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The Best Shampoo and Conditioner Bars for Curly Hair

Solid shampoo and conditioner bars are a great way to rid your haircare routine of some single use plastic. However, if you have naturally afro, curly or wavy hair, you’ll know that finding the right liquid products can be a bit of a challenge and that the right product combination can be as unique to you as your curl pattern is.

Our founder, Phoebe, has naturally wavy hair and has been on a mission to find the best curl-friendly zero waste and plastic free shampoos, conditioners and styling products. She has shared the best of what she’s discovered so far in this post and has tried to include as many products as possible, to suit the many different varieties of curly hair.

The best solid shampoo bars for curly hair

 Dry & curly shampoo bar by Zero Waste Path

ZWP dry and curly bar

  • Curly Girl Method friendly
  • Moisturising and PH balanced
  • SLS & sulphate free
  • Works in hard water

This solid shampoo bar by Zero Waste Path has been specifically formulated with curly hair in mind. The surfactants used (Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) and Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB)) are gentle, coconut-based and sulphate free, so you can use this bar if you are following the curly girl method. There is no transition phase necessary when using this bar, you don’t need to use an acid rinse with it and the gentle surfactants also means it works well in hard water too.

The hydrolysed quinoa protein helps keep your hair soft and tangle free and the organic, unrefined Shea and Cocoa butters will help to condition your curls. The bar will help keep your hair soft and manageable but we recommend using it with a solid conditioner to tame the fluff and frizz. The dry & curly hair bar has been designed to be the most nourishing for curly hair varieties but all of Zero Waste Paths 2-in-1 bars use the same, gentle surfactants so you could also choose from their fine & oily bar, itchy scalp bar or their normal hair bar too.

Botanical shampoo bars by Bain & Savon

Botanical Shampoo Bars in Tins by Bain & Savon | Available at Sage Folk

  • available in cornflower or calendula
  • effectively removes dirt and product build up
  • works well in hard water
  • infused with botanical oils and flower petals
  • vegan & cruelty free

These botanical beauties from Bain & Savon are a great swap to make if you want to cut down on the single use plastic in your bathroom. They have a coconut based surfactant (sodium coco sulphate) that will effectively remove dirt, oil and product build up from your hair, even in hard water.

The surfactant used in these bars is not quite as gentle as the Zero Waste Path bars, so if you’re strictly following the Curly Girl Method they may not be that suitable, but it is coconut based rather than petroleum based. The bars smell amazing and the botanical oils and flower petals add an extra touch of luxury to the bars.

Bean & Bee Solid Shampoo Bars

We don’t currently stock Bean & Bee but we hope to in the near future. They have a great range of zero waste products specifically designed for curly hair. Their ‘extra gentle baobab bar’ is silicone and sulphate free (so suitable if you’re following the Curly Girl Method).

Beauty Kubes

Another brand that we hope to stock in the future. Beauty Kubes are a great plastic free option for curly hair. Their choice of coconut surfactant is gentle yet effective for cleansing your curls. Once you get used to crumbling and lathering them up, the single cube portions are quite easy to use and and distribute through your hair.

The best solid conditioner bars for curly hair

Friendly Soap Solid Conditioner Bars

Solid Conditioner Bars by Friendly Soap | Available at Sage Folk

This is one of our favourite conditioner bars that we offer. It’s rich and nourishing due to its blend of cocoa butter and castor oil. We’ve also found it to be one of the easier solid conditioner bars to distribute through your hair as, once you’ve warmed it a little between your hands, it glides over your hair. If your curls are prone to fluff and frizz, this bar of conditioner really helps to tame your hair and define your curls.

Friendly Soap also provide instructions on the back of each cardboard packet for converting the bar into a liquid conditioner, if you really struggle to get used to using it in its solid form.

Authentic House Solid Conditioners

These small but mighty bars are particularly good if you like to give the dry ends of your hair a deep condition. I like to work these little bars over the ends of my hair, after shampooing, and leave it to work its magic for the rest of the time that I am washing, lightly rinsing it out right at the end of my shower routine. These conditioners are packed with cocoa butter, jojoba oil and vitamin E to deeply nourish hair and help prevent split ends.

Plastic free and zero waste styling products for curly hair

Finding styling products for curly hair that are plastic free and zero waste is quite tricky. The best types of styling products for curly hair tend to come in the form of a liquid, cream or gel and there just isn’t a huge range of companies in the UK (at the moment) that offer plastic free options for these products.

Flaxseed & Kalahari Melon Curl Defining Custard by Bean & Bee

Although not truly zero waste or plastic free because of the plastic pump, this curly hair styling product is the best, low plastic styling product we’ve come across. The curl defining custard works like a light – medium hold gel that can be used whilst your hair is still damp after washing. It forms a cast in the hair whilst its drying and can be scrunched out once your hair has fully dried.

Boucleme

Boucleme offer a great range of styling products for all types of curly hair. Their products do come in plastic packaging, however, they are currently made from a minimum of 50% post-consumer resins and the company are working towards finding refill and more sustainable options for their products.

 

 

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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?

Bicarb Free Deodorant

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 shampoo bars in hard water

Choosing your solid shampoo carefully is an important part of succeeding with using a shampoo bar in hard water. Not all types of shampoo bars work well in hard water due to a combination of the ingredients they use and their PH level.

Natural shampoo bars are usually the culprits when it comes to undesirable wash results in hard water areas. This is because they are most typically soap based and don’t contain any ingredients like surfactants to boost their cleansing properties.

If you’ve had first hand experience of that waxy residue left in your hair after using a shampoo bar then fear not, we’ve listed some fantastic options for the best solid shampoo bars to use in hard water, that won’t leave your hair looking and feeling worse than before you washed it.

