Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Have You Tried a Shampoo Bar to Wash Your Hair?

June's One Small Green Change is to switch from washing my hair with liquid shampoo to washing my hair with a shampoo bar.

Last fall my hair freaked out and decided it hated my liquid shampoo and conditioner. My scalp flaked and my hair frizzed. I switched to a shampoo with tea tree oil in it, which made the problem worse. I developed a red bumpy rash on my scalp.


I tried going no poo but that lasted only three days – I’m a vain eco-wuss. In desperation used a free packet of Head and Shoulders I got in the mail. It felt like fire on my scalp. Finally, I went to my doctor who suggested adding more Omega 3’s in my diet, gave me a prescription for the rash, and suggested using Selsun Blue to wash my hair. That combination solved the problem.

However, Selsun Blue rates a 6 out of 10 on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. I want to go back to using something a little less hazardous now that the rash and flaking are gone. I looked at earth friendly/natural baby shampoos. Most I found are liquid Castile soap, great for babies but not for me. When I wash my hair with liquid castile soap – my hair feels like straw afterwards. I need copious amounts of conditioner.

If you are a soap maker Crunchy Chicken tells you how to make homemade shampoo bars. I prefer to buy handmade soaps from Mama (everyone calls her Mama because she refuses to answer to Mrs. S.) She’s been my handmade beauty and bath product dealer, err, source since my Renaissance Festival performer days.

Mama’s business Bridgit’s Bath does not have an Etsy shop or a Website (although she says it will happen soon.) I waited until I saw her at the Ohio State Renaissance Festival to shop at her booth. She also has a booth at the Ohio Renaissance Festival if you are local and interested in her wares.

While we were at it, Husband bought a spicy, exfoliating bath soap called Pirate – yarr! I bought a light floral smelling solid lotion stick called Siren. When I wear it I have the urge to sing sailors to their death. Good thing Columbus is largely a land locked city!

Why Use A Shampoo Bar?

Many advocate switching from liquid soaps and shampoos to bar soaps and shampoos to reduce packaging waste. This only works either if the soap you buy comes in a paper wrapper or, as in the case of the bar of body soap we bought from Mama, no wrapper at all.

However, you packaging purists may not like that some of the items we bought from Mama come packaged in plastic. Mama wraps the shampoo bars because they look like her unscented goats milk soap she makes for babies - two products you do not want to mix up! Mama does the majority of her business at hot outdoor venues. The plastic wrap and containers help protect her softer wares from melting in the summer heat. I can live with this. As always, your mileage may vary.

How Does the Shampoo Bar Work on My Hair?

Mama makes the Bridgit’s Bath Shampoo Bar with natural ingredients. Her soaps and shampoo bars do not lather up like conventional soaps. Fortunately, I now know that shampoo and soap makers put extra stuff in shampoo and soap to make it lather and that lather does not always equal clean.

However, not lathering up made it a little more difficult to work up enough shampoo soap on my hands to run it through my long thick hair. I ended up running my soapy hands through my scalp area and rubbing the wet shampoo bar along the length of my hair like a comb. This sounds more complicated than it actually is, pinky swear.

The results were surprising! My hair was clean. My scalp didn’t flake. I went without conditioner as a test. My hair didn’t feel like straw or tangled. I think the last time that happened was the 12th of Never. I air dried my hair and it didn’t frizz either.


Mama’s shampoo bar uses ingredients that clean hair with natural soap instead of natural liquid detergents. The soap doesn’t strip all of the natural oils from hair like liquid detergents do - including the plant based detergents. This is why my hair doesn’t feel like straw or frizz after I washed my hair with her shampoo bar and why I don’t need conditioner.

The shampoo bars last forever and make it less of a hassle to take through airport security since they are a solid, not a liquid.


For a different take on shampoo bars check out how the Greenhabilitator at The Green Phone Booth used a shampoo bar and found it didn’t work for her.

Have you tried using a shampoo bar? Have you tried a handmade soap or lotion bar? Did you like it? Why or why not?

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