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How to Use a Shampoo Bar


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

Are you wondering how to use a solid shampoo bar on your hair?

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 I didn't like it either. Shampoo bars sounded so unusual, but after reading everything I could find about them, I took the plunge and never looked back.
How to use a shampoo bar.

I bought my first shampoo bars online, and I still love them. I make my own now, mostly for the sake of convenience. 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 shared a few of those first bars I made 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 something isn't clear.


This post contains affiliate links. 
You can read my complete affiliate disclosure here.


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. OR

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. OR

3. 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.

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. Don't let the vinegar and water mixture 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 trust me, it will go away.


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


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 slimy 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 one 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? (Read the comments for great tips from our readers!)


Related Posts:
My Shampoo Bar Recipe
What You'll Need to Make Your First Bar of Goat Milk Soap (or shampoo bars)
How to Render Grass-Fed Beef Suet into Tallow for Soap Making
How to Make Salves and Ointments and Easy 3-Ingredient Lotion Bars






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Read my complete affiliate disclosure here.





This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops


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

Here's what you need to know about shampoo bars and how to use them.


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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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53 comments

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

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

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    2. The vinegar should help fix the color!

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  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!

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    1. I hope it's helpful, Michelle.

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    2. I am a Cosmetologist, and no the vinegar won't was the color out. I use the no poo method and haven't use shampoo in 14 years. You also rinse with a vinegar mixture. Yes my hair is colored with a temporary color and it lasts much longer using this method. Hope this helps.

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    3. That's VERY helpful; thank you so much for clearing that up!

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  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.

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

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  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.

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

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    2. Any build up can be cleaned off by adding a pinch of baking soda to the shampoo or suds from the shampoo bar in your hand. Your hair will be squeeky clean with this little addition.

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  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.

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

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  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

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    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.

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  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!

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

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  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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  9. Heather9:00 AM

    I like the shampoo bars from Lush. They have a store in Tampa. They also have an aluminum tin for the bar that is great for travel.

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    1. Heather, I bought one bar from Lush when I used up the last of my homemade shampoo bar while on vacation. It lathered really nice. Then I looked up the ingredients online and realized it contained sodium lauryl sulfate, an ingredient I want to avoid. :-( (https://uk.lush.com/products/shampoo/new)

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    2. I use Lush shampoo bars! And it works for me, but I'm happy that they're working on formulas for new shampoo bars without sodium lauryl sulfate

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    3. I'm glad to hear that they are working on new formulations without SLS.

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  10. Kristina10:17 AM

    I have dry, coarse hair that I always have to use thick, creamy conditioner on or I can't even get a comb through it. Won't the vinegar rinse make it worse?

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    1. Hi Kristina. That's a good question. The vinegar rinse leaves my hair softer and less dry, but it might not do that for everyone. You might want to give it a try after using your regular shampoo and see what happens.

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  11. Great post! I've been using shampoo bar for a while now. I make them with the recipe from Liz Ardlady using apple cider vinegar instead of water (http://lizardladysoapinfo.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-you-want-to-make-bar-of-shampoo.html). They are great. I like to add stuff like ayurvedic powders or a combination of essential oils. I still rinse with apple cider vinegar. I rinse out my hair with water first, then add about 1 litre of cold water in a jug + 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar as a last rinse. The smell is not strong. Finishing a shampoo with cold water makes the hair more shiny.

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  12. I<m going to try your recipe for the shampoo soap. As for the vinegar rinse, how much vinegar do you put in the squeeze bottle?

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    1. I use roughly 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water.

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  13. Is the rinse in the bottle a combo of vinegar and water? If so, what %mix?

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    1. About 2/3 wate and 1/3 vinegar.i just eyeball it.

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  14. Hi everyone. Happy New Year.
    My tip about using bar shampoo its positive.
    I have done 2 kind and i feel my hair more clean and keeps it longer, soft and strong.
    I have done 2 kinds, one of Aloe Vera (I have take the extract from the plant), Castor oil, coconut oil and almond oil. Don't be scared because my hair didn't became greasy. Is lovely now and stronger. You must try for some time. What I do firt is to put some condioner with castor oil , just some drops and rub the edges of the hair with that oisture and on top you can rub it with a little of coconut oil. let it be in your hair for 1 hour. After that you wash it with the bar sghampo, and repet twice, wash it with a lot of water to take out everything, If your hair is to much dry you can use the oisture of sidra vinegar.
    I also do the Turmeric bars to wash body and hair. Its very good as well.

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    Replies
    1. Julia, thank you for the information about the conditioning bars. I've never tried one so it's very interesting.

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  15. I use the vinegar rinse (in a bottle just like that!) and I find that it works nicely regardless of what I use for shampooing. However, unfortunately shampoo bars and our super-hard water just don't seem to mix. I never got less than awful results with a shampoo bar. :( I've been using a liquid-soap-and-coconut-oil combination and it's been working nicely.