If you enjoy using natural shampoo bars and want to know how to get the best results from them in hard water, jump to the natural shampoo bars and hard water section, where we’ve suggested some of our favourite natural shampoos and tried and tested washing techniques.

The best shampoo bars for hard water

Sage Folk HQ is based in Norfolk, where we have hard water (and plenty of limescale to show for it). We’ve been through the transition period and have had great results with the natural shampoo bars that we’ve included in this post. But we also know that they won’t be for everyone, so got some equally fantastic solid shampoo bars that will work in hard water:

2-in-1 bars by Zero Waste Path.

2-in-1 shampoo and conditioning bars by Zero Waste Path | Available at Sage Folk

We love these 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioning bars by Zero Waste Path as they’ve been PH balanced to ensure there is no transition period necessary when using them, and so that they will work well in hard water. They’ve also been formulated with ingredients to help keep your hair soft and tangle free. Depending on your hair type, you may find that you don’t need to use a conditioner with them at all – reducing two plastic bottles from your routine with one bar!

We stock all four varieties of their 2-in-1 bars:

Botanical shampoo bars in tins by Bain & Savon

Botanical Shampoo Bars in Tins by Bain & Savon | Available at Sage Folk

We’re really excited to be stocking the Bain & Savon botanical tinned shampoo bars, as well as the natural shampoo bars that they create. Their tinned bars are made with gentle and biodegradable plant-based surfactants (made from coconut). We’re struggling to choose a favourite fragrance because they all smell so delicious (although anything with sage in it is going to be a winner in our books)

What’s the difference between natural shampoo and regular solid shampoo bars?

The main difference between the two types of bar is the ingredients they use and their PH level.

Natural shampoo and its ingredients

What is mostly commonly known as natural shampoo – shampoo bars that work in a similar way to soap bars, using saponified fats to clean your hair without the use of any type of detergent or cleansing agent – are not always suitable for use in hard water.

This is partly because hard water has a high mineral content which can react with the ingredients in natural shampoo and leave a residue in your hair, no matter how much you rinse it.

The other property of natural shampoo that effects how well it works in hard water is that it often has an alkaline PH level. It is this PH level which is often why you might see people using acid rinses, such as a vinegar rinse, alongside using a natural shampoo bar.

Whilst there may be similarities in the ingredients that natural shampoo bars and other types of shampoo bars have, natural shampoo bars will commonly have oils and fats as their main ingredients. Look out for the following:

  • Sodium Olivate (olive oil)
  • Sodium Castorate (castor oil)
  • Sodium Cocoate (coconut oil)
  • Sodium Sunflowerate (sunflower oil)
  • Sodium Shea Butterate (shea butter)

Solid shampoo that contains surfactants

Solid shampoos that use surfactants will contain one or more ingredients to boost the cleansing properties of the bar. This makes them very effective at cleaning your hair, no matter what water type you use them in, and will do a much more consistent job of removing any dirt, product or mineral deposits that you have in your hair.

Depending on the bar you choose, surfactant based solid shampoos will likely be PH balanced so that there is no transition phase and no need to use a vinegar rinse alongside them too.

If you want to choose a shampoo bar with a surfactant in it, look out for these ingredients:

  • sodium coco sulphate
  • sodium cocoyl isethionate
  • sodium cocoyl glutamate
  • decyl glucoside

Which is better: natural shampoo or shampoo with surfactants?

Natural shampoo is not recommended for coloured hair, as it can cause fading.

Our personal experience with using natural shampoo in a hard water area is that it can take more time (and therefore water) to achieve the results you want from your hair, especially if you have been used to using regular bottled shampoos beforehand. This means it’s probably not going to be suitable for everyone.

Having said that, we stock natural shampoo bars because we also believe it’s completely up to personal preference. If you’re happy using natural shampoo, or you really wants to give it a try, we stock bars from lovely, independent UK makers.

Why some people don’t like SLS and surfactants

Perhaps one of the main sticking points with surfactants, particularly those like SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), is that they can be petroleum derived and synthetic (although there are many plant-based surfactants too).

SLS in particular can be irritating for some (not necessarily all) people’s skin and scalps, whilst others simply don’t like the results they get from washing with it. A lot of the shampoo bars that we sell contain a plant-based surfactant that is commonly considered gentler than sodium lauryl sulfate.

We’ve found The Eco Well’s article on SLS to be a useful resource if you would like to dig deeper into the science behind surfactants.

Natural Shampoo Bars and Hard water

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

Some people find they can adjust to natural shampoo bars perfectly well, for others, you may need to experiment with a few different bars and techniques before you find what works for you.

The minerals in hard water can have a number of effects on your hair, all of which make it more difficult 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 a shampoo that contains a surfactant. This effect on the texture of the hair can also make it more difficult to get the natural shampoo lather out of your hair.

Your hair washing technique is going to play a crucial part in washing your hair with natural shampoo.

How to use natural shampoo bars in hard water

A downside to natural shampoo is that it’s more ‘labour-intensive’ (i.e. you’ll need to work harder to create a lather, distribute it through your hair and wash it out again) than shampoo bars that contain a surfactant. 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, we’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.

Natural shampoo bars that we love

If you prefer to use natural shampoo bars, we have some really great options from Bain & Savon and Authentic House.

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

 

 

 

 

We currently stock the following varieties from the Bain & Savon range:

 

Authentic House solid shampoo bars available at Sage Folk

 

 

 

 

The bars from Authentic House are available in:

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. There are plenty of fantastic plant-based solid shampoo bars to try that might work better for you.

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.

Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the more popular vinegar varieties to use in a rinse, as it retains much more of the natural goodness of the vinegar than other, more processed variants. We 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.

We 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 with water to remove the vinegar (and the smell) from your hair.

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.

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.