Is It Safe To Use Shampoo As A Body Wash? What To Consider

Remember that time you jumped in the shower in your friend's bathroom before heading out for a night on the town and realized halfway through that they were out of body wash? You could've yelled for help and hoped they heard you or even gotten out of the shower and searched the entire washroom for some product, but maybe you opted to slather on some nice-smelling shampoo on your body instead. 

You probably stepped out of the shower with skin that felt slipperier than usual and wondered if it was safe to use shampoo on your body. According to dermatologists, opting to use hair-specific products on your body once in a while or when you're really in a pinch, is fine, but it isn't recommended as a regular practice. This has to do with what's really in body wash and shampoo and what each product accomplishes.

With shampoos, the goal is to remove oil buildup, dirt, and debris from your scalp and tresses, without stripping off too much. This essentially means that shampoos typically have a lower level of surfactants, according to New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose (via Well+Good). "We typically want to remove less of the oils on hair as compared to oils on skin, and the higher surfactant concentration in body washes is meant to achieve this as compared to shampoos," she shared. 

Body washes do a better job of cleansing the body than shampoos do

You've probably already guessed. The higher the surfactant percentage, the better the cleansing of oils and buildup, and this is why body washes have more of them. "Shampoos may be formulated to intentionally leave ingredients on the hair to keep it smooth, while body washes are developed to remove dirt, oil, and debris," Murphy-Rose explained to Well+Good. 

But body washes also contain moisturizing ingredients like humectants, occlusives, and emollients that help retain hydration, while shampoos contain conditioning elements for silky smooth locks (hence the slippery skin after stepping out of the shower). Two different products with two different purposes, according to dermatologist Hadley King (via Well+Good). 

While opting for shampoo to cleanse your body on that rare occasion when you can't find a body wash at your disposal is safe, it is best not to make this a regular practice, especially if you want to cleanse the skin on your body effectively and also leave it moisturized afterward. In fact, you might be better off substituting body wash with face wash for those times when you're missing the skincare product. 

Face wash or scrubs make better choices

We get it. Shampoos smell great and you've already got your hair all lathered up anyway, so what's the harm in just using some on your body before rinsing everything off? Dermatologists actually think face wash might be a better product to have this debate about. 

Even body or face scrubs will do the job better. They are designed for your skin (not your scalp) so they will be more effective as cleansers. If you're worried about wastage, board-certified dermatologist Karan Lal told Byrdie that you can just go for "your pits and bits" and call it a day. 

As easy as it might be to avoid the notion, there is such a thing as the right way to wash your body. Try and stick to using skincare products the way they're intended to be used. Your skin (and hair) will thank you for it.