How to Transition to Using a Shampoo Bar
So you’ve been shopping through the range of wonderful shampoo bars on the market, you’ve seen the coconut oil and jojoba oil options, the citrus and the chocolate - whether it’s paraben-free, palm-oil-free or plastic-free you’re aiming for, making the switch to a mouthwatering solid shampoo option has never been easier.
For many people, the thoughts of synthetic chemicals penetrating and lingering in their body’s systems indefinitely is motivation enough to do the research and commit to the transition period necessary for switching to a hair care routine involving solid natural shampoo bars. Reviews across the board show that the majority of shampoo bar converts never look back. We’ve compiled a few top tips to simplify and streamline the process of attaining healthier, more naturally nourished hair for you:
Choose the bars that are right for you.
You will likely need to choose both shampoo and conditioner bars in the beginning, though some hair types can eventually transition away from the need for conditioner. This part of the process is much easier once you have an idea of your hair type, i.e. oily types will benefit from lighter base oils such as jojoba and from zestier, sebum-balancing ingredients like lemon, lemongrass, and basil, whilst drier, more damaged hair can handle heavier oils like coconut and almond and may require a growth stimulator, such as cedarwood, or a strengthening agent like geranium. Check out the range available from Three Hills Soap which is produced in Ireland, contains zero parabens or SLS and caters directly to various hair types with their diverse selection of ingredients. Their shampoo bars also come in a nifty reusable aluminium tin!
New users may also wish to consider factors such as shelf-life and ‘lather-ability’, since many shampoo bars on the market are free of the SLS and parabens which synthetically preserve commercial shampoos and cause them to lather excessively in the way we are used to. If your first shampoo bar produces little-to-no lather, you may have difficulty with distributing it through your hair and so may not get the most from your early experiences. Lamazuna’s Vanilla and Coconut Shampoo Bar for dry hair is lauded by users as an excellent latherer and so perfect for beginners.
Set a new hair care routine (Don’t panic, it’s only for the first few weeks!)
The transition period from synthetic liquid shampoo and conditioner needn’t be a hassle, it just means doing things a little differently for a while. There are two potential stages to ridding your hair of the chemical residues, namely silicone, which have been giving your hair that outward synthetic shine (and causing it to scream constantly on the inside).
Stage one – the baking soda stage. It involves massaging baking soda vigorously on the pores of your scalp before washing in order to clear silicones and synthetic waxes and open the hair follicles up once more to natural sebum production – the beginnings of your hair’s healthier, more naturally nourished state.
Wash as normal afterwards with your yummy new solid shampoo and conditioning bars.
Lather, rinse, repeat for the next few weeks. Please note that you will likely go through your shampoo bars more quickly in the initial stages – this is totally normal and necessary for helping your hair adapt to its newly natural state. If you are having trouble getting your bar to lather, just keep adding water and rubbing the bar between your hands, using either the shampoo bar or your hands to massage it thoroughly throughout the scalp, lengths and ends of hair.
Stage two – the apple cider vinegar stage. If after 4-6 weeks of using baking soda as a pre-wash, your hair’s natural oil production has not balanced itself out, stop using baking soda and get yourself a bottle of apple cider vinegar, or a similar, naturally-formulated vinegar wash by one of your favourite natural hair care brands.
This need only be used once every 2 weeks, since it is a powerful method of balancing hair’s natural oil production. Simply add 2-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of cool water, massage through hair lengths and scalp after washing with your natural shampoo bar, and rinse out after a few minutes of letting it soak in.
You can also tailor your apple cider vinegar wash routine to your hair’s particular needs (and make it smell gorgeous too!) by adding natural additives, herbs or essential oils of your own choosing which will promote the particular kind of nourishment your hair requires, e.g. lavender to moisturise and balance, tea tree or ylang ylang to help with flaky or itchy scalp or chamomile to nourish and make light hair shine!
Learn how to are for your bar
Providing optimum storage conditions will lengthen the shelf-life of your solid hair-care bars and help you get more bang for your buck. Buying a soap dish which drains thoroughly, such as Airmid’s linseed-coated slitted wooden soap dish is a great investment when starting out and will save you losing a portion of your hair-care stash to the dreaded ‘gunk pool’ over the course of its lifetime.
Finally, have fun!
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different bars and different combinations. Online forums, blogs, Facebook groups and reviews are a great way of checking out other people’s experiences if you’re still having trouble narrowing it down. The important thing is, you’ve taken the first steps towards healthier, more naturally nourished hair and a reduction in your carbon footprint too. Well done!
In conclusion, shampoo bars are totally worth it. They are good for your hair and the environment.
Next Up: How to Wash Your Hair With a Shampoo Bar