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A guide to switching to natural deodorant

Whether you’re looking to use more natural ingredients on your skin or are hoping to find a plastic free alternative to your current deodorant, switching to a natural deodorant is going to be your main option.

For some people, switching to natural deodorant may be as easy as swapping the products you use, for others, there may be a little bit more you need to know about transitioning to natural deodorants (and what results you can expect) before making the switch.

Vegan Plastic Free Deodorant Happy Holistics

What’s the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?

Deodorants are designed to do exactly what it says on the tin (or rather, stick), deodorise your armpits by neutralising and/ or masking your natural scent. Antiperspirant, on the other hand, is designed to prevent (or limit) the amount of sweat that your underarms produce (as it’s the bacteria that develops in your sweat that contributes to body odour). Antiperspirants usually have deodorising properties thrown in for good measure too.

Some people do not like that antiperspirants block your bodies natural sweating process, others may be uncomfortable with the types of ingredients that are used to achieve this. This is why the ingredients in natural deodorant do not tend to be chosen to work in the same way as an antiperspirant. There are natural ingredients that can help promote dryness and fight odour-causing bacteria, but natural deodorant is not designed to offer the same levels of dryness as antiperspirant.

If you’re looking to swap purely because you wish to reduce the amount of single use plastic in your personal care routine (and are hoping for a plastic free product that works in exactly the same way as your current antiperspirant), unfortunately we haven’t found a plastic free alternative just yet (but we’re not against stocking them if we do find a suitable one).

Transitioning to natural deodorant

If you have been using regular antiperspirants and want to switch to natural or plastic free alternatives, you may find there is a transition phase when swapping between these products.

In fact, you may find that when you first use a natural deodorant, it might seem like it doesn’t work for you at all. This is because your underarms are becoming used to the lack of ‘sweat blocking’ ingredients and it may take a little time for them to adjust.

As your underarms will now be allowed to perspire whilst using natural deodorant, it’s likely that you will sweat more and therefore there will be more of the body odour-causing bacteria present. Because of this, you may notice your body odour (when you didn’t before), or even feel that it has increased during this time.

For many people, these experiences last for about 2-4 weeks when they first start using natural deodorant (hence why it is known as a transition phase). Once your body adjusts to the ingredients of your natural deodorant, you should experience better results whilst using it.

The ingredients regularly used in natural deodorant

Although natural deodorants are unlikely to have the full antiperspirant power that you may be used to, there are plenty of clever, natural ingredients that are added in to promote dryness (as well as for their antibacterial properties).

Ingredients such as bicarbonate of soda (otherwise known as baking soda or sodium bicarbonate), arrowroot powder and activated charcoal powder are all commonly found in natural deodorants to help your underarms feel drier whilst wearing them.

Natural deodorants are most commonly scented with essential oils, rather than synthetic fragrances. If you are looking to use a natural deodorant whilst pregnant, breastfeeding or are looking to purchase it for a young person under the age of 12, it’s best to check with a Doctor about the essential oils in your product first. Not all essential oils are safe to use during pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children.

Natural deodorants for sensitive skin

Whilst bicarbonate of soda is beneficial for helping your underarms to stay dry, you should be cautious of this ingredient if you have sensitive skin, or haven’t used it on your skin before.

Bicarbonate of soda can alter the pH level of your skin which can lead to skin irritation. This irritation may occur immediately or may take a couple of weeks of using a product with baking soda as an ingredient to show up. You may notice an itching and/ or burning sensation under your arms, a rash, bumpy skin, or the skin may become discoloured (usually temporarily) and may even peel away. Doesn’t sound great does it?

In all honesty, that’s why we only currently stock deodorants that are bicarb free, because what’s the point of using natural ingredients on your skin if they’re going to cause irritation?

If you’re looking for a natural deodorant that is bicarb free, we currently stock the full range of vegan deodorant balms from Happy Holistics. They’re available in Citrus, Soothing lavender or Fresh mint scents. Each deodorant comes in a plastic-free paperboard tube which makes application a little more convenient, as the tubes are biodegradable it means the packing is low waste too.

 

 

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How to use natural shampoo bars in hard water

If you live in a hard water area, you may find it more difficult to get used to using natural shampoo bars. This is because hard water has a high mineral content which can effect how easy it is to wash natural shampoo out of you hair (and what your hair will feel like afterwards).

Living in Norfolk (UK), I’m used to the effects of hard water (especially on our kettle) and have been through the transition process of switching to natural shampoo myself so I know the struggles that this can bring.

