Personal hygiene is important, including washing our hair with shampoo, conditioner, and a proper rinse, so as to get rid of dirt, oils, and buildup from the hair and scalp. Washing your hair regularly also gives it that fresh state and allows hair care and styling products to penetrate better and produce better results.
That said, sometimes, you just don’t notice that you’re running low on these hair care products until you’re in the shower and nothing is coming out of the shampoo bottle.
In the midst of this desperate situation, you might be tempted to use whatever you’ve got lying around, such as your body wash. The question is, can you do it? Can you use body wash as shampoo?
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- Can you use body wash on your hair?
- What if you run out of shampoo AND body wash?
- Body wash vs shampoo- what’s the difference?
- Final Tips
Can you use body wash on your hair?
Technically, body wash and shampoo have much of the same ingredients and cleansing properties, so in terms of effectiveness, body wash will do just fine in cleansing your hair. In fact, in the earlier years, back when shampoo wasn’t yet invented, a single bar of soap was conventionally used to clean the entire body from head to toe.
However, nowadays, it’s not really advisable, unless you are using a two-in-one body wash that can also act as a shampoo, since this type of product is designed for both the hair and the body.
One exception is if you have curly hair, in which case body wash may work well on your hair as it contains milder ingredients and will be much gentler on your hair. Still, though, it should not be used on your hair regularly.
Effects of using body wash on the hair
Washing your hair with body wash won’t produce the same results as shampoo does, and in some cases, may even damage your hair.
This is because body wash is optimized for your skin, not for your hair and scalp. While they are both liquids, body wash and shampoo have their own unique formulations. As such, it will give a different feel, and won’t offer much in the way of conditioning and moisturizing.
It can also make your hair dry and brittle, or worse, cause some damage by stripping away even the essential sebum from your scalp, which can then lead to dandruff as your scalp’s natural response to the sudden lack of sebum.
Here’s how you can make it work
If you are really in a pinch and would need to use your body wash, at the very least, make sure that it has a pH level of 4 to 6, which is the same pH of most shampoos. This should lessen the damage to your hair. A good example is the dermatologist recommended Sebamed Paraben-Free Liquid Face and Body Wash with Pump.
After “shampooing”, make sure to use your conditioner, and apply whatever hair conditioning cream or hair mask you have to further protect your hair against dryness and damage. Alternatively, you can also do a vinegar rinse to make your hair softer.
Better yet, the next time you go out to buy body wash, consider opting for a two or three in one solution, such as the NIVEA Men Sensitive 3-in-1 Body Wash – Shower, Shampoo and Refresh, Soap and Dye-Free For Sensitive Skin, which can be used as both liquid soap and shampoo.
Finally, going all-natural is always a good option, both for shampoos and body washes, and many other hair and body care products. They are gentler and safer, and in most cases, will prove to be just as effective.
What if you run out of shampoo AND body wash?
Now, what if, by some stroke of luck (or the lack thereof), you run out of both shampoo and body wash at the same time? Not that body wash is a good cleansing product for your hair either way, but if this does happen, what else can you do to make yourself feel squeaky clean?
And yes, it can happen. Maybe you went on a holiday and forgot to pack some essentials, but the place you’re staying at doesn’t offer any. Maybe you’re in some version of a survival show. Who knows?
Here’s the good news- there are lots of different alternatives you can use, most of which are common household items you’re guaranteed to have. Here are some of the best options you can try:
Baby powder can soak up the oils in your hair and leave it clean and soft. Just sprinkle some at the top of your head and brush down with a nice hair brush- but don’t overdo it. A good brand is Johnson’s Baby Powder. Do remember that this is a temporary solution. As soon as you get your hands on some shampoo, wash your hair thoroughly to get rid of the build-up.
You can also try using apple vinegar to rinse your hair with (or any regular white vinegar you have in your pantry, for that matter). It will work great in eliminating dirt and oil buildup. You can even use it quite often as a deep cleanse, just don’t make it a permanent replacement to your good ol’ shampoo.
The most basic solution you can do is to mix baking soda with water. This actually works not just for your hair, but also for your teeth, and pretty much anything you need to clean around the house. Again, use it sparingly as it will dry your hair out.
Body wash vs shampoo- what’s the difference?
While both body wash and shampoo are cleansing products, and while they do make use of some common ingredients, these two still have a lot of differences. Simply put, shampoo is made for your hair, and body wash goes on your skin, not the other way around.
One difference is that shampoo has a pH level of 4 to 6, depending on the formulation and list of ingredients, whereas body wash is milder, gentler, and more pH friendly on your skin with a pH of 5 to 6.5 since it makes use of milder surfactants and gentler conditioning agents.
This gentler formula is actually because our hair typically gets much dirtier than our skin for many reasons, including all the products we apply on our hair. Now, since body wash is milder, it generally won’t be as effective in cleansing your hair, so you’ll need a lot more product to wash your hair, and even then, your hair might still feel a little filthy.
Perhaps the most important difference is that body wash and shampoo are made for different things. Body wash, for example, is designed to get rid of oils on your skin, which is what carries dirt and dead skin cells. So, when you use it on your hair, it will clear your natural hair oils, which will in turn damage and dry out your hair.
Shampoos are another thing entirely. There are so many more variants of shampoos than there are body washes, all in order to address specific hair issues and conditions such as oiliness, frizziness, dryness, color treatment damage, and so on. This means that they are made with unique ingredients (that body wash doesn’t contain) in order to be effective.
Your body wash may even contain ingredients that are good for the skin but bad for the hair, and the opposite goes for shampoo. For example, lots of body washes contain exfoliating ingredients such as beads, which work in eliminating debris and dead skin cells.
Texture and lather
Even how body wash and shampoo lathers are different. Shampoo generally feels a lot slimmer after application, and it also lathers better and makes more foam and bubbles. In fact, if you go the opposite route and use shampoo on your skin, you’ll find that it’s much harder to rinse off.
However, body wash and soap is still “stronger” in removing excess dirt and grime, at least on your skin. This is important if you are always exposed to pollutants or engage in physical labor that gets your hands dirty.
So, can you use body wash as shampoo?
If you really want to know whether it’s possible to use body wash as an alternative to shampoo, technically, yes you can. As body wash is a cleansing product, it will work in getting rid of dirt and buildup on your hair and scalp.
However, it’s also much less effective than shampoo, and can even cause hair damage, so you should avoid using body wash on your hair as much as possible, and if you do, be very careful, and give your hair lots of extra care and attention afterward.
At the end of the day, it really boils down to what your hair needs. Starting from there, you should find a good cleansing product that will gently yet effectively cleanse your hair, but also won’t strip off its natural oils. And, regardless of what cleansing product you use, it’s always best to follow it up with a good conditioner to keep your hair soft and moisturized.