Detangling the Shampoo Bar Mystery!

September 30, 2018 8 min read 2 Comments

Girl smiling for the best luxury vegan shampoo at The Solid Bar Company

Detangling the Shampoo Bar Mystery  –  One Strand at a Time!


I  am regularly asked about the difference between our shampoo bars and all the others on the market. 

Some  of these other ‘shampoo’ bars are huge in size and inexpensive, so they seem good value for money - but are they really? Let's find out.

So,  what are the real differences between our shampoo bars and the others?




Well,  to start with as a simple analogy, just as there are chocolate cakes and then there are Chocolate Cakes.... there are shampoo bars and then there are The Solid bar Company's Shampoo Bars!


Chocolate cakes as analogies for luxury vegan shampoo bar versus liquid shampoo


Let’s  look at a few examples to explain this more.  

If  you make a quick internet search, on several main store websites, you can find products listed as ‘shampoo’ bars, and even a few conditioner bars. Check on Tescos to Sainsburys, Walmart to Amazon, to Vitacost, to Sephora and more. 


internet search places for vegan solid shampoo bars  

Yet,  the key thing to look at here, in these 'so-called' best bar shampoo reviews on the other search sites, is the ingredients! After all what you are looking for is the best shampoo bar for ordinary hair, the best shampoo bar for coloured hair, in fact the best shampoo bar for pretty much any and all types of hair.      

When  you do you will read that most of these bars are made with ‘saponified’ carrier oils, such as coconut, sunflower using essential oils for scent. 

This  means these oils have been mixed with sodium hydroxide (a.k.a. Lye), an alkali with a high pH14 level, to turn them into a traditional soap bar through a process known as saponification. 

These  traditional soap bars are the earliest surfactants (surface active agents) known. They have been around for hundreds of years, used to break down the interface between water and oils and/or dirt.

In essence, pardon the pun, these ingredients are fine for soap bars BUT not shampoo bars, many have high water content and include synthetics and/or chemicals

They are as far removed from the quality natural vegan ingredients of our luxury high quality shampoo bars at The Solid Bar Company as Pluto is from Earth!

Sadly many people try these type of bars - as inevitably they can be marketed as proper shampoo quality to the unaware, they are also very cheap by comparison and many do not even fully list their ingredients and if they do they are of 'dubious' quality and value as a shampoo ingredient.

Consequently the results and effect on their hair of using these 'soap' bars is poor, they immediately think that all bars are the same, so write them all off from this bad experience and revert to water-filled liquid shampoo!  

Whilst  these oil ingredients will create a natural soap bar that is fine to use for the body (please note that we also make similar organic body soaps here) they are not the right product to meet the needs of your hair. 

They  are really only meant for your body, not for hair application as a shampoo! 


pH scale chart to show the correct best  shampoo ph's


Why  is that you may ask? Well, it's because:

  • This  type of traditional soap bar is not pH balanced for use on your hair.
  •  The  Lye solution will create a bar with a pH8 or so, far too alkaline for your hair.
  •  Your  hair and sebum have natural pHs of between 4 and 5.5.
  • This  is a perfectly natural and normal slightly acid level that prevents bacteria from forming and keeps the hair cuticles closed and healthy.
  • If  an alkaline product is continually used on the hair, the cuticles won’t lie down and the alkaline will cause abrasion, eventually leading to dull, dry hair and possibly breakage.
  • These  traditional soaps, when combined with hard water, form insoluble magnesium and calcium salts through hard water ions creating an insoluble scum.
  • This  can leave a film on your hair. This is much the same as you may well have seen from a soap bar ‘scum’ line around the side of the bath.  It will make your hair look flat and dull.  

That  is why you won’t ever see this type of saponified soap bar ingredient in professional salon hair care products. 

This  is no accident. Professional salon products have become a 50 billion dollar industry today with a huge amount of research invested in it.


Pile of gold demonstrating money spent on shampoo advertising and development


This  has resulted in modern day ‘anionic’ surfactants being used in shampoos. 

They  have replaced the carboxylate group found in traditional soap, by creating calcium and magnesium salts that are more soluble in water thus leaving no film on your hair whatsoever. 

The  majority of ‘shampoo’ bars from your internet search will have found products made from lye, carrier oils and essential oils.


body soaps not shampoo bars

So,  this combination makes a great body soap but not a good hair shampoo!

There  are also a few shampoo bars containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as the main ingredient, with other synthetic ingredients and also diluted with a large proportion of water. 

You  should note that SLS is a cheap, harsh surfactant and the synthetic fragrances may be irritants to your scalp as they are primarily chemical additives. 

Ideally,  hair requires a balanced, neutral to slightly acidic, shampoo obtained through the use of a blend of mild surfactants - notably we have six in our fabulous natural shampoo bars. This gives you quite probably the best solid surfactant shampoo bars in the UK - but you should be the judge if that by trying them out for yourself - you'll be amazed !

The  shampoo should have good lather with cleaning and conditioning properties that won’t strip the hair of its natural oils and make the hair follicles lay flat for smooth feeling hair that looks shiny.

This  does mean more expensive ingredients, such as those found in the top end salon shampoos. 

They  are all free of SLS, parabens, silicones and synthetic fragrances. 

The  end result should mean healthier hair in the long run.


Better healthy hair from natural shampoo on a girl


One of the most important factors users/customers seem to want from their shampoos is the 'smooth' glide feel that it offers by spreading the product across and through the hair. 

This has been provided in traditional, and most mainstream, shampoos from some sort of silicone-based ingredient. Silicones are a large class of materials—not one item. They can usually be recognized by names ending in ‘cone.’ In hair care, they are primarily used to lubricate/condition and to add shine. 

