Which should you prefer to take a bath- a shower gel or a body wash? Your first question is probably, well, aren’t they the same thing? A body wash by any other name is not a body wash, and the same goes for shower gels too. And to be fair enough, both are liquid body cleansers with seemingly identical textures and purposes. So, it might not seem too farfetched to use the terms interchangeably. However, the truth is that there is a difference between shower gel and body lotion, and it is a very big deal regarding skincare. 

Shower gels and body washes have different formulations that interact differently with your skin. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice a difference in how your skin feels after a bath – if you’ve used them interchangeably. 

Mamaearth Body Wash Combo

Body Wash Combo

Gives Highlighter Like Glow | Moisturizes Skin

One leaves the skin firm and dry, while the other leaves it feeling soft, supple, and moisturized. Still don’t believe us? Let’s dive deeper into understanding the difference between shower gel and body wash. 

Not so similar

At first glance, it might not be easy to see the distinction between a shower gel and body wash, but if you look closely enough, it’s right there, starting with ingredients, formulation, and texture. This, in turn, determines the way they cleanse your skin and the impact they have. 

Let’s take a closer look at what sets a body wash and shower gel apart. 

1. A matter of texture

– Shower gels are formulated with a thickening polymer that gives them a thick, gel-like viscosity. 

– Body washes are more like liquid Skin whitening soap. They have a thin, runny consistency and a creamy texture. 

2. It’s in the fragrance

– Shower gels have a high concentration of ingredients intended to soothe the senses and offer a luxurious bathing experience; hence they are extremely fragrant. 

– When it comes to fragrance, body washes are usually mild. 

3. It’s about cleansing or exfoliating

– Shower gels are often formulated with ingredients like sea salt, oatmeal, and microbeads that are good exfoliators and help remove dead skin cells and cleanse pores. 

– Body washes generally do not contain exfoliating ingredients and focus on cleansing the skin of oil and impurities. They are thus easier to apply and use.

Take the example of Mamaearth’s Ubtan Shower Gel with Microbeads that helps slough dead cells as you wash your skin. Then there is our Coco Body Wash that helps cleanse the body of dust and grime.

What goes into the making of Shower gels and Body Washes?

– Shower gels are generally made with water, detergents, emulsifiers, preservatives, exfoliators, and fragrances. 

Body care washes are typically formulated with natural surfactants, humectants, emulsifiers, vitamin E, essential oils, and plant oils. 

Body Wash Vs. Bath and Shower Gel

Now that you understand the difference between shower gel and body wash, your next question is: Which one do you choose? The answer is the same as when choosing any skincare product: understand your skin type. 

Shower gels have clarifying properties and cleanse deeply, removing excess dirt, sebum, and dead skin cells. They are a winning combo for those with oily or sensitive skin. They are also a good choice if you tend to sweat a lot or are prone to acne.

Body washes comparatively are hydrating. They have a creamy texture and usually contain emollients, fatty acids, panthenol, and vitamin B5, among other hydrating ingredients. They can cleanse the skin without drying it out – just what dry and sensitive skin needs. They are thus the best pick for someone with combination skin.

How do I know which shower gel or body wash is best for me?

We have listed some shower gels and body washes according to your skin type, so choose the one that works for you!

Radiant skin comes with a good dose of Vitamin C, the ingredients you will find in our Vitamin C Body Wash. With regular use, you will notice visibly radiant skin. 

For sensitive and acne-prone skin, you can use the Activated Charcoal Body Wash or the Tea Tree Body Wash, which gently removes the toxins and excess oils that cause breakouts. These body washes are also anti-bacterial in the formulation and thus help keep the bacteria away. 

Something for normal skin? Choose the invigorating Coco Body Wash. It comes infused with the natural goodness of coffee and cocoa that will surely add some zing to your day! 

Our newly launched Honey Malai Body Wash is perfect for all skin types in the winter. It features honey, an excellent humectant, and malai or cream that gives the skin an extra dose of nourishment by keeping it soft and supple in the cold season. 

Making the right choice

Do you know what your skin needs? Because it is the first step in choosing your side in the body wash vs. shower gel debate. However, it doesn’t end there. Once you’ve decided on which product better suits your skin, you need to pay attention to choosing the best shower gel and body wash. 

Mamaearth Ubtan Body Wash

Ubtan Body Wash

Gives Highlighter Like Glow | Moisturizes Skin

As with all skincare products, not all shower gels and body washes are created equal. While they each have their benefits, they may contain certain harmful ingredients you should avoid. These include:

– Propylene Glycol, which irritates the eyes and skin

– Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a common foaming agent that irritates the skin and allows other chemical ingredients to penetrate the skin more efficiently

– Triclosan is considered to be highly toxic and can trigger allergic reactions. 

It is also advisable to avoid synthetic fragrances as they can potentially harm the skin, especially if it is sensitive. 

Ingredients that should be in your chosen product are amino acids, vitamin B5, and glycerin, as they are nourishing and hydrating, caring for the skin as they cleanse. 

Other nourishing ingredients include oatmeal, aloe vera, coconut oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, milk protein, niacinamide, lactic acid, and salicylic acid. Remember, though, that the ingredients you are looking for should align with your skin needs. 

For him & her

The debate about men and women having different skincare needs and hence needing other products extends to cleansers. But as with most things, it is often a matter of perspective. Dermatologists are in consensus about female and male skin being varyingly different at some levels yet surprisingly similar at others. 

