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  • August 20, 2022 5 min read


    Many people can’t tell the difference between a soap and a body wash.  These two products differ in some ways; however, they can be used interchangeably. Sometimes, they might differ in ingredients, texture, and effectiveness. Some people prefer to use soaps to body wash. Both work for the same purpose, but personal preference matters in choosing which to use.  Consumers can purchase these products from a local shop or make one at home. Read through this article to understand the differences between these closely related products.

     What is a Soap

    Soaps are mostly in the form of bars. Some are hard, while others are relatively soft. They are made using different ingredients. Some have a strong smell, and others are mild, depending on the ingredients used. They are packed in different sizes, small, medium, and large bars. Soaps are used for different purposes, such as bathing and washing. Some soaps are multipurpose, while others are made for a specific purpose, such as bathing.  Those meant for bathing have mild ingredients which are friendly to the skin. Soaps meant for washing may be more scented and have other strong ingredients. Bar soaps dissolve dirt on the skin’s surface or materials being washed.

    When To Use Soap

    There are some incidences when you need to use soap over body wash. Soaps are made with fewer ingredients and are mostly mild. Some people have very sensitive skin. They prefer using unscented soaps because they are friendly to their skin. Soaps are also free from parabens. They do not need preservatives to keep them stable and increase shelf-life. Kirchhof& de Gannes (2013) noted that body wash contains parabens, an additional ingredient.  Soaps are packed in different sizes. Some are small and large, and others are medium-sized.  You can buy any size depending on your budget.

    How to Use Soap

    Soaps are easy to use. You should apply it on your washcloth and then use it to rub or wash your body. Some prefer applying soap direct to the body. However, this method is wasteful. Avoid leaving your soap in water.

    What is a Body Wash?

    A body wash is generally meant for bathing. They contain mild ingredients that wash off dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from the body. According to Suva et al. (2014), failure to remove dirt, natural oils, and sweat from the skin might attract bacteria. These bacteria might cause acne and other skin conditions. Body wash may also contain other ingredients that treat common skin conditions such as acne.  Body wash may also have special ingredients that aim at restoring skin moisture on dry skin. They are mostly packed in transparent bottles. They come in a different consistency. Some are thinner, while others are thicker. You can use them to clean any body part apart from the face. The face is sensitive; it requires very mild ingredients.

    When to Use Body Wash

    Soaps and body wash can be used interchangeably. However, sometimes it is better to use body wash in place of soaps. A body wash contains additional ingredients that can serve special purposes. They contain oils and hydrating ingredients that coat the skin, retaining its natural moisture. After a shower, body wash will not leave your skin dry, dehydrated, and flaky like soaps. Mukhopadhyay (2011) indicated that body wash also treats skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.  Using body wash gives the skin a glow that makes you look younger. They contain antioxidants that counteract aging.

    How to Use Body Wash

    Body wash can be applied directly to the body using a washcloth or a sea sponge. Others prefer adding body wash directly into the bathing water. You can also squeeze some on your hand, spread it over your body, and then scrub it using a washcloth. However, do not use too much body wash on your body to avoid wastage. Make sure you rinse your body well to wash off the detergent.

    Is a Body Wash Better Than Soap?

    Soaps and body wash have their unique advantages. However, the advantages of body wash outweigh those of soap.

    Soaps Are prone to Waste

    These two products are mostly used for bathing. You can use body wash to the last drop, but this is a different case for soap.

    Soaps Can Spread Diseases

    Do not share bathing soap with other members of the family. Glaser (2004) reported that some bacteria breed on the surface of bar soap. In such a case, one family member can spread diseases to the entire family. Body wash is safe.  One family can share a single bottle. A body wash also contains lids that prevent bacteria from getting into the bottle.

    A Body Wash Contains Special Ingredients

    Body wash can perform special roles apart from eliminating dirt and sweat. They have additional oils that keep your skin hydrated and soft. Eid et al. (2017) showed that they also could treat diseases such as psoriasis and acne.

    How to Shop for Soaps and Body Wash

    Whether consumers are using body wash or soaps, they need to buy the ones that will give the best results. Soaps and body wash are made of different ingredients. Some ingredients make the soap more gentle, moisturizing, and effective, while others are very harsh to the skin. Go for products with ingredients such as glycerine. According to Backhouse (2005), glycerine is a mild ingredient that seals the skin preventing natural oils from escaping leaving your skin dry and cracked. Some soaps and body wash may also contain other lavender and lemon oil. Avoid products with very strong smells and a strong antibacterial agent. 


    Body wash and body soap are mostly used for bathing. These two products differ in ingredients, the way they work, cost, and effectiveness. Body wash contains extra ingredients such as oils that benefit the skin. Do not share soaps with other household members as they can spread diseases. When buying soaps and body wash, pay attention to the ingredients used. Some ingredients are harsh on the skin while others are mild and of extra benefits, such as glycerine and lemon.


    Backhouse, L. J. (2005). GARField NMR profiling of skin hydration and care product application. University of Surrey (United Kingdom).

    Eid, A. M., Elmarzugi, N. A., Abu Ayyash, L. M., Sawafta, M. N., & Daana, H. I. (2017). A Review on the Cosmeceutical and External Applications of Nigella sativa. Journal of tropical medicine, 2017.

    Glaser, A. (2004). The ubiquitous triclosan. A common antibacterial agent exposed. Pesticides and You, 24, 12-17.

    Kirchhof, M. G., & de Gannes, G. C. (2013). The health controversies of parabens. Skin Therapy Lett, 18(2), 5-7.

    Mukhopadhyay, P. (2011). Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. Indian journal of dermatology, 56(1), 2.

    Suva, M. A., Patel, A. M., Sharma, N., Bhattacharya, C., & Mangi, R. K. (2014). A brief review on acne vulgaris: pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. Research & Reviews: Journal of Pharmacology, 4(3), 1-12.