Week 4: A Beginner Guide to Shampoo Bars and Sharing My Own Experience

Shampoo bars, suggested by their name, are solid soap bars with shampoo properties. They are gradually becoming more popular to a large population; however, I have to admit they are super not conventional and can be very difficult to get used to. 

So here is a beginner guide on how to begin your journey on plastic free hair cleaning routine: 

  1. Choose a right bar for your hair type
    1. Besides the fact that the shampoo bars use mostly natural ingredients, they are similar to conventional liquid shampoos. You can choose the formulas, functions, the scent, etc. So scroll through a few websites, read some reviews and find the one that seems will function right for your hair. 
    2. Get small samples or a single bar first to try how it works!
  2. Even When You Have the Right Bar, It Might Not Be Easy. 
    1. You might experience some “transition period” (or a “purge”) when you first start to use shampoo bars. The “symptoms” of this transition period can be something like a waxy/uncomfortable feeling with your hair. 
    2. This can be caused by the reactions between the shampoo bars and the hard water in your shower. Or it can be the reactions between the bars and your current hair condition (your scalp’s oil excretion or the chemicals on your hair from previous shampoos). 
    3. It is not permanent, and it might not happen to everyone. 
    4. If you are (unfortunately) experiencing this, solutions can be a hard water filter in the bathroom, ACV rinse after washing your hair. 
  3. Use It With a Conditioner Bar. 
    1. When your hair is still adapting to the new shampoo bars, it might get dry/tangled. A conditioner bar is going to help a little to get rid of the dry/tangled condition (at least based on my experience). 
  4. Do Not Get Rid of All Your Liquid Shampoos Yet. 
    1. If you are really having a bad time with the shampoo bars for an abnormally long period of time, go back to the formula you used before, and give your hair a break!
  5. Reflect and Try New Bars
    1. How was your experience? Did you choose the right bar for your hair type? Did any unpleasant feeling last longer than they should? Did any of the solutions work?
    2. Try a new bar with a different formula.

Remember, shampoo bars are not for everybody and it’s not a “prerequisite” to be in the sustainable community. Even more and more people are starting to switch to the shampoo bars, it does not mean you have to force yourself to use it if it doesn’t work. 

I personally had a really bad time and am still struggling now. 

Just to clarify: my hair type is normal-oily (I wash my hair once every 1.5 to 2 days). I have also had a perm 2 years ago, which I believe had done some damage to my hair. 

Here comes my experiences:

So when I started, I only used a shampoo bar. I experienced the purge for around a month. After that, my hair gets super tangled every time after I shower, I have to pull my hair when brushing it, which causes a significant amount of hair loss. 

I then bought a conditioner bar, which made my life much easier, but still not very satisfactory. 

So I had to switch back to normal plastic packed liquid shampoo to give my hair a break (I know it might contain more harmful substances, but I least I can feel my hair getting smooth and I am losing less hair). 

I went back to the shampoo bar again, and this time I can feel the difference between my old (perm-ed, damaged) hair and my newly grown hair. The old hair is very waxy, super dry and tangled; the newly grown hair actually feels alright. 

Future plan: wait until my hair gets longer and cut the damaged part. Re-enter the shampoo bar community, and try out different bars. 

It has been almost a year since I used a shampoo bar for the first time and I’m still going back and forth, struggling to find the one that works for me. So you might have to go on to a few trials and errors, but eventually, it’s going to work out!

Wenqian L.

References:

https://www.wildlandorganics.com/blogs/livelight/how-to-make-the-switch-to-shampoo-bars#:~:text=When%20first%20using%20a%20shampoo,out%20your%20scalp’s%20oil%20production.

https://www.wildlandorganics.com/blogs/livelight/the-shampoo-bar-experience

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