Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Product Review: Our Homemade Shampoo Bars

The lavender bars in the top left and center are our homemade shampoo bars;
the others are our regular bath soap.

There are lots of posts lately about going "no 'poo", the baking soda and apple cider vinegar alternatives to shampoo and conditioner.  I was curious, so I gave "no 'poo" a try.  I was already using our homemade soap to wash my hair, and while I had good results with "no 'poo", I decided it was just simpler for me to carry on with the homemade soap.

As some of you already know, Shane and I have been making homemade bath soap for a couple of years now.  We wouldn't want to go back to commercial made soap, and both felt our soap was working fine as shampoo.  But when I found a "recipe" for a soap bar formulated especially for hair, I wanted to give it a try.

Washing your hair with handcrafted soap is not like using shampoo.  At first, soap may dry your hair, or make it oily, but once your scalp is accustomed to the handcrafted stuff, it normalizes on it's own.  That's when you'll find that you probably don't need to wash your hair as often as you're used to.  Under normal circumstances, I wash my hair about every 5 days now.  I rarely use any conditioner, and when I do, it's nothing more than a diluted vinegar rinse or maybe a dime-sized drop of olive or coconut oil worked through my hair.

You apply the shampoo bar by working it into a lather in your hands first, then working it into your hair.  The problem is, most homemade soap doesn't lather a lot.  The first thing I noticed was that the shampoo bars lather more than our regular bath bars do.  While lather isn't necessary for cleaning, it's what most of us are used to, and I do believe it makes it easier to tell if I've distributed the soap throughout my hair. 

The second thing I noticed was that my hair felt softer when I was rinsing it, similar to the feeling I'd get if I used conditioner.  When I combed my wet hair, it also felt as if I'd used a conditioner.

Now, my hair is what it is.  I learned some time ago not to try to force it to be anything else.  Most days I'd rather let it dry curly than to subject it to the drying heat of the blow dryer or flat iron.  I haven't had a perm for decades, and I quit coloring my hair several year ago because I actually like the natural graying color.  Since then I have decided that I don't want to expose myself to those chemicals, anyway.  

I like my hair in it's natural state, but I'm fully aware it's never going to look like a Pantene ad.  But it's soft and the last few times I've had it cut, the stylists have commented on how healthy it is. The first time I tried the shampoo bar, I let my hair air dry.  It dried in long loose curls, and though still a little frizzy, it wasn't as bad as usual. The next time I tried the shampoo bar, I blow-dried my hair.  It was pretty fluffy right after blow drying.

But by the next day, and the day after that, it had "settled down" a bit and was very soft and smooth (well, as smooth as my hair ever gets). I've found that if I wash my hair on a Monday, it will look best on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shane and I both like that the shampoo bar isn't heavily scented like many shampoos and conditioners.  We included a few drops of lavender essential oil, which smells nice while we're using the soap, but doesn't linger in our hair afterward. I also like that Kat likes this bar.  She didn't like using our typical homemade soap for her hair.

As for negatives, at this point I can't think of any.

If you're a soap maker and are interested, I used this basic shampoo bar formula from the Crunchy Chicken website. 

If you aren't a soap maker but would like to be, read everything you can get your hands on, then give it try.  Caution should be taken, but it's not nearly as intimidating as it first seems.
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