shampoo bar vs liquid shampoo

Are shampoo bars better than regular shampoo?

Switching to shampoo bars is a great choice - not only for the health of your hair, but also for the health of the planet. So what are the benefits of shampoo bars, and are shampoo bars better than regular shampoo? Read on to delve into the (sometimes confusing) world of shampoo bars and find out if they really work.

Do shampoo bars work?

Shampoo bars work in exactly the same way as regular bottled shampoo. When you skim a shampoo bar across your wet hair, the active ingredients will begin to foam up just like regular liquid shampoo as soon as you begin to massage your scalp and hair.

woman washing her hair with shampoo bar

Shampoo bar vs bottle

Our shampoo bars are made using similar ingredients as you might find in regular bottles of liquid shampoo minus the water, sulphates, and plastic. Did you know that bottles of liquid shampoo typically contain up to 85% water? Just think about those numbers - it means that you're essentially only getting 15% actual ingredients and you're paying for all that water content. Crazy huh? And don't get us started on the plastic bottles.

Our solid shampoo bars are packaged in an aluminium tin topped with a plantable wildflower seed label so you can reuse the tin and plant the label! This year we'll be introducing a refill version so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Delicate shampoo bar for sensitive skin

Why shampoo bars are better

Our shampoo bars are made using botanical ingredients to encourage the growth of strong, healthy hair. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • sulphate free shampoo bars

  • pH balanced shampoo bars

  • plastic free shampoo - with each bar saving 2 plastic bottles from landfill

  • formulated with botanical extracts including bamboo and chicory root - natural replacements for synthetic silicones that are usually found in liquid shampoo

  • Unscented version designed for sensitive scalps.

How long do shampoo bars last?

That all depends on the shampoo bar and how often you use it! Our SLS free shampoo bars will last between 2-4 months depending on how often you wash your hair, how long your hair is, and how you store your shampoo bar between uses (more on this below).

woman holding a shampoo bar

What's the difference between a soap bar and a shampoo bar?

If you're confused about which is the best shampoo bar to try, you're not alone. 

Soap typically has a pH of 8-10 and is made with skin nourishing oils and butters that gently cleanse and moisturise the skin. Now, we're huge fans of using natural soap bars to cleanse our skin, but not our hair! The pH of the scalp is 5.5 so when choosing a shampoo bar it's always wise to choose one that's in the range of 4.5-6. Too high a pH will result in higher friction between the hair fibres (think frizzy hair), which could lead to damage and breakage of the hair.

natural soap bars

How do you tell the difference between a soap-based shampoo bar and a pH balanced shampoo bar?

Look at the ingredients. The label of a soap-based shampoo bar will look something like this:

Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Olivate, Sodium Shea Butterate, Sodium Ricebranate, Glycerin, Sodium Sweet Almondate, Aqua, Sodium Castorate

The word sodium before the oil type means that it's a soap-based shampoo bar, made in exactly the same way as a regular soap bar designed for the skin.

In contrast, the ingredients on the label of a pH balanced shampoo bar will look something like this:

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Coco-Glucoside, Cetyl Alcohol, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Salvia Sclarea Flower/Leaf/Stem Water, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Cucurbita Pepo Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil, Xanthan Gum

pH balanced shampoo bars are made with gentle surfactants (look out for shampoo bars like these which are made with sulphate free surfactants), conditioning agents, oils and botanicals that the hair loves.

 Petal Power solid shampoo bar in an aluminium tin

How long does it take for hair to adjust to shampoo bars?

Contrary to popular belief, there's no transition period when using a pH balanced shampoo bar. As we said at the beginning of this blog, pH balanced shampoo bars are made in the same way as regular liquid shampoo. So if you're tempted to buy a shampoo bar that speaks about a transition period or using a vinegar rinse after use, this is not a pH balanced shampoo bar - it's a soap-based shampoo bar! Confusing, right?

How to use shampoo bars

  1. Wet your hair

  2. Skim the hair shampoo bar across your scalp and hair 3-4 times, and put the shampoo bar aside

  3. Use your fingers to gently massage the shampoo into your scalp to create the cleansing foam

  4. Massage your scalp for a couple of minutes, working the foam down to the ends of your hair

  5. Rinse your hair with clean water

  6. Repeat to remove build up of styling products if you use them. Otherwise you should not need to repeat wash

  7. Follow up with your regular conditioner if you normally use one.

solid conditioner bar

Do you need conditioner after shampoo bars?

If you normally use a conditioner after shampooing your hair, you should also use a conditioner after using a shampoo bar - a shampoo bar works in exactly the same way as liquid bottled shampoo, it cleans the hair.

Our shampoo bars are formulated with specific conditioning agents and botanical extracts to add a touch of light conditioning, and so you may find that you don't need to use a conditioner after using them. In fact, since formulating these shampoo bars over 6 months ago, we haven't used a conditioner since.

Where should I keep my shampoo bar?

Storing your shampoo bar correctly will ensure that it lasts as long as possible. Always make sure that your shampoo bar dries between uses. The best way to do this is to keep it on a draining soap dish where the air can dry the shampoo bar from all sides; for best results turn your shampoo bar over every day to allow it to dry thoroughly. You could also use a slice of loofah or simply dry your shampoo bar on the shower rack.
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