I thoroughly enjoy developing and crafting shampoo bars, and my hair benefits from my work. I wish shampoo bars were more popular, as they are multipurpose, being useful for body and hair (although, I still prefer a separate bar with specific features for shaving-my shaving bars make LOTS of silky lather that’s perfect for shaving!).
When I first started, the shampoo bar recipes I found left my hair feeling sticky and tacky, or it would just get oily again so quickly. After learning about fatty acid profiles and their roles in soap, I developed a shampoo bar that gets my hair good and clean, with no film left behind. I believe everyone has different hair types (read about your hair type here) and I offer three different shampoo bars; oily hair, normal hair, and dry hair. If you have normal hair you can also try one of our “all in one” bars on your hair, they are formulated to be used on body AND hair, and lather generously without drying your hair out.
If you’ve never tried a shampoo bar before, here are a few things you might want to know:
1) It could-and probably will-take two to three weeks to adjust to using a shampoo bar. In fact, for the first while, your hair definitely could feel “gunky” at first as build up and residue gets broken down. What’s happening is that silicones and other gunk that’s built up on your hair shaft are being stripped away slowly and as they peel off, your hair feels horrible. Once your hair gets truly clean, you’ll be amazed.
2) To wash your hair, I advise getting it thoroughly soaking wet, then wetting down the bar and rubbing it all over your hair. I find it helps to work in sections, starting at the roots and then out to the ends. Do a good job of this or you can end up with greasy spots. This is not detergent store shampoo that just has to pass by your hair; you have to patiently wash your hair properly. Rinse and definitely repeat if your hair was very oily, or if you’re a “no ‘poo” person and you’re on day 5, perhaps if you use a lot of hair products, etc. I get away with one quick wash because I keep my hair fairly short, because I only use a lightweight styling pomade on occasion, and because I wash every two or three days.
3) Using an acidic rinse helps a LOT. Some people say that acidic rinses definitely eased their transition from commercial shampoo to shampoo bars. Personally, I swear by them. I love how silky my hair is after my bamboo blend tea with citric acid or apple cider vinegar rinse.
- Hair is made of tiny keratin scales that raise up when exposed to something with a high pH, like a shampoo bar, baking soda, and certain clays. It makes your hair feel rough and can make it tangle easier. My husband, with his buzz cut, doesn’t mind the texture of it, but I prefer my hair to be smooth and silky so I use an acidic rinse to smooth the scales back down.
- Most people use a rinse that’s approximately 25% apple cider vinegar in clean water . You can make a big batch of this with a little preservative or make it as you need it. You can also make it and store it in your fridge but then you have COLD rinse on your head when you wash your hair!
- You can also use a tea (mixed with ACV or citric acid) that’s good for hair, like chamomile for blonde, rooibos for red, plain tea for brown hair, or bamboo tea for any hair.
- I make a tea out of bamboo, horsetail, and marshmallow root for shine and detangling properties. I add a little preservative-at the recommended rate- since I make a large amount each time to ward off mold and bacteria. I make approximately 16 oz of tea in a pop top water bottle and add Optiphen ND to preserve it. Once I add 2 tsp of citric acid and whatever essential oils tickle me right then, the entire bottle lasts me about 6 shampoos with my length of hair. It would vary based on how long your hair is. Here are directions on making a rinse. I do it a little differently than she does; I also use bamboo, I substitute citric acid for the ACV, and you don’t have to use polysorbate 20 if you shake well before each use. It’s optional.
- You can also use water or tea with 5% citric acid (about 1 tsp for each 8 oz of fluid). I prefer this for traveling since then all I have to take is powdered citric acid. I can mix it in a cup wherever I end up!
- Finally, I’ve been told but never tried a fruit juice or kombucha rinse. A fruit juice (like lemon or grapefruit) should be done at approx 10%, and the same with kombucha. You may need a little more juice, but you shouldn’t need it at 25% since it’s more acidic than ACV.
- If any of the rinses dry out your hair, dilute them more next time.
- Add essential oils as desired to your rinses; I almost always add rosemary because it’s said to be so beneficial to your hair.
- If you make more than you can use in one sitting, use a preservative or if it’s just one more serving, store in your refrigerator to prevent mold or bacterial growth. Vitamin E, Rosemary Extract, and Grapefruit Seed oil are NOT preservatives! They are antioxidants and excellent ones, but they won’t stop mold and bacteria from invading your water based creations!
- Leave the rinse on your hair about 3- 5 minutes. Rinse out with cool water. Your hair should feel soft and smooth in the water after you’re done.
- I store mine in a 16 oz. pop top water bottle that I have repurposed just for this occasion. The pop top gives me control over where the rinse goes and the design of the water bottle means it’s easy to grip and fits in the fridge easily. Some people put their rinses in mister spray bottles and spray the rinse through their hair, but that seems like a lot of work.
- Try to avoid getting the rinse on your roots to keep your hair from looking oily quicker. If you can just get your hair from about 1″ away from your scalp and out from there, you’ll get all the benefits and also your hair will look clean longer. If you must rinse your scalp, be sure to rinse it with water very well to stave off the oilys.
4) Some people find they can use considerably less conditioner when using a shampoo bar, in fact, some people feel they don’t need it at all. If I make the shine and detangle rinse with bamboo, I never need conditioner.
5) There is much debate (even here at home!) about the impact of shampoo bars on hair that has been hennaed or dyed. Do shampoo bars help retain color or cause it to wash out faster? I’ve heard seasoned shampoo bar users insist that their color lasts longer, while others thought they saw their color washing out quickly. In our family, we had mixed results, with one person seeing no difference and one person seeing their color wash out pretty quickly right after a fresh color service. My guess is that it depends on how porous your hair is, how well it took the color, if you have extra color deposited on your scalp and so on that could mistakenly look like all your color going down the drain, and a number of other factors. I’m not a licensed cosmetologist; I really couldn’t say for sure. Regardless, if you have color treated hair and you want to try a shampoo bar, be advised that this is a potential concern. Unlikely, but possible. And while we will cheerfully refund you the purchase price of the shampoo bar if it turns out your lovely lavender locks won’t work with our bars, we are not accountable for any other damages or monies owed if your hair color fades.