How To Use Shampoo Bars + FAQ
Updated: Feb 14
Solid shampoo bars are gaining popularity lately for a couple of reasons: the desire for alternatives to products packaged in plastic and people looking to reduce toxic chemicals in their personal care products.
Never heard of shampoo bars? Or is it hard to wrap your mind around how to use solid soap on hair? Read on!
Let's begin with a quick rundown of how to use them:
Wet your hair right to the roots
Rub the bar along your hair from head to hair ends like you're brushing it, lifting up sections of hair to get right to the roots as needed. It should lather up nicely while doing this! If you need more lather, let some water hit your hair then rub with the bar some more (read below for more tips on this!)
Massage the lather into your hair and scalp
Give your hair a good thorough rinse right to the roots
Nice and easy!
Like anything that's new or out of the ordinary, it's bound to bring some questions to mind! Here are some FAQ but don't hesitate to connect with me if you have any other questions. Or check back here again in the future as more are added as they come up...
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there only one bar, not options for different hair types?
So many things in life have become unnecessarily complicated. This often happens simply because of effective marketing! Natural living can be very simple and products useful in numerous ways. Although there can be situations where multiple options are needed, these shampoo bars don't need to be one of them. I know this because I have customers with all kinds of hair types - thick and thin, coarse and fine, straight and curly, long and short, dry and greasy, gray and colour treated - all using it successfully! So go ahead and simply pick out your favourite scent :)
Can I use conditioner afterwards?
Yes! Follow up your wash with whatever conditioner you prefer. If you're looking for a natural alternative, a rinse or spray of apple cider vinegar naturally conditions hair and balances your scalp's pH level, among other things! And don't worry, the vinegar smell is gone not long after showering. Read here for how to do an apple cider vinegar rinse. Something to note: you may not need to use conditioner after using these shampoo bars, even if you've always needed it after using conventional shampoos. Conventional shampoos often contain ingredients which are drying to the hair and scalp.
Why don't you offer a conditioner bar as well?
The first ingredient, and therefore the main ingredient, in every conditioner bar I've found on the market currently is behentrimonium methosulfate (BTMS). It's somewhat up for debate if this is harmful or not for bodies. Most of the time you'll see BTMS described as "safe for use up to a certain concentration" with cautious language. Some deem it safe; others call it toxic. Hmm. I don't feel I have enough education or experience to comfortably land on one side or the other, so at this point, I've chosen to avoid using BTMS. That being said, I imagine these conditioner bars are still better for your body than 95% of conventional conditioners plus they offer a more environmentally friendly alternative. I may decide to make conditioner bars in the future with information about BTMS so customers can make their own choice, but we'll see.
In the meantime, if you find a conditioner bar that works well and doesn't include BTMS, I'd love to know! I've tried numerous recipes that don't contain BTMS with really terrible greasy, goopy results! I may have also traumatized our daughter who had to wash her hair so many times over (I think it was more than 6!) to get all the oils from her enthusiastic application out of her hair! So we're feeling a little cautious :)
Do these work for long hair?
Absolutely! Avoid rubbing the bar vigorously in all directions as your hair will most likely become tangled. Instead, make sure to wet your hair right to the roots and use the bar in a brushing motion from front to back to work up a good lather. If you need more lather, let a splash of water hit your head then "brush" with the bar a bit more. It will also be helpful to lift up one or two chunks of hair to "brush" the bar from those roots to your hair ends. The most common problem area for people with long hair is the back of the head to the nape of the neck. Lifting up chunks of hair to expose these areas allows the shampoo to go right to the roots. Again, focus on these areas when you're rinsing. Make sure it's a nice, thorough lather AND rinse!
My hair feels "gummy", especially at the back of my head and nape of my neck. Why?
It's important to make sure the water and shampoo gets to all of your hair (especially the roots) AND is rinsed out well. If you have mid length to long hair, the back of your head at the roots, behind your ears and the nape of your neck can get covered by the hair from the top of your head when wetting, lathering and/or rinsing. Try using the technique explained in the question above and if you focus on these areas, chances are that "gummy" feeling will be gone! Also keep in mind that creating a good lather (which the technique above is great at!) allows the dirt and extra oils to be washed away, which is also why that good rinse is so important!
