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What is all the fuss around shampoo bars? Are they any good for your hair anyway?
In short – yes. Shampoo bars are good for your hair because they are chemical-free, cleaning your hair without stripping its healthy natural oils. In addition, shampoo bars are long-lasting, affordable, plastic-free, and a gentle alternative to many of the harsh bottle shampoos on the market.
While shampoo bars are fantastic for your hair, there are a couple of things you should know before making the switch.
In this article, we will look a bit deeper into:
- Shampoo bar pros
- Shampoo bar cons
– How long does it take for hair to adjust to the shampoo bar?
– Which shampoo bar brands are the best?
– Can shampoo bars damaged hair?
– Can shampoo bars cause hair loss?
– Are shampoo bars good for curly hair?
– Is SLS bad for your hair?
– How often should you wash your hair with a shampoo bar?
Now, let’s begin.
Shampoo bar pros
Shampoo bars are made with natural ingredients
Shampoo bars are typically healthier for your hair than detergent-based liquid shampoos because they’re made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, silicone, and synthetic fragrances.
This means less damaging and stripping your hair and its natural oils, which can happen with chemical-based products.
They may result in healthier hair
Since shampoo bars are made with natural ingredients, your hair will likely get stronger with better texture.
If your hair has been getting too oily or too dry with regular shampoos, it might be because the ingredients are too harsh and are stripping your hair.
Cost-effective and long-lasting
While sometimes the price can seem relatively high, shampoo bars are highly concentrated. That means most will last between 70 and 90 washes, equivalent to 2-3 bottles of liquid shampoo.
Ideal for traveling and multipurpose
They take very little space, so they are ideal for traveling, camping, etc. While I wouldn’t say I like using my shampoo bar for other things, if I’m traveling and don’t want to carry many things, I usually use it as a body & face wash. Because of the gentle ingredients, it is suitable for the whole body.
There is a wide range of fully vegan, cruelty-free shampoo bars with organic ingredients and plastic-free packaging.
Shampoo bar cons
They don’t work that well if the water is hard
One of the most significant issues I have heard from readers is that shampoo bars may not perform as well in hard water. When the water is ‘hard,’ it means there is a higher level of minerals (usually calcium and magnesium) that build up in the hair. It can also make your hair feel gunky and look dull.
They still can contain irritants
While shampoo bars are a more eco-friendly option, they can still contain foamers, preservatives, fragrances, and artificial colors, which may irritate your skin. So just be aware of that.
Shorter expiration date
The more natural shampoo options usually have a shorter shelf life. It is best to use the shampoo bar within 6-12 months. I never had an issue with the expiration date since I use my shampoo bars about twice a week, so they last me around 2 months.
Not all, but some shampoo bars can leave an odd, waxy residue. This residue is a byproduct of saponified oils, which a lot of shampoo bars contain. It can happen if the water is hard or because your scalp is still balancing out its natural oil production.
The shampoo bars become mushy
This can be annoying and in that way, you will use the bar much faster. To avoid that, you should always store your shampoo bar dry, away from direct water. It’s best to keep them on a well-draining surface that allows lots of airflow around it.
How long does it take for hair to adjust to the shampoo bar?
Sometimes, your hair will go through a ‘transition period,’ which is when you switch from the chemicals in traditional shampoos to a natural shampoo bar.
For example, your hair or scalp may become oily, dry, frizzy, or tangled. This transitional period can last for 1-2 weeks, up to 4-5 weeks.
A simple solution is to try vinegar rinse after shampooing your hair to speed up the transition process, balance scalp pH, and remove build-up.
Which shampoo bar brands are the best?
This depends mainly on the type of hair and what you are looking to achieve with a shampoo bar – to enhance your natural curls, find something for sensitive scalp, get rid of dandruff, and increase the time between washes, etc.
While there isn’t a single ‘best’ shampoo bar, you can find 21 of my favorite brands, and some of the most eco-friendly options.
Can shampoo bars damage hair?
Shampoo bars are typically better for your hair since they contain NO parabens, sulfates, phthalates, silicone, and synthetic fragrances. This often results in healthier hair, less damage, and stripping. The most important thing is to find a shampoo bar that is suitable for your hair.
Can shampoo bars cause hair loss?
Shampoo bars are a more natural option for hair washing, but they can sometimes cause unwanted effects, such as hair loss. It can be due to your hair’s transition period to adjust to the new shampoo. If your hair falls a lot, switch to e new one, and avoid shampoos with foamers, thickeners, preserves, and artificial scents.
Are shampoo bars good for curly hair?
Yes, shampoo bars work on curly locks, too. Various bars will hydrate your curls without weighing them down. To ensure that your curls stay intact, lather the bar at your scalp rather than the ends.
The two shampoo bars I can recommend for curly hairs are:
- Professor Curl by Ethique – Their solid shampoo is pH balanced and gently cleanses without drying curls out. It is without sulfates, silicones, waxes, or drying alcohols and contains a hydrating blend of ingredients; shea butter, betaine (from beets), and cocoa butter.
- Avocado by Lush – A hydrating and nourishing blend of cupuaçu butter, cocoa butter, and extra virgin olive oil, specially created to define curls, tame frizz, and leave locks gleaming. The formula is 100% vegan and SLS-free.
Is SLS harmful to your hair?
Sulfates (SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate) are detergents responsible for the lather you get out of most shampoos. While they are generally safe to use for untreated hair, they are also:
- Often derived from petrol or palm oil
- It is a skin irritant, and it can be harsh on your body and scalp
- It can cause an itchy scalp, and dandruff
- Can strip natural oils from the scalp and hair
- Can make hair dry and brittle
- It can cause hair loss
The lather is not necessary to wash your hair, even though it feels essential. Sulfate-free shampoos make little to no later, but they can still clean your scalp perfectly fine.
Sulfates aren’t harmful to everyone, but if you are sensitive to sulfates or if your hair is dry, fine, or damaged, it may be best to avoid them altogether.
How often should you wash your hair with a shampoo bar?
Washing your hair too often can strip it, make it brittle, more oily, and prone to breakage, no matter if it’s with a shampoo bar or any other liquid shampoo.
Try to wash your hair once or twice per week, and if that’s not possible, then wash it every second day. You can try to extend the in-between time washes by using easy to make & super cheap homemade dry shampoo if your hair gets oily very fast.
Finding the shampoo bar for YOUR hair can be a hassle, and you may get a product that doesn’t work well with your hair.
My advice is not to get discouraged and keep looking for a shampoo bar that will work well with your hair.
If you have any questions or want to add something to the topic, feel free to leave a comment below!