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Using bar soap as shampoo.

I began using bar soaps as shampoo about four years ago. Whenever I tell people this, they always look at me kind of strange or have tons of questions about how it works, so I thought I’d share it all here. Please keep in mind, this is all based on my personal experience and research.

What type of soap to use?
While there are some bars that are specially formulated to be shampoo bars, I’ve found that just about any good quality natural soap will work. You definitely want to avoid most of the bar soaps you’d find at your supermarket, because they don’t have the same properties as natural soaps and can dry your hair.

Among natural soaps, I’ve found that bars with little or no waxes work the best. My hair tends to be oily, so I also avoid soaps with a high percentage of butters (shea, cocoa, etc.) as they seem to add too much oil to my hair.

Some of the oils that work well in a shampoo bar are coconut, castor, olive, jojoba, and avocado. Most of the bars I’ve used contain at least the first three. I wouldn’t count out a bar that didn’t have them, though, until I’d tried it a few times.

What are the some of the benefits of using a bar soap?

  • Natural bars don’t strip your hair like shampoo.
  • Hair feels thicker
  • Has eliminated my need for a seperate conditioner
  • No more scalp and hairline irritation like I had with many shampoos
  • Convenient for travel-no worries about leaky bottles or (as far as I know) airline carry-on limits
  • Same bar can be used all over-no need for a seperate body wash or soap cluttering your shower

Tips for using a bar soap as shampoo:

  • Expect an adjustment period of 2-4 weeks. Your scalp is used to producing more oil to make up for the natural oils that are stripped by the detergents in shampoos.
  • You may want to use a simple clarifying shampoo or even a baby shampoo prior to the first wash with a bar. I’ve found that this helps speed up the adjustment period by removing buildup from shampoos, conditioners and styling products, giving the bar a clean slate to work with.
  • Periodically doing an apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) rinse can help improve shine and seems to help if I feel like my hair isn’t rinsing out as well as it should. I use about 1/2 Tablespoon of ACV to about 3 cups of water and pour over my just washed hair, then rinse. I used to do this about every other wash, but now I do it about once every week or two.
  • Many styling products seem to need the detergents in shampoo to be fully removed. I try to avoid products with dimethecone and other -cone ingredients as these seem to be the hardest to wash out with a bar soap. Hairspray doesn’t seem to be a problem. You can also use pure aloe gel as a hair gel that’s also great for your hair.

I’m sure there are many things I’ve left out. Feel free to ask any questions or add to what I have here.

Oh, and before I forget, here are my favorites from my shop to use as a shampoo:
Beer Soap
Pine Tar Soap
Tea Tree Oil Soap (especially great if I’m experiencing any dandruff)

Edited to add: Here’s a link to a later blog post with a picture of my hair:

0 thoughts on “Using bar soap as shampoo.

  1. i have been using bar soap on my hair for a few years now. i have tried grandpa’s pine tar soap, chandrika aurovedic soap, bee and flower sandalwood soap, and j. r. liggett’s bar shampoo. all of them work good. the chandrika seems to rinse the cleanest and i no longer ‘need’ to use the lime juice and water rinse – but do so occasionally. once i switched to bar soap i have found that if i try and use even a natural SLS free shampoo that my hair seems much more stripped and fly-away. with bar soaps i only wash my hair about once a week or even less in the winter.i sometimes make soap and can’t wait to try my next batch on my own hair!djh/texas

  2. It is interesting to find people happy with using soap for shampoo. How did you get past the "adjustment period"? I am not sure if I am using the wrong soap as I can't seem to hold on that long.I tried using the Simple Soap from the UK and held on for 5 days but just could not take it any longer. I mean my hair was full of "waxy" kinda stuff and felt so gooey. My comb accumulated lots of "waxy" stuff as the days went by. Am I using the wrong soap? Or was I just not patient enough? That was a few months ago. After reading this blog, I am tempted to try it again. I bought the bee and flower sandalwood soap (it seems the ingredient list does not list sandalwood? Then how can it be called a sandalwood soap?? It only smells of perfume. No sandalwood smell either). Anyway, I tried it today and it still gives me the "waxy" stuff and gooey feel.I had wanted to get a baby shampoo to transit first before using soap again but instead got a kids shampoo by mistake! Well, the kids shampoo also feels kinda strange but defintely not gooey. maybe I should try the chandrika aurovedic soap that I have also bought. But is the gooey feel ever gonna go away??

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