It did take some time and perseverance to get used to using a natural shampoo bar in hard water but now my hair has adjusted, I hope that using natural shampoo in hard water (and getting lovely results) is possible for other people too.

Having said that, it is completely understandable if the time, effort and ability to adapt to natural shampoo bars is not for you. Jump to the ‘best shampoo bars for hard water’ section, where I will include some more user friendly alternatives if fully natural shampoo is not working for you.

If it’s your first time switching to natural shampoo, I recommend reading our post on how to transition to using natural shampoo bars.

How to use natural shampoo bars in hard water

You may find after a while of using the techniques below that your hair just gets used to natural shampoo and you can use the shampoo bar by itself or, you might find that your hair always needs a little extra help to counteract the hard water. The important thing is to find a routine that works for you.

Technique is really important

A downside to natural shampoo is that you probably need to pay more attention to the technique you use to wash your hair than you would whilst using a shampoo with surfactants, detergents or synthetic cleansers. This is because surfactants foam up really easily and are highly effective at cleaning and cleansing hair in all water types. This makes them pretty easy to use and your technique is less important.

With natural shampoo bars, I’ve found it’s best to lather up the shampoo bar in your hand and work this lather over the crown of your head, repeating this process for the length of your hair, down to the tips.

Make sure to massage the lather into your scalp, to really help the product to distribute through your hair. Don’t let the fear of residue put you off from using enough of the product, using too little shampoo can make that feeling worse as you’re not getting enough lather in your hair to clean it.

Once you’ve worked the shampoo through your hair rinse, rinse and rinse – this is crucial to help get as much of the product out of you hair as possible. Not rinsing your hair thoroughly enough is a big contributing factor to that unwanted residue in your hair after using natural shampoo. Use that same massaging technique that you worked the product in with, to wash it out again. Pay attention to the hair at the base of your crown/ nape of your neck, this is often a problematic area for product build up.

The best shampoo bars for hard water

If you’ve been struggling to get to grips with using natural shampoo bars in hard water and want to use something that is guaranteed to work without a transition phase or any waxy residues, you will need to use something which contains a surfactant, like one of our 2-in-1 bars from Zero Waste Path.

These solid shampoo bars contain coconut-based surfactants (which are sulphate free) and will gently cleanse your hair whether you’re in a hard or soft water area.

Some people are not keen on using shampoos with surfactants in them for various reasons. Personally, I don’t like to use them because of the results I get for my naturally wavy hair. I find that surfactants cleanse my hair a little too well and I just don’t get the same body and longevity between washes that I get from natural shampoo bars.

Natural shampoo bars that have worked well for me in hard water

If you prefer to use natural shampoo bars and live in a hard water area, you may need to try a few different shampoo bars to find the right formula for your hair needs and water type. Personally, I have had success with the solid bars from Bain & Savon and Authentic House.

Solid shampoo bars by Bain & Savon | Available at Sage Folk

We currently stock the sunny orange bar, chamomile bar and rosemary bar from the Bain & Savon range.

Authentic House solid shampoo bars available at Sage Folk

The bars from Authentic House are available in  mint & matchacitrus & ylang ylang or rosemary & lavender

Things you can try to get better results with natural shampoo

If you’re really struggling with natural shampoo then please don’t feel disheartened, there are many reasons that it might not work for you and that’s completely ok.

If you’re trying to use them because you want to cut back on your single-use plastic, I’d recommend trying one of our Zero Waste Path shampoo bars as they’re plastic free but will give you the results you are used to getting from your plastic bottled shampoo.

If you’d like to stick to using a natural shampoo bar in a hard water area, there are some methods you can try to get better results for your hair.

Try a vinegar rinse

Hard water can make the scales of your hair stand up, making it feel coarse and more prone to tangling and frizzing (particularly if your hair is also damaged in any way). This effect on the scales of your hair can also make it more difficult to get the shampoo suds into and out of your hair, which can also contribute to that feeling of residue or product build up after washing.

Using a vinegar rinse can help to smooth down the scales of your hair, making it much easier to wash away the shampoo suds. You can buy vinegar rinses or make them easily at home. You will likely need to experiment with the amount of vinegar you use and how often you are using a vinegar rinse as part of your routine.

It’s important to note that vinegar can be drying for your hair. Oily hair will most likely tolerate more/ stronger vinegar rinses, whilst dry hair will tolerate less/ weaker rinses (or not using a vinegar rinse at all).

