Shampoo vs bodywash

Hi all,
I have gleaned from this forum (and from comparing labels on commercial products) that there is not a lot of difference between shampoo and body wash formulas.  I wondered if experienced formulators could advise what ingredients distinguish a shampoo from a body wash for you?  Are there any ingredients that characterise one from the other?




  • Hi Mel,
    the main difference would be the amount of active matter of surfactants. 
    Shampoo - typically around 10 - 15%
    Body wash - typically around 15 - 20%.
    Please remember, this would be the main, but not the only reason. You have many actives that go well into shampoo, but would feel weird on the body skin and vice versa. 

    Hope that helps a little :) 
  • Mel55Mel55 Member
    This is very helpful @Paprik. Many thanks.
  • Body soap can be alkaline or weak acid type. Shampoo should be in weak acid or acid pH in order not to disrupt your scalp barrier function.

    In shampoo, we also add Polyquarternium-10 or Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride for coating hair after cleansing. They work as film former so that, if you add in body soap formula they will reduce squeaky clean feel texture.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    It also depends on the company. On the brand I worked on years ago (VO5) we introduced a body wash in which we just took our shampoo, changed color, fragrance, and label and called it body wash.  In some cases, there is really no difference.
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    similarly, I used to work for a white-label manufacturer, and the only significant difference was that they used slightly more expensive surfactants in a shampoo than they did in a bodywash
    colour and fragrance aside, bodywash, shower gel, handwash and bath foam were all very similar variations on the same formula, the only difference being viscosity

    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • Mel55Mel55 Member
    Thanks so much for your comments, these are all very helpful.
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