How to use a Shampoo Bar (Video + Pictures)
Updated: May 26
A shampoo bar is a great way to clean your hair waste free. I have written an entire blog post with 15 amazing advantages of a shampoo bar so I will not go into detail about it but in short, they save lots of money and are highly concentrated with nourishing ingredients as they don’t contain any water.
Using a shampoo bar is not difficult but it is not the same as a liquid shampoo therefore I have this step-by-step guide on how to use a shampoo bar.
How to use a Shampoo Bar
Wet your shampoo bar
Before washing, your shampoo bar needs to be softened up so you can create a nice lather. So our first step is to wet the shampoo bar. I do this right as I turn on the shower before I wet my hair so the bar has a minute to soften up.
Wet your hair
Don’t use a shampoo bar on dry hair. A shampoo bar doesn’t contain any water so you will need to mix it with water to make it work we are starting by wetting our hair.
Squeeze out the excess water
A shampoo bar is highly concentrated with ingredients. As we are mixing the shampoo with wet hair, we dilute this quite a bit. To prevent the dilution of these ingredients as much as possible, I squeeze as much water out of my hair as possible.
Rub your shampoo bar between your hand to create a lather
Your shampoo bar should be a little softer now and we can create a lather. Some prefer to use a shampoo bar directly on their hair. I have very fine hair that easily damages so I don’t do this. Instead, I rub the bar in my hand to create a nice lather.
Apply the lather to your hair
Once I have made enough lather in my hands, I put it onto my hair. I have very long hair so I repeat these last 2 steps a couple of times until I feel I have enough shampoo in my hair.
Wash your hair
Massage the shampoo through your hair starting on your scalp and working your way toward the lengths. I have a very sensitive scalp and use my fingertips to gently massage the shampoo through.
Rinse your hair
Once I feel I have washed your hair sufficiently, it is time to rinse it out. Thoroughly rinse my hair so there is no shampoo left in my hair.
Optional: Follow up with a conditioner for extra nourishment.
Store your shampoo bar in a dry place
A shampoo bar will disintegrate fast if it remains wet for a long time. I use the lid of an old plastic container (the container itself broke a while ago) that is stored high up in my shower where it can dry after use.
Ingredients to look for in a shampoo bar
Make sure your shampoo bar contains lots of ingredients your hair loves, or you will just have a brick of surfactants. Coconut oil, cocoa butter, and argan oil are all great for your hair. I love broccoli seed oil and babassu oil for my hair.
Clays are added to shampoo bars because they absorb oils naturally. So if you have oily hair, look for a shampoo bar with ghassoul clay or kaolin clay.
Proteins are the building blocks of your hair. Make sure your shampoo bar has some wheat protein or rice protein to strengthen your hair.
You have probably heard of Pantene pro-V. The pro V part stands for pro-vitamin b5. This is an amazing hair care ingredient. Its full name is Panthenol.
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
This ingredient may sound scary but this is an eco-friendly surfactant that cleans gently and is suitable for sensitive skin. It is derived from coconut oil and is completely biodegradable making it great for shampoo bars.
Ingredients to avoid in a shampoo bar
The first shampoo bar I ever tried was a traditional soap bar made with oils and ley (Sodium Hydroxide). Ley is used for the saponification of oils. This did not work for me and now I know this is not suitable for hair as it is very aggressive.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
You often hear you should avoid all sulfates when it comes to shampoo bars. However, not all sulfates are the same. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is one of the sulfates you should avoid. This is a rather aggressive detergent that strips your hair and scalp of all its natural oils. It indeed cleans your hair but also dries your scalp and could even cause dandruff and hair loss.
Parabens are preservatives to prevent our shampoo from spoiling. A preservative in our haircare products is needed because it comes in contact with water and bacteria thrive in water. Parabens should be avoided as they can cause DNA damage, affect our hormones, and may even be involved in breast cancer development.
Phthalates have many uses but in shampoos, they are often used as gelling agents. It ensures that the fragrance in the shampoo sticks around longer and helps balance out the formula of the shampoo. However, phthalates are known to disrupt our endocrine system. This alone should be enough reason to avoid it.
Dimethicone is a silicone that is often added to shampoos to help with the spreadability of the shampoo. It also makes your hair soft and shiny. This is because dimethicone coats your hair so it appears healthy. This comes with a big downside, it is very hard to remove and can build up in your hair. Once it has coated your hair, nutrients can no longer penetrate the hair shaft weakening your hair in the long run.
The palm oil industry has contributed to an estimated 5% of tropical deforestation in tropical areas. If you can't avoid palm oil in a product, ask the producer if the palm oil used is RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).
In my opinion, fragrance in a skin or hair care product is useless as I want to nourish my skin/hair not make it smell nice.
FAQ about Shampoo Bars
How often should you use a shampoo bar?
A shampoo bar can be used just as frequently as a regular liquid shampoo. However, shampooing your hair less frequently will not only save you lots of water and energy, but it is also much better for your hair as the natural oils are stripped from your hair less frequently.
How long does it take for hair to adjust to the shampoo bar?
I never experience a transition period when switching to a shampoo bar. This can be different for you as it depends on your hair and the product you previously used. If you live in an area with hard water it may take a little longer before your hair is used to the new treatment.
Do I need to rinse with baking soda?
You often read about a pre-rinse with a baking soda and water mix. I don’t like to use baking soda direct on my skin as it has a rather pH of about 9 while our skin has a pH of about 5. I have very sensitive skin and this cause a rash on my skin because baking soda is too aggressive for me. So I don’t do this when shampooing my hair and my shampoo bar still works great for me.
I also don’t rinse with apple cider vinegar afterward. This is used to bring the ph of your scalp back down after a baking soda rinse. As I did not do this, the apple cider vinegar rinse is also not necessary.
What are the disadvantages of a shampoo bar?
A shampoo bar is more expensive compared to a bottle of liquid shampoo. However, a shampoo bar will last you much longer compared to a bottle which means in the long run, it may be cheaper.
Takes some time to get used to
A shampoo bar works a little differently compared to liquid shampoo and it takes some getting used to before both you and your hair are comfortable with the new treatment. Don’t give up after 1 try and give your hair a couple of weeks to experiment and see if it likes the new treatment.