Success with Shampoo Bars

Shampoo bars natural shampoo

What are Shampoo Bars?

Shampoo bars are a type of solid soap formulated with unique oil blends to wash the hair and scalp without leaving the kind of residue typical to soap.  They are a natural alternative to the commercial detergent shampoos we’ve all become used to.

Why stop using commercial shampoo?

I switched from detergent-based shampoos about 2 1/2 years ago when I was frustrated with my ever oily scalp.  I was washing every day with more and more expensive shampoos and still had limp, oily hair by the end of the day.  One day, I heard something new:

“Commercial shampoos contain detergents that strip your hair and scalp of natural oils which can lead to the scalp OVER-PRODUCING oil in some people.”

 Basically, my scalp was defending itself by trying to replenish the protective oils that were being stripped away every day.  It made sense to me and I decided to see if I could try to break this cycle by getting away from the chemical-laden detergents.
 But what alternatives are there???
First, I found the method that is commonly known as “No ‘Poo”.  You use baking soda to wash your scalp and hair and apple cider vinegar (ACV) to condition your hair.  Being slightly cheap, I thought this sounded like a good method since I already had both of these ingredients in the kitchen.  Enter the transition period.
This is tough.  Here’s where most people give up on their efforts to leave commercial shampoo.  In a nutshell, the transition phase happens because it takes a little time for your scalp to get the message to stop producing all that protective oil.  It spends about a week still producing the same amount of oils that it had when it was being stripped constantly.  Except you’re not stripping it away anymore.  Therefore – you can feel quite greasy for a while!  For me, the transition period lasted about 2 weeks.  Some people experience more and some are lucky and don’t even notice a difference.
Part of my problem was that the baking soda/ACV just wasn’t working for my hair.  I somehow ended up with greasy but straw-like hair and after a month of dealing with it – I was ready to run back to my Biolage.  Except . . .  my scalp was feeling GREAT!  I was no longer oily by the end of the day!  I could actually go about 4 days between washes now.  There had to be a way to keep my newly healthy scalp and give me normal hair too.Lavender Shampoo Bar
Shampoo Bars – the Better Alternative
At this point, I went looking for another shampoo alternative since the no ‘poo was a no go and found out about shampoo bars.  They’re natural soap with loads of bubbly lather to wash your hair without creating the unhealthy-oily-scalp cycle.  Best of all, my hair was soft again.  And full. And manageable.  And shiny.   And it even had better texture than before.  The bar also smelled delicious!  (This might be a silly thing to be concerned about but I was definitely going through yummy scent withdrawal with the baking soda.)  I was completely hooked!  I now make both handcrafted soap and shampoo bars because I’ve found a passion to share the health benefits that I’ve found with these natural and healthy products.  All Natural Shampoo
Here’s a Few Tips for Success with Shampoo Bars:
  • Be patient.  Although I don’t think the transition phase is as dramatic with shampoo bars, it can still be a pain.  Give the bars a good 2-3 weeks to show you how healthy your scalp can be.
  • Use a boar bristle brush.  This helps to pull the excess oils off of your scalp and distribute them along the shafts of your hair.  This is the body’s natural conditioner and you will probably notice an improvement in the health of your locks too.  I like using it before bed and before hopping into the shower.  Just don’t brush too vigorously because you can irritate your scalp and cause some dandruff.
  • If you want, use a conditioner.  Women especially are tied to “their” conditioner and if you drop it cold-turkey, you might be less likely to keep with the shampoo bars.  Don’t feel like you HAVE to switch to all-natural everything because you’re trying a shampoo alternative!  All natural shampoo bar
  • If your goal IS to become more natural and get away from chemicals, I recommend using a lemon juice rinse.  I like it over the ACV rinse because it doesn’t weigh my hair down.  Here’s what you do:  Put 1-2 Tbs of lemon juice in the bottom of an 8oz cup and take it into the shower with you.  After shampooing, fill the cup the rest of the way with water and then rinse through your hair.  Let it sit for about a minute and then rinse well.  Since all soap is naturally alkaline, this rinse helps to bring your hair back to it’s naturally acidic state.  If you prefer apple cider vinegar, you can follow the some recipe with that instead of lemon juice.
  • Be flexible!  I’m constantly doing different things.  Most days I like the lemon juice rinse after shampooing.  Some days I use a store-bought conditioner.  Some days I don’t use a conditioner at all and my hair even does great with that!
  • Although shampoo bars are formulated not to coat your hair with residue, I’m finding that after a while, it sort of does.  Once or twice a month, I use a store-bought shampoo to wash the ENDS of my hair (not my scalp!) to strip away any slight build up.  beer and aloe shampoo
  • Your hair will feel very different when it’s wet!  The best word I’ve found to describe the feeling is “cottony”.  Like the squeaky cotton ball in your aspirin bottle.  At first, I thought my hair seemed so tangled that I’d never get a brush through it again.  Don’t worry (like I did) – you’re just not used to feeling your hair without being coated with chemicals and silicates.  It does feel different.  Don’t try to brush it out wet.  Either let it dry naturally or (here’s what I do) give it a rough dry under your dryer until it’s mostly dry.  You’ll notice that, suddenly, your hair is soft and manageable and you’ll easily be able to style it like normal.
  • My favorite tip?  Men LOVE shampoo bars!  I think it might be the fact that you can use them as soap on the rest of your body and it completely cuts out a whole step.  🙂  If you’re looking for that little something to make him smile, give him a shampoo bar!Natural shampoo bar

    1. I only use the boar brush before bed and yes, my hair can get a bit untamed but then I use my regular brush to brush out my hair afterward. The goal with the boar brush is to pull the oil from your scalp down the length of your hair to condition and protect it.

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