However, when talking about cleansers and, more specifically, shower gels or body washes, they seem to agree that gender isn’t a major criterion. The ingredients used in products targeted at both genders are usually the same, though formulations may differ. 

Technology and the new age in which we find ourselves have also led to the development of more gender-neutral formulations focusing on giving your skin what it needs most. 

Why are they better than soaps?

We started by distinguishing between shower gels and body washes and finding a way to lean. However, when talking about cleansers, we would be amiss if we didn’t discuss one of the oldest forms of cleansers – good old soap bars. 

So, where does a bar of soap fit in? Like shower gels and body washes, soap is an effective cleanser with pros and cons. It stands apart from the other two most distinctively by form and works by effectively dissolving the dirt that settles on the skin’s surface. 

In addition, best soap for dry skin often come with moisturizing and exfoliating ingredients that nourish the skin as they cleanse, making them a good choice for both. 

The biggest drawback of soap is when hygiene comes into play. Apart from being exposed to the elements, there’s always a chance that you are not the only one using it and the potential vulnerability of transference of bacteria. 

shower gel and body wash difference

Quick tips to get the most out of your Shower gel and Body wash

Knowing the difference between shower gel and body wash isn’t enough to satisfy your skincare needs. How you bathe or shower also plays an important role in your skincare regimen. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Avoid too hot water as it can dry out the skin. On the other hand, warm water is soothing and helps the skin stay moisturized.

2. Use a loofah, sponge, or washcloth to spread the shower gel or body wash over your body. Use firm but gentle movements to lather the cleanser. Do not be forceful or rough and aggravate your skin. 

3. Rinse off thoroughly, do not allow residue from your cleanser to be left behind. 

4. Apply a moisturizer immediately after a bath, as it is more easily absorbed into the skin and locks in moisture. 

5. When using a new cleanser, give your body some time to get used to it. 

The takeaway

Don’t let looks deceive you. Choosing the right body cleanser or gel is the first step to keeping your skin healthy and letting your inner glow shine. Of course, there is a difference between shower gel and body; you need to pay attention – so read the labels carefully. 

There is little room for debate over which is the better choice as it all comes down to your skin type and what your skin needs – an exfoliating shower gel or a hydrating body wash. Choosing a product with nourishing ingredients and avoiding harmful substances like parabens, sulfates, and silicones is also essential. 


  1. Are shower gel and body wash the same?

    Though they are both liquid cleansers, shower gels and body washes have a few major differences. The most significant being the ingredients and the consistency. Shower gels are formulated with a thickening polymer that makes them gel-like. They also contain exfoliating ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin, removing impurities, excess oil, and dead skin cells. It is the ideal choice for those with dry skin.

    On the other hand, body washes have a thinner consistency but have hydrating properties that help cleanse the skin without drying it out. Shower gels also tend to be more fragrant and offer a more soothing and luxurious bathing experience. Ideal for those with dry and sensitive skin. 

  2. What are the benefits of shower gel?

    The difference between shower gel and body wash can be seen in the benefits they offer. Shower gels are usually formulated with water, detergents, emulsifiers, preservatives, and exfoliators. They penetrate deep into the skin, deep cleansing and removing dead skin cells, impurities, and excess oil produced by the skin, thus keeping pores clean. 

    Thanks to a thickening polymer, it has a thick, gel-like consistency that offers a luxurious lather when worked into the skin. The fragrance adds to the luxurious experience, which is very potent as it soothes the senses. 

  3. Which is better: A Shower Gel or Body Wash?

    Deciding whether using a shower gel or a body wash is better comes to you. First, you must understand your skin type and the difference between shower gel and body wash. They interact with the skin differently and have beneficial properties that suit different skin types. 

    Shower gels, for example, are suitable for oily skin as they deep clean, removing excess oil and dirt, while body washes are moisture-boosting and cleanse the skin without drying it out, so they are suitable for dry and sensitive skin. Another factor to keep in mind is the ingredients. 

    Whether you choose a shower gel or body wash, ensure that it is free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, and silicones, as they can be harsh on the skin. Also, avoid synthetic fragrances, especially with shower gels, more so if you have sensitive skin. 

  4. How to use shower gel and body wash?

    A shower gel or body wash is essential to your daily cleansing routine. The first step is, of course, choosing which one works best for your skin type. Shower gels are often the right fit for oily or acne-prone skin and if you live in humid, sweaty climates. On the other hand, body washes are hydrators, moisturizing the skin as they cleanse, making them the right fit for dry, combination, and sensitive skin. 

    When using either one, rinse off thoroughly, ensuring that your whole body is wet. Then pour a small amount – about a coin size – of your shower gel or body wash onto a loofa, washcloth or scrubber and massage it into your skin, working up a generous lather all over your body. 

    You can also pour it into your hand and rub it all over. Wash off carefully and pat your skin dry. Apply a moisturizer immediately for the best results. 

  5. Can we use shower gel daily?

    A shower gel is a pretty important part of your daily cleansing routine, so using it daily is often a must. Look for mild formulations with skin-nourishing ingredients. Be sure to avoid shower gels that contain parabens, sulfates, silicones, and other harmful substances, as they can be harsh on your skin, especially when used daily. 

    Shower gels have a potent fragrance to soothe the senses and offer a luxurious bathing experience. It is essential, though, to ensure that the fragrance is natural. Synthetic fragrances can be harsh and have adverse effects, especially on sensitive skin. 

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