You might be amazed by the fact that the first shower gel appeared in the mid-1800s. It was a derivative invention of liquid soap which was invented even earlier, in the beginning of the 1800s. However, many people get confused about what a shower gel really is by definition.
Some say that it is the same thing as the soap, but liquid. Some also say that it is a mild version of shampoo. On the other hand, some people think that all of these things are basically the same, just in a different form, with different labels.
However, none of that is true. A shower gel is much different than a shampoo, soap, and all the other similar stuff. In this article, we will compare shower gel with similar products and see where lies the difference.
Shower Gel vs. Soap?
To understand the main difference between shower gel and soap, let’s first see how both of them are made.
Soaps are made by combining liquid fats, which include vegetable oils and animal fats, with sodium hydroxide. The process of combining these two is called “saponification”, and that’s where the name “soap” derived from.
When the liquid fat chemically reacts with alkali, such as sodium hydroxide, it turns into what we know as soap. Although it might seem like something bad from your health, during the saponification process, both sodium hydroxide and water evaporate, leaving only the soap behind.
When you see a soap made of coconut oil, for example, there is nothing like a chemical to create a coconut flavor inside. It is the real fat from the real coconut oil, that was combined with sodium hydroxide to create the final product.
So, what is a shower gel made of? The shower gel is usually made of three ingredients. The first two ingredients to mention are water and some type of a foaming ingredient, usually Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or shortened, SLS. The third ingredient is betanies, which are used to stick all of them together.
However, more and more people are becoming suspicious of the controversial SLS lately. Even though the studies have shown that SLS is not harmful and is not connected to cancer in any way, they also show that it might irritate the skin if not washed properly.
There is a very interesting video on Youtube that explains in detail how soap is made. It is all well explained and you don’t have to be a scientist to understand it completely. Be sure to check out this great video here.
Should I Use Shower Gel or a Soap?
It all depends on your activity and on your type of skin. For example, if you are an athlete who sweats a lot, and your skin is not too sensitive, a soap might be the ideal solution. However, if your skin is a bit sensitive you should use soap bars that are rich in vitamins and amino acids.
On the other hand, if your skin is super sensitive, then a shower gel is the best solution. Shower gels are mostly water-based, and will perfectly moisturize your skin. Also, they are usually rich in certain soothing ingredients, that won’t irritate your delicate skin.
However, if your skin is not super sensitive, the best solution might be to use both soap and shower gel. Sometimes, various factors might have an effect on the skin, including the season. Therefore, the skin might vary from dry to oilier, so the best way would be to use both the soap and the shower gel.
For example, you might use the soap only when washing hands and face, and use shower gel when showering.
Shower Gel vs. Shampoo
Again, to better understand the difference, we should first understand how they are made. Since we have already covered the shower gel how-it’s-made topic, let’s see how companies make shampoos.
The shampoo is made of similar ingredients as a shower gel. It is created by combining a Sodium Lauryl Sulfate with Cocamidopropyl betaine, which forms a viscous liquid. Besides, it has water, foam boosters, different detergents, thickeners, preservatives, and a few sorts of special additives.
As you can notice, it has more chemicals than a shower gel. Its goal is to clean the hair, but not to clean it too much. It is because if the shampoo was too strong, it would wash out all the protective oils from the hair.
Also, a shampoo might be too “strong” for the skin. Many people use shampoo instead of a shower gel or soap, but if your skin is sensitive, you should never do that. The fact is that shampoo is meant to be used only for hair.
What to Use?
The difference is clear, and the fact is that both should be used, but in different situations. The shampoo has more chemicals and is ideal for the hair, but might be bad for the skin, especially the sensitive skin.
On the other hand, shower gel is mild. It is not strong enough for a proper hair wash, but will perfectly do the job when it comes to cleaning the skin. Therefore, you should have these facts in mind when showering or washing your hair.
Shower Gel vs. Shower Cream
Another common question is whether shower gel and shower cream are the same, only in different physical states. So, let’s break it down.
The shower cream is usually a moisturizing formula, thinner than the shower gel. When rubbed into the skin, it will produce a foamy lather. It is very mild and can be used for many purposes, from washing and shaving to bubble bath.
However, shower gel and shower cream also have a difference when it comes to the ingredients they are made of. Shower creams usually have soothing ingredients such as shea butter and coconut oil. Also, they are usually white or have a similar, gentle color.
What Should be Used?
Again, you should consider your skin type and time of the year. For cold climates, and people with dry skin, a shower cream is a much better option. However, if you have oily or normal skin, then you should consider a good shower gel.
A shower gel is also better for warm climates, especially if it has some cooling ingredients added. For example, you can notice that some shower gels have ingredients like mint or cucumber.
How to Use a Shower Gel Properly?
- The first thing you should do is consider which scent do you like the most. There is nothing more beautiful than having a shower with your favorite scent on your body.
- Then, you should consider your skin type. Choose the proper shower gel according to whether your skin is dry or oily and acne-prone.
- Another very important thing is to choose the right sponge, too. Unlike soap, a shower gel can’t be simply massaged over the body. You should choose a sponge according to your skin type, and don’t forget to take proper care of your sponge.
- When using a shower gel, you should pour around half of the teaspoon of gel or a quarter of a drop. Then, lather the soap first so that it creates a nice foam.
- Gently rub yourself all over, but don’t press too hard, especially if the sponge is a bit rough, or if your skin is sensitive.
- Once you have soaped yourself, rinse it all with a shower. Don’t forget to rinse completely or it might cause irritations. Then, step out and dry yourself with a towel.
- In the end, you might want to consider using a moisturizer. It is good for almost all types of skin and will keep it soft and healthy. However, if your skin is very oily, it might be a bad idea to use the moisturizer.
If your skin is too sensitive, you should also consider having a proper shower filter.
This is a very good video that explains how to use the shower gel properly. Be sure to check it out!
A Few Words in the End
Now that you know all about shower gel, you might be wondering what hygienic agent is the best to use. Is it a soap, a shower gel, a shower cream, or should you just use a shampoo for both body and hair.
The fact is that each of them has its good and bad sides. Therefore, you should consider your skin type and time of the year before you decide. Usually, for normal skin type, it is best to use all of them combined.
In the end, note that the bathroom is usually the most used room in the house. You might consider buying a nice shower caddy, or a special shower curtain rods to make it bright and shine.
What is your preferred product for washing and beauty care? Do you prefer shower gels over all the other? Feel free to let us know in the comments below…