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

Knowing the difference between these two products will help you cater to your body’s needs easily.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS
Written by Arshiya Syeda, BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Dip
Edited by Ramona Sinha, MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach
Fact-checked by Medha Deb, Integrated MA  • 

Can you use body wash as shampoo? Face it – we have all asked this question, eyes half-closed, the morning after a night out! Whether you have forgotten to buy a new bottle of shampoo or are just broke, you must know if you can actually use body wash as a hair wash. For instance, Mary, a YouTuber, shares her experiment about using body wash as shampoo. After using body wash on her hair she stated, “I was really surprised, my hair had so much shine after rinsing body wash (i).” She further added, “This stuff really did not make my hair dry at all like my hair does not look stripped or anything, it does not look like it needs to be deep conditioned.” However, let us help you out here. Sit back and read this post before jumping to any conclusion. Find out if using body wash as shampoo can cause any harm, and if shampoo can be used as body wash too. Scroll down!

protip_icon Did You Know?
The body wash is believed to have been used since the 1800s. William Shepphard first patented the liquid soap formula in the year 1865.

Is A Body Wash The Same As A Shampoo?

No. Even though both a shampoo and a body wash are bath products, a body wash is a beauty product and 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. It is a personal care product meant for hair hygiene and maintenance.

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

protip_icon Fun Fact
It is believed that the English word “shampoo” is derived from the Hindi term “champoo” (also called “champi”), which means “massaging” or “kneading.”

Can You Use A Body Wash As A Shampoo?

Woman using body wash as shampoo
Image: Shutterstock

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.

Shampoo Vs. Body Wash

When it comes to the debate of shampoo versus body wash, it is important to use each product for its intended purpose only. Both shampoo and body wash are cleansing agents, but they serve different purposes. Shampoo is formulated specifically for hair, targeting the dirt, oils, and product residue on the scalp and strands. It contains ingredients that nourish and protect the hair while also maintaining your scalp’s pH level (5.5). A body wash is formulated for the skin. It helps remove dirt, sweat, and body oils while maintaining the skin’s moisture balance and pH level (5.4-5.9).

Using shampoo on your body may not provide enough moisturizing benefits, and using body wash on your hair may not cleanse your scalp effectively. Use products that match your skin and hair type and don’t forget to moisturize to keep your skin and hair in top condition.

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?

Different hair products one can use instead of shampoos
Image: Shutterstock

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):
Top view of a bowl of reetha extract
Image: Shutterstock

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?

Woman using shampoo as body wash
Image: Shutterstock

Yes, you can use 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 as it is not appropriate for skin care.

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

Woman washing her hair with body wash
Image: Shutterstock
  • 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.

Infographic: 4 Reasons To Avoid Using A Body Wash As A Shampoo

If you have ever been in the situation of using body wash in the absence of shampoo, then you aren’t alone. While it’s okay during emergencies, you shouldn’t make it a practice. Body washes are not formulated for cleansing the scalp and hair. And the infographic below points out the top reasons you should avoid using it on your scalp. Scroll down and check it out.

4 reasons to avoid using a body wash as a shampoo (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Shampoos and body washes are two different hair and body care products. Shampoo is specifically formulated to cleanse your hair and cater to its needs. Body wash is formulated to suit your skin. So, can you use shampoo as a body wash? While you can use body wash as shampoo once (or vice versa) in a while, it is not advised to do so regularly. Using a body wash on your hair could affect the pH level of your scalp, while a shampoo could change the pH level of the skin. This leaves your scalp or skin prone to damage, dryness, and other issues. It is better to use these products as they were intended.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do shampoos cause pimples?

Yes. Some ingredients in your shampoo can clog your pores and lead to pimples. Pick a shampoo with exfoliants like salicylic acid to prevent buildup and clogged pores.

Is shampoo good for scalp acne?

Shampoos with ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and zinc pyrithione can help remove buildup, dead skin cells, and bacteria that cause scalp acne.

Can I use shampoo on my face?

No. The ingredients used in shampoos are too strong and harsh for the skin on your face. It is advised to tilt your head while in the shower to prevent shampoos and conditioners from coming in contact with your facial skin.

Can shampoo cause back acne?

Yes. Shampoos containing comedogenic ingredients can cause buildup on your back during showers and lead to back acne.

Key Takeaways

  • Shampoos are formulated to clean the scalp and hair strands while maintaining the scalp’s pH whereas body washes are formulated to be milder, keeping the skin’s pH and different skin types in mind.
  • Using a body wash as a shampoo can disbalance the pH of your scalp and make your hair prone to damage, dryness, scaling, and dandruff.
  • Apply a conditioner, serum, and blow dry the hair on a cool setting if you have used a body wash as shampoo.

Discover the surprising benefits of using body wash on natural hair! Surprised? Watch this video now and learn how this unusual solution can help your hair.

Personal Experience: Source

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