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October 23, 2017

How to Use a Shampoo Bar

How to use a shampoo bar - (c) Oak Hill Homestead 2017

You wake up in the morning, jump in the shower and wash your hair. That shampoo you're applying to your head contains as many as twelve synthetic chemical compounds.

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 it didn't work for me either. Shampoo bars just sounded strange. How on earth do you use solid shampoo? After reading everything I could find about them, I took the plunge and haven't looked back.

I bought my first shampoo bars online, but now I make my own. 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 now that they've aged for a couple of months they are awesome! They've hardened up well and have great lather.

I still want to make a few tweaks to the recipe, but you can find the first version here. I shared some of those bars with friends; one loved it and the other not so much. I realized I'd forgotten to tell that friend how to use it. Oops. So here's all you need to know about using shampoo bars - please ask if I left something out or if you have a question.

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Shampoo bars probably aren't for sale in your local grocery store or drugstore, so where do you find them? Fairs and festivals are one of the best places to buy them, as well as online. Always check the ingredient list before you buy though; not all shampoo bars are created equal. If you're not familiar with the ingredients that we should probably avoid and why, you can read more about them in my post The Dangers Lurking in Your Bathroom.

There are several ways to use a shampoo bar. First, wet your hair and your shampoo bar. Then:

1. 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.

2. If you have longer hair you can rub the bar down your hair from your head to the ends to work up a lather. I imagine this works better with longer hair than mine.

3. Or rub the bar in both hands to work up a lather, then apply the lather to your wet hair.

As with any shampoo, 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's ok.

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

Rinse your hair with vinegar and water. White vinegar or apple cider vinegar or even homemade vinegar (that's what I use), it doesn't matter. I fill a squeeze bottle (affiliate link) 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. You don't want it to run in your eyes! It'll sting like crazy, so be careful.

Work the vinegar and water through your hair, then rinse it out. You'll notice the difference 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 it will go away.

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WAIT! You're not finished yet! Don't leave your shampoo bar in the tub or shower in a pool of water. It will melt away into a gloopy mess and waste your money. Keep it in a dry place or use a soap rest like this one (affiliate link) or this insert for your soap dish (affiliate link). Both will keep your shampoo bar up out of the wet muck and will allow it to stay dry and last longer.

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 the 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.

Are you tired of the chemicals in commercial shampoo? Here's how to use a shampoo bar. (c) Oak Hill Homestead 2017

If you ultimately decide that your first shampoo bar isn't giving you the results you want, try another recipe or purchase from another company. There are as many different recipes as there are brands of shampoo in the drugstore aisle and you may need to explore several 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 one that works perfectly for you.

Have you ever used a shampoo bar? Do you have any other tips?

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How to use a shampoo bar - tips and tricks. Oak Hill Homestead


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  1. question is this good for hair that has been colored? Also the vinegar will it wash away the color?

    1. I no longer color my hair so I don't know. Sorry!

  2. I've never tried it, but it's intriguing. I'll have to keep an eye out for one to try. Thanks for the tips!

    1. I hope it's helpful, Michelle.

  3. I used a shampoo bar and loved it at first! After using it for a month the extra build up from the oils in the soap left my hair a greasy stringy mess! I've since learnt a vinegar rinse is a must to keep the build up down. Love the squeeze bottle idea will have to get one way easier than using a cup.

    1. It really does make all the difference, doesn't it, Virginia? I'm glad you thought the squeeze bottle was a good idea. :-)

  4. I have been looking for a natural shampoo alternative. I tried a shampoo bar sold by one company but I was not happy with it. I would love to be able to make my own! I'm off to check out your recipe - thank you!
    and the vinegar tip? I highly recommend this as well. My daughters and I used to use it, got lazy and haven't for a while. I am noticing more tangles in our hair so I think it helped not only rinse, but also keep tangles from collecting too.

    1. If you're not happy with one brand, Linda, definitely try another. The vinegar rinse really does make a difference, doesn't it?

  5. I've wondered about the shampoo bars before, puzzling over how best to use them. I'm so glad you clarified it for me. I will definitely have to look into finding some locally or on etsy. I'm also intrigued by the vinegar rinse. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. I hope you can find one you really like. Don't skip the vinegar rinse!

  6. I recently bought a shampoo bar and love it. I think it leaves my hair softer than then I use conditioner. I originally bought it for travel. I’ll have to try the vinegar rinse

    1. I agree, Lara, my hair is softer and it stays clean longer too. Aren't they great for travel? No liquid to worry about when you're flying, or to spill if you're driving somewhere. Just be sure to let your bar dry completely before you put it in a plastic bag or a soap tin.

  7. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Another wonderful thing about shampoo bars is that they travel so well - no liquid to worry about at plane checks, great for camping, and no plastic bottle for the recycling plant or the dump!

    1. I like that part! Taking a shampoo bar along makes getting through airport security much easier.

  8. Anonymous10:40 AM

    PS: There is a store in Canada that has shampoo bars and dry toothpaste - wonderful! I often find my shampoo bars at the health food store as well.


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