Bottles of apple cider vinegar | ACV rinse for natural shampoo bars

DIY vinegar rinse

  • vinegar (raw ACV or white vinegar)
  • water
  • essential oils (optional, if you want to mask the smell of the vinegar a little).

To make your own vinegar rinse simply mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water in a bottle (you can add in essential oils to mask the vinegar smell if you wish). Increase the ratio of vinegar to water if necessary. Use after shampooing to help lift any lingering shampoo residue. If you really can’t stand the smell of vinegar, you could equally try using lemon juice instead.

I’ve always used raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) for my hair rinses as it retains much more of the natural goodness of the vinegar than other, more processed variants. I have heard that some people prefer to use white vinegar instead because they have found ACV to bring out a reddish tone in their hair with prolonged use, but I haven’t experienced this myself.

I found it best to use the vinegar rinse after washing out your shampoo. Pour it over your hair and massage it through like you did with the shampoo. Give your hair another really thorough rinse to remove the vinegar (and the smell) from your hair.

I was initially using a vinegar rinse every time I washed my hair (usually twice a week) whilst my hair was adjusting to natural shampoo. After time, I found I could get away with using my ACV rinse every other time I washed my hair and now, I don’t need to use it all. Remember, the vinegar rinse could be too drying for your hair if you are using it frequently over a prolonged period of time.

Baking Soda Cleanse

If your hair can’t handle a vinegar rinse, then using baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) can help to tackle the build up or feeling of residue you may be experiencing. Baking soda can help to lift the soap build up from your hair, it is also effective for lifting grease and even helping to cleanse the hair of chemical and product build up if you have been using synthetic styling products too.

Bicarbonate of soda in a glass jar | baking soda cleanse for natural shampoo bars

How to cleanse you hair with baking soda

Try mixing a pinch of bicarbonate of soda with a litre of warm water and soaking your hair with it before you wash it. Leave the mixture in your hair whilst you are shampooing it and wash it all out together, this way the baking soda can really help to lift out that unwanted soap residue.

Alternatively you could try sprinkling the baking soda onto your hair once you have lathered it up with your natural shampoo and working it in this way.

If you’re simply looking to cleanse you hair without shampooing it then you could try sprinkling the bicarbonate of soda onto damp hair, working it in and then rinsing it out.

Be aware that baking soda can make your hair more prone to tangling so you may wish to try a vinegar rinse or using a conditioner bar to help tease out those tangles.

Alternatives to washing your hair with hard water

Hard water picks up its mineral characteristics as it seeps through the ground, dissolving rocks and minerals as it goes. Interestingly the softer the rocks and minerals in your area, the harder your water will be – because these will be more easily dissolved.

Distilled water and softened water are alternatives you could try washing you hair with to get better results with your shampoo bar as these will have been through a process to remove a lot of the mineral content. Having said that, these options may not be particularly practical, affordable or environmentally friendly for most people to obtain.

How does hard water affect your hair?

The minerals in hard water can have a number of effects on your hair, all of which make it more difficult (although not necessarily impossible) to use natural shampoo in hard water areas.

Firstly, hard water can make it more difficult to lather your shampoo, meaning you may end up using more product than if you were in a soft water area.

Hard water also makes it trickier to work the shampoo suds into, and out of, your hair because of the reaction that occurs between the natural shampoo and the minerals in the hard water. This reaction can form insoluble compounds which are particularly difficult to wash away – which is one of the reasons why you may be experiencing a greasy, sticky or even waxy feeling in your hair after washing it with natural shampoo. Essentially, you may be left with hair that feels like it hasn’t been washed at all.

Hard water can also ‘rough up’ the texture of the hair shaft, potentially making it seem more frizzy and tangled than when using regular, bottled shampoo. This effect on the texture of the hair can also make it more difficult to get the natural shampoo lather out of your hair.

The good news is, there are a few tips and tricks that you can incorporate into your washing routine, to get better results when using your natural shampoo bar in a hard water area.

 

If you’re interested in making the swap to other plastic free and natural products, why not read our guide to switching to natural deodorant.

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How to Transition to Using Natural Shampoo Bars

Whether you’re looking to reduce the amount of plastic you use, switch to something with fewer chemicals or perhaps want something that’s a bit kinder to sensitive skin, a natural bar of solid shampoo can be a great solution.

Solid shampoo bars by Bain & Savon | Available at Sage Folk

However, if you haven’t yet made the switch to natural shampoo then there are a few things you need to know before doing so.

