Can Body Wash Be Used As Shampoo?

Did you run out of shampoo and don’t have time to go to the grocery store to get some? If your hair looks greasy and dirty, you probably don’t want to leave your house before washing it. That bottle of body wash looks awfully tempting, but should you use that on your hair?

You can use body wash as shampoo, but it’s not recommended. Skin and hair require different care products, and body wash is generally too high on the pH scale, so it would leave the hair dry and vulnerable. Your shampoo should be slightly acidic. 

This article discusses the differences between shampoo and body wash, alternatives for shampoo, and its history. 

Can Body Wash Be Used As Shampoo?

Hair and skin aren’t the same, so care products shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Both have a protective layer that keeps in moisture, carries healthy bacteria, and keeps out harmful substances. 

It shouldn’t be harmed when removing dirt, so your care products need to protect this layer without stripping it.

You might also want to avoid the 3-in-1 products in the men’s body care section, as they are popular but not great for use as a body wash. Body wash and shampoo have certain ingredients for what they’re meant to cleanse. 

Shampoo Has a Lower PH-Level Than Body Wash

The pH levels of shampoo and body wash are usually quite different, depending on the brand and purpose of the product. 

Shampoos generally have a lower pH level of 5 to 7 to keep your hair healthy. Alkaline soap exposes the hair shaft inside, making it vulnerable to breakage and other damages, and will dry your hair out, which shouldn’t happen. 

Slight acidity and a pH level close to the natural pH level of the hair are essential in keeping hair looking healthy and strong. Ideally, you should buy a shampoo with a pH level between 4 and 6. More to the neutral level is acceptable but not recommended.

On average, the pH level of body wash is between 9 and 10, so they’re alkaline. Even that is usually too harsh for your skin, which has an average pH level between 4.7 and 5.75.  

Body Wash Has More Surfactants To Cut Through Body Oil

Shampoo typically has fewer surfactants than body wash to maintain moisture in your hair. Body wash generally takes away more of the naturally produced oil from the hair and leaves it dry and vulnerable. 

Surfactants attach to both fat and water molecules, allowing you to rinse off oil and dirt from your hair and body. 

The Moisturizers In Shampoo and Body Wash Are Different

Shampoo often contains more moisturizing ingredients than body wash products to keep your hair healthy and protected. Oils and butter are common ingredients in shampoo. While you can find them in body wash, they are usually in lesser quantities. 

Conditioners are full of moisturizing ingredients, as that is their main purpose, and can be used as an alternative to body wash. You can read more about that in my article

It all comes down to the brand and the target of the products, as the ingredients vary significantly within each group of products because all bodies are different

Can You Wash Hair With a Bar of Soap?

You can’t wash your hair with a soap bar because it leaves behind a film that’s hard to rinse out. You’d have to be rough to remove it from your hair, which would take all the healthy oil out of your hair or leave you with the residue film.

The talc and fatty acids in many bars of soap make the soap residue stick, and you don’t want that in your hair. You shouldn’t use soap bars to wash your hair. 

What Can I Use If I Run Out Of Shampoo?

If you run out of shampoo, you can use dry shampoo or baby powder to make your hair look fresh. You can also make a one-time exception and wash your hair with body wash, preferably an acidic one. Baking soda, egg yolks, and apple cider vinegar are also great alternatives. 

Wash Your Hair With Dry Shampoo and Baby Powder

Dry shampoo can be a quick fix for greasy hair. It’s fast and easy but should only be used when necessary. If you don’t have any dry shampoo lying around, you can use baby powder as an alternative, but you should use this option very often. 

You Can Make a One-Time Exception and Use Body Wash

While you should use body wash on your hair, you can make an exception if you don’t know what else to use. A one-time occasion won’t damage your hair too much if you dilute the body wash. 

Preferably, you should use a body wash with a neutral or slightly acidic pH level. 

Baking Soda, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Egg Yolks Can Clean Hair

Baking soda is often used as a cleaning substance, as it’s safe to use and efficient in cleaning different types of dirt. You can even use baking soda to absorb smells from fabric, like cushions and carpets. 

Mixing water with apple cider vinegar or baking soda is a cheap and easy alternative to shampoo. You just use the mixtures as you would shampoo. 

On the other hand, egg yolk does not need to be mixed with water. You can just let the egg yolks sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing your hair. 

Can I Wash Hair With Just Water?

You can wash your hair with water, but it won’t be clean, as it doesn’t contain the suitable substances to work like shampoo. Using warm water, you’ll be able to remove some of the dirt, but you risk a dry scalp and hair afterward. You simply cannot clean thoroughly with just water. 

How Did People Wash Their Hair Before Shampoo?

People washed their hair with natural products before shampoo. The practice of using soapberries mixed with other plants was the basis of the evolution of shampoo that originated in India over 500 years ago.

Liquid shampoo came about in the early 1900s, so it evolved fast from that point to the thousands of products available today. Before that time, shampoo was a luxury, and it was used sparingly. 

Final Thoughts

You can use body wash as shampoo in emergencies, but it’s not a good option and will most likely make your hair look bad after a couple of hours. It can also dry out your hair and eventually cause damage.

Better alternatives for shampoo are dry shampoo, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and egg yolks. Water alone won’t cleanse your hair. It will get rid of some dirt, but most of it will remain. 

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