As a next step to living as plastic free as possible, I’ve recently made the switch to shampoo and conditioner bars instead of using products in plastic bottles. The pros of using a shampoo bar are obvious; reduction of plastic usage, travel friendly (as non-liquid), concentrated=longer lasting, natural and ethically made to name a few! Reading up on soap bars before buying one, reviews were varied with some claiming absolute hair transformation, and others categorically rejecting the bars – so I was tentative.
Firstly, I should set the scene with my hair – I hate it!. I was not blessed in the hair department at all. It’s very fine and there’s not a lot of it – and if it was fine before, post pregnancy hair loss made sure of it! I generally lose a lot of hair during every wash, which I have to do daily as fine hair gets very greasy quickly and I also have to blow dry otherwise I look like a lank scarecrow if there is such a thing. So, moving away from a fine tuned and carefully co-ordinated hair routine was a BIG STEP for me!
I boldly embarked on a 30 day trial, in truth, I’m now around day 60 and I’ve only just mastered what works for me – but I’m happy to say that I’m converted! Read on to find out how it went…
After the first wash I was pleasantly surprised! The shampoo lathered up lovely which felt nice. When actually washing my hair, it felt quite ‘streaky’ until you apply conditioner. Think of that feeling when you wash with some soaps generally on your skin, it’s no different. This has put off some of my friends, but I was determined to stick with it and there really wasn’t much difference once the hair was dry. I live in Bristol where the water is very hard so I also thought that this may have contributed towards this ‘streaky’ factor more than most. As the week progressed, I quickly learned that conditioner is key – without it I don’t think I would have made it past week 1. There was a little bit of static whilst hair drying but my hair was tangle free when wet and felt ok throughout the day.
AKA; SMUG WEEK. Oh yes, I was swanning around the office claiming shampoo bar converter rights, showcasing my hair like I was in a Vidal Sassoon ad. I felt great! My hair was light and bouncy and I had a glow about me knowing that one less plastic bottle was being used due to my actions. I also realised that the soap bar was going to last longer than a normal bottle of shampoo as so little was needed per wash (even more because I don’t have much hair). I even started washing my hair every other day which is a first for me.
Oh dear. My hair suddenly felt lank and greasy. There was no movement, my scalp itched and to touch I could feel the soap residue on my fingers. It also took a lot longer to blow dry for some reason. I had to pull back the amount that my bob would allow to hide how bad it looked. Feeling really disheartened and about ready to give up, I researched shampooing techniques and realised that I was still shampooing as though I were using bottled shampoo – I was washing my hair, not my scalp. I thought I’d give it one more go and the results were transformational. I converted to the following technique.
TECHNIQUE: Wet your hair all over and gently rub the soap bar all around the perimeter of your hair line and a little on your crown – enough to make it lather a little. Using your fingers, start at the perimeter of your hair line and clean your scalp, working from hair line to crown, massaging as you go. You don’t need to rub soap on your hair (if it is long). As you rinse out, the soap rinsing through your hair should be enough to clean it. Add conditioner as you see fit and away you go!
I spent the next 4 weeks experimenting with different amounts of shampoo and conditioner. I’m not going to lie, there were some bad days but it’s a process, learning what works for your hair. I hadn’t really considered that by converting to natural products, your scalp and hair needs time to convert too. You are eliminating years of adding chemicals to your hair so of course a miraculous change isn’t going to happen overnight. I’ve landed on what works for me – a shampoo bar and I’ve reverted back to a bottled conditioner (using a tiny bit on the ends of my hair), which I still had in the house to use up anyway. For me, I realised that the conditioner bar just wasn’t conditioning enough and I needed to compromise. I’m currently seeking out a natural conditioner (in a plastic free bottle) but in cream form to trial next, but for me, the conditioner bar didn’t pass the test. I’ve recently moved onto my second shampoo bar from a different brand (Friendly Soap) and I’m seeing lovely results so make sure you shop around as each product varies.
Ultimately, the transition is a commitment. Not just to your precious time and effort but to the environment as well. I am satisfied that my actions will reduce my plastic waste and leach less chemicals into the planet. My hair is naturally clean and this makes me feel great. If you are interested in transitioning to using shampoo bars, I hope my honest blog has helped and here are my top 4 tips to help you along your way!
- Don’t expect your hair to feel the same as products in bottles – natural soap bars don’t have chemicals that gloss and vamp up your hair (artificially) and so you can’t expect this.
- Clean you scalp not your hair using the technique above & rinse thoroughly.
- Trial different combinations and amounts until you find what works for your hair.
- Keep with it for at least a month while your scalp transitions and keep telling yourself what a wonderful human being you are for making this small change!
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