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A Complete Guide To Shampoo Bars

May 24, 2022 9 min read

The many questions about solid shampoo bars

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SHAMPOO BARS

 Questions & Answers Image

 

 


1. Introduction

The following questions, and answers, have been compiled from our customer queries over the last few years. We've also added a few more that we know prospective shampoo bar users are unsure of.

If you have any other questions let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to answer them for you!

Don't miss out on your storewide 10% discount code by using THANK YOU at checkout too!

 

A shampoo bar

2. What Is A Shampoo Bar?

Before we move on to the real questions you want to be answered it's probably best to establish just exactly what a shampoo bar is. 

The word ‘shampoo’ is a variant of the Hindi that translates ‘to press or massage’ hair through cleaning.

A proper definition of shampoo is a cleaning agent that ‘does not leave a soap residue’. As you will read later on, soap is not a shampoo!

Ideally, hair requires a balanced, neutral to slightly acidic, shampoo obtained through the use of a blend of mild surfactants.

The best natural shampoo bar should be carefully formulated and have a good lather with cleaning and conditioning properties that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils so that it gives you and your hair the best experience and end results.

 

Good vibes from shampoo bars

3. Are Shampoo Bars Any Good?

A somewhat loaded question, but yes they are 'good' in so many different ways, as you will discover from reading on. As pertinent a question as asking are shampoos any good?

The answer lies in the quality of the ingredients. If it is a very low-cost item with little or no information about where the product is created then the odds are that it will not be that great a product for your hair.

Conversely, if it is an expensive product then that doesn’t automatically translate to it being a quality product. Always check the ingredients, the provenance, and the manufacturer!

A better life sign post

4. Are Shampoo Bars Better?

Much the same as the answer to the question above; generally, and in most cases, you get what you pay for. There are excellent shampoos and there are excellent shampoo bars.

Always check the ingredients, after that it comes down to personal choice. Try them both out to compare and see for yourself.

 

Woman with curly hair smiling

5. Are Shampoo Bars Good For Curly Hair?

A good quality shampoo bar with all natural ingredients will be fine for all types of hair, curly or otherwise. The manufacturer should show if this is not the case in their advertising and/or ingredients.

Value defined

6. Are Shampoo Bars Worth It?

Presumably, this question is asking whether shampoo bars are worth it in terms of cost, or value for money. The answer is an unequivocal yes. Liquid shampoos contain in the region of 80% water – that’s very expensive water you’re paying for when you buy a liquid shampoo.

The main reason water is the prime ingredient in liquid shampoos is so that you can pour it out of the plastic bottle.

A secondary factor is that the consumer is given the impression they are getting a greater volume, and hence value and product for their money. Clever marketing!

When you first use a shampoo bar you could be forgiven for thinking that it is small for the price, but once you realise exactly how many washes you will get from that (relatively) small but highly concentrated bar that will soon change.

Also, don't forget that the main shampoo bars are made with organic ingredients and these are more expensive compared to cheaper ingredients, which are typically harsh chemicals and water, that you find in liquid shampoos.

 

Good for the environment

7. Are Shampoo Bars Better For The Environment?

Without doubt. As they contain no water and are not packaged in plastic then they get the thumbs up from environmentalists, and us.

With the right shampoo bars, like The Solid Bar Company’s, you will find they are zero-waste, free from SLS, parabens, silicon, and palm oil, and are 100% biodegradable with all-natural vegan ingredients – so no artificial colouring or fragrances – meaning no chemicals and therefore safer for you and the environment.

Sulphate crystals

8. Are Shampoo Bars Sulphate-Free?

Some are, and many aren’t. Close scrutiny of the ingredients is required to ascertain this. A useful guide to what you don’t want to see in your shampoo bar can be found here in our blog How To Find The Best UK Shampoo Bar.

All of The Solid Bar Company’s products are sulphate-free.

Sulphate is a 'salt' that is generally sourced from petroleum or plants (coconut or palm oil) and added to cleaning and personal care items to create lather, giving a stronger 'impression' of cleaning power - as you will read further on, this is not always a good thing!

Sulphates derived from petroleum can be associated with pollution, at the point of manufacture, to possible health risks from long-term use. Those derived from palm oil are controversial due to plantation destruction. All sulphates can be toxic to marine life when they get washed down the drain.

 

Woman with blue coloured hair

9. Are Shampoo Bars Good And Safe For Coloured Hair?

All of The Solid Bar Company’s shampoo bars are safe and good for coloured hair. All of our hair products have been laboratory tested and are fully EU Cosmetic safety (CPSR) approved.

This is not the case for all shampoo bars – again, check the ingredients and the manufacturers' recommendations. If a shampoo or a shampoo bar is not safe for coloured hair then this should be clearly stated. Most natural shampoo bars are full of natural oils, which help condition your hair and preserve the colour.

As already mentioned, if the product is not correctly pH-balanced and too alkaline then there is a possibility that your hair colouring will be rinsed out early. If you have concerns about your coloured hair the real ingredient to look out for, and beware of, is sulphates which are to be viewed as 'paint strippers' for your colour; so avoid!

 

Hair loss image

10. Can Shampoo Bars Cause Hair Loss?

If it is a REAL shampoo bar and not a soap bar masquerading as a shampoo bar then this should not occur.

However, if you use soap or other alkaline surfactants, to shampoo your hair they can damage it. A good read for more information on this subject is here in our blog 5 Ways Fake 'Shampoo' Bars Damage Hair.

