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How can body wash contain as many moisturizers as skin cream?

Cee Cee says…I saw a bottle of Olay body wash that claims to contain as many moisturizers as a jar of Olay moisturizing cream. How is this possible?

The Beauty Brains responds

You have to hand it to those rascals in the cosmetic industry. They keep coming up with claims that sound compelling but aren’t really that meaningful.

First let’s be clear about this: it is helpful to have moisturizers in body wash. Procter & Gamble, the makers of Olay, have some very nice technology that can disperse oily conditioners in a rich foaming system. But the idea that it’s helpful to have a “jar full of Olay moisturizer’s” in body wash is a little bit silly. Here’s why:

How much moisturizer in skin cream?

The exact claim is “over a jar full of Olay moisturizers inside.” We take that mean that this bottle of body wash has (at least) as many moisturizers as a jar of Olay moisturizing cream. Looking the label of Olay’s original Active Hydrating Cream we see that the first moisturizing ingredient listed in the formula is petrolatum. Let’s assume for the same of discussion that this formula contains 5% petrolatum. (It’s probably somewhat less than that but we’ll use that number for a ball park calculation.) To find out the total amount of petrolatum in the Olay cream we just calculate 5% of 2 ounces to come up with 0.1 ounces.

How much moisturizer in body wash?

The Olay body wash is sold in a 23.6 ounce bottle. If you took the entire quantity of 0.1 ounces of petrolatum from the cream and put it in this bottle the formula would contain approximately 0.1/23.6 = 0.004% petrolatum. This is far too little to have any impact. The ironic point is that the the body wash probably has much more petrolatum than this anyway that since it’s the second ingredient in the formula! Olay could probably make a claim that says something like “this body wash contains 10x more moisturizers than a jar of of Olay.”

The Beauty Brains bottom line

This exercise isn’t meant to imply that this body wash doesn’t moisturize skin; we’re sure it does. We’re not even saying that the claim about the body wash containing more moisturizers than a jar of face cream is false; in fact it most certainly does contain more. We just think the comparison they’re using is a bit silly because it doesn’t mean anything.

But enough with our scientific skepticism…what do YOU think? Does this kind of claim mean anything to you? Would you buy this body wash because it contains more moisturizers than a jar of cream?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Christina November 10, 2014, 11:58 am

    I am always on the prowl for moisturizing shower products with the intention to skip applying lotion after showering. What can I say..I’m lazy.

    I tried the Olay Moisturizing Body Wash and though it did have more slip than an ordinary body wash, I still needed lotion which didn’t help my laziness.

    I have found that using Sweet Almond Oil in the shower gets the job done and has a handful of properties that assist with moisturizing and evening skin tone and texture.

    Laziness endures!

    • Justine November 10, 2014, 2:47 pm

      Yup, applying lotion after showering feels like it takes forever.

      I’ve been eyeing Cetaphil Restoraderm Skin Restoring Body Wash, but I haven’t gotten around to trying it yet.

      How do you prevent your shower floor from becoming a slipping hazard? Olay In-Shower Body Lotion (which rinses off) made my floor dangerously slippery so I only used it a few times before I gave up on it.

      The quick-drying spray lotions (Vaseline, St. Ives, Yes to Coconut, etc.) are fast, but they’re so lightweight that using them is like applying no lotion at all.

      • Randy Schueller November 10, 2014, 6:32 pm

        Slippery floors are definitely a side effect of these moisturizing body washes. You may need a clarifying shampoo for your tub!.

  • RB November 10, 2014, 9:29 pm

    “As many moisturizers as X” could be interpreted that the body wash has the same number of moisturizing ingredients, not that it has the same amount of moisturizers or the same moisturizing power. If the face cream has 5% petroleum and the body wash has .005% petroleum, they can legally say that both products have petroleum. This reads to me like a claim that’s been very carefully worded in order to get people’s attention while remaining completely meaningless.

    • Randy Schueller November 11, 2014, 6:36 am

      RB: While there are a couple of ways to interpret this claim, I totally agree with you that it’s carefully worded and completely meaningless!

  • Judith November 11, 2014, 12:24 pm

    Slightly off topic. I have always wondered since there are detergent(s) in body wash how any moisturizer remains on the skin. And conversely, if moisturizers do remain on the skin, how effective is the body wash at cleaning.

    • Randy Schueller November 11, 2014, 3:11 pm

      Judith: Any conditioning product has to leave something behind on skin (or hair) or else it wouldn’t work. You can think of the residue as “clean dirt.”

  • amy November 13, 2014, 5:50 pm

    yeah, I’ve always been skeptical of any claims of a moisturizing wash being = to applying lotion. I mean, even if you applied straight up heavy lotion in the shower, the water would rinse most of it off, and toweling dry would remove more.

    I also despise any of the spray on lotions and sunscreens — so bad for the enviornment. you’re not supposed to throw those pressurized cans in the recycle bin, and I doubt most consumers go through the effort of taking them to proper recycling facilities. when I’m feeling lazy, I have a (refillable) pump bottle of rosewater + glycerin. it’s not as good as slathering on lotion, but it at least helps the skin from feeling tight and itchy.