A Pharmacist Guide: How to Choose a Body Wash

Body wash is an essential body care product that we use everyday in our life. There are various body wash products with different formulations, ingredients, and functions on the market. How do we choose a body wash which suits our skin?

Consider These If You Have Dry Skin

  • Body wash with moisturiser 

Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid that can be found in the skin barrier. It helps to maintain the water balance of the skin1. Excessive cleaning may damage the skin barrier and cause the skin to become dry. You may choose a body wash with moisturizer such as linoleic acid if you have dry skin.

  • pH of body wash

Normal healthy skin pH level is between 4 to 6 which is slightly acidic to fight off harmful germs and maintain skin hydration2. However, alkaline body wash products may not be suitable for people who have dry skin as they may irritate and cause the skin to become drier. Body wash with pH 5.5 would be a better choice for people with dry skin.

Consider This If You Want To Be Extra Clean:

  • Antibacterial body wash

Antibacterial ingredients (such as Chloroxylenol, Chlorhexidine digluconate, Octenidine, Silver oxide) kill germs thereby protecting our skin and preventing infection. For example, Dettol, Antabax, Lifebuoy, Hygienix, and Aiken provide antibacterial effects 3,4,5

  • SLS vs SLS free

Sodium lauryl sulfate, which is commonly known as SLS, can be found in petroleum, coconut, and palm oil6. It is a surfactant that creates foam to remove dirt and oil from our body6. However, body wash that contains SLS may not suit people who have dry skin as SLS would strip oil away from the skin and damage the skin barrier7, causing skin irritation and dry skin. 

Consider This For Your Baby:

Always choose a baby body wash for babies. But Why?

  • Baby body wash are gentler and more moisturising

Our skin contains natural moisturising factors (NMF) that maintain the moisture of our skin. Baby skin has lesser NMF and the rate of water absorption is much higher than adults therefore a baby’s skin needs more hydration8. The outer layer of baby skin is 20-30% thinner than adults8

  • Baby body wash are milder and contain less “chemicals” 

Baby body washes cause less irritation in any case the body wash gets into babies’ eyes.

Take Away Message

Choose the most suitable body wash according to your skin condition. You may seek consultation from pharmacists at your nearby Caring stores if you are not sure which body wash suits your body best.

References: 

  1. Linoleic Acid 1. J Whelan, K Fritsche (2013). Advances in Nutrition.  
  2. About Skin and Why it Matters. K Cherney. (Web accessed September 2021). Web link: https://www.healthline.com/health/whats-so-important-about-skin-ph
  3. Dettol Original Antibacterial Bodywash. INCIDecoder.  (Web accessed September 2021). Web link: https://incidecoder.com/products/dettol-original-antibacterial-bodywash (antibacterial)
  4. Lifebuoy Antibacterial Body Wash. INCIDecoder.  (Web accessed September 2021). Web link: https://incidecoder.com/products/lifebuoy-antibacterial-body-wash 
  5. Hygienix 99.99% Germ-Kill Body Wash Citrus Blast. INCIDecoder.  (Web accessed September 2021). Web link: https://incidecoder.com/products/hygienix-body-wash-citrus-blast
  6. What Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)? A Schaefer. (Web accessed September 2021). Web link: https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/what-is-sodium-lauryl-sulfate 
  7. Everything There Is to Know About Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. B Shunatona. (Web accessed September 2021). Web link: https://www.byrdie.com/sodium-lauryl-sulfate-for-skin-4707396
  8. The infant skin barrier: Can we preserve, protect, and enhance the barrier? LS Telofski et al (2012). Dermatology Research and Practice.