I have a new and updated version of this post with even more discoveries, how-to’s, troubleshooting ideas and the most common questions that I have been asked. Check it out here!
The journey into having my hair accept a shampoo bar has been a bit of a rocky one. My first obstacle was finding a sulphate free shampoo bar in my city, and then searching else-where for one that wasn’t quite as stripping as the only one I had found. Then I started searching for the right balance of ingredients for my hair: moisturizing without weighing it down.
I anticipated the adjustment phase where my hair would feel odd, waxy, heavy, greasy etc. and that I might struggle with a little bit of build-up as I worked out the right technique for my hair but I didn’t anticipate what happened in the end.
Everything was going so well until I hit one shampoo bar that was just far too heavy for my hair. It was awful. I tried for several days to allow my hair to adjust, switched to a clarifying shampoo bar, and then even back to the first super-drying shampoo bar that I tried but to no avail. My hair was a big waxy, greasy, wet-looking mess. After breaking down and not being able to put up with it any longer I used a sodium lauryl sulphate shampoo on my hair (and needed to use it three times to remove the build-up).
Starting fresh, I stuck with one shampoo bar that I knew had worked for me in my trial period so far and just used a very, very small amount of the lather which I created in my hands. Even with a high concentration of an apple cider vinegar rinse to help remove the excess the very next day the greasy-haired-look was back. With avengence. It felt plastic.
I was so frustrated at this point because I really wanted this product to work for me. All that I read on the internet was so encouraging and promising that these shampoo bars would not only be environmentally friendly (biodegradable, organic ingredients, no packaging) but also economical because they would eliminate conditioner and also be way cheaper than my previous hair care routine. I really, really wanted to have success with these products.
One late night conversation with my boyfriend brought on an epiphany that not only fixed my hair woes but brightened my mood considerably (I hadn’t quite realized how my disgusting hair had affected my general well-being. Sad, I know. I’ll work on that). Here’s what I figured out:
Because I was too impatient to try and let my hair dry naturally I was speeding up the process with my hair dryer. This, unfortunately for me, meant that I was re-solidifying the soap, oils, and butters on my hair. The culprit to my epic shampoo bar fail was my own impatience and the use of excess heat.
The positive side: I will now be forced to blow dry my hair a lot less than previously which will, in turn, allow my hair to stay healthier and to keep me from damaging it further.
The negative side that is also kind of a positive side: I will have to learn to style my hair so that I can sleep on it at night and not have catostrophic bed-head or uber flat hair in the morning. I’m looking forward to learning more about ways to do this that don’t involve sleeping on velcro curlers…
One other thing I’ve come to realize is that the shampoo bars don’t lather well on the sections of my hair that are more dry than others, such as the front parts of my hair. But this is easy to deal with if I just massage the lather into my crown and rinse it off through those dry parts.
**Update** Now that I have been using shampoo bars for a while I can finally blow dry my hair. My hair just got-it-together and understood that great hair could be had with shampoo bars and didn’t require air drying all the time. I’m not exactly sure when the transition phase completely ended with shampoo bars and I was able to treat my hair as normal, but I’m just happy that it is hear. That being said, I still allow my hair to air dry as much as possible to keep it healthy and help it continue to grow long and strong.**
My current (and successful) shampoo bar routine for lots of fine, long hair:
1) brush hair prior to shower and pull up into a loose bun at my crown
2) wet hair completely
3) Lather shampoo bar very well with hands and massage into scalp and around hair bun for about 1 minute
4) Rinse as well as possible with hair still in bun
5) Repeat step three
6) Let hair down from bun and rinse, rinse, rinse allowing lather to run down length of hair
7) Create a small lather for the ends of the length and massage into ends.
8) Pour apple cider vinegar rinse over hair, sectioning off pieces to ensure it gets to every strand and allow to sit for at least 30 seconds being careful to keep it away from my roots.
9) Rinse out
10) Air dry the majority of the time, and occasionally blow dry for special occasions.