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The difference between our shampoo bars and soap bars

The difference between our shampoo bars and soap bars

Not all shampoo bars are created equal. Unfortunately there are a lot of products on the market that are say ‘shampoo bar’ on the label but they are actually bars of natural soap with added hair friendly ingredients. These soap bars give solid shampoo bars a bit of a bad name when the user is left with hair that feels waxy and dull. Disappointed, the user usually then gives up on the idea of plastic free shampoo altogether.

The good news:

The difference between Hairy Jayne shampoo bars and soap is that Hairy Jayne shampoo bars aren’t soap in any way. Don't get me wrong, we love soap and we use soap bars all the time. It's just not a good to use soap in your hair.

The best way to identify non-shampoo bars that are actually soap is to look at the ingredients list on the label. These bars will have sodium cocoate, sodium olivate and sodium castorate somewhere at the beginning of the ingredients list. 

Traditional soap is made by mixing an alkali (usually lye or sodium hydroxide) with oils in a chemical reaction known as saponification. Sodium cocoate is saponified coconut oil, sodium olivate is saponified olive oil and sodium castorate is saponified castor oil. Other ingredients are added to these to make the soap, either in a hot or cold process.

Our shampoo bars are made with shampoo ingredients

Our sulphate free shampoo bars contain a lot of the same ingredients as our sulphate free liquid shampoo. Technically they are ‘sydnet bars’ rather than soaps. Sydnet is a word made up from ‘synthetic’ and ‘detergent’. The primary detergent we use (sodium cocoyl isethionate) is a sulphate free synthetic detergent that is originally derived from coconut oil.

The sulphate free detergents we use in our solid shampoos are very mild and hair softening and won’t damage the hair like a traditional soap would. Syndet bars work better in hard water than soap does, too. If you live in a hard water area you’ll still get a lovely lather and it’ll rinse out easily without leaving a sticky residue.

Our shampoo bars are the right pH level for hair

Some other brands of shampoo bars call for a vinegar rinse after using them. This would be because it’s actually a natural soap, and soap isn’t the right pH level to use in the hair. The vinegar, which is very acidic, is used to balance out the high alkalinity of the soap.

It is good for shampoo to be acidic (compared to soaps which are very alkaline) because the pH level of hair is between 4.5 and 5.5, which is acidic on the pH scale. pH balanced shampoos don’t strip your hair and scalp of natural oils, which protects it from dryness, frizz and damage. A slightly acidic shampoo will also seal the hair cuticles to keep it strong and shiny.

Our shampoo bars aren’t as hard as soap bars

Our shampoo bars are obviously solid, but they are quite putty-like. You can easily mould them into a different shape if you want to. Whereas soap bars are generally harder and formed into more solid shapes. Cold pressed soaps are smooth looking and hot process soaps tend to look a bit textured and rustic. Our shampoo bars are handmade into loaves and cut up like natural soaps are, but they are softer and malleable.

Our shampoo bars will leave your hair feeling soft

Soap, disguised as a shampoo bar, will react with the hard water ions in water and form insoluble salts which deposit on the hair. The residue created is soap scum which is impossible to rinse out of hair feel and will make it feel like it hasn’t been washed.

Hairy Jayne shampoo bars do rinse out well and have an added detangling agent, mango butter, olive oil, aloe vera powder and green clay. All of these natural ingredients benefit the hair and make it healthy and soft. The slight acidity of our shampoo bars closes the cuticle too, which locks in moisture and leaves the hair looking shiny.


If you’ve been put off by shampoo bars in the past, this may be the reason why. Why not give ours a go? We do these sample sizes so you can try ours before committing to a full bar. A great way to try out our conditioner bars, too. If you're not sure where to start, you can also take a look at all of our natural shampoo