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Shampoo Bars 101

There is one very frightening thing in my life. Something that has been consistently the greatest, most out of control, and detested bane in my life. My cross to bear, if you will.

You may be wondering what could possibly inspire such negativity? One word. Hair.

You read that right. And I’m not alone. There are plenty of us out there who have more bad hair days than good. And I have been a firm member of the Bad Hair Club for years. Let me set the scene for you a little bit.

My hair is super thick. Emphasis on the super. I could literally donate some to three other people and it would still be too thick . You wouldn’t happen to want some, would you?

Add to that, it’s wavy, naturally frizzy, and damaged. The damage is all my fault, a result of too much experimentation and too often.

My mother went back to school when I was growing up, taking up cosmetology and due to some fairly relaxed instructors who didn’t mind well-behaved children, I tagged along to most of her classes. Somehow during all of that, I turned into a living mannequin head that had more haircuts, fingerwaves, pin curls, wash and sets (picture little old lady hair), facials, and manicures that I could ever count. It was a ton of fun, and I have so many fond memories from back then. The downside? It inspired a devil-may-care attitude towards hair experimentation. And when those pesky teen years hit a few years later, the game was on.

If it can be done to hair, it’s probably been done to mine. Permed, highlighted, bleached, curled, crimped, chemically straightened, coloring removal,and thinned. It’s been every length from mid-ear to mid-back. And every color from platinum (Which may have looked good on Marilyn, but not me.), jet black, auburn, every shade of brown, pink, carrot orange, green, and burgundy. Those last four? Thanks to some bad dye jobs, I swear. All in the same week, too. Two words. . . . Hat. Week.

All of that left me with hair that on occasion resembled a cross between Bozo the Clown’s and Carrot Top’s. And with a routine that consisted of regular keratin treatments, hot oil, anti-frizz serum, hairspray, and a lot of time spent with a flat iron.

Until I found a secret weapon. Shampoo bars.

It’s been over a year since I started using them, and my hair has never looked better. It’s less frizzy, shinier, and has grown unbelievably fast. Shocker of shockers, I’ve even received the first ever compliments on it. You could have bowled me over the first time it happened.


Before Shampoo Bar

After Selfie

You can’t tell me that’s not 100% better. Am I right?

And my routine? On a day to day basis, nothing other than a thorough brushing and a DIY coconut oil mask every few weeks. On special occasions, a few minutes in hot rollers and I’m done.

Which leads me to the purpose of this post: Shampoo Bars 101.

What exactly are shampoo bars?
They’re exactly what they sound like, shampoo in a bar form with most of the ingredients in them chosen specifically for the benefits they’ll impart to hair. Also, unlike liquid shampoos, most shampoo bars are sodium laurel sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate free.

What are the benefits?
Most people (including yours truly) experience less frizzy, shinier, and faster growing hair. Other benefits can include less dandruff and more volume. Plus, most bars are made to be completely natural and even better, you might be able to go a day or two longer between washes.

What are the cons?
Shampoo bars don’t lather up quite as much as regular shampoo, especially if you have hard water. And some people report slightly drier hair, commonly on the ends. Lastly, when switching to a shampoo bar, there may be a transitional period during which your hair is adjusting to the lack of chemicals that are in regular shampoo. During this time it might become frizzier, dryer, easier to tangle, or oilier. Or a combination of all of the above. This transitional period can last from a few days to a few weeks. For me, it lasted two weeks.

How long do the bars last?
Months. I made the switch in August 2013, and I’ve since gone through two bars and only started on the third tonight. By the way, they make great travel soaps, and if bentonite clay is one of the ingredients (like with our Lavender Rosemary Shampoo Bars), they can also be used as a shaving soap (bentonite clay allows razor blades to glide smoothly across skin).

Lavender Rosemary Shampoo with text

Can you use regular conditioner afterwards?
You totally can. I don’t. I use an apple cider vinegar rinse (recipe at the bottom) to help restore my scalp’s pH level and close the cuticles.

What about other products?
You can continue to use those, too. But I’ve found that I don’t really need them anymore.

How do you use them?
1) Wet hair thoroughly.
2) Either rub the bar directly on your head to create lather or rub it between your hands and apply the lather to your head.
3) Rinse very well, allowing the water and suds to flow through the length of your hair.
4) Apply an apple cider vinegar rinse. You can either rinse it out after a couple of minutes or leave it in.

ACV Rinse
The following is a recipe for a 1:1 ratio of rinse (1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to every 1 cup of water). I mainly use a 2:1 ratio (2 tablespoons of vinegar to 1 cup of water).

Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water. If you have shorter or thinner hair, you can try halving the recipe.

*You can also try steeping the rinse in a pot on top of the stove with certain herbs for 15 – 30 minutes. My favorites are fresh rosemary and calendula petals. Rosemary encourages hair growth and adds shine, while calendula conditions, soothes sensitive scalps, adds shine and warm highlights.


Other herbs you can try are chamomile (great for adding highlights to lighter colored hair), nettle (excellent for dandruff), lemon balm (acts as a mild astringent, so perfect for oily hair), rose petals (perfect for brightening red hair), etc.

And the last question you might have. . . .

Where can I purchase your Lavender Rosemary Shampoo Bars?

From our Etsy shop, here.

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