Do you have hard water or soft water?
This is one of the most important considerations when deciding which shampoo bar to go for. Check your postcode HERE before you do anything else then once you know if you have soft or hard water please read on.
Traditional Bar vs Syndet Bar
Let's start by explaining the difference between the two shampoo bars we offer.
Traditional Shampoo Bars (suitable for soft water)
Traditionally, shampoo bars are made from soap, using natural ingredients usually consisting of oils and lye water to form the basic soap bar. The additional of nourishing oils, butter and a few other ingredients meant these bars could be used on the hair, and recently more so because of the usual detergents and harsh additives and chemicals added to liquid shampoos and some shampoo bars and the natural shampoo bar remains a very popular choice. Those with hard water can struggle with a traditional shampoo bar and this can be a major inhibitor for traditional shampoo bars due to the deposits and minerals found in hard water which can affect the lathering and effective rinsing capabilities of the bars. If you have soft or medium soft water, you should be able to use a traditional shampoo bar, but we would also recommend combining a traditional shampoo bar with an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse once or twice a week which can bring life back to the hair that otherwise wouldn't have been possible using normal bottled shampoos and leaves the hair silky soft and very well nourished. An ACV rinse is simply a cup of warm water with around 8 tbsps of ACV in it, after washing and rinsing the hair thoroughly, simply pour this over the hair and rinse thoroughly again.
Syndet Bars (suitable for soft or hard water)
The word "syndet" is derived from the meaning, "Synthetic Detergent" and traditionally these bars would contain harsh detergents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), and many still do because it is a very cheap additive. This is an excellent cleanser but has been linked to all manner of health concerns and irritations, which is why we never use SLS in any of our products. However, with the introduction of a few naturally derived cleansers, such as Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA) we are extremely excited to have developed a syndet bar that is as mild and gentle to all types and ages of skin as our natural bars. Both SCI and SLSA are actually derived from coconuts and lather very well, even in hard water. The other advantage to our Syndet Bars are there is usually no transition period to go through, unlike the natural bars that some people have to persevere with whilst their hair becomes accustomed to the changes in a natural shampoo soap.
Traditional or Syndet
Well, simply put:
TRADITIONAL SHAMPOO BARS - Most suitable for soft water (CLICK HERE to see all our shampoo bars)
SYNDET SHAMPOO BARS - Suitable for soft & hard water (CLICK HERE to see our syndet shampoo bars)
Do I need a conditioner bar?
Well, this is really a personal preference as many of our customers find they don't need a conditioner bar, particularly with our syndet shampoo bars but some say they can't live without one. Practically speaking, if you have long or very dry or damaged hair then we would strongly advise using a conditioner bar after washing as this helps de-tangling of long hair, and even for short hair the benefits of a conditioner bar are fantastic, adding softness and nourishment to the hair.
Check out our range of Conditioner Bars HERE.
Using a Traditional Shampoo Bar
Please note that the following guide is for our traditional shampoo bars, not our syndet bars, as with traditional shampoo bars there can be some adjustment period as you begin using the bars. Normally, our syndet bars would work in much the same way as bottled shampoo, just without all the plastic and nasty chemicals!!.
Short Hair vs Long Hair
There are not, technically, many right or wrong ways to use a shampoo bar as what works for one person may not work for another but there are some important tips for long hair especially.
The first thing we recommend is to not incorporate other routines or methods into your shampoo bar to begin with. You need to figure how the bar will work for you first before bringing in other third party products - there is nothing wrong at all in using a conditioner after washing your hair (highly recommended for long or thick hair) but we would advise against using anything on your hair beforehand as this can affect the initial outcome of the bar.
If you are new to shampoo bars like ours (not bars that contain detergents like SLS), you will likely encounter a brief transition period where your hair and scalp need time to adjust, this is simply because our bars do not contain the harsh detergents that SLS bars or commercial liquid shampoos contain and as such your system needs time to adjust to this. Most commonly, after having used shampoos containing harsh detergents you will find your oil producing glands will likely be in overdrive to replace the natural oils that these harsh chemicals strip from your scalp, and when you begin using a bar like ours without these harsh detergents your oil producing glands need to learn they don't need to produce as much oil so you may find in the beginning that your hair feels a little oily or greasy and this is known as the "transition period", more about that a little later.
