Many shampoo bar users have a similar story to tell.
They hear about shampoo bars from a friend or online. Perhaps they have already been frustrated with the negative aspects of liquid shampoos: plastic bottles that are difficult to recycle and bad for the environment, harsh chemicals from mainstream commercial shampoos — to name a few.
Once they’re convinced, they start searching for the product in various places: local organic stores, fancy cosmetic shops or maybe just a search on Amazon for “natural shampoo bars.” Eventually the bar is in their hands, and then they wonder, “How do I use this thing?”
Liquid shampoo is so ubiquitous, and we’re so accustomed to only applying bar soaps on our hands and bodies. At first it may seem weird to use any kind of bar on your head. Remember, however, that a shampoo bar is just the dehydrated bar form of the liquid shampoo we have seen a million times.
If you use this product the right way, you can get the same or better results for less money, and you’ll be reducing the amount of plastic in the world. Follow our simple steps below to get the most out of your shampoo bar.
How to Use a Shampoo Bar
There are two methods of using a shampoo bar:
- lathering and rubbing in the lather
- rubbing the bar directly on your head
We’ll be getting into both so you can experiment and see which works best for you. If it’s your first time trying the product, we recommend starting with method #1 because it’s most similar to how we use regular soap bars to wash our hands and body.
Method 1: Lathering
Step 1: Get Wet
Give your hair some time to soak. Position your hair right under that shower head and really let it get wet. Once you’re done, move your head away from the shower head so the water can’t disrupt this next step.
Step 2: Rub the Bar in Your Hands
Rub the shampoo bar in your wet hands until you work up a good lather with lots of suds. If the bar isn’t lathering as much as you want, try rotating it back and forth in different directions or bringing it up to the shower head for a heavy soak.
Step 3: Apply the Lather
Apply the lather to your wet hair. Comb it from your forehead to the back of your neck and all around the sides of your head.
If you have long hair, don’t bother mixing the lather into strands that aren’t close to your scalp. Remember that shampoo is for keeping your scalp clean, while conditioner is for your hair.
If your shampoo bar also has conditioner, however, feel free to spread the lather into all parts of your hair. Then you can skip applying a separate conditioner.
Step 4: Massage the Lather Into Your Scalp
Gently massage the lather into your scalp. Just like with normal shampooing, make sure not to miss any sections.
Step 5: Rinse
Wash all of those suds out, gently massaging again as you do so. We recommend warm water for this part of the process.
Step 6: Store and Dry
Don’t leave the product sitting around anywhere. Store it properly! Later we’ll get into how to do that.
Method 2: Direct Rubbing
Step 1: Get Wet
In both methods it’s crucial to get both your hair and the bar completely wet before you do anything else. DO NOT use a shampoo bar on dry hair, especially if you’re going to rub directly.
Once you’re done, move your head out of the water so you can do this next step without interruption.
Step 2: Rub Directly on Your Head
Similar to how you would comb or brush your hair, gently rub the bar directly on your scalp in sections. Start at the front and move to the back and sides. Repeat this process until you see a good lather.
Step 3: Rinse
Keep rinsing until all the lather is out of your hair.
Step 4: Store and Dry
To keep your shampoo bar dry, store it in a soap dish that drains water. If you want to be really diligent about keeping it dry, consider the methods below.
Storage and Drying Methods
For some people, finishing their shower and tossing the shampoo bar on a dish isn’t enough, and we totally understand. To be safe and get the most of the product, it makes sense to take great care of it.
Here are some time-intensive but effective methods of storing and drying your shampoo bar:
Take It Out of the Shower
If it’s not in a moist environment, it will more easily dry. That’s why you might want to take it out of the shower/bathroom and leave it in another room.
Place It on a Clean Towel
Place the bar on a clean towel and let it sit for 5-20 minutes, longer if necessary. To help with drying, you can pat it on the towel a bit. Do not wrap the towel around it. This method could increase the chance of the bar getting stuck.
Dishes and Tins
Soap dishes or holders are available at pretty much every bathroom product retailer. Remember to buy one that drains or absorbs instead of retaining water.
Here are a few options:
- Bar Soap Dish With Drain from Amazon
- Concrete Soap Dish from Etsy
- Evelot’s Waterfall Soap Dish Drain from Wayfair
For traveling, consider these products:
- GoTubb Containers
- Soap Dish With Microban from The Container Store
- Vintage and Antique options from Etsy
Transitioning from Liquid to Bar
Switching from typical commercial shampoo to a bar isn’t easy for everyone. At first your hair might feel a little uncomfortable.
Don’t worry. It’s part of a normal transition period that can last anywhere from a few days to a month.
During this time you might experience some frizz, tangles or a waxy feeling that comes from the higher concentration of cleanser in solid shampoo bars. There might be some buildup initially, but continuing to use the bar will eventually get rid of this residue.
If the comparison is relevant to you, remember that the process is similar to switching from liquid hand soap to bar soap. Your hands might feel a little waxy or get buildup on them, and that’s OK. Both your scalp and hands are parts of your skin, and they both have the ability to adapt to new habits.
Once you finish adjusting, the natural oils in the bar will make your hair feel lush. If the waxy feeling ever bothers you, try a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse (sometimes you’ll see people abbreviate this term as an “ACV rinse”).
Hair Care Tips When Using a Natural Shampoo Bar
In addition to the instructions we outlined above, feel free to use these tips to get even more out of your shampoo bar:
- Because most shampoo bars contain only natural ingredients that aren’t derived from animals, they are usually a great choice for people who prefer vegan products.
- If you love essentials oils and have reacted well to them, shampoo bars are a perfect fit for you.
- Shampoo bars work on all hair types, but they are especially effective on dry hair. Because these bars tend to be rich with hydrating ingredients such as coconut oil, palm oil and castor oil, they should be able to meet all of your scalp needs.
- Some people have frustratingly oily hair because their scalp is producing too many natural oils with moisturizing properties. Shampoo bars are formulated to leave only the essential oils, while stripping away the rest.
- Products with citrus oils are work especially well on oily hair.
- Bars with aritha (soap nuts) provide a balance of essential oils, and they can be particularly effective for fighting dandruff.
- A shampoo bar is ideal for medium-length or short hair.
- If you have long hair, remember to comb the lather from the shampoo bar all the way from top to bottom.
- Many people don’t need to apply conditioners after using a shampoo bar.
- Some brands sell conditioner in bar form, or you can buy a bar with shampoo and conditioner in it.
- Shampoo bars work better with soft water, water that has a lower concentration of calcium and magnesium. Hard water, water with a higher concentration, is often what contributes to the waxy buildup problem.
- If you don’t have soft water, consider investing in a shower head that filters hard water.
- You can also try an ACV rinse after shampooing or applying any hair care products with hard water.
One Bar, Many Benefits
Now that you’re a pro at using a shampoo bar, it’s time to enjoy its many benefits, including versatility, sustainability and savings.
Shampoo bars have a variety of ingredients for different types of hair care. You might pick one with cocoa butter for hair growth or avocado oil to moisturize your scalp. If you want a specific benefit from the product, remember to check and research the ingredients.
For those who want to be as minimalist and frugal as possible, know that shampoo bars can double as body bars. No more buying body wash or an extra bar soap for the shower.
If you buy shampoo bars exclusively and ditch bottles, take pride in knowing you are reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and the ocean. You’ll be regularly using a product that is truly zero waste and zero hassle.
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