(... or - My quest to achieve the perfect shampoo bar!)Natural Shampoo Bars made for my trial
Why use a Shampoo Bar?
It seems to me that for those us who choose to minimise the use of chemicals on our skin and in our bodies, it doesn't really make sense to then pour them on our heads and rub them in! And make no mistake, the average shampoo bottle is LOADED with toxic chemicals, just go and read the ingredients list, I would bet the majority of the ingredients you see are synthetic lab-made chemicals, many of which can have nasty side-effects.
Now imagine a shampoo as natural as your handmade soap - ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, rosemary essential oil ..... ingredients you recognise, edible oils and concentrated plant extracts (and I'm not talking about those bottles that call themselves botanical but actually put in a token plant extract at no. 29 in the ingredient list after the un-pronouncables chemicals!)
Now be warned- there are a few 'solid shampoo' bars on the market from huge chains of soap places like... mmm... lets say it rhymes with Hush (!!) that still contain the same detergents found in bottled shampoo. The whole point, for me, is to move away from cheap foaming detergents like SLS and other chemicals, so I want to make them as natural as my body soaps.
Other reasons people use shampoo bars is for their convenience, less clutter when travelling or in the shower, and a lot less plastic going to landfill - zero in fact!
The Transition Period
Anyone who has used shampoo bars will know about the 'transition period' most people go through when detoxing from commercial shampoo and conditioner. Years of the same routine, frequent washing/ stripping hair of natural oils and replacing them with articificial silicones is going to take some adjusting to return hair to its natural healthy state. Often a diluted vinegar rinse is used to close the hair cuticle and neutralise ph, although this isn't always necessary. Apparently the transition period usually takes from 1 day to 2 weeks.
My Shampoo Bar Trial (initally known as 'The Weird Hair Days'!)
So... I have been experimenting with shampoo bars this past week. Of course, no animal testing here, all human testing only (and by that, of course, I mean me!) Just as one piece from every soap batch is tested before I sell it, so with the 'Great Shampoo Bar Experiment'. Yes, it's a tough job!
Now I will be the first to admit, my hair freaked out quite a bit for the first couple of days. Quite a lot actually! It felt thick and dull and oddly unclean, although admitedly it actually looked ok to the casual observer. No-one seemed horrifed at my 'new do' when I ventured outside. In fact, no one noticed any difference at all! I guess that shows how much I have become accustomed to the 'feel' of commercial products. And it is getting better.
I am currently at the end of my first week of the trial, with a breakthrough yesterday in a new bar I made. It is fairly rough and rustic looking, as I am looking to get the basics balanced first and this batch is just for my use. This bar has a very high percentage of castor oil, which provides a great lather and allows you to feel like you are giving your hair a good clean. Other oils are coconut for cleansing, olive and ricebran for moisturising, and sustainable palm for bar hardness and stability. I added a small amount of rosemary and lavender essential oils too. I have fairly oily hair normally, so this one is quite a cleansing bar. Once my hair is stabilised, I will probably look at adding shea butter for a more moisturising bar. I am hoping to ditch the daily hair wash too, at least to every 2nd day would be good.
I probably should add here that my husband has been using my normal range of natural soaps as a hair wash for about 7 months now. Nothing wrong with that at all, and his hair really looks great, but he has short hair, and let's face it - men are generally not so fussy when it comes to hair! My long, thick hair which has been coloured in the past is in need of a little more TLC, and so the quest continues for a great shampoo bar. :-)
I will report back here soon with my progress. If you have any experience of natural shampoo bars I'd love to hear it - the challenges and the outcomes! I really hope to have a good product I am happy to share within a couple of months.