What’s The Difference Between Shower Gel & Body Wash?

Do you use the terms body wash and shower gel interchangeably? It’s ok, I did too and there’s actually a few differences that set the two apart and make them better for certain skin types. One is soap and fragranced and the other one is light and hydrating. At the end of the day, they both clean your body but why not take a little time to pick the one that could work best for your skin?

What’s the difference between shower gel and body wash?

The difference lies in consistency and the names sort of help to explain that. A shower gel has a thicker consistency – hence the name gel. Shower gel usually emulsifies with water and they become soapy. They also tend to be more fragranced and bubbly.

Body wash is a lighter liquid consistency and the consistency is more like hand soap. Body washes tend to be more lightweight, moisturizing and hydrating. They’re less fragranced and have a runny texture that can be creamy on the skin. Body washes are the better option if you have dry, sensitive skin.

When should you use a shower gel instead of a body wash?

Those with oily skin that does not get dry or those that live in hot climates can use a shower gel. Shower gels tend to be drier because they’re thicker and more fragranced. If you have dry skin, you don’t want to use a gel. Think of shower gel as the scented soaps at Bath & Body Works! Thicker and more fragranced.

Body wash is more hydrating and moisturizing. It has a lighter texture and it’s less likely to strip the skin as it has a creamy, gentle finish. It’s better year round, especially during the winter and for those with sensitive skin. Think of those Dove or Aveeno body soaps at the drugstore as hydrating and creamy body washes.

Our favorite body cleansers

There is a time and place for a shower gel and body wash! Both can benefit you and even help to serve skin issues like acne or eczema. (Your dermatologist can prescribe a good one for you.) If you have a nice hydrating formula, both can be pretty similar. We also have another favorite – a shower oil which is sort of a body wash and shower gel hybrid. Body oils typically have a light gel texture but are moisturizing and light weight like a body wash.

Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash

This milky, hydrating texture is a dream for irritated and dry skin. This is a body wash but it actually does have a thicker texture and it lathers to really hydrate and cleanse the skin. This formula is mild and free of fragrance and dye so if you have sensitive skin this is a fantastic option. This one is super affordable and we love the pump top applicator because it’s way easier to use when your hands are wet in the shower. Dove also makes a few different scented versions if you want something with a bit more frills.

Where to buy: Amazon

Sol de Janiero Brazilian 4 Play Moisturizing Shower-Cream Gel

This option is a little pricey compared to your average drugstore shower gel but it’s such a treat! There are so many expensive and really great skincare products but I feel like body care is lacking in the high end space. There aren’t many high end lotions and body washes, Sol de Janiero being one of the few brands that does both. This option is a shower-cream gel hybrid. Meaning, it’s thicker like a shower gel but the creamy consistency makes it more hydrating and less likely to dry out your skin.

If you’re wondering, yes this smells like their iconic Bum Bum cream and it smells amazing. While this isn’t the most affordable option, if you want to treat yourself it’s a great way to do so. It’s hydrating, super soft on the skin and lathers well.

Where to buy: Sephora

Bioderma Cleansing Oil

I’m throwing you for a loop because this is a shower oil! It does have a jelly texture but it’s much thinner and so hydrating so I would say this is a body wash. It’s AMAZING! The texture is velvety soft and it’s so hydrating on the skin. It’s approved by the Eczema Association and very gentle. This will never dry out your skin and it contains Vitamin B3 to restore your skin barrier.

This feels like a very luxe, expensive product but it’s so affordable. It’s gentle enough to be used on your body and face! Yes, you can take off your makeup with it. During the winter it’s a dream and it will keep your skin so soft and hydrated. And it’s baby friendly so even if you have the most sensitive skin or suffer from skin issues, you can use this.

Where to buy: Amazon

Final Thoughts

So, have you decided if you’re a shower gel or body wash person? There’s a time and place for both. If you’re in between it’s impossible to go wrong with the holy grail of all body washes – the Bioderma Shower gel. Deciding between a shower gel and body wash could be the difference between moisturized and soft, happy skin. Next time you buy body soap, you know what to look for… good luck because now we know, not all body washes are made equally!