Many shampoos and hair care products on the market today are loaded with harsh chemicals that end up damaging your hair and stripping away the healthy oils. One great alternative for people who want to take better care of their hair is a shampoo bar. For thousands of years, since around 2800 BC, when soap was first invented, people have been using soap to wash their hair. We know there are no detrimental side effects, or we certainly would have heard about it by now. Synthetic shampoos, on the other hand, have been around for less than 100 years, which means that we don't know the long-term effects of using it. Shampoo bars can be loaded with healthful, natural ingredients that will give your hair the nourishment it needs to stay healthy. Read on to learn more about how to choose a great shampoo bar, and how to use it.
Choosing a shampoo bar
When choosing a shampoo bar, read the ingredients carefully. Here are some important ones to look for, as they are great for increasing the health and strength of your hair, and just so happen to be in my fabulous shampoo soap.
- Castor oil - this substance is known for its ability to stimulate hair growth. It also helps with hair loss and thickens your hair.
- Tallow - is composed of substances that are highly compatible with our own skin, and is therefore called "bio-identical." It's easily absorbed into our hair and skin and is a great natural moisturizer.
- Coconut oil - this protects our hair from protein loss, which means you'll end up with stronger, thicker hair after using it.
- Essential oils - each essential oil has its own benefit. For example, chamomile essential oil can soften your hair, while peppermint essential oil can help with dandruff, and cedarwood essential oil can promote hair growth and slow hair loss. If you have specific hair problems you're looking to treat, read about which essential oils are good for that particular problem, and look for a shampoo bar that contains the beneficial essential oil.
How to use a shampoo bar
Once you've picked out a bar that meets your needs, you'll need to use it properly to see the maximum benefits. First, rinse your hair - cooler water is better, and you'll learn why later. Some people rub the bar directly on their scalp (which tends to be most effective), while others use a loofah to lather and then apply the lather directly to the hair. Simply massage the lather into your hair, and then rinse the lather out.
After you've washed your hair, there are a few things that affect how it can look when it's dry:
- Heat (for example if you're using very hot water in your shower) lifts up the hair shaft. If the hair shaft remains lifted, the scales of the hair shaft will lock together and will cause the hair to break and become damaged, giving your hair a frizzy, tangled look.
- The high pH of the soap (which makes it basic rather than acidic) also lifts the hair shaft.
- If you have hard water (which means there are minerals in your home's water supply), the minerals can build up on the hair and bind to the soap molecules, creating a layer of soap scum. No one wants this, and it's often seen as a downside to using a shampoo bar. Don't worry - there is a solution that you'll read about below!
Shampoo marketers will tell you that the low pH of commercial liquid shampoo is healthy for the hair, as it never gives a chance for the hair to get tangled and damaged. However, this low pH (and the fact that a detergent doesn't kill germs) creates a few problems. The body is designed to be resilient. It's how we adapt to changes in weather, produce more or less oil as needed, and correct our skin's acid mantle. That being said, using something that is either acidic or basic is only temporary because the body will bounce back to where it naturally needs to be - the shampoo marketers have it wrong.
Back to the soap scum problem -- If you have hard water in your home or have very long hair, an acid rinse can help clear out the soap scum and dissolve the minerals that build up after a wash. In addition, an acid rinse has a much lower pH than the soap, which closes the hair shaft, making the hair less tangled, smoother, and shinier. Here are some ingredients you can use to make a homemade acid wash:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Distilled white vinegar
- Lemon juice - this will also lighten the color of your hair
Depending on how hard the water in your home is, you may need more or less of the acid of your choice. You may need to experiment with what works best for your hair. If your hair is too greasy after the acid rinse, then you've used too much acid. If your hair still has soap scum and is sticky and tangled, then you need more acid. To start, simply mix a teaspoon of your acid of choice with about two cups of water, and pour it onto your hair. You can leave the acid rinse in, or wash it out. The smell of vinegar will dissipate within a few minutes, so you don't have to worry about smelling like vinegar for hours after an acid wash. If a teaspoon has too little acid, and you still notice soap scum, you can add more until you reach the desired result. Do so in teaspoons. You'll most likely find that you'll never need more than a tablespoon.
Experiment with the levels of acid in your rinse, and whether it works better for you to leave it in or rinse it out. If you choose to rinse it out, it's best to use cooler water, so that the hair shaft doesn't lift again.
Optionally, to dry your hair after the acid rinse, you'll want to use a hair dryer with ionic technology and tourmaline crystals. Ionic technology will help to break up the water molecules so they evaporate faster. This means you're subjecting your hair to less heat, which will cause less damage in the long run. Tourmaline crystals can also help to close the hair shaft, which makes your hair look smooth and shiny.
One important thing to remember if you decide to use a shampoo bar is that the high pH of the bar is not good for colored hair. Color is deposited under the hair shaft, so when hot water or the high pH lifts the shaft, the color gets rinsed out. On the other hand, if your hair has been bleached, and the color has been removed from hair, then a bar can be safely used.
A shampoo bar not only benefits the health of your hair, but also they're much easier to travel with than bottled soap -- especially if you're taking an airplane to your destination and need to limit the liquids you take on your flight. And a bar of shampoo won't spill or get all over your gym bag. They're full of natural, healthy ingredients that are actually good for your hair and scalp, and don't have harmful preservatives or chemicals. They tend to last a while, too, so you'll end up spending less than you would on expensive liquid shampoos and other hair care products. If you're ready for a natural way to clean your hair and make it look gorgeous, then choose a shampoo bar.