For short hair, gain a lather in your hands or by rubbing the bar on your hair. Some prefer to rub the bar into their hair, some don't, try both methods and see what works for you. Standing under a warm shower and rubbing the bar into your hair helps achieve a high lather for most people, but don't go overboard as you'll shorten the life of your bar. Feel free to leave the lather on your hair for a few minutes to allow the oils and butters to penetrate your hair.
Rinse thoroughly and repeat if desired but always ensure you rinse very very well. Use the bar sparingly to begin with, you can always apply more the next wash if you feel you need it.
Towel dry short hair as normal and brush whilst wet, then as it dries.
For long hair we would recommend achieving a lather in your hands and applying this to the hair, working the lather down the length of the hair and avoiding 'scrubbing' which could cause tangles. Apply more lather to the length until fully applied, working the foam and bar along the length of your hair using your finger tips to work the lather into your scalp. Rinse thoroughly and repeat if desired. You may use the bar directly on your hair, but be very sparing to begin with so you know what works for you.
For long hair, it may be beneficial to tie the hair in a ponytail first, gain a lather and use this to stroke into the hair on your scalp first, then along the length of the ponytail for a few minutes, then remove the ponytail and rinse rinse rinse.
Try and avoid rubbing or scrubbing dry with a towel and instead clasp the length of the hair in the towel and run the hair length between your hands (like you see in the movies!). Scrubbing or rubbing long hair can result in tangles. Brush long hair whilst still wet and allow to dry naturally, but if you have to blow dry, use a very low heat and be gentle. This is firstly to avoid heating any oils left in your hair and secondly because, well, blow drying your hair isn't particularly great for your hair or scalp anyway!.
Additionally, for long or thick hair we would strongly recommend using a conditioner after washing. This is because our bars do not contain aggressive detergents like other commercial bars, this means our bars are gentle and caring for your hair and the oils and butters in our bars add health and vitality to your hair, but this can mean for long or thick hair the feel of your hair whilst wet is not something you may be used to, therefore using a conditioner after washing will allow your hair to remain manageable whilst still wet and our conditioner bars have been formulated to complement our bars and will leave your hair silky smooth. Check out our Conditioner Bars Here.
Remember also, you don't have to be drowning in lather to achieve results, you merely need a decent lather for the shampoo bars to start working. As we said earlier, start subtle and use the bar sparingly to begin with, see if that works and take it from there. Don't feel that you need to use the bar as much as possible to gain a massive lather or scrub the bar into your hair for a long time. As a starting point, lathering and washing your hair shouldn't really take any longer than a few minutes and the next time you can adjust accordingly depending on the initial results you achieve.
Additionally, we have had people ask us about using hair straighteners and this is something we cannot recommend, not because of the shampoo bars but more so because hair straighteners are worse than hair dryers for your hair. Prolonged use of hair straighteners will damage your hair and cause breakage and split ends but if you absolutely must use straighteners, we would highly recommend you invest in some form of 'barrier' or 'protective' spray for your hair before using the straighteners. This will at least go some way towards protecting your hair from excessive heat from these products but again, using these barriers sprays and so forth may affect the transition period of your shampoo bar.
Getting the best from a shampoo bar ...
For many people, making the transition to a natural shampoo bar can be an instant rewarding, invigorating and a very pleasurable experience. For others, it may take a little while longer for the hair and scalp to adjust.
When your hair is used to commercial shampoo from a bottle, there is a very high chance that it contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). This is even true of some shampoo bars as they can also contain harsh detergents.
These are chemicals which are designed to "clean" the hair, but they do this by aggressively stripping your hair and scalp of it's natural oils, much the same as washing up liquid will strip the grease from your pots and plates. This leaves your hair and scalp "cleansed" of oils which is why it looks and feels good, but by "cleansed" we actually mean "stripped!". Prolonged use of such shampoos with SLS can expose your hair and scalp to all manner of problems. There is also much debate about the safety of using shampoos that include SLS, and although there is (to our knowledge) no conclusive evidence that they affect health, many industry experts agree they do pose some risk to health, and that's why we chose not to use them in our bars.
The cycle of "stripping" the oil from your hair results in your oil producing glands go into overdrive to produce more oil as a natural protective barrier for the hair and scalp. You wash your hair again, strip the natural oils, and the process starts all over again.
When you change to a shampoo bar like ours without these aggressive chemicals, your natural defences need a little time to figure things out. Your oil producing defences are still in overdrive which means you could potentially find your hair is a little oily, your scalp a little itchy and generally your hair doesn't look that great at all, this is called the "transition period". Some people go through this period quickly and without any issues whereas others seem to need a few weeks for things to settle down.
