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Shower Gel

Choosing Between a Shower Gel and Body Wash

Personal preference will dictate


There is a small difference between a shower gel and body wash but for many it may be too slight to make a difference. Gels are generally much thicker, hence the name gel, than most body washes which tend to have the consistency of shampoo. However, there are body washes out there that are just as thick as the gels.

Many people question - are they the same or different? To try to solve this question, I purchased and compared two shower gels and two body washes. While not totally scientific, for most people the results will likely be good enough to convince them that these products are interchangeable.

I tried Radox Relax and Axe Recovery shower gel as well as Red Zone GlacialFalls and Olay body wash. The first three products were translucent with various color pigments put in while the Olay product, from the makers of Oil of Olay was just as thick if not thicker than the gels but also opaque. For the most part, shower gels have the consistency of a gel while most body washes have a consistency similar to shampoo. Both come in a multitude of scents and colors, both offer variations that can be used as cleansing agent and hair shampoo, both are liquids, offer natural products and cost essentially the same. There are high end products in both lines and you can get natural products such as chocolate body wash in both lines as well.


For both lines, the main ingredient is water which is sometimes referred to as aqua, likely for the upscale market but water is water in these products. The second main ingredient is normally a detergent such as sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. These surfactants help create the lather and foam which are produced prior to being applied. The Olay body wash contained Body Butter Ribbons and jojoba butter. Also, the second ingredient for this product was petrolatum (petroleum jelly) followed by mineral oil. This body wash was just as thick as the above cleansing gels.

Is a bar of soap better?

From a cost point of view you may think that these liquid body cleansers are a bit expensive. Based on my tests, one regular bottle should last between one to two months depending on how much liquid you dispense. I would expect most people to use between five to ten milliliters for each shower. Having said that, the price of the average bottle should be quite similar to a high end bar of soap.

In looking at the cost of a bar of soap vs body wash in three different stores I found the following. An inexpensive bar of soap is likely the cheapest way to stay clean. However, a bar of soap tends to become unusable once it gets too small and much of the soap can dissolve away if it is in contact with water for long periods of time. Shower gels on the other hand are in a bottle and are only used up when you use them and you can get every last drop out of the bottle by adding water to it. You may also find that a low end body wash is similar in quality to a high end soap. If this is the case then both the liquid and bar forms of body cleansers would be similarly priced however, the experience with a liquid wash is more high end.

If you have a problem with acne, you may find that a body wash or gel cleansing product provides you with cleaner skin or you may not. You will likely have to give them a try to find out. However, you can now use an acne body wash daily in your shower and make it part of your daily routine, which may go a long way to improving your face and body condition.

Amazon offers a number of different products when it comes to shower gel and body wash. You may want to try a few as they all have different scents and feels. For instance, from my testing, the Olay and Axe products have a very smooth feeling when they go onto your skin.


Happy showering.