You may have heard recently about solid shampoo and wonder what makes them so special. Aside from being easy to travel with (especially when traveling by airplane!) and longer-lasting than liquid shampoo, bars are considered great for clearing away residue left from the chemicals found in traditional liquid shampoos. This helps get your hair back to its original, shiny, voluminous state since solid shampoo doesn’t strip your hair the same way as detergent based shampoos can.
WHY USE A SOLID SHAMPOO BAR?
Shampoo is something all of us use but many of us never think about the ingredients. Commercial brands (and even some self-proclaimed “green” brands) are full of harmful chemicals and additives such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS - the aggressive chemical found in most liquid shampoos which cause them to lather).
Many of these ingredients and their similar counterparts strip your hair of the essential oils our bodies produce and cause it to be dry, brittle, itchy and flaky. None of us wants that, but commercial hair care brands keep pushing these products because the more we see these problems with our hair, the more we want to use one of their products to eliminate the issue.
After finding the right solid shampoo for our hair, the solid shampoo will create less foam (because it doesn’t contain the artificial foaming agents that conventional shampoo does), but it will be more delicate, leaving your hair clean and moisturized. Usually, conditioner is usually not even needed after!
It’s difficult to find quantification of the number of shampoo bottles ending up in landfills or the ocean each year. But if you consider almost everyone uses shampoo and most use liquid shampoo in plastic bottles, you can imagine the implications. Solid shampoo eliminates this plastic waste completely.
Using liquid shampoo naturally encourages you to use more than necessary, whereas with solid you tend to use only what is needed. And thanks to its format, as long as kept dry between uses, solid shampoo should last for many washes!
HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT SOLID SHAMPOO?
Not every solid shampoo is created equal! Everyone’s hair is different and thankfully so is every shampoo. When looking for a shampoo bar, keep an eye out for ingredients like shea, mango, cocoa and other nourishing butters, along with coconut, jojoba, avocado, argan and other moisturizing oils.
Essential oils may be used to promote certain benefits, such as rosemary and lavender for healthy hair growth, or chamomile to keep blond hair looking bright. Essential oils may also be used to add natural fragrance to a bar.
It's best to avoid shampoo bars that utilize artificial perfumes or fragrances, and SLS. Instead, we focus on sourcing shampoo bars with highly nourishing butters, oils, and botanical extracts.
HOW TO USE SOLID SHAMPOO?
When you first switch to a natural solid shampoo, you may experience a transition phase where your hair may feel oily. This is because conventional shampoo often contains chemicals that strip your hair of its natural oils, forcing your scalp to produce excess sebum. It may take time for your scalp and hair to adjust to the new washing method.
Also, commercial liquid shampoos and conditioners often contain synthetic silicones and silica that coat your hair, to make it "feel" nice, but leave a residue in your hair. During this transition phase, you’re essentially detoxing your hair from the unwanted ingredients hair was exposed to for so many years!
To avoid the oily feeling you may experience during this transition phase, you can do a baking soda rinse. There are a few simple ways to add some baking soda to shampoo regimen:
sprinkle a bit of baking soda on your damp hair and then lather up with the solid shampoo
- add a bit of baking soda to the shampoo bar lather already in your hair, then add a bit more water and lather up
especially for hard water--add a pinch of baking soda to a liter of warm water and use this mixture to wet your hair before shampooing, then lather up
- No need to rinse before shampooing!
How to use
- Rub between hands to create a lather
- Section your hair to apply to each section separately. For me this is crucial given my quantity of hair!
- Massage shampoo into your hair and scalp
- Rinse clean
- Allow to dry fully between uses to prolong the life (in a container with air holes or hanging to dry)
Note: Solid shampoo is much more concentrated than liquid so rubbing the bar directly on the hair uses up the bar much more quickly than if you were to lather only with your hands.
DO YOU NEED CONDITIONER?
Many shampoo bars don’t actually need conditioner after! This is because many solid shampoos include oils that are not present in liquid shampoo, and are naturally moisturizing for your hair.
However, as the PH of solid shampoo is alkaline while skin is more acidic, an acid rinse is useful to remove any residue and to leave hair soft and shiny.
RECIPES FOR ACID RINSES
Citric acid rinse
- 1/8 - 1/16 teaspoon (0.3 ml-0.6 ml) citric acid in 1 cup (230 ml) water
Start with lower concentration and increase if necessary.
Apple cider vinegar rinse
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) – 1 tablespoon (15 ml) in 1 cup (230 ml) water
Start with lower concentration and increase if necessary.
For both recipes, mix the acid with warm water, ensure mixed well (and dissolved for citric acid). Spray or pour the solution through roots and the length of your hair. Let rest for a couple minutes before rinsing. Don’t worry, the scent fades after just a few minutes!
WHAT ABOUT STYLING PRODUCTS?
I have unruly curly hair and it took some time for me to part with my favorite styling gel (in plastic). But I found a wonderful recipe for 3 ingredient, and incredibly easy, gel which has been wonderful for my curly hair!
Flaxseed gel also has many added benefits to the hair: moisturizing, promotes hair growth, inexpensive, and it leaves hair soft and shiny!
DIY zero waste gel
- ¼ - 1/8 cup flaxseeds (depending on desired thickness)
- 1 cup water
- Boil together water and flaxseeds, stirring with a wooden spoon until
- Turn off heat when white frothy gel-like consistency forms (similar to egg whites)
- Continue stirring while it simmers
- Filter using a strainer, nut milk bag or old stocking
- You can add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender, rosemary or tea tree for scent and stimulating hair growth
- Conserve in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks – essential oils extend conservation.
What has been your favorite zero waste shampoo and conditioner solution/recipe?