We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Whether you’ve hopped into the shower or bathtub only to discover that your body wash has run out and then found yourself looking over to the sink at the liquid hand soap or bar soap as a possible alternative, or you’ve gone to the store and while buying hand soap noticed that it could be purchased in a larger size or at a more reasonable price than your usual. It may have caused you to ask yourself if you can use hand soap to wash your body?
The answer is yes. However, hand soap is made of different ingredients than body wash; therefore, it will also most likely produce different results, depending on your skin type.
Hand Soap vs. Body Wash Ingredients
Bar Hand Soap Ingredients
Bar hand soaps typically contain a combination of sodium hydroxide, or lye, and solid fats, such as palm oil or animal fats, that enable the bar to remain solid while in use, as well as when it is stored at room temperature.
Liquid Hand Soap Ingredients
Liquid hand soaps also typically contain sodium hydroxide; however, instead of containing solid fats, they often contain glycerin, which is made from liquid fats, such as soybean oil, which helps them remain liquid. Antibacterial ingredients are then added to the liquid soap to help kill bacteria and prevent fungus from growing.
And there are also more rich moisturizing liquid hand soaps, which, in addition to or in place of glycerin, contain added nourishing ingredients, such as essential oils, oatmeal, milk proteins, etc. to help prevent or heal dry, cracked hands.
Body Wash Ingredients
Body wash is also usually made using the same process as liquid hand soap; however, instead of sodium hydroxide as their active ingredient, they often contain surfactants , such as sodium Laureth sulfate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulfate(SLS), which, because they help increase the distribution of oils and dirt in water, help to penetrate, unbind, and capture unclean matter during the cleaning process so that it is washed from the skin.
However, somebody washes are also made using potassium hydroxide as an active ingredient, which like sodium hydroxide, mixes with fat and oils, creating a chemical reaction called saponification that enables dirt and oils on the skin to be suspended and then washed away.
Hand Soap vs. Body Wash Effects on the Skin
While trace amounts of sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, which are both alkalis , in your hand soap is good for establishing the pH of the product, hand soaps that contain too much sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide can be highly acidic, which can damage or irritate the skin and cause it to sting or burn.
Furthermore, too much alkaline in your soap can strip your skin of its natural oils, as well as damage the proteins in your skin, which can affect your skin’s structure.
It can also disrupt the skin’s acidic barrier, which protects against harmful bacteria and other contaminants. thus altering the skin’s microbiota, or good bacteria, as well as enzyme activity in the surface layers of the skin that have favorable pH, which can also cause major damage to your skin. Frequent use of the soap will only further injure your skin.
Hand soaps that contain antibacterial properties can also destroy your skin’s protective microbiota layer, which can also leave your skin unhealthy and more susceptible to contaminants.
Therefore, while hand soaps may work for your hands, they may be a bit harsher and drying on the rest of your body, especially when used on a regular basis.
On the other hand, body washes also contain secondary surfactants, which help soothe the skin throughout the cleaning process, thus making it much gentler on the skin than hand soap. They are also more pH friendly since they generally do not contain alkalis, which helps prevent dry skin and skin damage as opposed to hand soap.
Body washes also often contain added detergents, which provide a richer lather as compared to hand soaps, thus giving your skin a more luxurious feel while using it.
Furthermore, bar hand soaps are often viewed as less hygienic because the bar is often used by multiple people, which can make you question using it on your body, knowing that. However, body wash enables you to enjoy fresh soap each use, so you feel better using it on your skin.
How to Use Hand Soap as Body Wash
Should you still consider using hand soap as body wash, just be sure to look for a product that is free of sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide or that contains only a small amount of either ingredient, meaning neither sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide is listed as one of the first three ingredients, to avoid drying out or damaging your skin.
Or you may even consider making your own hand soap using bath wash-friendly ingredients, which can then be used for both hand soap and body wash, using the following recipe.
