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Ahh, the tall order of the perfect shampoo bar. If you’ve already made the switch to natural shampoos, or have considered ditching the SLS, chances are you’ve looked into trying various shampoo bars. There’s a strong likelihood that, as many of us green beauty users have discovered, you’ve yet to find the perfect one. And that’s totally cool, because, hot tip: the perfect shampoo bar doesn’t exist.
Essentially, shampoo bars are solid bars crafted with butters, oils, essential oils and botanicals that should be SLS-free and exclude the use of artificial fragrances, chemicals, and harsh preservatives. Like natural body soap bars, natural shampoo bars will likely have little lather or bubbles to them because they often don’t contain an artificial lathering agent. When looking for a shampoo bar, keep an eye out for ingredients like shea, mango, cocoa and other nourishing butters, along with coconut, jojoba, avocado, argan and other moisturizing oils. Essential oils may be used to promote certain properties, such as rosemary and lavender for healthy hair growth, or chamomile to keep blond hair looking bright and, well…blond. They may also be used to add natural fragrance to a bar. I avoid shampoo bars that utilize palm oil, palm derivatives, artificial perfumes or fragrances, and SLS. Instead, I focus on sourcing shampoo bars with highly nourishing butters, oils, and botanical extracts.
One pro to using a shampoo bar in place of liquid soap is that most shampoo bars don’t contain SLS and won’t dry out or further damage your hair. You may also find that a shampoo bar more thoroughly cleanses your hair of chemical residue left over from liquid shampoos, especially if you utilize liquid soaps high in artificial ingredients and preservatives. Often, shampoo bars are kinder to various hair types, as their more natural ingredients can promote better hair health versus liquid soaps filled with ingredients like SLS. It’s no secret, too, that shampoo bars are more travel-friendly can be more cost effective, lasting longer than liquid shampoos if you store them properly.
Technically, there are various types of soap bars (both for body and hair, as well as the face), ranging from cold-pressed, hot-pressed, melt-and-pour, and more. The following excerpt from one of my previous blog articles which focuses on tips for choosing the right natural soap explains the difference between the above-mentioned methods:
“There are various methods for crafting soap, which include a simple method called “melt-and-pour.” However, not every method is a good method, and the melt-and-pour method of creating soap means you could end up purchasing a bar or two made with palm oil. Eeek! Melt-and-pour soaps are made using pre-made soap bases which often contain palm oil and animal fats, something you want to avoid (see my next tip) when buying natural soaps. Cold and Hot Processed soaps, on the other hand, allow makers to create soap from scratch, controlling what goes into each bar, how long their soap cures for, and what fats/oils they use, making cold or hot processed soaps the better option.”
For shampoo bars, there are mainly 3 types: cold-pressed, glycerin based and solid surfactant. I’ll briefly explain each below.
Surfactant: soap containing a surfactant will often provide the most lather because surfactants are a compound of detergents which cause bubbling or foaming (aka lather). Common surfactant soaps are those found at LUSH, for example, and often contain SLS. The main purpose of a surfactant soap is to remove the dirt, oil, and bacteria from something, like your hair and can be extremely drying/clarifying to the point where they can do more harm than good to the health of your hair. Surfactant shampoo bars thus work well in conjunction with a conditioner.
Here are a few recommendations to start you off on your journey to finding the right shampoo bar for your hair. Keep in mind that you may have to play around with different bars to find the right one that works for you, and the method of using a bar may differ from one bar to the next. I’d say finding your own rhythm is important, and sticking with a shampoo bar once you find the right one for your hair will help to better balance your hair – consistency is key!
Starry Night Shampoo Bar – Skipping Stone Soap
Meow Meow Tweet Collections – Meow Meow Tweet*
Simply Coconut (Multipurpose) Cleansing Bar – Urban Organics
Super Shampoo Bar – Pure Chimp
Coconut Shampoo Bar – Lamazuna
Sweet Citrus Shampoo Bar – Urban Organics*