Is there really a difference between a shower gel and a shampoo?

We use personal hygiene products every day, without necessarily asking ourselves why we use one product on our hair, but another on our body or face. And yet, it would never occur to us to use a shampoo on our entire body every day! Does our skin, which is in direct contact with these products, require special care depending on the area of the body to be washed? In this case, what is the difference between a shower gel formula and a shampoo formula? The company of the senses takes a look at the subject, and offers you this article to better understand the needs of our skin in terms of hygiene products. The shower is serious business!

The skin: how is it made?

Our body is enveloped by nearly 2 m² of skin, representing 4 to 10 kilos in adults. It is not an easy task to take care of it! It is the largest organ of the human body, which allows to protect our organism from contaminations and parasites. It is composed of three layers providing us with triple protection:

  • the epidermis, the outer layer in direct contact with the environment. At its top is the stratum corneum, made up of dead cells that serve as a shield against outside organisms;
  • the dermis, a little deeper, where we find nerves and the sweat (sweat-secreting) and sebaceous (sebum-secreting) glands;
  • the hypodermis, deep in the skin, where the roots of hair and hairs are implanted and where veins and arteries are found.

In addition to a physical barrier, the skin has built up an army for its protection: the bacterial flora that develops there allows for a balance that is essential to its good health. This population of naturally present, harmless bacteria in fact makes the skin inhospitable to parasites and pathogenic bacteria present in the environment. It's all about the balance between strength and the dark side!

But this flora can quickly turn against us if we do not regulate it or if we disturb it. This is why it is essential to be careful with the cosmetic and hygiene products we use. An overly aggressive shower gel or shampoo could destroy this protection and open the door to much less friendly parasites. Not using soap isn't the answer either, since it's important to remove and renew sebum, the fatty substance naturally produced by the body that forms a protective and moisturizing hydrolipidic film, which is evacuated through the pores, as well as dead skin cells. Without this little clean up, skin suffocates and the hydrolipidic film, a true skin barrier, is disrupted.

The scalp and the body: what is the difference?

The skin is a complex organ with very heterogeneous characteristics, varying according to the location of the body, the environment and the individual. its elasticity, sebum secretion rate, sometimes even its pH and porosity will be differentiating factors. If we add to this the variation of hairiness and the distribution of nerves, we get an organ that undeniably varies according to the area and the person.

The skin of the skull, very little mobile, is covered with hair (for the luckiest) and has quite few sensory nerves. It is the skin of the skull that will allow us to regulate our body temperature.

The skin of the body is more mobile than that of the scalp. It generally has more nerve endings (depending on the part of the body) and also allows us to evacuate perspiration and sebum while acting as a barrier against aggression, whether it be blows and cuts, solar radiation or foreign organisms that do not necessarily mean us well.

Not so much difference in skin composition, between head and body! But then, why are hygiene products multiplying, all specific to one part of the body?

Shampoo, shower gel, what is it?

A shampoo is composed of several ingredients:

  • water, of course, overwhelmingly to dilute the other ingredients;
  • washing agents, the tensioactives, which trap and carry away dirt, sebum and dead skin. Be careful with their concentration: too many surfactants in a hygiene product can lead to redness, too much sebum secretion, loss of skin or hair shine, etc.
  • additives, such as texture agents, preservatives, fragrance and active ingredients for a product with specific properties.

And what about the composition of the shower gel? Well, it is the same! Sure, sometimes the concentration of this or that additive can vary, to get a silkier effect on the hair or a protective film on the skin, but the base is the same. Surprising, right?

The difference in additive concentration will strongly influence the choice of shower gel shampoo. Remember when you forgot your shampoo on your way to the pool, and you washed your hair with your shower gel... And suddenly, the hair is dry, heavy and difficult to style! Well, it's normal, because it's the additives in the shower gel, which are so good for your body, that your hair doesn't like. To switch to a multi-purpose hygiene product, so choose one with as few additives as possible!

A period of adaptation may also be necessary: our hair is used to products containing waxes and ingredients that will make it shine effortlessly. Over time, hair has adapted and when this is taken away, it's a hair drama! But don't panic, it soon gets used to the absence of occlusive waxes or fats, and it will even thank you, allowing you to space your shampoos! Your skin's pores will no longer be choked with waxes and fats, and the skin's moisture balance will be maintained. You can space out your shampoos and have soft, well-moisturized skin, naturally.