How to Make Your Own Bath Wash-Friendly Hand Soap
What You Will Need:
- 1 4-ounce bar of all natural soap, such as Castile soap
- Cheese grater, potato peeler, or knife
- The essential oil of your choice
- Purified water
- Small boiling pot
- Liquid soap dispenser/bottles, about 4
Step 1: Turn the Bar into Soap Flakes
Grate, shave, or cut the 4-ounce bar of all-natural soap into fine flakes of soap.
Natural soaps, such as Castile soap, are made using non-toxic, synthetic-free,vegetable oil-based ingredients, such as coconut oil or castor oil, which are then incorporated with almond oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil for added lathering, moisturizing, and cleansing effects.
Step 2: Melt the Soap Flakes
Place the soap flakes into a bowl and then allow about eight cups of water to come to a boil. Turn off the heat and then pour the boiling water over the soap flakes. Use a large whisk or wooden spoon to melt the soap into the hot water.
Set the bowl aside and let the liquid soap to cool for about 15 minutes. Next, stir the mixture again to further incorporate the ingredients and thicken the consistency of the soap.
Step 3: Allow the Liquid Soap to Cool
Allow the liquid soap to cool in the bowl, covered, overnight or for at least 12 hours. Once the soap has fully congealed, if the soap is too thick, warm the soap and then add more water to thin it out. On the other hand, if the liquid soap is too thin, warm the soap and then add more soap flakes to thicken it.
Step 4: Add Essential Oils
Once you are satisfied with the consistency of the soap, next, add 15 to 20 drops of essential oil into the bowl. Some common essential oils include lemon, which is naturally anti-bacterial and helps improve skin, lavender, which provides calming and moisturizing effects, and peppermint, which is cooling on the skin and helps relieve itchiness.
Step 4: Pour the Liquid Soap into Dispensers or Bottles
Fill the dispensers or bottles of your choice with the liquid soap and then add the lid. Shake the container to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Your homemade liquid soap can then be stored for up to a week or more.
Once you rub the soap onto your hands or body, it will create a similar lather and cleaning experience as compared to traditional soap sans the added chemicals.
For a smooth, creamier consistency to your liquid soap, try adding 1 cup of coconut milk to the hot soap mixture, which will also increase the nourishing effects.
When Using Homemade Liquid Soap to Wash My Hands, Will it Still Have the Same Antibacterial Effects as Antibacterial Hand Soap?
Antibacterial hand soaps typically contain antibacterial ingredients, such as triclocarban or triclosan, which kill up to 99.9% of germs on the skin; however, antibacterial products are not needed to kill germs on the skin. In fact, according to the CDC, simple water and soap is the best way to rid your hands of germs, provided you use the proper handwashing techniques, which consists of thoroughly scrubbing the palms, fingers, back of the hands, and under the nails for at least 20 seconds.
Therefore, yes, using homemade liquid hand soap to wash your hands will still provide the same germ-killing effects as an antibacterial hand soap but without the harsh chemicals that can also disrupt your skin’s pH by also destroying your skin’s helpful bacteria.
Can You Add Surfactants to Homemade Liquid Soap?
It is possible to purchase both sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium Laureth sulfate (SLES) in some stores and online, which can then be added to your homemade liquid soap to enhance its cleansing effects, as well as its lather for a more indulgent washing experience.
There are also green surfactants, such as decyl glucoside, coco glucoside, and Cocamidopropyl, which are often derived from palm oil, coconut oil, and sugar cane, and they may also be more suitable for sensitive skin.
Soapnuts and Yucca extract can also be used to naturally create a rich lather, provided they are left to soak overnight or boiled.
If You are Out of Hand Soap, Can You Use Your Body Wash to Wash Your Hands?
Perhaps instead of running out of bath wash, you have run out of hand soap and are wondering if you can use your bath wash to wash your hands, and the answer is yes.
It is also possible to use your bath wash to wash your hands, again, provided you follow the CDC’s rules for properly washing your hands, which includes thoroughly washing all parts of the hands, including in between the nails, for at least 20 seconds.
You may even find that your hands feel softer and more moisturized after washing the with body wash because they are often more pH balanced and contain added ingredients to help soothe the skin.
Related Article: Can You Wash Clothes With Body Wash?