Chances are, at some point when you’re in the shower lathering up, you’ve picked up your bottle of body wash and read the ingredient list. Kaolin, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Sodium Myristoyl Glutamate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Distarch Phosphate… I mean, what? These creepy-sounding chemicals are entirely harmless though! They’re actually some of the main ingredients in Bawdy Beauty’s non-toxic Bawdy Wash. See why it’s important to know what’s what? To help you out, we’re debunking the myths and getting to the root of a few essential things you need to know about your body wash: how it works, which ingredients to look out for when shopping, and what it can - and can’t - do for your skin.
Should you use body wash every day?
There’s no clear-cut answer for this one: it comes down to your lifestyle. At a minimum, you should be using a hydrating body wash two to three times per week. If you’re working out (or generally working up a sweat for whatever reason) that can increase to as often as twice a day, according to dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant, who spoke to the Today show about the topic. Like most things in life, it’s a case of finding a balance that works for you. If you’re finding that your skin feels tight or dehydrated when you come out of the shower, you can try taking shorter showers and turning down the heat a bit, Krant advises.
Did you know: Quick showers are also a great way to reduce your environmental impact. According to Harvard Sustainability, cutting your shower time by a single minute can save 2.5 gallons of water each time. Another great way to cut your carbon footprint is switching out liquid soaps, and body washes for powder and solid formulas. These options use 70 to 90 percent less water than their liquid counterparts, and a single bottle of powder body wash is equivalent to as many as five bottles of liquid cleanser -and there’s less plastic packaging needed!
What is the purpose of body wash?
Body washes come in a whole lot of different categories. You’ll have noticed that when you’re shopping for one, there’s usually a whole section of the store dedicated to products that help clean skin. It can be somewhat overwhelming! To keep things straightforward, we’re focusing on two of the most common ones here: soaps and cleansers.
Soap-based products are arguably the best deep cleansing body washes, but that also means they can be too harsh for sensitive skin. Suppose you’re looking for a super effective cleanser after a sweaty workout or after getting dirty. We were actually thinking about doing some home improvements, but we’ll let your mind wander. Back to the matter in hand. If you’re looking for a deep clean, the ingredients to look for on labels include sodium tallowate, sodium olivate, glycerin, and sodium hydroxide, according to a soap labeling guide on The Spruce Crafts.
Cleansers are usually more gentle on your skin. Your go-to foaming body wash is probably considered a cleanser, for example. They often have ingredients that provide extra care for your skin aside from simply cleaning it, usually by adding moisture to replace your skin’s natural oils that will be washed off by them. If you’re looking for a foaming cleanser, a key ingredient to look for on the label is Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate. According to the cosmetic ingredient directory, INCI Beauty it is a safe surfactant (which means it’s an ingredient that gives a body wash its fabulous lather). If you’re looking for ingredients that will hydrate your skin, you’ll want to find a body wash that includes hydrating ingredients. Look out for Chondrus Crispus, a nourishing seaweed extract, or other natural butters and oils. Some of our favorites include shea butter, marula oil, and jojoba oil.
Does body wash actually clean you?
First of all, we’re going to unpack what being clean actually means. When it comes to washing that beautiful body of yours, keeping clean means getting rid of sweat, grime, and dead skin cells so that your skin can be healthy and glowing. Before clean beauty and rainfall showers were a thing (we mean way before then, like in the 1800s), people used to use water, cloths, and homemade soaps to wash. So even then, soap was a crucial part of the body washing process.
But body washes alone don’t clean you, no. Warning: we’re getting a bit sciency-again - gird your loins. Body washes include ingredients that belong to a category known as surfactants. They are both lipophilic (dissolve in fat) and hydrophilic (these dissolve in water). The lipophilic part dissolves sweat, dirt, and other nasties, while the hydrophilic ingredients wash the grime away. A cleanliness dream team, as it were. You’ll have noticed something here: this whole situation revolves around water. And while somebody washes include water as part of their ingredient list, there isn’t enough to wash away the dirt, so you need to add (preferably running) water to get the full cleansing effects of body wash.
Is body Wash good for your skin?
Anything that removes natural oils from your skin - including cleansers - can harm your skin’s natural moisture barrier, according to research published in 2008. To avoid these drying effects, moisturizing body washes are your safest bet. The best moisturizing body wash for your specific needs will depend on your skin type and how frequently you intend to use it. As a general rule, you should be looking for something that includes the words’ moisturizing’ or ‘hydrating.’ These will usually have some of the ingredients we listed above to keep your skin feeling nourished and souple. If you find that moisturizing ingredients aren’t enough, adding a body oil or moisturizer after your shower should do the trick.
Does body wash kill bacteria?
According to a recent study, most body washes don’t actively kill bacteria, but some that are branded as being anti-bacterial can be effective at killing bacteria. On the other hand, regular body washes lift bacteria off your skin and wash them away, a New York Times article explains. They use the lipophilic and hydrophilic actions we spoke about earlier in this article to do this, and in most cases, the action is enough to rid your skin of any nasties you might need to wash away. Chances are over the last year, you’ve washed your hands a lot, and we have all been encouraged to do so for that very reason: water and soap lift and wash away bacteria, germs, and viruses.
The bottom line: what is best to wash your body with?
It’s really a case of figuring out what’s important to you. If you need something that’s going to scrub off grease and dirt, you will want to look for a traditional soap. If you have sensitive skin and need something more gentle, you will want to look for a natural cleanser that’s free from known irritants. One thing’s certain, no matter your skin type, cutting back on water as an ingredient is a sure-fire way to save space and cut back on packaging. Opt for a bar of soap or powder cleanser, both of which leave out water from the ingredient list, meaning they take up less space and create a much smaller carbon footprint when it comes to their packaging and transport.