Is It OK To Use Body Wash As Shampoo Or Vice Versa?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan
by Charushila B

You woke up late on a Sunday, made your way to the bathroom, your eyes half-closed. You need to take a shower before meeting your girlfriends for brunch. But surprise, surprise! You have run out of shampoo! What do you do? Use the body wash to wash your hair or wait until you buy a shampoo bottle on the way back? Before you jump to a conclusion, let’s dig if you can use your body wash as a shampoo or vice versa. Read on!

Is A Body Wash The Same As A Shampoo?

No. A body wash is not the same as a shampoo. They look the same and may even have a similar texture, but there are many differences between body washes and shampoos.

Shampoos are created for cleaning the scalp and hair strands without harming the hair and maintaining the scalp’s pH. Body washes are formulated as per the different skin types – dry, normal, and oily.

So, can you use a body wash as shampoo? Let’s find out in the following segment.

Can You Use A Body Wash As A Shampoo?

No, it is better not to use a body wash as a shampoo. Here are the reasons:

  • Different pH: Body washes have a pH of 5 or 6.5, while shampoos have a pH of 4-6. pH imbalance can negatively affect your scalp health. Regularly using body wash as shampoo may lead to dandruff and sensitive scalp.
  • Cleansing Strength: Body washes are milder than shampoos. Your hair tends to trap dirt, pollution, and sweat. Therefore, your scalp requires stronger and effective cleansing compared to the skin on your face and body.
  • Formulation: Most body washes contain glycerin, and shampoos rarely contain it. Unlike body washes, shampoos are formulated with silicone to keep the hair shiny. They also contain detangling ingredients, like cetrimonium chloride and cetrimonium methosulfate, and hair proteins.
  • Different Mode Of Action: Body washes are formulated to remove excessive oil from the skin. Applying them to your hair as shampoos regularly may strip the hair of its natural oils, making it dry and frizzy. On the other hand, shampoos do not remove the natural oils from the hair.

This list of differences between shampoos and body washes now leaves us with the golden question – if not body wash, is there anything else you can use to wash your hair just in case you run out of shampoo? Yes, you can! Read on to find out.

What Can You Use Instead Of Shampoo?

Here’s a list of products and kitchen ingredients you can use instead of shampoo that will not damage your hair or make it tangled and frizzy:

  • Dry Shampoo: Grab a bottle of dry shampoo for situations when you don’t have time to wash your hair or have run out of shampoo. Dry shampoos cleanse the scalp instantly and add the right amount of oomph to your mane.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse: If you have a bottle of apple cider vinegar, mix a teaspoon of it with 1 liter of water, and rinse your hair with it. It will add shine to your hair and make it bouncy. However, apple cider vinegar may make your hair smell, which wears off after a while. You may also spray a little perfume on your hair to cancel out the strong cider smell.
  • Reetha (Indian soapberry): Reetha or Indian soapberry is a natural hair cleanser. You can buy reetha from a local Ayurveda store or an Indian/Pakistani store. Take the seeds out of 20-25 berries. Toss the berries into a saucepan and add 200 ml water. Let it boil until the water reduces to half. Squash the berries and strain the water. Use the water just like you use shampoo.

These are the three best ways you can wash your hair instead of using shampoo. But what do if the situation is the other way around, i.e., you run out of body wash? Can you use shampoo as a body wash? Let’s find out in the next section.

Can You Use A Shampoo As A Body Wash?

Yes, you can use a shampoo as a body wash. However, washing it off may be difficult as it will stick to your skin. Also, there is no glycerin in shampoos, and your skin will feel dry and stretched. Make sure to use a good moisturizer. Also, avoid using shampoo as a body wash regularly.

Before coming to a close, here are some hair care tips for you if you ever have to use a body wash as a shampoo. Take a look.

Hair Care Tips If You Have Used A Body Wash As A Shampoo

  • Using a conditioner after washing your hair is a must.
  • If you have also run out of conditioner, apply a drop or two of argan or coconut oil to your hair.
  • Use a serum to retain the hair’s shine.
  • Blow-dry your hair on a cool setting.
  • Brush your hair to detangle it.
  • Add another coat of argan oil or serum.

To Conclude

Body washes and shampoos are made of different ingredients to suit your skin and hair, respectively. Using a shampoo as a body wash or vice versa once in a while is fine. But using them interchangeably can disbalance the pH of your scalp or skin and make your hair or skin prone to damage, dryness, scaling, and dandruff. So, stock up on shampoo and body wash to avoid running into a dicey situation like this!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can you use a conditioner as a body wash?

No, you cannot use a conditioner as a body wash. Conditioners do not have cleansing agents and will make your skin sticky and dirty.

What can I use to wash my hair if I don’t have shampoo?

You may use a dry shampoo, apple cider vinegar rinse, or Indian soapberry to wash your hair if you do not have shampoo.

Can you use a shampoo for a bubble bath?

It is best to avoid using shampoos for a bubble bath. Soaking in a shampoo solution for a long time can dry your skin.

Can you use shower gel as shampoo?

No, do not use shower gel as shampoo. Both have surfactants for cleansing, but a shower gel’s pH suits the skin and not the scalp and hair. This can make your hair dry, tangled, and frizzy.

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