Is hand wash and body wash the same thing?
Right now, we’re washing our hands more than ever – but what are we washing them with and what’s the real difference between bar soap and liquid hand wash and body wash for that matter?
Bar soaps are produced from mixing vegetable or animal fats with an alkaline solution such as lye or potash but, liquid hand soaps use an entirely different production method. Traditional bar soaps have some limitations as they have a relatively narrow range of conditions in which they are most effective. For example they need hot water, with a ideally a low mineral content to perform adequately and often need to be rinsed a second or third time especially if the water is soft.
Liquid hand soaps are a modern blend of compounds, detergents and wetting agents known as surfactants (which can either be petroleum or plant based). It’s always important to read the label to see exactly which ingredients are used. Just because a brand may use the word Organic in it’s brand name, doesn’t necessarily mean that the ingredients used are in fact certified organic by a reputable body such as COSMOS.
Hand and body wash is usually formulated with a mild surfactant to avoid skin irritation, plus various ingredients that can moisturize the skin, add scent and improve lather. Lathering agents are generally surfactants as well, so there's a careful balance here between getting a nice lather and not drying out skin. Moisturising agents can also be added to help stop the skin drying out and Aloe Vera is a common inclusion in quality hand soaps.
Hand washes are usually less foamy since they don't need to cover much surface area and are used frequently throughout the day, while body washes tend towards a higher percentage of surfactants in the base formula in order to create more foam, since they need to cover a lot more surface area and are used less frequently.
Shampoo is different again as it is designed to be gentle on the keratin which forms hair, have strong foaming properties to be more easily worked through the fine strands, remove common hairstyling products, and - especially for those with more than a couple inches of hair - have specific effects on the texture of the hair. Liquid hand soaps and body washes are not formulated to achieve these effects and therefore won’t work in the same way on hair.
Fundamentally there are some minor variations between handwash and body wash – but when it comes to the performance, you could use a body wash on your hands as it will work just as well on your hands. After all your hands are a part of the body. As always, patch test before use. But it doesn’t necessarily work as well the other way round. Because hand washes are formulated with less surfactant to be less foamy, as they don't need to cover as much surface area and are used more frequently throughout the day, they are unlikely to work as well as a specifically formulated body wash.
ChooseWell hand washes are formulated using COSMOS certified organic Aloe Vera to help hydrate the skin and are also enriched with Avocado oil to help nourish the skin. They are SLS free, Paraben free, Certified Vegan and Cruelty Free.