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The ultimate guide to shampoo bars & how to use them

The ultimate guide to shampoo bars & how to use them

Shampoo bars are without a doubt the best plastic free alternative to traditional shampoo. Their sustainability points are high.

Not only do these little blocks of solid shampoo come in easily recyclable packaging, they are also great for your hair. But when you’re used to a liquid shampoo, it can be hard to know where to start.

How do you make the switch to solid shampoo, and how do you use a shampoo bar in the best way possible?

I started making shampoo bars a few years ago, back in 2019. Since then I have been asked a lot of questions from Hairy Jayne customers about shampoo bars and how to use them.

You may have tried a shampoo bar in the past without success. This article is here to answer all of the questions you may have about shampoo bars, what you need to look for in a shampoo bar and how to use one successfully.

If you're still debating what shampoo is right for your hair, why not take a look at all of our natural shampoo products.

What is a shampoo bar? 

A shampoo bar is a concentrated version of liquid shampoo, compressed into a solid block. A good quality shampoo bar should always be 'sydnet', meaning they're not made with soap.

Shampoo bars are not to be confused with bars of soap that are marketed as shampoo bars.

shampoo bar

Our shampoo bars are always 'syndet'. They are pH balanced and made with shampoo ingredients and mild sulfate free detergents (surfactants). Regular shampoo without the water content but with dry ingredients and a wax added to harden the block.

Benefits of a shampoo bar 

There are many benefits of switching over to a shampoo bar. Mainly environmental reasons, but also the perk of having hair that feels lovely and a scalp that is nourished.

Shampoo bars are very eco-friendly. We’re all aware by now of the negative impact of plastic waste on our environment. Due to the omission of water, solid bars can be packaged in cardboard boxes, disregarding plastic altogether.

Lighter in weight and more compact, shampoo bars are easier to transport, lowering their carbon footprint significantly.

shampoo bar

They tend to have a high concentration of biodegradable, naturally-derived ingredients (the main surfactant derived from coconuts). They’re water-free, so don’t require a synthetic preservative, and our precious water resources are saved.

The natural ingredients used in our shampoo bars have many hair benefits. They gently cleanse, moisturise, strengthen, detangle and add shine to all hair types.

We use sulphate free ingredients that are milder on the hair. The mildness means they are safe to use on coloured hair and on sensitive scalps. The added mango butter is very nourishing for both the hair and the scalp.

Because of the added moisturisers in our shampoo bars, short or finer hair types may find that following up with a conditioner isn’t necessary. Longer hair, dry or damaged hair and textured hair types would benefit from using one of our conditioner bars or refillable conditioners after shampooing.

How to use a shampoo bar 

Using a shampoo bar is very simple. Simply wet your hair thoroughly and sweep the bar along your hairline, as you would a soap on your skin.

Use your fingertips to massage the scalp and work up a lather, and then smooth the lather through your hair. Rinse all of the product well to make sure your hair doesn’t look dull once it’s dry.

When using a shampoo bar, the key to getting the most out of your bar is to keep it somewhere that allows it to dry between uses.

If it’s left in a pool of water, a shampoo bar will go rather soggy underneath. Keep it on a soap dish with drainage in the shower. Or even better, a shampoo bar holder on a dry ledge to prevent this from happening.

When your shampoo bar is almost finished and there’s just a slither left, don’t let it go to waste! Just mould the end of the old shampoo bar onto your new one and leave it to dry until the next use.

What shampoo bar is best for my hair type?

Hairy Jayne shampoo bars are formulated to suit all hair types – fine, medium and coarse hair. Our four shampoo bars are differentiated not by hair type but by fragrance – there’s a choice of Floral, Citrus, Musk and Herbal essential oil blends.

Our shampoo bars are sulphate free and very mild. So they are non-stripping, making them suitable shampoo bars for coloured hair. The added mango butter, a non-greasy moisturiser, makes them great for dry scalps and dry hair.

