Shower Gel vs. Body Wash: Which Is Better for Your Body?

Shower Gel vs. Body Wash

“Shower Gel,” “Body Wash” to the average joe, they both mean the same thing: the stuff you use in the shower to clean yourself. The thing is, we’re not average joes. We are educated, knowledgeable, cultured, woke individuals who are getting down to the nitty-gritty details -- glossary terms included, of self-care. And we never squander an opportunity to break down the seemingly obvious basics of shower/hygiene vocabulary. With that being said, what the hell’s the difference? And more importantly, which one should you use? And even more importantly, which ones should you leave on the shelf? 

Shower Gel Vs. Body Wash

We’ll break these basics down quickly since they’re fairly straightforward. 

The Similarities: 

Both liquid cleansers, both pump on your loofah or washcloth, and both wash off the dirt. Both are made with “emollients,” which fill in micro-cracks in the skin, making it appear smoother and fuller. And both are made with 70-80% water. 

The Differences: 

In a nutshell: consistency and concentration. The shower gel has a firmer gel consistency (as you may have guessed) and typically a higher concentration of fragrance. Body washes tend to be more hydrating and moisturizing, with a more liquified consistency. 

The Verdict: Which to use depends on YOU and YOUR SKIN. So to find out which kind of skin you have and determine which type of wash is best for you, keep reading. 

Dry Skin Friends

Suppose you feel skin tightness, especially after showering or swimming. As a result, body or have skin that looks and feels rough, this one for you. You may see slight or even severe cracking or flaking; it may appear ashy or gray or even have some redness. 

Dry skin is often simply a reflection of your skin’s environment: Dry winters, hot showers, swimming in chlorinated pools, harsh soaps, and detergents with chemicals (*ahem* sulfates) that are stripping its natural oils and drying out the skin are all major causes of dry skin. 

If this is something you tend to experience, your best option is a “Body Wash.” Body wash tends to be more moisturizing and has less fragrance. Maybe it’s us, but shower gel just sounds like one of those 3-in-1 deals. Eek. To properly care for your skin type, you’ll have to nourish it with something that has a little more TLC in its ingredients. 

Aside from getting a nice sulfate-free, moisturizing body wash, turn the heat down in the shower, cover up your skin as much as possible in the winter months to keep it cozy and protected and moisturize right when you get out of the shower. In contrast, your skin is still a little damp-- to help lock in that precious moisture. 

A CBD-infused, natural botanical body oil is the perfect antidote to restore and lock in moisture for dehydrated skin. The Bawdy oil contains clean, natural ingredients like 300mg full-spectrum organic cannabidiol (CBD), marula oil, patchouli oil, frankincense, and horsetail extract. With sweet and musky aromas, this oil will have you feeling calmed and moisturized in no time. 

Oily Skin Friends

Oily skin is a bit more complex. Many factors contribute to that sexy sleek skin, and there’s not exactly a cure. Your genetics play a significant role in your body’s oil production, and your overactive sebaceous glands are likely simply inherited from your parents. But don’t fret; there are some perks to having oily skin! Like your natural glow that may make people question, “ooh, where’s that highlighter from?” Not to mention, having oily skin keeps your skin looking younger for longer. (Big win). 

Some outside factors can cause oily skin, like living in a hot, humid environment and going a little overboard on the skincare regimen like washing too much. Believe it or not, washing more than twice a day will confuse your body, and constantly stripping its natural oils could cause it to produce even more! 

The best wash to use on oily skin is cleanser gels that contain buzzwords like oil-free, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid helps fight current breakouts and helps prevent future ones and is best for people who often get clogged pores. (Bye-bye bacne). 

Benzoyl Peroxide is a topical antibiotic found in some OTC face and body cleansers and ideal for those suffering from larger breakouts. It works by delivering oxygen to the pores, which makes for a bad environment for blemish-causing bacteria. It also is an exfoliant (ding, ding) and gets rid of dead skin cells and sebum, so they aren’t blocking the pores. 

Combination Skin Friends

If you don’t often find yourself getting too oily, experiencing blemishes and breakouts, and not often feeling dry or tight, congratulations, your skin is balanced. Balanced skin is a lot more forgiving and can handle both a shower gel or a body wash fairly well. What you choose to use in the shower can be simply decided by your personal preference and some trial and error to see what your skin likes best. But basically, if it isn’t broken -- don’t fix it. 

What To Avoid?

Now that we’ve thoroughly stripped down the deets about skin types, what, and why, let’s talk about which ingredients are just plain bad for everybody. 

🚫 Microbeads

Exfoliating body washes or shower gels that contain microbeads for exfoliating purposes are a major no-go. These microbeads can cause tiny abrasions to your skin’s surface, damaging your skin - making it vulnerable to bacterial infections, and cause premature signs of aging. In addition, these microbeads are just microplastics. Since they are almost always smaller than one millimeter, they sneak through the filtration system during sewage treatment, meaning they’re directly released into our waterways. 

🚫 Instead, Try: Natural Exfoliants

Exfoliating is great because it sloughs off dead skin allowing for a brighter, smoother complexion and allowing for new skin cell growth. Your skin sheds every 30 days, although sometimes it doesn’t shed completely and needs a little help along the way. 

Luckily, chances are good you can make your natural exfoliant with ingredients you already have in your kitchen cabinet. And come on, who doesn’t love a good DIY? Repurpose used coffee grounds, leftover sea salt, or brown sugar and make your body scrub. Mix any of these natural ingredients with some jojoba oil and seal it up in a mason jar to stash in your shower for a natural exfoliant that won’t damage your skin or the environment. 

🚫 Sulfates

Sulfates are used in cleaning products, from shampoo and body cleansers to toilet cleaners. The main function of sulfates is to create that familiar soap lather, which makes you feel like it’s doing a good job, but in reality, it is stripping your skin (and hair) of its natural oils, leaving it somewhat parched. This ingredient is particularly bad for dry skin. Even though it feels like you're getting nice and clean when your cleanser works up a foamy lather, it’s not, at all. 

🚫 Preservatives

All liquid body washes contain water -- meaning a preservative is required to keep it free of bacteria (in case you missed it, water is where bacteria love to grow). These are harsh chemicals like parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Words to look for when label checking: “parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, triclocarban, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing agents, and all synthetic fragrances” If you’re shopping for a body cleanser containing any of said words, calmly place it back down on the shelf and move along. 

Instead, Try: A Waterless Body Wash

Where there is no water, there is no need for harsh chemicals and preservatives. Bawdy Beauty is introducing a mind-blowing alternative to traditional body wash, and get this -- it’s waterless. This water-activated, nutrient-rich body wash replaces five bottles of your traditional liquid body wash. Talk about bang for your buck AND some extra lovin’ on the environment, not to mention it has hydrating, toning seaweed and nourishing, smoothing kaolin. 

In Conclusion

The first step to caring for your body is by understanding it and listening to it. Being in tune with your body is a crucial step in properly giving it what it needs. If you are using a new product, take notes! Literally, keep tabs on what your skin likes, what it wants more of, and maybe what it needs less of. Because when you take care of your body, it takes care of you. So whether you use a wash, a gel, or Kosher sea salt and jojoba oil, a happy bawdy will always be a sexy bawdy. 


Dry Skin - Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic

Oily Skin: 6 Treatments, Causes, and Prevention | Medical News Today

The Tiny Microbeads In Soap May Pose a Big Environmental Problem | Global

Removing Dead Skin | Medical News Today