There has been a lot of buzz about Shampoo Bars in the media lately.
There is also a lot of confusion on subject & a lot of mis-information floating around out there. In an effort to clarify the subject, in this post we will talk about reasons to make the switch, about hair & hair-care, & also about how to use SLS-Free, natural shampoo bars properly & that pesky 'transition period.'
Why Make The Switch?
Looking to make the change over to Shampoo Bars? There are many great reasons to do so! They are an excellent green choice. Shampoo bars eliminate the need for wasteful plastic bottles & are a perfect option for those looking to make their bathrooms a plastic-free zone. Many also eliminate the use of chemical surfactants & preservatives, such as parabens & sodium lauryl sulfate, making these natural shampoo bars a healthier option than the chemical laden bottles seen in most drug stores. Not only are people literally bathing themselves with these chemicals, but the chemicals then make their way down the drain & into our groundwater. Sadly, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has reported finding these chemicals in nearly every water supply they have tested. Using products without these ingredients helps to reduce that contamination.
Another great reason to switch is that Shampoo Bars are fantastic for travel. Being solid instead of liquid makes them super easy to fly with. Packing a shampoo bar is infinitely easier than dealing with the hassles of traveling with any liquid these days.
TRAVEL TIP: Simply save the empty tin from a package of Altoid mints, tuck a slice of your bar inside,
& you are ready to fly!
More than being TSA friendly, many bars are biodegradable & therefore perfect for camping & safely washing up in freshwater lakes or streams.
Before using your shampoo bar in this manner, please ensure that it is indeed biodegradable, chemical-free, & that it has a low nitrogen footprint -- Sadly, you will find some ‘natural’ soaps & shampoo bars on the market these days are filled with the same chemicals as bottled, mass-produced options.
Additionally, Shampoo bars are very long lasting & economical, with many users finding they need to wash their hair much less often, saving time & water. Being small & solid, they are most often sold with reduced or zero-packaging as well. All of these are really great reasons to make the switch.
About Hair & What To Look For In A Natural Shampoo Bar:
To be clear, in this post, for the tips & the information I provide when talking about Shampoo Bars, I mean natural, SLS-Free shampoo bars. Many mainstream companies are jumping on this bandwagon -- including some purporting to be ‘all natural’ -- & are selling Shampoo Bars that are simply solid versions of their plastic-packaged liquid shampoos, bars that feature sodium-lauryl sulfate as the surfactant cleansing agent. This type of bar is NOT what this post is referencing. For example, there is a very-well-known company from England that sells many shampoo & conditioner bars, each & everyone of which contains SLS as its first ingredient. Now this type of bar still reduces plastic waste & is easier to travel with, but the rest of this post does not pertain to these types of shampoo bars. It is to give information about natural, chemical-free shampoo bars & how to use them properly.
Be sure to check your products & know what you are using.
Some have wondered why it is that we have special ‘soap’ for our hair & don’t simply use the same cleansers we use on our bodies. The answer to this is quite simple really:
Hair prefers an acidic environment.
By ‘acidic,’ I am talking about the natural pH, or Potential of Hydrogen, of the hair & scalp. The natural acidic pH of human hair, generally between 4.5 & 5.5 on the pH scale, prevents the growth of bacteria & fungi,
& also keeps the hair cuticle closed & healthy.
Now, soaps are basic in pH, so what you are using on your body is not ideal for your hair & scalp. Good-quality, natural Shampoo Bars are formulated specifically for hair with pH in mind, & are best when followed with an acidic rinse. [more on that in a bit] When produced properly, natural shampoo bars will have as low a pH as possible, making them closer to neutral on the pH scale. For example, our Du Jardin Shampoo Bars are specially formulated to be super-fatted & have salts added to help lower their pH. This helps significantly, but the bars are still soap & therefore still mildly basic/alkaline in pH & healthy hair must be slightly acidic in order to protect the scalp & keep the cuticle closed. This is achieved by following your shampooing with ANY natural shampoo bar with an acidic rinse -- especially if you have hard water [I’m looking at you New England!] This rinse closes the cuticle & restores the pH, protecting the scalp & adding shine to the hair.
It is a simple, easy step -- indeed easier even than using a bottled conditioner. There are many options for this rinse. Keeping a bottle with 1 or 2 TBS of lemon juice per 1 cup of water at hand is my preferred choice. Some use citric acid or apple cider vinegar instead of lemon [2 TBS : 1 Cup water.] All of these are equally effective & simply a matter of personal preference-- although I will say, if you can handle the scent of the ACV, you will be rewarded with incredibly shiny hair! The strong vinegar scent dissipates completely by the time your hair is dry, but is so powerful that many find it a deterrent, myself included.
Your chosen rinse can be applied in the shower or once you are out.
Common Sense Warning: Many are trying to minimize all plastic use in their showers; please use extreme caution if using a glass jar for your acidic rinse in the shower [or use once out!]
Do not rinse your rinse out; allow hair to dry naturally or blow dry afterwards as you normally would. People with particularly hard water find using distilled water in their rinse has fantastic effect as well.
