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Shampoo Bars De-Mystified

Shampoo Bars De-Mystified

What?!  You say. You wash your hair with a bar of soap? Why? 

Or maybe you’ve tried a shampoo bar before with mediocre success. Just as there are many types of shampoo, not all shampoo bars are created equal. A well-crafted shampoo bar is completely natural, cleansing and conditioning, and leaves zero waste.

I fell in love with making shampoo bars after years – I kid you not – years of looking for a natural hair-care solution that actually worked and didn’t cost its weight in gold. I had experimented with the “no-poo” method, mixed up home-made batches of castile soap and coconut milk, and tried nearly every natural shampoo at the local natural foods store. Never one for self-pampering, these shampoo options did the job but always kept me on the hunt for something better.

Enter the shower bar. Life forever changed. Here's why.

The difference: shower bar vs. the regular stuff

For the record, a well-formulated shampoo bar is NOT your regular bar of soap. It contains carefully selected ingredients that promote a moisturized scalp and well-conditioned, shiny hair. REDBUDSUDS uses rich oils and butters containing many compounds that don’t actually turn into soap during saponification (the soap-making process). These include ingredients like castor oil and fair trade, organic shea butter. They cleanse without stripping and condition naturally.

Some companies making “natural” soap still use lather boosters like sodium lauryth sulfate (SLS). One of the reasons I started making shampoo bars in the first place was to make an SLS-free and synthetic-free product. The trade-off is that you have to work a little harder to get a good lather, but if you’re like me, it’s totally worth it.

Who uses shower bars?

Shower bars are especially well-suited for people who are:

  • wanting to make lifestyle choices that positively impact the future
  • looking for a hair-care regimen that’s free of sodium lauryth sulfate, parabens, preservatives, artificial colors, petroleum products or synthetic fragrances
  • tired of scrutinizing ingredient labels on “natural” products only to find they still can’t pronounce most of them
  • looking for high-quality products with a personal touch
  • willing to try something new

Benefits of the Shower Bar

  • Ingredients you can trust. Every ingredient in a well-crafted shampoo bar does one of two things: cleanses and/or conditions. Nothing else. Simply.
  • One bar does it all. No conditioner required! And you can use it for your body, too.
  • No spills, another handy traveling perk.
  • Completely plastic-free. This makes my inner environmentalist sing. No plastic = no waste = low carbon footprint = happiness + satisfaction!
  • Locally sourced ingredients, keeping that carbon-footprint as low as possible.
  • Scented with with pure essential oils picked especially for their ability to create healthy hair and scalp. Examples include rosemary, lavender, lemongrass and tea tree.
  • Enriched with natural conditioners like neutral henna (conditions without coloring) and activated charcoal.
  • Palm free, always. One way we strive to protect wildlife habitat and rainforests worldwide.

How do I use it?

The Most Important Thing: it’s the lather that cleans, not the soap itself.

I like to work the soap between my hands to get the lather started before applying gently, with more water, to my hair and scalp.

Got really long hair? Gently work the bar along the grain of your hair and throughout your scalp. Alternate using more water and more soap until you’ve got the desired lather. Be patient: this may take some time, but it gets easier with practice. Use the following spritz-rinse to de-tangle.

[Optional] Use a clarifying spritz-rinse to smooth and de-tangle. Use right after shampooing when you’re still in the shower. Some people need it, others don’t. (I used it about every other washing until my hair fully transitioned. Now I use it maybe every three months.) I recommend storing it in a spritz bottle rather than just dumping cold water over your head. Use as needed but sparingly to avoid over-drying.

Clarifying Spritz-Rinse

To make, simply mix:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1-2 Tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 15-20 drops rosemary or lavender essential oil (great for hair health and smell delightful, too).

After spritzing, you can leave it in or rinse it out, you choose.

Hard Water Issues? Lather can be a challenge to create with hard water. We've worked hard to create soap that still lathers richly, even in hard water. If you find your hair needs extra help adjusting to the shower bar AND you have hard water, try this trick:

Take a quart jar/bottle. Add a pinch of baking soda. Fill it with WARM water. Use this to wet your hair and voila! Your soap will suds just like the best of ‘em. Rinse with regular water and follow up with the spritz-rinse (if needed).

P.S. Both the baking soda and the soap both have a slightly high pH which may raise your hair follicles. If this happens, your hair will feel tangled, even sticky. Do not fear. Using the simple spritz-rinse balances the pH and smooths the follicles. This makes your hair feel silky and wonderful, just like magic. (But actually simple chemistry.)

Try it yourself!

Here's a guide to help you pick the option best for your hair type.

1 | CITRUS SUNSHINE: balancing for all hair types with lemongrass

2 | THAT EXTRA-METER CEDAR: clarifying with activated charcoal

3 | KICKASS LEMONGRASS: moisturizing/conditioning with henna + tea tree oil

4 |  SEA CLAY REST DAY: for normal to oily hair and oh! so relaxing

5 |  FRESH TEE SCENT-FREE: unscented for sensitive and baby skin

    pssst... don't forget your Cedar Soap Deck!



    Do you already use a shower bar? Or are you just getting started and want to know more? Contact me or join Team REDBUDSUDS on Facebook (if the link doesn't work, be sure you logged in to FB) to learn from other shower bar users.

    Happy sudsing!


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