After extensive testing, an exciting step forward for us has been the switch away from silicons to plant derived and sustainable silicon alternatives without compromising on the many benefits they bring.

Although these plant-derived alternatives represent a small percentage of our ingredients, they play an important role in both hair care and body care.

For shampoos and conditioners, the benefits include improving wet and dry hair combing, offering a silkier texture to the hair with added softness and shine, reducing frizz and static charge and acting as a humidity resistor.

For lotion bars, they are lubricating, acting as an emollient to soothe and hydrate skin, adding slip and glide as well as protection from the elements.

Because silicone adds another layer to one’s hair, it can make the hair feel heavy, as silicone builds up if not washed properly.

As silicone can be listed under so many names, you may wish to check the products that you own to check for them. Below is a list of the ones that commonly occur in shampoos, haircare and other beauty products so you can be sure that your hair not only appears to be, but is naturally healthy.

Ingredients to look out for (and avoid):

  • Amino Bispropyl Dimethicone
  • Aminopropyl Dimethicone
  • Amodimethicone
  • Amodimethicone Hydroxystearate
  • Behenoxy Dimethicone
  • C24-28 Alkyl Dimethicone
  • C30-45 Alkyl Dimethicone
  • C30-45 Alkyl Methicone
  • Cetearyl Methicone
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cyclomethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Dimethicone
  • Dimethicone Copolyol
  • Dimethiconol
  • Dimethoxysilyl Ethylenediaminopropyl Dimethicone
  • Hexyl Methicone
  • Hydroxypropyldimethicone
  • Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
  • Methicone
  • Phenyl Trimethicones
  • Polydimethylsiloxane
  • Stearamidopropyl Dimethicone
  • Stearoxy Dimethicone
  • Stearyl Dimethicone
  • Stearyl Methicone
  • Sterile Dimethicone
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone
  • Vinyl Dimethicone 

In  the infogram at the bottom of this page you can clearly see the comparison of a typical salon shampoo bottle versus a salon approved bar in terms of longevity, weight and price! 

In  our salon standard shampoo bars we have mild surfactants to which we also added other high quality ingredients to the bars. 

These  include cationic emulsions to act as softeners and detanglers, nourishing protein to strengthen the hair and pro-vitamin B5 for hair growth and general scalp health as well as for gloss and shine. 

Another  vital ingredient is the one per cent plant-based alternative that we use in place of silicon oil, Lexfeel N350, that provides incredible slip to the hair. We have tested this extensively and find it to be totally effective as well as being a more eco-friendly alternative.  

Overall  our moisturising shampoo bars for fine hair, curly hair, dry hair, oily hair and for coloured hair are far more eco-friendly products than a salon shampoo in a plastic bottle. They are some of the best vegan shampoo bars available in the UK.

When you examine the ingredient details closely in liquid salon shampoos served up in plastic bottles, despite high-grade ingredients, they are still diluted with 80%-90% water which will reduce the shelf life of the product as well as bulking it out to give the appearance of you receiving a larger quantity, and thus value, for your money when in fact the opposite is the case.   

Our real shampoo bar is a new concept for the market and one that takes a little getting used to. 

If  you are still unsure how easy a solid shampoo bar is to use, then just watch this forty second video

Also,  when you use an eco-product, it needs to do a good job; our bar does a great job.  It may look like a bar of soap and lather in your hand like a soap but that is where the similarities end. 

Taking  the traditional liquid form and creating a solid shampoo has huge benefits for both the environment and you the customer.

We  have entirely eliminated the need for plastic bottles to store or distribute.

We've  reduced the environmental impact enormously by saving tons of plastic from ever being produced or entering landfills.

Our  super lush shampoo bars may look small, but they’ve got an impressive lathering ability that makes them incredibly long-lasting.

Most  people only need two to three strokes across their wet hair to produce a rich lather, so each bar lasts about 60 washes—that’s the equivalent of two or three 8 fl oz bottles of liquid shampoo!

Do our solid shampoo bars work on coloured and/or treated hair?  The answer is an emphatic yes - there is no problem with using our shampoo bars if you have either coloured hair or treated hair. 

So  what makes a shampoo bar a solid choice for you?

Well,  besides all the above, natural spill-proof shampoo bars are convenient for taking to the gym or throwing in your carry-on bag for great hair!

They  are also 100% vegan, cruelty free, sulfate free, paraben and SLS free shampoo bars that work wonderfully whatever your hair type. They are great for thick hair, thin hair, curly hair, straight hair, frizzy hair and colored hair.

If  you want the best shampoo bar and conditioner bar then look no further!

These  shampoo bars and conditioner bars are created in ‘herbal’ and ‘botanical’ naturally scented blends for normal/dry or oily hair. 

For  best effect and to care for your hair, be sure to follow each shampoo with our detangling conditioner bars which as a bonus can also be used as shaving bars!

Our conditioner bars are dual use! They can be used on your hair as either the best leave in hair conditioner bar on the market or you can wash this great conditioner bar out if you wish (and still get the same detangling, lustrous full effect and scent) - but also it can be used as a shaving bar for either men or women!


Best wishes and happy shampooing

from The Solid Bar Company Team!



2 Responses

Joyce Darling
Joyce Darling

October 03, 2018

Thank you – great background info on the pros and cons of various shampoos and in particular shampoo bars in the UK. I’m looking forward to trying your shampoo bar and conditioner bar out now – will let you know how I get on as I’ve been told there is a transition period when changing over from normal shampoos to solid bar shampoos. Best, JD

Lucy B
Lucy B

December 30, 2017

very interesting facts here – informative and not overly biased – also very surprise to see some of the negatives about liquid shampoos and their packaging – think we are going to have to rethink our shopping from now on – thank you – Lucy x

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.