Some may find due to the texture of their hair, or the time of the year, that they want a bit more moisture. For this we recommend a small, pea-sized drop of almond, jojoba, or argan oil lightly rubbed in your hands. Gently run your hands over dry hair starting from about half way down the hair shaft to the ends, adding an extra level of nourishment & shine. For thermal heat protection put 2 drops in the palm of your hand & gently massage into damp hair after showering. Your hair will feel silky soft after blow-drying. Many companies, ourselves included, also make hair specific Conditioning Oil Blends for these purposes.
The Transition Period &
Why It Can Happen:
It is important to understand how to use Shampoo Bars properly in order to achieve the best results.
Many people, particularly those with long hair, experience what is referred to as the ‘transition period’ before hair is free of chemical residue from prior products.
It is important to understand why this can happen & not immediately assume natural shampoo bars are simply ‘not for your hair.’
The chemical surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate, the cleansing agent in most mass-market shampoos, is literally the same compound used to clean grease off of car engines! Siting the ACI [American Cleaning Institute,] sodium lauryl sulfate “is found in high concentrations in industrial products, including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash products…” 1
Seems a bit excessive for cleaning ourselves, no? Indeed!
SLS irritates & over-strips our natural sebum, in turn drying out the scalp, stripping the hair of its natural oils, & causing a vicious cycle of excess oil production. You over strip the hair & scalp, so it begins over producing oil in order to compensate. Sheds a new light on the old saying “Lather, rinse, repeat” doesn’t it?
When you stop using chemical surfactants like SLS, you might find your hair feels different at first as your body adjusts. Most people find that feeling goes away within a few days, & their bodies stop over producing sebum. Many find that their hair is cleaner, softer, & more manageable once hair & scalp stop being over-stripped of natural sebum. Any “weird hair" feeling after the initial adjustment is most often due to lather not being completely rinsed out or not being followed with an acidic rinse to rebalance the hair & scalp pH.
Just How Do I Use A Shampoo Bar?
Shampoo bars are quite easy to use. Here are some tips & techniques to help you find what works best for you. I will discuss two different methods here: the Direct Method & the Lather Method. No matter which you choose, be sure to lather up really well & then to rinse thoroughly! If you have long hair, pay special attention to the middle back of the hair so that you rinse all of the soap out. You can use the bar directly on the hair or create the lather in your hands & apply.
use the rinse once you are out of the shower itself!
Finding The Best Bar For You
If you’ve never used a natural Shampoo Bar before, it is a good idea to try a couple different types to find one that works best for you. Everyone's hair is a little different with varying needs.
There are many options on the market. After a bit of experimenting, we believe you will find a Shampoo Bar that leaves your hair feeling clean & soft silky.
Many will find them to be the solution to a lifetime of bad hair days.
About Du Jardin’s Shampoo Bars
We are pleased to offer 3 different SLS-Free Shampoo Bar options for our customers. Each is carefully formulated specifically for use on hair & scalp, with nourishing oils & natural botanicals added to provide specific benefits. All of our bars are super-fatted & have salts added to help to lower their pH. They are long-cured to provide hard, long-lasting bars.
Balance & Body Bars:
These are a great regular use bar for most hair types--especially helpful for oily scalp/dry ends, flaky scalps, or to remove lots of build-up. These bars are particularly helpful for balancing the hair. Peppermint, Rosemary, & Tea Tree essential oils & nettle leaf provide anti-inflammatory & antibacterial properties to keep the scalp in good health. Wonderful for dandruff. These bars are made with jojoba, olive, coconut & almond oils to cleanse & balance the hair. Their soft green color is provided by the nettle leaf, which contains pantothenic acid & silica to strengthen the hair, & is also said to promote hair growth.
Volume & Shine Bars:
These provide wonderful volume for fine hair & brilliant shine naturally. Made with Rhassoul Clay, Chamomile Tea, & Coconut Oil to leave the hair clean without over-stripping it or weighing it down. Essential Oils Of Both German & Roman Chamomile, paired with Lemongrass & Cedarwood provide subtle fragrance, as well as promoting healthier, shinier hair, while their natural anti-inflammatory compounds can alleviate itchy, dry scalp.
The Chamomile tea & essential oils additionally help to brighten blonde, gray, & silver hair. Recommended especially for fine & thin hair.
Nourishing Shampoo Bars:
Specifically formulated for dry, stressed, or damaged hair. These bars feature ingredients to moisturize the hair, including cocoa butter, avocado & apricot-kernel oils. Added egg yolks feed the hair & provide vitamins A & E, biotin, & folate, nutrients that have been linked to hair growth & healthy hair. Essential oils of Rosewood, Sandalwood, & Geranium provide a delicious fragrance, as well as assisting to balance & nourish the hair.
Wonderful for thick, coarse, & especially curly hair. Indeed, the turmeric used to color these bars has been shown to purify the scalp while enhancing & maintaining the natural curl patterns in the hair, assisting in achieving some poppin’ curls!
I hope you find the information in this post helpful, & that a better understanding of natural shampoo bars & how to effectively use them might encourage you to give them a go.
Be sure to double check the ingredient list on any items you are using!
It is more & more important to understand what is IN the products we use on a daily basis & how those ingredients affect us & the world we live in.
Take care & be good to each other.
My husband & I were blessed with 2 beautiful girls. When I was diagnosed with MS, I couldn't keep up the pace working retail. We decided on a simpler life, built a cabin in the woods, & moved to mid-coast Maine