Pros and cons of shampoo bars

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Shampoo bars are becoming more and more popular, but what is a shampoo bar? Essentially it is shampoo in a bar form – much like your bar of soap.

I started using a shampoo bar a few months ago in my bid to cut my plastic waste in the bathroom. I have been using more natural shampoos and conditioners, that don’t contain sulphates, parabens or silicones, for a few years so my hair didn’t have the dramatic difference that most people experience when the start using a shampoo bar, as it gets rid of all the coating on your hair.

Silicone the good and the bad

Silicone is used in many hair care products as it provides shine and can help smooth out the hair. There are positives to using silicone in that it leaves the hair shiny and looking healthy. It can make hair that is damage and dry look healthy by locking conditioner into the split ends. Silicone protects hair from the elements keeping it smooth and stopping tangles.

The downside is that it is not a natural product, it is used as a sealant against water and air. Silicones side effects can be bad for your hair. Silicone coated hair has the illusion of shine but it is not a natural shine – it’s made from plastic. To get the shine you want you need to keep your hair hydrated so the cuticle layer is sealed and the light reflects off the hair.

Silicone can weight down the hair and make it limp and lifeless. As it acts like a seal around the hair it can prevent mostiure from getting into the hair shaft and actually attracts dirt. The results of long term use of silicone products is a build-up on the hair. This will dry out the hair as your conditioner will not be able to penetrate the hair and will just end up sitting on the surface. The build-up can also cause hair to get weak and brittle and eventually lead to hair breaking.

Using silicones will cause a cycle of damage. Many silicones do not wash out easily leaving the hair feeling heavy and greasy. When you hair is greasy you tend to wash it and style it more often. This leads to extra damage which in turns causes you to use silicones products more often.

The pros

Shampoo bars are natural products that do not contain any of the nasty chemicals that commercial shampoos do, such as sodium lauryl sulphate. They will not strip your hair of its natural oils or coat them with silicone. They are better for the environment as they are natural and have less packaging.

They are easy to travel with – your don’t have to worry about the liquid ban on international flights. They are not only convenient to travel with but also easy to use and store at home. No need for bulky shampoo and conditioner bottles stored in the shower. You won’t even need to use a conditioner so not only will this create more space in the shower but save you money as well. Shampoo bars last a lot longer than the liquid equivalent as they are concentrated so you don’t need to use as much.

The cons

As shampoo bars contain higher amounts of saponified oils so they tend to have a more waxy consistency. The layer of wax can stay on your hair weighing it down overtime. You can easily combat this by using an apple cider vinegar rinse. The acidity in the apple cider vinegar breaks down the wax removing it from the hair. I use the rinse every time I wash my hair as I only wash my hair a couple of times a week. If you wash your hair more often you will need to use the rinse once or twice a week.

Some people don’t like the feeling of rubbing the bar directly onto your hair. This can also cause more tangles for people with fine or curly hair. Luckily there are other ways to apply to shampoo. I rub the bar in my hands first to create the lather and then put this lather onto my hair, just like you would with a liquid shampoo.

Ready for a new shampoo

If you are ready to buy a new shampoo give shampoo bars a go. There are many different types of shampoo bars on the market each with their own blend of natural oils. It may take a bit of trial and error to find one that suits your hair type but lots of companies do sample bars so you can try so different formulas.

Disclaimer - All of these blog posts are personal opinions I’ve developed after researching different topics on my own. Whilst I do my best to share information with you I am not a doctor or scientist so please use your discretion when taking any of the advice and do not take my advice over that of your doctors.

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