Thinking About Using Body Wash on Your Face? Read. This. First.
Main image – LiubovLevytska/Adobe
You’d be forgiven for thinking you can save some time (and, let’s face it, money) by using body wash on your face if you’ve run out or forgotten to buy your regular cleanser. But *please* stop right there! Your skin definitely won’t thank you.
While it may seem like a convenient idea, using body wash on your face can actually lead to a few complications. Live That Glow HQ spoke to Celebrity aesthetician and beauty expert Ian Michael Crumm to get the lowdown on why you shouldn’t swap your salicylic acid for shower gel or soap bars, and what happens to your skin if you do.
Buckle up, buttercups, as we take you on a soapy adventure of epic proportions, revealing why your face deserves a separate pampering party. Let the foam fest begin!
Should I use body wash on my face?
The short answer is no, “Using body wash or body moisturiser on the face is generally not recommended,” Ian tells us unless, of course, it’s a product specifically made for use on the body and face.
WebMD says that “most dermatologists agree that ‘deodorant’ soap or highly fragranced soap contains strong detergents and shouldn’t be used on the face.
“Soap-free cleansers such as mild cleansing bars and sensitive-skin bars along with most liquid facial cleansers have less potential for facial skin irritation than soaps. The same is true for cleansing creams and disposable facial washcloths,” it adds.
Body washes are formulated differently from facial cleansers, typically containing harsher detergents like lauryl sulphate and stronger fragrances. They’re also designed for the body’s thicker, less sensitive skin.
“Body washes are typically formulated with stronger detergents that may strip the natural oils and protective layer from the face, leading to dryness and irritation,” Ian confirms.
Body wash and traditional bar soap contain chemicals designed to create a foamy lather to wash away dirt and oil from skin. The result? Super clean skin, but often very few natural oils are left.
While this may be fine for your hardier skin elsewhere on your body, the thinner, more delicate skin on your face become irritated and dry.
That in turn could also mean you actually shelling out more money on moisturisers and serums to alleviate the dry skin caused by these harsh chemicals.
And the same goes for moisturisers. Ian tells us that moisturisers designed for the body “may be too heavy or comedogenic for the face, potentially clogging pores and causing breakouts.”
Are there advantages to using body wash on your face?
In terms of convenience and saving money, using body wash may have some advantages. But in terms of looking after the sensitive skin on your face? No way Jose!
If you really need to cut your products down- whether to save space in your suitcase, save precious time in the mornings and evenings, or for plain and simple convenience- try to find a product that is formulated for both your body and your face.
For space-saving alternatives to facial cleansers, soaps designed specifically for the sensitive skin on your face and around your eyes do a great job on your body too.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at the potential complications involved in using shower gel on your face.
Potential complications from using body wash on your face
One of the most common possible complications of using body wash on your face is dry skin.
Since the skin on your face is generally more sensitive, it can easily react by becoming dry and flaky. Nobody wants a face that feels as parched as a desert, right?
That’s because our skin has this amazing protective barrier that helps to retain moisture and keep out harmful stuff. Using a body wash on your face can disrupt this delicate balance and compromise the integrity of your skin barrier, making it more prone to dryness and irritation.
And let’s not forget about your skin’s pH levels.
The skin on your face has a slightly acidic pH level, around 4.5 to 5.5, which helps maintain a healthy balance. Body cleansers, on the other hand, may have a different pH level, which could mess with the natural balance of your face, so “It’s best to use products specifically formulated for the face, as they are designed to address the unique needs of facial skin,” Ian tells us.
Skin irritation and allergic reactions are other unwelcome guests. Using a body wash on your face could lead to redness, itchy skin, and general discomfort.
Your face is pretty sensitive, and it deserves some extra TLC with products formulated to cater to its unique needs.
Alternatives if you’ve run out of face wash
If you don’t have any face wash to hand and you want to get rid of the day’s makeup, SPF or oils, rather than reaching for the body wash here are some quick alternatives.
The best way to remove makeup and pollutants that are harmful to the skin and cause blocked pores is to use something natural like coconut oil that will melt chemicals, makeup and SPF away. Simply smooth a blob over your face and massage it in a circular movement before wiping everything away with a cotton pad. Use some warm water to make sure everything is removed before slathering on your fave serums and moisturisers!
Using good old water and a cloth is better than going to bed with a face full of foundation!
If, for whatever reason, you’re trying to cut down on the number of products you buy some body lotions or oils are specifically labelled safe for facial use.
Still, it’s always important to check the product labels and consult with a skincare professional if you’re unsure,” Ian advised.
If all else fails you can always do as your grandma did behind you and use a cold cream or moisturiser along with cotton pads to remove dirt and makeup. It worked for her after all (and we don’t know about you but there seem to be a lot of 70-plus ladies with some amazing skin around).
How to cleanse your face properly
Regular cleansing is really important for healthy, glowing skin. Ideally, you need to use a good facial cleanser that’s suited to your unique skin type and contains active ingredients that help to alleviate or eliminate any skin conditions you may have.
Now, there are loads of different types of cleaners, from bar soaps to oil-based formulations, cleansers that contain helpful ingredients like vitamin E and salicylic acid, to micellar waters that stick to dirt and gently remove it from your skin.
It’s important to read the ingredients and make sure that they don’t contain any harsh chemicals. And for those with acne-prone or ageing skin, active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and hyaluronic acids are the G.O.A.T.
Some even double up as a face mask, giving you deep cleansing and moisturising – perfect!
Using the right water temperature makes a HUGE difference to the natural oils on your skin. The temperature we use to shower is *way* too hot for the sensitive skin on your face (especially if, like us, you prefer your shower as hot as the depths of hell).
You should be aiming for lukewarm water and take the time to work your cleanser into a luxurious foamy lather before applying it to your damp skin. This will give the product the best chance of removing excess oil, makeup, toxins, pollution, dirt, and SPF. Gently dry your skin with a clean towel before applying the rest of your skincare.
You shouldn’t really be using shower gel, body wash or traditional soap bars on your face due to the harsh chemicals.
If you’re in a tight squeeze, and have *literally* nothing else to use, or you’re determined to purchase fewer beauty products, you’d be best off using plain old water and a cloth, a product that is designed for use on your face and body, or magic micellar water that is gentle enough to not disrupt your pH balance.
Meet the expert
Celebrity aesthetician and beauty expert Ian Michael Crumm is co-host of the BeautyCurious podcast with Dr Elyse Love. Ian is known for his passion for skincare and sun safety and is actively involved in philanthropic efforts to promote skin cancer awareness, and believes that #ProtectedSkinWins.