Written by Audrey Swanson. Medically reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson.
Body wash is a convenient alternative to bar soap. It's easier to travel with and spreads evenly across your body. Commercially available bar soaps tend to dry skin (since they often lack added moisturizers) and they can also make more of a mess in your shower with leftover residue on various surfaces.
Using body wash might seem pretty straightforward: Get in the shower, lather it across your skin, and rinse. Pretty basic, right? Not so fast: There’s definitely a wrong and right way to use body wash.
Tip #1: Use the Right Amount (and in the Right Places)
Most people overuse body wash. They fill up their entire palm with liquid – much more than the quarter-sized squirt of body wash that they actually need.
Using too much can dry your skin by stripping it of its natural oils. This is especially true if you’re using a traditional body wash that is not properly suited for your skin's pH levels. Too much product can also create a sticky or greasy feeling if you don't rinse it off completely. When it comes to body wash, remember: Less is more.
Pro tip: We tested our Puracy Natural Body Wash alongside dermatologists, chemists, and other experts, and we found that two pumps of product should last an adult for their entire shower.Another common myth is that you should use body wash all over your entire body. But the reality is that you can effectively clean most of your skin by simply rinsing it with water. For further clarity on this, we reached out to Austin-based dermatologist Dr. Julie Jackson MD, FAAD, who added, “You should reserve soap for your underarm and groin regions – unless your skin is visibly dirty like from gardening or working in the garage.”
Tip #2: Rinse With Warm Water (Not Hot)
While steam is great for detoxifying the skin, hot water is an entirely different story. When hot water comes into contact with skin, it can cause it to dry out.
After lathering your favorite body wash over your body, rinse thoroughly with warm water. Using warm water (instead of hot water) will help reduce the loss of moisture in your skin due to transepidermal water loss.
Dr. Jackson adds, “I often tell patients with dry skin to use lukewarm water (without soap) to rinse the majority of their body.”
Tip #3: Slough and Moisturize
Whether you have naturally dry, sensitive, or healthy skin, there are two important steps for using body wash: Gently sloughing off dead skin cells and moisturizing immediately after a shower.
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Apply body wash to the correct body parts using your hands, a soft washcloth, or loofah, then gently rub to remove dead skin. Don't scrub forcefully, as this will perpetuate dry skin. As soon as you get out of the shower, apply an organic body lotion to lock in moisture when your skin is clean and dry.
Dr. Jackson says, “I typically tell patients with dry skin to try to apply a good-quality, natural moisturizer within 5 minutes of bathing or showering.”
FAQs About Body Wash
Can I Use Body Wash as a Shampoo?
Shampoo and conditioner are specially formulated with ingredients meant to clean and moisturize the hair and scalp. These have completely different textures than skin. And because the pH level of your skin is different from that of your hair, your optimal body wash should have a different pH than your preferred shampoo and conditioner.
Unless the product specifically says it's both a body wash and shampoo, it’s best not to use it in your hair.
Can I Use Body Wash on My Face?
Generally speaking, body wash and face cleansers use different ingredients. Because skin on the face can often be more sensitive than bodily skin, it's best to stick to face washes and cleansers made specifically for that area.
Can I Use Body Wash as a Bubble Bath?
A good body wash will lather or foam when applied to the body, but not enough to create fluffy bubbles in a bath. For a relaxing bubble bath loaded with rich, foamy bubbles, we recommend opting for a natural bubble bath instead.
Should I Use a Body Wash Every Day?
Yes! Body washes usually contain ingredients that are meant to clean and moisturize the skin, and should be fine to use every time you shower.
How Do I Find the Right Body Wash?
When switching body wash products, it can take between 2-4 weeks for your skin to adjust, especially if you are switching from a bar soap or liquid body wash packed with synthetic ingredients. Some people see positive results after the first try. Unless you experience a serious allergic reaction, we recommend sticking it out for at least two weeks.
Dr. Jackson reports, “some personal care products, including body wash, can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. If any products cause increased redness, itching, burning, or stinging, it’s a good idea to discontinue use and consult your local board-certified dermatologist to test for contact allergens (to know which specific ingredients to avoid in the future).”