Shampoo bars: A solid choice for hair!
Do you cringe when you buy hair-care products in plastic bottles? Do you wonder where the ingredients in your shampoo come from? Well good news! Salon-quality, environmentally responsible shampoo is now available, and we’re here to tell you all about it!
Shampoo bars: What they Are
💆🏻 Shampoo bars are like liquid shampoo without the water and plastic!
Shampoo bars are made from surfactants, like the ones found in liquid shampoo. A true shampoo bar is called a “syndet” bar—short for “synthetic detergent”—because the surfactants are produced “synthetically” by combining plant oils with water-loving molecules such as ammonium or sulfate ions. Surfactants used in syndet shampoo bars include sodium cocoyl isethionate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium coco sulfate, coco glucoside, and others. Surfactants are “surface-active” molecules. They’re what gives handmade soap its cleansing properties too. Surfactants have a fatty end (from the plant oil) that attaches to particles of oil and dirt. Their other end is water-soluble (the charged/ionic end). This oil-capturing blob is called a micelle. When you rinse, the micelles wash away, taking the dirt and oil along with them.
The quality of a shampoo bar has a lot to do with the mixture of surfactants it contains. Some are more gentle than others. If you’ve tried Lush shampoo bars and they dried your hair out, it’s probably because Lush bars are made from sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is an aggressive surfactant (plus it’s derived from palm oil). The surfactants used in One Earth Body Care shampoos are derived from coconut oil and corn, not palm oil, and they are more gentle than SLS. Shampoo bars often include conditioning compounds and other additives to add softness, shine and manageability to hair. For example, behentrimonium methosulfate (BTMS) is a common ingredient in shampoo and conditioner bars. BTMS is derived from rapeseed (canola) oil. Its positive charge lets it adhere to the hair shaft, which is negatively charged. BTMS helps to detangle hair and reduce static.
What else you need to know about shampoo bars
💁🏻 Shampoo bars are NOT soap!
Many soap makers make soaps that they call “shampoo bars.” We used to make these too. The problem with soap-based shampoo is that the pH is too high for hair. The high pH of soap (pH 9 or higher) makes the hair shaft swell and the cuticle rise, which leads to static electricity and hair damage. In hard water, calcium and magnesium react with soap and get deposited on hair, just like the soap rings you may find in the tub. This doesn’t happen with low-pH syndet bars because the surfactants used don’t react with the minerals in hard water.
Hair products should be between about pH 4.5 and 6 to optimize the smoothness and manageability of hair. The pH of syndet shampoo bars is adjusted with small amounts of acid such as citric acid. We’ve tested other companies’ syndet shampoo bars and found a pH range between 3.4 and 8.4, suggesting that some companies don’t measure or adjust the pH of their bars. We formulate our bars to be between pH 4.8 and 5.5. In contrast, the pH of soap can’t be lowered much below pH 9, because the reaction that produces soap depends on a high pH.
😱 Read the labels! Palm oil may be hiding in your shampoo.
Most liquid shampoos and shampoo bars contain ingredients derived from palm oil. We’ve been digging deep and talking with suppliers to understand the different surfactant options. We’ve ruled out surfactants and emollients (conditioning compounds that coat the hair) that are typically derived from palm oil, including:
𝙓 Cetearyl alcohol
𝙓 Sodium lauryl sulfate
𝙓 Sodium laureth sulfate
𝙓 Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
𝙓 Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate
𝙓 Stearic acid
Some surfactants and emollients can be made from either palm or coconut oil. We’ve verified that the following ingredients provided by our suppliers are made from coconut or corn, not palm:
✔ Cetyl alcohol
✔ Cocamidopropyl betaine
✔ Decyl glucoside
We continue to explore ingredients and sourcing and will adapt our formulas if needed to ensure they’re palm-oil free.
👱🏻Shampoo bars work better than most shampoos!
Unlike many liquid shampoos, our shampoo bars don’t contain silicones. Silicones build up on the hair, which over time weighs it down and leaves it looking dull. Many liquid shampoos (and some shampoo bars, like Lush’s) contain the aggressive surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate, which strips away too much of the hair’s natural protective oils. Our bars are gentle yet effective, and they contain varying amounts of conditioning and emollient compounds to protect hair, improve combability and minimize static.
🙎🏾 Shampoo bars avoid plastic! No bottle needed!
Plastic pollution is one of the most serious global environmental problems. We must overcome our addiction to plastic packaging! Our oceans, rivers, soils and roadsides are strewn with waste that won’t break down in any meaningful amount of time. Shampoo bars are one way to get plastic out of our everyday routines and to reduce our dependence on this polluting, toxic product.
👩🏻🎤 Shampoo bars save energy in transportation.
Most shampoos are 70% to 80% water. Shampoo bars are a fraction of the weight of a bottle, so fewer trucks are needed and less oil is used to transport them.
💆🏽 Shampoo bars are travel friendly.
Shampoo bars save tons of room in your suitcase and toiletry bag. Do you like to travel fast & light? TSA-friendly shampoo bars will help you get through check-in without the hassle of liquids.
👨🏽 Shampoo bars are efficient.
Because they’re concentrated, you use a small amount per wash. A 1.9-oz shampoo bar lasts for about 40 to 60 washes, depending on the length of your hair. This is about as long as a 20-oz bottle of liquid shampoo.