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Using natural shampoo bars

Want to learn more about how to use a natural shampoo bar?

About 10 years ago my mum bought me a shampoo bar as a present from abroad. I tried it once and my hair felt unwashed and waxy. It was hard for me to get a wide comb through it and in the end I re-washed my hair with my usual bottle of shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo bar was then used as a normal bar of soap (I hate to waste things and as I seem to be permanently on a budget this seemed the sensible thing to do).

For me the most important thing is my shampoo has to be SLS free. This is because SLS’s make my scalp and skin itchy and flaky. Not a good look!
Unfortunately, I only realised SLS was the cause of my permanent dandruff when I was over 20 years old and a colleague suggested this could be the problem and no amount of “Head and Shoulders” or “Johnsons Baby” shampoo was going to help.
Making the switch to SLS free shampoo and soap was a game changer for me. I now use far less conditioner and I have no more dandruff!

Why switch to shampoo bars?

With the growing awareness of our plastic problem I decided to make the switch to shampoo bars to reduce the amount of plastic I use.

As with normal shampoo’s and conditioners, there is a variety of shampoo bars out there, many with SLS and other ingredients that can be considered “harsh” because they can be a skin irritant, or worse carcinogenic. Many people can cope with SLS, which is great for them, because their choices are widened. However, this is not an option for me.
In addition to this, I want my shop to be as environmentally friendly as possible, so I also want to reduce, as much as possible, the use of palm oil (even sustainably sourced palm oil) in the products I sell. So my mission to find SLS and palm oil free shampoo bars began, and I’ve been trying different varieties so that you don’t have to!

Using a shampoo bar for the first time

Lavender & Geranium Natural Vegan Shampoo Bar

I’ve tried both the ‘Lavendar and Geranium Shampoo Bar’ by Friendlÿ and the ‘Mop Top’ by Primal Suds. These bars are SLS, Paraben and Palm Oil Free. 

For the first wash I did no preparation of my hair and just washed my hair with the shampoo bar. Unfortunately I found my hair was waxy and it felt as if I hadn’t washed my hair properly, similar to my very first experience with a shampoo bar. I was a bit concerned by this, as I wanted to sell these in my shop, and felt I couldn’t sell a product that I didn’t like myself. So I looked at the Friendlÿ website and learnt about the “transition” phase.
This is the transition from standard chemical shampoos to natural shampoo bars, often called ‘the purge’. I found out that hair may feel frizzy or waxy, as if there’s still residue on your hair.
For some people this can last a couple of days, for others it can take more than a week. The reason given for this is that normal shampoos strip your hair and scalp of its natural sebum, so your scalp needs time to re-balance its oil (sebum) production.

Don't panic or give up on shampoo bars!!!

Tips for an easy transition

Friendlÿ gives tips for an easy transition, which I have tried and found to work:

1. Use a Bicarbonate of Soda Clarifying Rinse, before using the shampoo bar.
2. Use an apple cider vinegar rinse rather than conditioner as this will help to restore the PH balance of your scalp, remove old chemicals, protect the hair shaft and give your hair shine.
3. Give your hair a few days between washing to allow it to adjust.
4. Rinse thoroughly after washing to remove all of the shampoo.
5. Try using a bit of dry shampoo or corn starch if your hair is feeling oily, rub a small amount into the scalp then brush through.
6. Try using a bit of Argan oil after washing to help calm frizz and tangles.
7. Brush your hair often, at least twice a day. Brushing from scalp to tip helps to redistribute your hairs natural oil.

This is what I did:

Step 1: Prepare the Bicarbonate of Soda Clarifying Rinse and Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse.

Bicarbonate of Soda Clarifying rinse

1 Tablespoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
1 cup of warm water
I put it this in a jar and tipped the jar over my head. Not the most effective way of doing it! I strongly recommend transferring this mixture from the jar into a spray or squeeze bottle.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

1 part apple cider
4 parts water
A few drops of your preferred essential oil. I chose Lavender oil to match my Shampoo Bar (Lavender and Geranium Shampoo Bar by Friendlÿ)
I put this into an old plastic spray bottle I had been saving up (I am too clumsy to be trusted with glass in my bathroom).

Step 2: Whilst in the shower I wet my hair, then put the bicarb rinse through my hair and on my scalp and rubbed like I would have with shampoo and rinsed it out.

Step 3: I then lathered the Lavender and Geranium Shampoo Bar in my hands and added the suds to my scalp and hair. Then massaged my scalp and hair like I would normally when washing my hair. After shampooing I rinsed my hair thoroughly.

Step 4: I sprayed my scalp and hair with the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse and worked it through, like I would work through my conditioner. Then rinsed thoroughly.
After rinsing with the Cider Vinegar my hair felt immediately smooth and tangle free.

Step 5: After towel drying my hair I combed it with a wide toothed comb and then put argan oil through my hair.
I do this by putting a drop in my hand and rubbing my hands together and all over, as if I am moisturising my hands, then running my fingers through my hair from scalp to tip.
I do it this way because I once put oil in my hands then liberally applied it straight onto my hair, with the end look being “grease”.
So I asked my hairdresser how he managed to put product in my hair without me coming out looking greasy and that’s how he does it!

Now I follow Steps 3-5 every other day and I love how my hair looks and feels. And no, my hair doesn’t smell of vinegar!

Are natural shampoo bars expensive?

No, in fact, I think they are quite affordable. The shampoo bar is £2.60, Cider vinegar was £1.60 and the Bicarbonate of Soda was £1 but fortunately I have loads left over in my cupboard from all the baking I never did! In total this is £5.20, which is comparable to the paraben and SLS free shampoo I was using, and will last me a couple of months.
The Argan oil is more expensive at between £10 – £16 depending on where you shop, but I use this on my face, body and hair and a 60 ml bottle lasts me about 3 months, as a little goes a long way.

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