Can You Use Liquid Handwash as Body Wash?

by Martina Schwarz

If you’ve ever found yourself in a pinch and wondered if you could use hand soap as body wash, we’re here to help. What’s the difference between different soaps and what’s the best option when body wash isn’t available? We’ll answer all those questions and more below.

The short answer: yes. If you need to get clean, hand soap lifts soil and microbes from skin, effectively cleansing it.



What’s the Difference Between Hand Soap and Body Soap?

Handwash and body soap serve distinct functions in terms of cleansing and germ removal due to their varying compositions.



Hand soap is designed to actively eliminate germs and cleanse the skin by breaking down germs and chemicals upon lathering. Many hand soaps are antibacterial, containing elements that counteract or diminish bacterial infections. However, these ingredients can be harsh and might not be suitable for regular use on the entire body.

In contrast, body wash primarily aims to eliminate dirt and oil from the skin while maintaining its hydration. Typically, disinfection is not a central aspect of its formulation. This means that using body wash daily or regularly won't adversely affect or dehydrate the skin.


Dirt Removal

During lathering, hand soap generates micelles, microscopic structures that target germs and bacteria. Similarly, some body washes incorporate micelles, especially micellar water formulations, which cleanse and hydrate the skin without requiring rinsing. Nonetheless, body wash is specifically engineered to cleanse the skin with gentler, more naturally derived ingredients.


Different Formats

Hand soap is available in various forms:

  • Liquid
  • Foam
  • Bar

Liquid hand soap is often considered the optimal choice for hand washing, as it usually includes moisturising agents to prevent skin dryness.

On the other hand, body wash is primarily found in liquid form, frequently containing foaming agents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS).

Both soap and body wash produce lather when applied, yet they possess dissimilar molecular structures. Body wash tends to be more viscous and maintains a pH ranging between 6 and 7, while soaps typically exhibit a pH between 9 and 10.



Soap primarily consists of alkali salts of fatty acids, serving as the sole ingredient responsible for its cleansing action. In contrast, body washes fall under the cosmetic category, allowing for the inclusion of fragrances and moisturising agents that contribute to smooth and revitalised skin.


Effects on the Skin

Hand soap is designed for application on hands, and using it frequently on the body may result in skin irritation and, in some cases, even dermatitis. Conversely, body washes are specially crafted for daily use across the entire body. Opting for a pH-balanced, acidified body wash can safeguard your skin's barrier function, promoting skin health and hydration.


foam bubbles from blackmarket handwash soap


Why Can Hand Soap Be Used as Body Wash?

Although it is advised against making a regular practice of using hand soap for overall body cleansing, there are instances where it can serve as an alternative. Here's the reasoning behind this possibility.

Efficacy of Hand Soap as a Cleanser Employing plain soap and water remains an effective approach to eliminate germs and prevent illnesses. Hand soaps often incorporate components like sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, which, if used excessively, might lead to skin irritation or a burning sensation. However, using such soap occasionally generally doesn't result in these effects.

Gentleness of Natural Hand Soap Opting for a natural soap composed of plant-derived ingredients tends to be milder on the skin compared to antibacterial hand soaps, which could potentially compromise the skin's protective barrier and induce irritation. Moreover, natural hand soap formulations are designed to nurture and shield the skin, making them a preferable choice for using hand soap on the body when the need arises.


blackmarket handwash showing soap bubbles

Use Natural, Plant-Based Formulas for the Best Results

In conclusion, yes, you can use body wash as handwash, but you should use a more gentle plant based formula, such as the refillable liquid handwash by Blackmarket.

Keep in mind that liquid hand soap is thinner than body wash so it might not feel as luxurious as a lather-rich body wash would. Body wash contains more surfactants, the stuff that gives you the bubbles, so using Blackmarket handwash will feel like you have less foam. It might also run off your skin faster so you may need more of it to shower than you would body wash.

If you are using Blackmarket handwash refill as a body wash make sure you follow these easy steps:

  • Follow the instructions on the packaging, 240ml of warm water per refill stick, which makes 250ml of liquid handwash
  • Use an unbreakable container, in the shower you don't want to end up with glass shards all over the floor
  • Keep in mind that the water hardness affects how quickly the handwash concentrate mixes with the water. It can take up to 48 hours to achieve the well loved gel texture
blackmarket handwash refill soap