And if you’re looking for a shampoo bar for oily hair, our shampoo bars have green clay and aloe vera powder – both being effective, but gentle, oil regulators. Over time they work to balance out the scalp’s natural oil production levels.

Using our shampoo bars on very fine hair will probably be enough to keep it conditioned, because they are so nourishing and moisturising. For medium to coarse hair types, we recommend following up with one of our three strengths of conditioner to match your hair type.

Are shampoo bars curly girl friendly?

Curls, coils and waves love our shampoo bars. They are full of naturally derived plant-based ingredients. They don’t include sulphates or SLS, silicones, mineral oils, drying alcohols, formaldehyde or parabens. The added aloe vera, mango butter and olive oil are natural hydrators and moisturisers that nourish naturally textured hair.

We ran the ingredients list of our shampoo bars through the product checker on the “Is It CG?” website which evaluates hair care products in accordance with the Curly Girl Method. The verdict: approved. Hairy Jayne shampoo bars are curly girl friendly.

How long do shampoo bars last? 

A shampoo bar is very concentrated so lasts twice as long as a regular bottle of liquid shampoo would. The length of time obviously depends on the amount of hair your have and how often you’re washing it.

When used correctly, a 50g shampoo bar should last around 50-60 washes. So if you’re washing your hair every few days, it should last for 4-6 months.

What’s the best way to store a shampoo bar?

Storing your shampoo bar properly in the shower will keep it lasting longest. As mentioned previously, keeping it high and dry between uses is best. If you’re using your shampoo on-the-go, a reusable aluminium tin is the best way to store your bar to keep it in your bag. Tins are great for travel, but not so great for drainage. So at home a specific shampoo bar holder will be more effective.

shampoo bar holder

Is a shampoo bar better than regular shampoo? 

When comparing shampoo bars to liquid shampoos, it’s a no-brainer that shampoo bars better for the environment. Their higher concentration of natural ingredients, compact size and the absence of plastic waste puts shampoo bars as front runners in the race to be eco friendly. Plus, shampoo bars are actually very good for your hair. 

However, not everyone is ready to embrace the bar. Thankfully, shampoo bars aren’t the only eco friendly option when it comes to shampoo shopping. We also make a refillable shampoo that is suitable for all hair types, packed with natural ingredients and completely does away with wasteful plastic bottles.

Why does my hair feel weird after using a shampoo bar?

If you’ve tried a shampoo bar in the past and had less-than-desirable results, don’t discount all shampoo bars just yet! The key is to find a shampoo bar that is made with sulphate free shampoo detergents (not soap), is correctly pH balanced for hair and is easily rinsed out.

These are the reasons your hair may feel weird – sticky, waxy or coated – after using a shampoo bar. If this has happened, chances are you may have inadvertently used a soap bar that was just named a shampoo bar. Or perhaps a shampoo bar with a pH level that’s unsuitable for the hardness of water in your area.

But most likely, you may have used too much product and not rinsed it well enough. Sometimes, if a shampoo bar isn’t lathering the same amount as a regular shampoo, the tendency is to over-use the product.

shampoo bar and conditioner

There’s a common misconception that a shampoo needs to lather well in order to do its job properly. But it’s not actually the foam that’s doing any of the cleaning, it’s the shampoo surfactants. Bubbles are just air trapped within the shampoo when it reacts with the water.

So if your shampoo bar doesn’t lather quite as much as your’re used to straight away, try to avoid adding more product to your hair. Instead spend a little longer creating the lather in your hands.

Or do a non-lathery wash, rinse, and then do a second shampoo with MUCH less product (it will really lather this time!) until your hair feels squeaky clean.

And because shampoo bars are so concentrated, make sure that you always rinse a little bit more than you think you should, at least until you get used to using them.

The ultimate shampoo bar guide - conclusion

Shampoo bars for the win, both environmentally and in terms of hair benefits. Using a shampoo bar may take a bit of getting used to (but not much!), and the effort will certainly pay off.

Just remember to keep yours high and dry when not in use, bear in mind that they are super concentrated and always rinse well afterwards.

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