There are a few factors that can affect whether the transition to natural shampoo is simple or not. Hard water and the condition of your hair, as well as the products you use on it, are going to have the biggest impact on whether natural shampoo works for you or not.

The thing to keep in mind is that, although it may take a few goes before your hair adjusts to natural shampoo, it’s worth persevering with for the longterm benefits of something that will be kinder to your skin, hair and the environment.

Don’t be put off if your hair doesn’t instantly take to natural shampoo, most people get through the transition period and never look back!

What to expect when switching to natural shampoo bars

If you are using natural shampoo for the first time, it is very common that you will experience what is known as a ‘transition period’. This period can last anything from a few days to a few weeks (depending on how often you wash your hair, what the water is like in your area and what other products you may be using on your hair).

During your transition time, your hair will likely feel different after washing than it did when you were using the regular bottled stuff; this feeling can be anything from dry and itchy to oily, waxy or like there is still a residue or product build-up in your hair, even immediately after washing it. Although this can be frustrating, it’s perfectly normal to experience this whilst your hair adjusts to natural shampoo.

We’ve got plenty of tips to get you through the transition to natural shampoo, which we’ll cover later in the post, but first, it’s probably useful to understand why there is a transition period in the first place.

Why is there a transition period when switching to natural shampoo bars?

The adjustment period that occurs when you switch from regular shampoo to a natural bar is most likely due to the ingredients of the regular shampoo and conditioner you were likely to be using beforehand.

Regular shampoos often contain synthetic ingredients such as detergents and surfactants which will work in pretty much any water conditions (hard or soft) to strip your hair of dirt and product build-up. However, these synthetic ingredients will also most likely strip your hair of the natural oils that your scalp produces to clean and condition itself. This would leave your hair feeling very dry and brittle if it weren’t for conditioners.

Regular conditioner adds back in the oils that your hair has been stripped of, they also often contain some form of silicone which smooths and coats the hair shaft, giving it the impression of being soft and healthy.

It’s partially the build-up of these ingredients, as well as the condition they can leave your hair in, that will impact how long it takes for your hair to adjust to natural shampoo (remember, any other styling products you may be using will also contribute to this too).

Tips for weaning your hair off synthetic shampoos and conditioners:

If you’re not 100% ready to switch to using a natural shampoo bar (but want to work towards that in the future) you can try swapping to shampoos and conditioners that have fewer synthetic ingredients, and more natural ones!

Something like Beauty Kubes shampoo (which contains a more natural cleansing agent) and a solid conditioner bar will hopefully get your hair to a better place for transitioning to the natural good stuff. Spacing out hair washes, allowing your hair and scalp to adjust to their natural oils again, will also help.

Natural shampoo and hard water

Hard water is perhaps one of the trickiest factors to navigate during the transition to natural shampoo. For some people, it might mean that you never really get on with natural shampoo bars.

The problem with hard water is that it can be a bit hard to work with! The high mineral content that is typical of hard water affects how soaps and shampoos work, making them more difficult to lather and distribute through your hair, as well as to fully wash out again. It’s this that can lead to the waxy residue-like feeling in your hair.

If you typically use styling products on your hair, you may find that you need to reduce, or even completely cut out, the use of them whilst transitioning to natural solid shampoo as these can add to that feeling of residue in your hair after washing.

It’s also important to remember that if you’re looking to change what you’re washing your hair with because of the ingredients or packaging, it may be worth making a change in any other products you put on your hair too.

We’ve also created an in-depth guide on how to use a natural shampoo bar in hard water, to help you get the most from your solid shampoo once you’re through the transition period.

 

How to wash your hair with a natural shampoo bar

How you wash your hair with natural shampoo is actually more crucial than you might think when it comes to getting the results you want.

Because natural shampoo bars don’t contain surfactants and foaming agents, technique is really important to help work the shampoo into and out of your hair (especially whilst your hair is adjusting during the transition period).

You may find that your hair could benefit from a little extra help during the transition period too. Many people find that adding a vinegar rinse or cleansing their hair with baking soda as part of their hair washing routine helps with the adjustment period. We’ve covered the best washing technique and how to use rinses and cleanses below.

Solid shampoo bar and apple cider vinegar for shampoo bar transition period.