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  16. Anonymous3:16 PM

    If you have a quality shampoo bar it will rinse clean and you won't need vinegar rinses.

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    1. I make my own shampoo bars and conditioner. If out of my conditioner, I do use an apple cider vinegar/water rinse until I make more conditioner—it’s time intensive. Both (ACV/water rinse & conditioner) are for the purpose of returning the hair to it’s needed lower pH, which in turn will lower the hair cuticles. Natural shampoo bars have a higher pH which will raise hair cuticles and hair doesn’t rebound as our skin does (on it’s own) when its pH is raised; therefore it needs something to lower its pH and thus lower the cuticles. Raised cuticles can be broken when the hair is brushed. Plus, hair tangles more easily since the hair will not lie flat against itself due to the raised cuticles. So the purpose (for myself) for either an apple cider vinegar/water rinse or conditioner is not so that my shampoo bar rinses clean from my hair but rather to return my hair’s pH and lower the cuticles. Also, I only need to wash my long hair one time with my shampoo bar, I find no need for multiple washes and I only wash my hair twice a week. My comments, by no means, are meant to be negative, it’s just that before I started making my own hair care products I didn’t realize that hair could be quite negatively affected by pH if I wasn’t careful. I have had the pleasure of sharing my shampoo bars and conditioner with family members as well as my son whose beard is 18 inches long and all have enjoyed both. I love the more natural stuff far more than the commercial products. FYI, it is not wise to brush hair when it is wet because that’s when it is at its weakest.Google it, interesting information. You can actually pull hair that is not ready to fall out on it’s own if you brush your hair when it is wet.

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    2. Good tips, Michele, thank you.

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  17. Anonymous11:27 AM

    I am definetly interested in trying the bars - my daughter is allergic to cocamidopropyl betaine & propolis (beeswax). Both of these are found in almost every commercial shampoo. The first 1 is in almost anything that suds. I have been talking to her about making own make up also as it's also in most make-up, chapstick, neosporene, etc.

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  18. Anonymous2:43 AM

    I use a small nylon bag to store my bar. Like those you get in drugstores for “gift soaps” sometimes. Alternatively you can use a piece of nylon stocking. Not so pretty, I know. That way you can hang up the bar to dry out after use and it helps to build up lather.

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  19. I use Lush's Coconut Shampoo bar and then coconut oil after my shower when my hair is still wet. Tons of reviews of people not using the soap correctly or letting it sit on water but my hair hasn't been healthier since I switched! Plus low/zero waste!

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  20. I've been wanting to try shampoo bars for awhile. As some pointed out, they are great for travel but I think the main reason for me is to get rid of the plastic shampoo bottles. When we were kids, we always rinsed our hair with vinegar - makes it nice and shiny. I've gotten away from that so will have to start again. Love the squeeze bottle idea.

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  21. I tried my own recipe for bar shampoo and it made my hair greasy, however my husbands looks fantastic. Are there certain types of oils that are less greasy

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    1. Melissa, oils are oils and they are all "oily" - it's the combination of oils used and how they work on your particular hair and with your home's water too. Try a couple of recipes until you find one that works really well for your hair. And at least it wasn't a waste since that first batch works really well for your husband's hair!

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  22. It depends on the kind of color you use. I color mine with henna based colorations and it works just fine. Been using hair soap bars for over 4years now and my hair is less damaged or dried out than before (I have long, fine hair). Hope that helps.

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  23. Good information on using shampoo bars...the ones I've tried didn't really have instructions! Thanks for sharing on Farm Fresh Tuesdays!

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    1. Even the shampoo bars from Lush and other companies don't come with instructions, Lisa!

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  24. I've been using shampoo bars made from goats milk for a few years now and love them. I do absolutely need the cider vinegar rinse afterwards and then my hair feels great. I also find using no strong chemicals that my hair needs washing a lot less. #FarmFreshTuesdays

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    1. I've noticed that as well, Rosie. With commercial shampoo I have to wash my hair two or three times a week, and only once a week with a shampoo bar.

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  25. This was actually really helpful for me because I've known about shampoo bars for a while, but I've never actually known how to use it! I know it probably seems really simple but I got gifted one not that long ago and I brought it into the shower with me and I was kind of just like..how does this work? haha

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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    1. Julia, I'm glad it was helpful. You're right, most of them don't come with instructions and using a solid shampoo seems so weird!

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  26. Has anyone tried adding rose water to the vinegar rinse?

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    1. Not that I know of, but it sounds heavenly!

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  27. Whitney9:20 PM

    Do you need to use a conditioner after? Or is that what the vinegar sort of replaces?

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    Replies
    1. I don't use a conditioner, just the vinegar, and I'm very happy with my hair!

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