Hair loss is common among men and women. Stress, genetics, hormones, medications, nutrition, health conditions, and other factors can cause hair loss. Genetic hair loss can't be reversed.

A breakage is an exterior event that causes hair to fall out. Hair products such as both shampoo bars and liquid shampoo can cause hair loss, but again, it is very rare.

Our bars and ingredients have been tested and approved (see the answer to the question above) to not cause breakage or hair loss. If you’ve made the switch to a shampoo bar, you may notice some changes in your hair as your hair adjusts to a solid shampoo product.

 

Soap bars

11. Can Shampoo Bars Be Used As Soap?

The simple answer is yes, you can use shampoo bars on your body. If it’s safe to use on your hair then it should be safe to use on your body. Note that the reverse is not necessarily true – see below!

All of The Solid Bar Company shampoo bars are not soap and come with all the benefits of your liquid shampoo, without the plastic.

We have tested dozens of formulas to develop the perfect 100% plant-based shampoo bar, with all the foaminess, nourishment, and care of a liquid shampoo but in a solid format, meaning zero plastic waste. So, again, if you wish you may use them as a body soap.

Better still, we also make highly moisturising Castile soap bars which you can purchase here instead. 

A head of hair with bad dandruff

12. Can Shampoo Bars Cause Dandruff?

This is where we need to dip into a little bit of chemistry and consider the pH (potential of hydrogen) in a shampoo.

pH is a figure that indicates the acidity or alkalinity of a substance on a logarithmic scale of 0-14 with a pH of 7 being neutral. Lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline. Your hair and sebum have natural pH levels of between 4 and 5.5.

If the shampoo bar is correctly pH-balanced then there should be no problems for you, BUT if it is a soap bar or not properly pH balanced then irritation can come about - lye-based soaps can be very alkaline products with pH values of 9-11.

The pH Scale

Additionally, a proper definition of shampoo is a cleaning agent that ‘does not leave a soap residue’.Unfortunately, soap does leave a residue which means that ‘soap’ is not a shampoo.

Once in contact with water soap leaves an alkaline residue that is harmful to the hair in the form of calcium salts which accumulate in the hair strands, leaving them opaque and tangled. This soap ‘scum’ can also cause itching, exacerbate redness, scaly patches, and dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis), and leave the hair dull.

Also, if hair becomes very alkaline and porous, the cuticle cannot retain the colour as the cuticle fails to hold the new pigments and the colour will rinse out prematurely, so not good for coloured hair either.

Once again, the key to avoiding any problems here is to check the ingredients and provenance of the shampoo bar you are buying!

 

Woman angry about here damaged hair

13. Can Shampoo Bars Damage Hair?

The answers to 8 and 10 above cover a lot of this ground. A REAL shampoo bar should not damage your hair. There may be mild changes in your hair as you adjust to the new product but in reality no more than if you were to change your liquid shampoo for another liquid shampoo.

If you feel that your hair is being damaged in any way by a 'shampoo bar' then stop using it immediately, check the ingredients and the manufacturer out again and there is a 99% chance you will find that it is not a proper pH-balanced shampoo bar with all natural ingredients but probably a soap bar. 

A sand timer running out

14. Can Shampoo Bars Expire?

Liquid shampoo expires and even the best shampoo bars have an expiry date.

So to answer how long shampoo bars last, that depends somewhat on the manufacturing process, the quality, and the type of ingredients. Then if all of those answers are of a high standard then a shampoo bar can last up to 18 months. You can also help achieve this if you store your products in a dry place, away from direct sunlight when they are not in use.

Although, under normal circumstances, the chances are you will use the shampoo bar well before the expiry date comes around.

 

Conditioner bars

15. Do I Need To Use A Conditioner After A Shampoo Bar Wash?

Not necessarily. If you are using a good quality shampoo bar with rich moisturising natural ingredients then your hair can be fine without. One of the key reasons people use conditioners after using commercial shampoos is that many of them contain petroleum products that are actually dry your hair and scalp.

 

Just the word how do shampoo bars work

16. How do shampoo bars work?

They work in much the same way as a normal liquid shampoo. the key differences are that they are in highly concentrated form and, should contain no water

Start by wetting your hair and the shampoo bar thoroughly, then rub the bar between your hands to make it foam.

Then gently massage the shampoo bar on your hair lathering it from the roots to the tips. Keep massaging into your hair and scalp until all hair is covered in a foamy lather. It may take slightly longer to lather in hard water areas.

Also, be aware that shampoo bars are concentrated shampoo with no water, so you will not need as much lather as you do with liquid shampoos. Too much lather in shampoo bars could mean the shampoo has very strong cleansing agents, and this can dry your scalp.

Then rinse thoroughly.

After use, it is best to keep your shampoo bar in a dry place to maximise its life.

If you wish, follow on with a conditioner bar for more intense hair nourishment.

You can see a short video on how to use a shampoo bar here. 

 

Transition time for change

17. Is There A Transition Period When Switching To Shampoo Bars?

With The Solid Bar Company products, we say that there is no transition period and no special regime you should follow.

However, everyone is different so when you first start using natural products - and in particular, if your previous liquid shampoo has been heavily laden with artificial ingredients - your hair may readjust by overproducing sebum.

Some people don't experience a transition period at all but it can last a few weeks for others. If you live in a hard water area the transition period is usually longer, a water softener helps hugely although we are aware that these are prohibitively expensive to most of us.

Finally, don't forget to ask us in the comments below if you have any further questions we can answer for you.

Best wishes,

Rebecca at The Solid Bar Company

PS. While you're here why not read How To Find The Best UK Shampoo Bar.

 

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