

You have to rinse off both products thoroughly before you can get dressed. This way, it doesn't cause the pores to clog and cause acne.

Since both products are used to remove the excess oil, dirt, and germs from your skin/hair, you will achieve the best results if you use a combination of both body washes and shampoo in your daily routine or even one of them twice a week or more depending on your need.

Dermatologists recommend using both products for the best results. But if you suffer from any skin conditions like acne breakouts, etc. Then it would be best if you opted for body washes only to avoid the harsh chemicals in the shampoo that may cause additional damage to your skin.

How often should you use shampoo?

The shampoo is considered the most critical step in any skincare routine because it helps define and maintain the natural oils in the scalp, which results in healthy hair growth and vibrant colors or highlights when done correctly. 

That's why people should use shampoo every time they take a shower. However, that doesn't mean you can't switch up with body washes for cleansing and moisturizing your skin after an intense workout at the gym or lacrosse practice.

How often can you use body wash?

The body is considered more of a treatment than the hair because it's usually exposed to environmental pollutants like dust, germs, and bacteria. So using them too often can cause your skin to dry out if they don't come with moisturizing components.

That's why you should only use body wash once per day, depending on how much time you spend outside for special occasions like parties or weddings that require a heavy make-up application.

It's best to stick to one method that works with your skin type and lifestyle. Yet then following what others follow because everyone has different views on their skincare routine. 

It is also dependent on the seasons too with drying winter months versus humid summer climates. So you need to adjust accordingly so your skin doesn't suffer too much harshness.

Top Alternative of Body Wash?


Soaps are mostly considered the alternative to body washes. Because they are much like them in every way, however, they contain moisturizing ingredients that can be great for your skin when used sparingly.

That's why you should only use them once per day at most since they contain harsh chemicals that can irritate when overused. They also come with natural oils that help nourish your skin rather than strip it of its natural oils.

Shower Gel

Shower gels are another alternative option for the body wash that comes with a few differences. One is how they come without artificial fragrances or colors.

Since these could irritate your skin when overused. Shower gels also contain natural oils that the body wash doesn't have because it's meant to cleanse and not nourish.

Body Scrub

Body scrubs are great for those who want to use soaps rather than body washes. But they come with moisturizing beads that can further cleanse your skin when used in the shower after you bathe.

Charcoal Soap

Yes, Charcoal soap is an excellent option if you don't have soap or body wash. It comes with activated charcoal that helps draw out dirt and impurities from the skin without drying them out.

It calms down oily skin to prevent acne breakouts and doesn't contain artificial fragrances or colors. The only downside is how it doesn't smell as good as body washes or soaps.

Shower Foam

Lastly, shower foam is one of the unique options for people who are looking for alternatives. That's because it works just like a body wash makes it easy to cleanse your entire body in just one step.

Are there any side effects to utilizing shampoo as a body wash?

The side effects of using shampoo as a body wash can be worse than you imagine. That's because it can lead to dry skin, cracked skin, and itchiness.

If your skin feels like it's burning after using shampoo as a body wash, then that's an indicator of overuse. Therefore you should stop using it immediately or switch back to your usual body wash or soap instead.

How does it feel about washing your body with shampoo?

You may feel the stickiness on the skin, which can be discomfort for many people. We highly recommend switching back to a regular body wash instead of shampoo isn't working for you after time has passed. You don't want to put yourself at risk, especially with the side effects we've mentioned above.

But in case of emergency, you can use a shampoo for body wash for single use. But if you think it will be ongoing right the way. Then this could be a fall side effect on the body, and in the end, dryness and skin problems can arise.


You should try using shampoo as a body wash if you have no other alternative. Of course, you can always use it temporarily to help you get through your day-to-day activities or emergencies.

But, if you think that shampoo is not for you, we recommend switching back to the usual soap or body wash instead. The side effects will be worth it in the long run, and they're not hard to find at all.

Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M D.