It's all about perseverance and nurturing your hair through this transition period.
The first step is to try and minimise the transition effects. Although it is not critical that you achieve a lather that floats out the bathroom door, it does help the process to at least achieve a decent lather, however if you live in a hard water area lathering can often be inhibited. Because hard water contains significantly more deposits and minerals than soft water, this fights against the lathering properties of bars without SLS chemicals.
We introduced some of our customers to an additive called SLSA which, unfortunately, sounds very similar to SLS, and although both ingredients share very similar names, SLS is a harsh and unforgiving chemical particularly on sensitive skin or for those with skin disorders, whereas SLSA is naturally derived from sustainable vegetable oils and does not cause any irritation whatsoever. It's full name is Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (more details) and hard water sufferers and those with long hair reported significant improvements with their hair. We also had customers with sensitive skin and skin disorders volunteer to take part in our trials and they too were very positive in their experiences, with none of them reporting any irritation at all and this confirms our own research into SLSA.
If you do have seriously hard water however, you may still find that a bar without the more aggressive SLS doesn't lather very well, in this case we can only suggest you consider trying our Syndet Shampoo Bars which will work much better in hard water or investing in a shower head filter to filter the minerals and deposits from the water.
There are probably too many 'possible' transition symptoms to mention here, but there are a few common transition effects such as oily, itchy scalp, waxy feeling or hair that feels 'coated' or 'matted'. If you have made the transition from commercial SLS shampoo to a natural shampoo bar and don't have one or a combination of transition effects then your hair is just totally awesome and has made the change like a boss!.
For most, a transition period can last anything between a few washes to a few weeks, for others it may be a little longer and take more nurturing to get through this period. The most noticeable difference when making the transition to a shampoo bar is the feel of your hair, particularly whilst wet. Because our shampoo bars do not strip your hair of it's natural oils like aggressive SLS chemicals, your hair will likely feel different, a little waxy or even sticky and you may find it unusual but this is completely normal. Don't be tempted to think your hair feels awful and throw the bar away or plaster your hair with conditioner, allow the hair to dry fully and persevere as you will have started the transition period.
We would also recommend combing your hair gently whilst still wet, and as it dries, give it another gentle brush. Avoid the temptation to run your fingers through your hair as it dries and instead use the brush. As the transition period develops, brushing your hair a few times a day helps disperse any excess oils and keeps your hair and scalp nicely aired and healthy.
Things that can help with the transition are using an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse on your hair after washing. This may sound strange, but the smell of the vinegar does disappear once your hair is dry and it is always a good idea to use an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse at least every week or more often if desired. It is even more important to use this rinse if you have hard water, as minerals in the hard water will leave deposits on your hair and may extend the transition period or ruin your experience of a shampoo bar altogether. Simply use around 4-8 tblsp of ACV to one cup of warm water after washing and thoroughly rinsing your hair, apply this rinse to your hair and make sure all hair is rinsed with the solution, using your fingertips to massage the rinse into your hair, leave for a couple of minutes and then rinse off thoroughly. If you still feel as though your hair isn't reacting well or you know you have seriously hard water, try increasing the concentration of ACV in your rinse.
We would recommend making an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse part of your routine as a matter of course, it's a good conditioner and can cleanse your hair of any deposits left over from using a shampoo bar, particularly with hard water.
Shampoo bars offer a very rewarding experience and all of our bars are wrapped in 100% recycled paper, and none of our ingredients are tested on animals and all our oils and butters are plant based which means not only is the bar better for your hair than commercial shampoo bottles, but you're reducing the amount of plastic bottles in circulation as well as choosing a 100% vegan friendly product.
Again, perseverance is the key with shampoo bars, and most people can adjust to a shampoo bar quickly and your hair and scalp will thank you for it after any transition period, and if you are lucky enough not to go through the transition period, your hair is awesome!.
It's also honest to note that some people just may not take to natural shampoo bars. Either the bars just don't agree with you or you may find that it's far more work than you expected. If you find your hair is simply not reacting well after a few weeks, it's still worth trying another bar as everyone's hair is different and will react to the oils and butters differently. Don't give up on shampoo bars as 99% of our customers have all found the right bar for their hair, with most finding theirs straight away, and remember we offer a choice of natural shampoo bars or syndet shampoo bars, both of which do not contain any of the usual nasty chemicals that can be found in other commercial shampoos!.