Difference between hand soap and body wash

The debate between hand soap and body wash- which is better has been going on for decades. While soap users argue that it makes them feel squeaky clean after a shower, body wash users rave about how their skin feels moisturized and supple after the bath.

Both hand soap and body wash use surfactants as the primary ingredients, responsible for cleaning the skin’s sweat, grime, and dirt. What makes both different is their formula, pricing, packaging, size, skin benefits, and hygiene factors.

In this article, we will list out the difference between hand soap and body wash and help you decide which one to buy.

What is a hand soap?

Hand soap is a cleansing and emulsifying agent containing surfactants that allow the detergent to mix into water and clean dirt from the surface of your skin. Soap won’t mix with water without surfactants and would just over it.

Hand soap is a recent thing marketed as a soap for cleaning hands. However, researchers say that a bar soap or hand wash is equally capable of eliminating the dirt and pathogens on your hands. How clean your hands are depended upon your cleaning habit. If you clean your hands with a hand or bar soap or even body wash for at least 20 seconds by rubbing your hands together, it will easily lift away dirt and microorganisms.

What is a body wash?

The body wash is a cleansing agent specially developed for showering purposes. It comes in a liquid form packaged in a plastic bottle. You need to pour it into your palm and rub it across your skin to lather. It is similar to body wash or hand soap, as they are used for cleaning your body and hands.

However, body washes came with different ingredients and catered for distinct purposes. For instance, somebody wash comes with salicylic acid to treat excessive oily, acne-prone, and eczema-prone skin.

Difference between Hand Soap and Body Wash

FactorsHand Soap/ Bar SoapBody Wash
Post-shower feelingOffer a squeaky clean feeling after a shower.Keep your skin moisturized and give you an indulged and soothing feel.
QuantityAvailable from 75gm up to 200 gm per bar.Available from 200ml to 1 liter container.
Skin-friendlinessMake your skin drier. The squeaky clean feel comes from sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh surfactant that strips away your body’s natural oil.Keep the skin moisturized as most products comes with emollients that fill up micro cracks in your skin and make it appear fuller.  
Skin HydrationMost bar soaps come with 9-10 pH level while the normal pH of body is 10. Even the pH balanced soaps have 7 pH, which can be dehydrating for your skin and may even change its texture after long-term use.Most pH balanced bodywash comes as lower to 5 pH, which are good for people with extremely dry and sensitive skin.
HygieneSoaps are pretty hygienic provided how you store them. Always store them dry in a closed case.Body wash are hygenic as it comes with a squeeze bottle. You only take out the amount you need.
PreservativesSoaps does not contain any water, so they does not require any preservatives to stop bacterial growth. Generally, soaps does not contain any harsh preservatives like parabens or formaldehyde.Body wash contains water which can promote bacterial growth. To stop that, manufacturers add preservatives. Body wash contain parabens or formaldehyde can be harmful for skin. Only choose body wash that are paraben-free, sulfate-free and does not contain formaldehyde as preservatives.
Emollient propertiesSoaps doesn’t have any emollient properties. They are mostly used for cleaning.Body wash have emollient properties which cleans your body without stripping the natural oils. This make it perfect for dry, flaky and sensitive skins.
Environment friendlyHand soaps and body soaps come in paper packaging, which makes them easy to recycle.Body washes are bottled in virgin plastic containers which are non-biodegradable. Try to buy a body wash with recycled packaging.
PriceSoaps are available as lower as $1 per bar.Body wash are expensive and can cost you around $9-$10 per bottle.

Which one is better- hand soap or body wash?

If your goal is only to wash dirt and parasites on your hand, you can go for hand soap as they are comparatively cheaper and do the job just fine. However, a body wash is generally a good choice for showering purposes as you will have options per your skin type, fragrance, ingredients, price, etc.

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