How to Use a Shampoo Bar

Three solid shampoo bars on a lacy background.

Do you wonder how to use a solid shampoo bar on your hair? Shampoo bars are a healthy alternative to using commercial shampoo, and are no-waste. Here is a step-by-step tutorial to washing your hair with a shampoo bar.

How to use a shampoo bar

You wake up in the morning, jump in the shower and wash your hair. Did you know that shampoo you're applying to your head contains as many as twelve synthetic chemical compounds? [Source]

Updated July 2024

The morning I realized that, I started searching for an alternative to shampoo. I tried the "no-poo" method but hated it. I tried making my own liquid shampoo but I didn't care for it either. 

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Shampoo bars sounded so unusual, but after reading everything I could find about them, I took the plunge and I've never looked back.

But no one told me how to use them. I had to work that out on my own.

Where to find shampoo bars

I bought my first shampoo bars online, and I still buy them occasionally. My favorite supplier is Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve.

If you purchase your shampoo bars, look for products without sulfates, parabens, triclosan, or polyethylene glycol. Many of these ingredients can disrupt our hormones.

I was surprised to find that a well-known retail brand contained several of these ingredients that I didn't want to use on my hair.

Shampoo bars are a bit pricey to buy, but they last a long time and are so much healthier for you than bottles of shampoo that contain harmful ingredients. A shampoo bar made with all-natural and organic ingredients is worth it. You are worth it.

A handful of suds from a shampoo bar

Making your own shampoo bars

When I made my first batch of shampoo bars - you can find the recipe here - I was a bit worried about how soft the bars were when I took them out of the mold, but after they age for a couple of months they are awesome! 

They harden up well and have great lather.

I shared a few of those first bars that I made with friends so they could test them. One loved it and the other not so much. I realized I'd forgotten to tell that friend how to use it. 

So here's everything you need to know about using shampoo bars. 

3 ways to use a shampoo bar

There are several ways to use a shampoo bar. First, wet your hair and your shampoo bar. Then use one of the methods below.

  • Rub the shampoo bar on your wet hair to work up a lather. This is the method I use and it works well on my short hair. 
  • If you have longer hair you can rub the bar down your hair from your scalp to the ends to work up a lather. 
  • Rub the bar in both hands to work up a lather, then apply the lather to your wet hair.

As with any shampoo, gently massage the lather into your hair and on your scalp. You'll lather-rinse-repeat and perhaps lather-rinse a third time. 

Your hair will feel different than it does when you use commercial shampoo, but trust me, it'll be ok.

Rinse your hair very well. It will still feel different, but don't panic, it really is ok.

How to rinse your hair after using a shampoo bar

After shampooing with a shampoo bar and rinsing out all the suds, rinse your hair with a combination of vinegar and water. 

You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar or even homemade vinegar (that's what I use), it doesn't matter. 

Rinse hair with vinegar and water in a squirt bottle - (c) Oak Hill Homestead 2017

I fill a squeeze bottle with a pointed spout, the kind that's supposed to hold ketchup or mustard at a BBQ or picnic. 

It works great for squirting the vinegar and water right where you want it.

Add some essential oils too if you'd like. For instance, chamomile essential oil can soothe your scalp, and clary sage essential oil can promote hair growth. 

Don't let the vinegar and water mixture run into your eyes. It'll sting like crazy, so be careful.

You can use a spray bottle instead of a squirt bottle, if you wish. This plastic spray bottle holds about one cup of liquid, or this glass spray bottle holds two cups. Plastic is safer in the shower, but if you prefer to use glass, that's fine - just be careful not to drop it.

Now work the vinegar and water through your hair with your fingers, then rinse it out. 

You'll notice the difference immediately in how your hair feels now, it's smoother and softer. The vinegar restores your hair's pH as well as helping to detangle and soften your hair. 

Sometimes I repeat the vinegar rinse, depending on how my hair feels.

Rinse the vinegar out well. Once your hair dries, the vinegar smell fades. 

I know you're not used to having hair that smells like vinegar but trust me, it will go away.

Learn how to make your own homemade vinegar for pennies with my free ebook.

How to store shampoo bars

WAIT! You're not finished yet! 

Don't leave your shampoo bar in the tub or shower in a puddle of water. It will melt away into a slimy mess and you won't be happy. 

Instead, keep your shampoo bar in a dry place outside the tub or shower, or use a soap rest like this one or this insert for your soap dish. Both will keep your shampoo bar up out of the wet muck so it will stay dry and last longer.

Give your hair some time to adjust

When you switch from commercial shampoo with its detergents and chemicals, your hair will go through an adjustment period. 

It can take several weeks to rid your hair of detergent residue, so please give your new shampoo bar time before you decide it isn't for you. 

Patience and time, my friend, be sure you allow enough time.

And the vinegar rinse - don't skimp on that. It really makes a difference.

Three shampoo bars on a lace-covered table.

Don't give up - some troubleshooting tips

If you ultimately decide that your first shampoo bar isn't giving you the results you want, try another recipe or purchase one from another company. 

There are as many different shampoo bar recipes as there are brands of shampoo in the drugstore aisle. You may need to try a few before you find the one that works best with your hair type.

Your results will also depend on the hardness or softness of your home's water. 

Keep looking until you find a bar (or a recipe) that works perfectly for you.

Because you're worth it!

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Three shampoo bars

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My Shampoo Bar Recipe