I remember my daughter bringing the first shampoo bar home: This bright red, soap-bar looking ball that smelled of strawberries and vanilla, which she bought at a popular cosmetic store. It was the cutest thing ever! A great idea, I thought, until she used it once...
The little bundle of bubbly cuteness became this melting blubber that stained the bathroom shelf for weeks. It got me investigating all about shampoo bars. Seemed like a good idea for someone to create a bar of concentrated shampoo that would "last as long as 3 shampoo bottles without the plastic," plus the benefits of reduced water. You're not buying water, so that's a plus, right?
The difference between a shampoo bar and a soap bar is that soap is made the traditional way of reacting oils with water and lye. A soap bar's pH is quite high, so there really is no concern for bacteria building up on it and making you sick, because this high pH will kill bacteria and mould – this is why during the Pandemic we were recommended to wash with soap. [Read more about pH HERE].
A shampoo bar, on the other hand, is made using surfactants (essentially: mild detergents that are specifically made for body and hair use), along with plant extracts, carrier oils and all kinds of other goodies. The pH of a shampoo bar is made for use on the delicate skin – or at least it should be, if you know what you're doing.
The problem is that many makers of shampoo bars don't use preservatives, which is an issue. Then in this case, the cute little red blob becomes an extremely dangerous bacteria breeding ground to reuse even once. A sticky, gooey, bacteria blob.
So how should a shampoo bar be kept between washes? Are shampoo bars even sanitary?
Shampoo bars are concentrated shampoo. In between washes, they should be left to dry completely. Here are some good, sanitary options:
You can take your used shampoo bar out of the shower and put it on a soap dish and leave it to dry, like this one:
2. You can buy a simple metal rack like this one and have it installed in your shower, and keep your shampoo bar there. You can probably get something similar to this at your local dollar discount store:
3. We like these Loofah Shampoo Bar pads (which we provide to each new customer for free!), as they are an eco-friendly, multi-purpose pad that is completely biodegradable:
The nice thing about this option, aside from the already mentioned eco-friendliness of it all, is that the water passes through them very quickly and the holes cause natural ventilation. So your bar dries out quickly and beautifully!
"Preservative" is not a bad word
The other very important thing to note, is that every shampoo bar should have added preservatives in the formulation. There are natural and safe preservatives used in just about everything you eat – from bread to milk. If you spot a shampoo bar on the market and the maker proudly says, "no preservatives added" then we suggest you RUN, because the only bar that you should be buying without preservatives is a traditional SOAP.
Note: The preservative we use in our shampoo bars is accepted in natural formulations and if you would like to learn more about it, link through to our [Ingredients] page and check out the bit about "Geogard Ultra".
I love a good shampoo bar. Shampoo bars are not easy to make right; they can dry out your hair immensely and damage your scalp long-term. I personally think there are too many DIY "recipes" online to make one, and very few I've seen are very good. But once you get a hold of a shampoo bar that has been carefully made for use with your hair type, stick with it! Your hair will love it, and you will not end up with dry, frizzy hair and a red blobby mess in your shower. Promise!