I should also mention if you've had a stretch of success but then find the bar doesn't seem to be working as well as it did at first, it's likely because of the reasons above. When making a switch to a new way of doing something, we tend to pay close attention to what we're doing until we begin to feel comfortable again, which is when we start to run on autopilot. If you bring your attention back to the spots causing you trouble, they shouldn't trouble you any more!
I can't seem to work up a good lather...
Believe me, these bars can give you such an incredibly thick, rich lather! If you're not getting that sort of lather, you probably just need a little tweak to your technique. At the risk of sounding completely repetitive, here's a few things to try:
Make sure your hair is nicely wet to the roots before using the bar, paying special attention to the back of the head and nape of the neck.
As you rub the bar along your hair, lift up one or two sections of hair (like you're putting it half up) to get right to the roots where other hair would tend to cover. I also like to hold my hair up like I'm putting it in a low ponytail and rub from the base of my neck up the strands.
Once you've rubbed the bar through a bit, if you'd like more lather let a splash of water hit your hair or do a quick rinse, then continue to apply the shampoo bar. If your hair is really dirty or has a lot of product in it, you'll most likely want to try this one!
Do you have hard water? If so, it may be worthwhile to look into a shower head water filter to soften your water (for more reasons than just getting a lather from your shampoo bar!)
If you still can't seem to get a good lather (the kind that makes you want to take a quick look in the mirror because it feels like your whole head must look like a fluffy marshmallow!), please connect with me! I'd love to help you problem solve.
Can children use these?
Yes, please do!!! These shampoo bars are completely natural and good for you, so they're a great option for children! All of our children, from as young as 2 years old, use these (side note: younger than 2 we simply used a Goat's Milk Bar to wash both body and hair!). As with all shampoo, avoid getting it in your eyes.
How is it different from your Goat's Milk Bar Soap? Can I use this bar to wash my body as well?
You can absolutely use it on your whole body! I wrote a post about these questions here.
Why are these bars beer based? And why do you choose the scents you do?
Beer produces a wonderfully creamy conditioning lather in these bars! It is also full of amino acids, vitamin B and other essential vitamins and minerals. These work together to help soothe and moisturize irritated and inflamed skin, repair damaged hair cuticles as well as add shine and bounce. The essential oils chosen for scent are all beneficial for your hair and/or scalp. For example, rosemary and peppermint essential oils are known to strengthen hair follicles, stimulate hair growth, help with hair loss, condition hair, help treat itchy scalp and conditions like dandruff and more. The beer and essential oils are a powerhouse combination for your hair and scalp!
Does the bar, or will my hair, smell like beer?
These bars are 100% beer-smell-free! They only have the wonderfully fresh smell of the essential oils used, and leave your hair with that scent as well.
How long will one bar last?
The short answer: a long time! The long answer: it depends on how often you use it, how long your hair is, how much you lather, how well it can dry between uses, etc. But, a long time! The key to extending the life as long as possible is to not let the bar sit in water between uses. These little loofah soap lifts or dishes fit the bars perfectly and work great for that! They can be easily cleaned to avoid bacteria build up allowing them to be used many times over and, once they reach the end of their life, they're compostable!
And finally, don't be afraid to experiment! After numerous attempts, I was convinced my hair was too fine and oily for a shampoo bar to work for me. BUT the first time I changed my technique to what I've outlined above, it made all the difference! Everyone's hair and scalp are quite unique. Your hair may feel "funny" for a few days or several weeks depending on how damaged your hair is, how much residue and build up you have from conventional hair products (you could literally have a silicone coating on your hair!), your water hardness, etc. Your scalp may also need a bit of time to rebalance oil production. Have patience if things don't work quite like you had in mind right away. Play around a little to find the right fit for you. Search other people's experiences and ideas online - there's plenty!
(As always, other than links to my own products, the links included in this post will bring you to more information, not where to buy a product.)