Washing technique

Making sure you wash your hair, extra thoroughly is going to help you succeed with shampoo bars. We’ve found the following steps to work well when starting out with natural shampoo :

  • Brush your hair before you get in the shower to detangle it and make it more manageable.
  • Part your hair into two sections (more if it’s really thick)
  • Work the shampoo bar into a rich lather in your hands before working it through your hair (you may want to avoid using the shampoo bar directly on your hair during the transition and adjustment period)
  • Work the lather you’ve created in your hands, into your hair, focusing on your roots and scalp first before working it through the lengths (make sure to distribute it in areas like the temples, crown and base of your hairline too)
  • Once you’re happy you’ve worked the shampoo suds into all of your hair, rinse your hair and rinse it well! Use your hands to massage the shampoo out of your hair in the same way that you worked it in. Pay particular attention to the hair at the base of your scalp and the areas where it is thickest as these are the trickier parts to work the suds out of.

This may initially feel more labour (and water) intensive than your hair washing routine was before but hopefully the more you do it, the easier it will become. If you are showering and are water conscious, you may wish to turn the shower off whilst you work the shampoo into your hair, to conserve water.

Vinegar rinses and baking soda cleanses

Whilst your hair is adjusting to natural shampoo, you may find it needs a little extra help to rid it of that strange residue/ build up feeling that can occur. Adding in a vinegar rinses or bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate) cleanse into your washing routine may help to combat the unwanted results that can occur during your transition to natural shampoo.

Vinegar rinse

Natural shampoo can react to the minerals that naturally occur in your water (especially if you live in a hard water area), forming insoluble compounds in your hair that are difficult to wash out. The minerals in your water can also effect the texture of your hair as they can make the scales of the hair stand up, making it feel more rough and tangly (once again, making it more difficult to work the shampoo residue out of your hair).

A vinegar rinse can help to smooth the scales of your hair and make it easier to get the shampoo suds out of your hair, reducing the residue feeling that can occur after washing. You may find that you need to use a vinegar rinse every time you wash your hair, reducing the frequency as your hair adjusts to natural shampoo, or it may be that every other wash, or adding it in once a week will be enough. You may also find that you need to experiment with the strength of the vinegar rinse you are using.

It’s important to note that vinegar can dry out your hair. Oily hair will most likely tolerate more/ stronger vinegar rinses, whilst dry hair will tolerate less/ weaker rinses (or not using a vinegar rinse at all).

You can buy vinegar rinses or easily make them at home.

DIY vinegar rinse

  • vinegar (raw ACV or white vinegar)
  • water
  • essential oils (optional, if you want to mask the smell of the vinegar a little).

To make your own vinegar rinse simply mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water in a bottle (you can add in essential oils to mask the vinegar smell if you wish). Increase the ratio of vinegar to water if necessary. Use after shampooing, ensuring the thickest parts of your hair are properly soaked, to help lift any lingering shampoo residue. If you really can’t stand the smell of vinegar, you could equally try using lemon juice instead.

Once you’re through the transition period and your hair has become used to your natural shampoo bar, you’ll probably find you need to use a vinegar rinse less frequently too. Some people may find they don’t need to use a vinegar rinse any longer, for others, you may want to continue using a vinegar rinse once a week – this will once again be dependant on the needs of your individual hair type and what the water is like where you live.

Baking soda cleanse

Incorporating baking soda into your washing technique can also help to cleanse your hair of the build up that natural shampoo can cause whilst your hair is adjusting to it. A baking soda cleanse can also help to cleanse your hair of build up if you have been using a lot of synthetic products prior to switching to natural shampoo.

You can also make a rinse with baking soda by adding a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to a litre of warm water and soak your hair with it before you wash it. Leave the mixture in your hair whilst you are shampooing it and wash it all out together, this way the baking soda can really help to lift out that unwanted soap residue.

Alternatively you could try sprinkling the baking soda onto your hair once you have lathered it up with your natural shampoo and working it in this way.

Be aware that baking soda can make your hair more prone to tangling, you may wish to try a vinegar rinse to help smooth your hair or you can use a conditioner bar to help tease out those tangles. We don’t recommend using regular conditioner alongside natural shampoo as this will most likely prevent your hair from transitioning and prolong the adjustment period.

Which bar is best when switching to natural shampoo?

It may take a little experimenting to find the perfect bar for you and your hair type but we think the shampoo bars that we offer either by Bain & Savon (available in orange, rosemary or chamomile) or Authentic House (available in mint & matcha, citrus & ylang ylang or rosemary & lavender) . Although they’re nourishing for your hair, we don’t find these shampoo bars as rich as some of the other ones we stock, making them lighter and easier to get used to during your transition period.

If you’re interested in making the swap to other plastic free toiletries and natural products, why not read our guide to switching to natural deodorant.