Can you use shower gel as shampoo, & shampoo as shower gel?

You get to your hotel or Airbnb and realise you forgot to pack your shampoo. Or maybe you ran out of shampoo at home and forgot to put in your order on time. The question is, can you use shower gel as shampoo?

In the frantic situation of needing to wash your hair, the temptation to use shower gel as shampoo may seem like a viable option. After all, they both clean your body, so it can’t be that bad, right?

Well, yes…and no.

Is it OK to use shower gel as shampoo?

While you can technically use your shower gel to wash your hair, we really wouldn’t recommend it. At least not as a regular habit.

Shower gels will clean your hair to a certain extent, but not as effectively as shampoo. They are formulated with different ingredients and don’t contain the deep-cleaning properties found in haircare products.

So you shouldn’t expect to leave the shower with squeaky clean or voluminous hair after using shower gel, but there’s no harm in using it if you’re really stuck.

You should also be careful with which type of shower gel you use on your hair.

Some shower gels may be a complete write-off because they contain harsh chemicals that could damage your hair, like specially formulated acne body wash or scrubs. If you’re going to use shower gel as shampoo, stick to gentle, basic formulas that don’t contain any harsh chemicals.

What are the differences between shampoo and body wash?

The reason why we shouldn’t use shower gel to wash our hair comes down to the ingredient variations between the two products.

Shower gelsShampoos
Contains specific body-cleansing ingredientsContain specific hair cleansing ingredients
Can cause dryness & frizziness when used on hairContains positively charged molecules to tame frizz

Shampoo formulas are tailored to cleanse hair

We won’t get into the nitty-gritty chemistry, but there are specific ingredients and chemicals used in shampoo for cleansing the hair that are not used in shower gel formulas.

For example, sodium coco-sulfate is a natural coconut extract that we use in our hår Shampoo Bars, but you wouldn’t find it in our såpa Body Bars. This ingredient’s job is to create a lather that effectively removes oils and dirt from hair and the scalp.

Shower gels, on the other hand, are formulated to clean the body, so don’t contain these specific ingredients for cleansing the hair.

Shampoos contain hair-conditioning ingredients

Shampoo formulas also typically contain ingredients that help condition and soften the hair – body wash, and shower gel don’t.

Shampoos contain “positively charged chemicals that are attracted to the hair shaft”, helping with detangling and smoothing frizz. Since shower gels don’t contain these ingredients, they’ll leave our hair feeling deprived of moisture and more prone to tangling.

Can I use shampoo as shower gel?

So we’ve determined that shower gel is not the best substitute for shampoo, but what about using shampoo as a body wash?

Again, it’s technically possible and a bit more forgiving than the other way around, but we still wouldn’t recommend it.

For all the same reasons and differences we’ve mentioned between the two products, using shampoo as shower gel may not give you the cleansing and moisturising properties your body needs.

Some shampoo formulations will also not be safe to use on sensitive areas of the body, like the genital area. If you find yourself having to use shampoo as shower gel, make sure to avoid sensitive areas and opt for a gentle formula.

So, what’s the solution to using shower gel as shampoo or vice versa?

A very easy way to avoid all the potential hair and scalp issues is to opt for an all-in-one soap!

Enter our resa 3-in-1 Travel Bar…

100% natural 3-in-1 soap for hair, body & hands

This fantastic cleansing bar triples up as a luxurious hand soap, shampoo and body wash, making it a real lifesaver when you’re on the go or in a pinch.

Made with antibacterial tea tree, coconut oil and lavender, the resa Travel Bar has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that effectively cleanse the hair, scalp and body while hydrating and soothing all skin types. Everything your hair and body need is cleverly packed into one handy-dandy bar soap.

And thanks to the travel-friendly size, it’s a no-brainer to slip into your hand luggage or backpack when travelling. We even love having one at home for mornings when we’re in a rush or as a backup when we run out of shampoo or body wash.

The verdict: can you use shower gel as shampoo?

The next time you find yourself in a bit of a hair pickle, remember that shower gel and shampoo are not interchangeable. At least not for regular use.

While you can use shower gel as shampoo in an emergency, it won’t give your hair the deep cleanse and conditioning it needs and can leave it feeling dry. Similarly, using shampoo as body wash may not be ideal for your skin either.

Our solution? Grab yourself our handy resa 3-in-1 Travel Bar, and you’ll never have to worry about forgetting your shampoo or body wash again.


Is shower gel basically shampoo?

No, shower gel is not the same as shampoo. While both formulas may contain some of the same ingredients, they each miss specific components needed for their respective purposes.

What happens if you use shampoo as a body wash?

Shampoo contains different ingredients than shower gels. This means that using it as a body wash may not provide the same cleansing or moisturising properties and could cause dryness or irritation on sensitive areas of the skin.

Are 3-in-1 soaps effective?

3-in-1 or all-in-one, soaps are a brilliant option for cleaning your hair and body. Our rasa 3-in-1 Travel Bar is especially effective thanks to its 100% natural formulation. It works to cleanse and hydrate your hair, scalp and body without stripping natural oils.

Can you use conditioner as a body wash?

We wouldn’t recommend using conditioner as body wash. For similar reasons as to why you shouldn’t use shampoo as body wash, conditioners are formulated specifically for the hair and may not provide adequate cleansing properties for the body. They also often contain moisturising ingredients that may leave a residue on the skin.

Keep reading…