We often interchange the terms shower gel and body wash. Shower gel and Body wash both are liquid soaps that clean your body they are used for cleansing the body. But have you ever wondered what are the differences between these two products?

Three Blue Glass Bottles on Brown Wooden Table
Shower Gel vs Body Wash

Both are appropriate for particular skin types and textures. This article compares shower gels and body washes explain how they differ from bar soaps and suggests which one to use.

What's the Difference Between a Shower Gel, Body Wash, and Bar Soap?

Shower gels, body washes, and bar soaps are all used to keep the skin clean. There is, yet, a distinction between the three.

Texture and Structure

Transparent yellowish liquid on white surface
Shower Gel vs Body Wash

Because they contain a thickening polymer to increase their viscosity. shower gels have a firm and thick gel-like consistency. Body washes have a runny consistency and are thin. They are creamy, lotion-like liquid soaps.

In contrast, bar soaps are solid soap blocks that come in a variety of shapes, fragrances, colors, and designs.

Content of Fragrance

Shower gels have a higher fragrance content than body washes. They contain a higher concentration of ingredients designed to soothe your senses.

Bar soaps have more powerful and long-lasting scents than body washes or shower gels.

Type of Skin

Shower gels are perfect for oily skin because they have to clarify properties and can remove dirt and sebum. They're also appropriate for anyone who leads an active lifestyle, sweats a lot, or spends a lot of time outside.

Body washes, as opposed to shower gels, are hydrating and suitable for dry and sensitive skin.

Emollients, vitamin B5, fatty acids, panthenol, and other skin, soothing and hydrating ingredients in these creams. Body washes remove dirt and oil from the skin without drying it out.

Because bar soap is alkaline in comparison to your skin's pH, it's best to avoid it if you have sensitive skin. If you have normal skin, you can use mild bar soap.

Effects of Exfoliation

Exfoliating ingredients like sea salt, oatmeal, and microbeads are common in shower gels. They help remove dead skin cells and keep pores clean. Exfoliating ingredients are rarely found in body washes and soaps unless to treat specific skin conditions like acne.

Hygienic packaging

Shower gels and body washes come in hygienic bottle packaging that keeps bacteria, air, and physical contact away from the liquid soap.

Bar soaps are not a good choice for hygiene because bacteria accumulate on the wet surfaces of the soaps and can spread from one person to another.

Aside from these differences, the ingredients in shower gels, body washes, and bar soaps vary. Keep reading further to find more details.

Shower Gel, Body Wash, And Bar Soap Ingredients

Six main ingredients are used to make shower gels. These are a few examples:

Water-Based Shower gels.

It gives shower gels the right consistency and acts as a liquid solvent for the rest of the ingredients.


Surfactants that clean the skin and make the lather known as detergents.


These are the ingredients that make the shower gel foam and give it a gel-like texture.

Shower gels need a long shelf life, so preservatives keep them safe and prevent microbial contamination.


A shower gel's fragrance is an important component that gives it a pleasant aroma. A shower gel with a natural fragrance derived from plant extracts or essential oils is the best option. But, synthetic fragrances may be present in some.

Humectants, surfactants, emulsifiers, vitamin E, essential oils, and other natural extracts are found in body washes. Skin-nourishing ingredients like ceramides, plant oils, and antibacterial agents like triclosan may also be present.

Bar soaps are made through a saponification process that combines oils, fats, and an alkaline solution. Sodium cocoate, sodium palmate, sodium tallowate, and other similar ingredients are found in them. Sodium hydroxide is commonly used as lye in bar soaps, while potassium hydroxide is frequently used in liquid soaps. To make bar soap, the oil and lye are heated together.

Check out the next section if you're unsure which one is best for your skin.

Which Is Best For You: Shower Gel, Body Wash, Or Bar Soap?

Shower Gel

Because it is water-based and thoroughly cleanses the skin, it is suitable for most skin types, particularly oily skin.

Body Wash

It is best to use a body wash if you have dry or sensitive skin that feels tight and flaky after a shower. It contains moisturizing ingredients that cleanse your skin without drying it out and coat it to keep moisture levels in check.

Soap Bar

From above composition with natural green soap on eco friendly wooden holder and sustainable brush lying on folded clean soft fresh gray towels against white wall
Soap Bar

All skin types can use bar soap. Yet, sensitive and dry skin may find them drying. If you're using bar soap, apply a moisturizer afterward.

Regardless of skin type

Always moisturize your skin, whether you're using a shower gel, body wash, or bar soap. Apply moisturizer to damp skin to soften and plump it.

To Summarize

Your skin type and the ingredients in shower gels, body washes, and bar soaps influence your decision. Nowadays, all products are created to meet the needs of specific skin types and to address specific skin problems. Any of the products can be used as long as your skin feels good. To avoid allergic reactions, double-check the label and ingredient list.