How To Use A Natural Shampoo Bar
For those of us who grew up with shampoo in a bottle, natural shampoo bars are a relatively new hair care product. I have written a lot of information in blogs, FAQs, etc. about shampoo bars.
There is a list of links at the bottom of this page that may help answer your questions.
Natural shampoo bars are easy to use. If you are new to shampoo bars, finding the right bar is important but I believe that using the proper technique to wash your hair is the best way to ensure a successful transition from synthetic shampoo to natural shampoo bars.
This page is dedicated to some shampooing techniques. If you have a technique that works for you, please leave a comment to share with others.
Prepare Your Hair Before Shampooing
When switching to a natural shampoo bar, it is important to remove natural and product buildup from your hair. This step is especially important if you use lots of products or your hair is used to detergent shampoo. Most people that have problems adjusting to shampoo bars usually skip this step.
Your hair can have build-up or residue from years of using commercial products like shampoos, conditioners, spray, gels, etc. These products are often made with synthetic substances such as silicones, waxes, and petroleum-based ingredients that are added to make our hair look shiny and full of volume. In reality, over time they simply coat the hair which leaves a residue.
Your hair can also have natural build-up. This natural residue is caused by the build-up of scalp oils, sweat, dead skin, and environmental pollutants.
While liquid shampoos and shampoo bars made with synthetic detergents may be better at removing residue they also tend to strip both hair and scalp from their natural oils that moisturize the scalp. When you stop using detergent liquid or bar shampoo your scalp will need time to re-balance its oil production.
Gentle cleansing natural shampoo bars are not good at removing build-up. Doing a prewash with a Vinegar or Baking Soda Rinse can help prepare your hair and scalp and remove the build-up which can make your hair dull and lifeless.
Please read our blog, "Hair And Scalp Build-Up? What Can Help?"
Why Is A Shampooing Technique Important?
Our natural shampoo bars are a lot more concentrated than liquid shampoos. They are superfatted and thus contain extra oils and butters to nourish your hair.
If you do not build a nice lather and rinse really well you will have areas that remain coated with the soap oils, which can make it look or feel “gummy.”
If you are used to commercial shampoo and shampoo twice, you will have already noticed that the second wash produces a lot more lather. The first wash is mixing with the dirt and excess oil in your hair so the second wash is working on cleaner hair. The same is true for our shampoo bars.
So lather up, once, twice, maybe even three times at first. Then be sure to rinse, rinse, rinse!!! Again, if you have long hair, pay special attention to the middle back of the hair so that you rinse all of the soap out of your hair.
Notice in the techniques below that we do NOT recommend lathering up the length of your hair with the shampoo bar. As you use your fingers to rinse the lather through the strands, there is enough shampoo to clean the length. These techniques help prevent coating your hair strands with shampoo residue.
Technique #1: Create The Lather in Your Hands
I think this is the best technique if you are new to shampoo bars, have adjustment issues, or have long or thick hair.
Create a nice foamy lather by rubbing the wet bar between your hands, a soap pouch, or a natural sponge, and use only the lather to wash your hair.
This technique helps prevent pockets of soap residue in your hair that can make hair feel tacky.
- One of the most important steps is to begin with thoroughly wet hair--I mean a lot of water. Be sure that the water saturates your hair all the way down to the roots.
- Rub the wet shampoo bar between your wet hands or puff to create a nice lather.
- Massage the lather into your scalp only at the roots of the hair until you work up a really good lather
- It is very important to work the shampoo into your scalp with water and really build up a good lather so there are no patches of soap left on your hair.
- Lathering up also allows the dirt and extra oils to be washed away.
- If the lather is not foamy enough, add more water.
- Using your fingers like a comb, smooth the lather down the length of your hair as you rinse with water.
- To prevent tangles, be sure to always work from the top down, use your fingers like a comb, not a mixer, and don't pile your hair on your head,
- Rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse again. I cannot stress how important this step is to shampoo bar success. In order to remove the excess shampoo, which can leave a filmy feeling and weigh hair down, do NOT rush this step! The rinsing should take longer than washing and lathering time.
- If your hair is long or thick, lift up sections of your hair to ensure that all of the shampoo is rinsed clean. Don’t neglect parts of your head that are more difficult to reach, such as the nape of your neck or the back of your head.
- Repeat if desired but I found that as my hair adjusted I only needed one round of shampoo.
Technique #2: Use The Bar Directly On Your Scalp
- Thoroughly wet your hair.
- Follow all of the steps above except rather than creating lather in your hands, gently rub wet the shampoo bar directly onto your scalp at the top of your head. Do not rub the bar on the length of your hair!
- Gently massage the scalp adding more water as needed, until a foamy lather forms.
Relax, you can wash your hair with natural shampoo every day if you desire! It cleans thoroughly without drying or coating your hair or scalp. Dry and style your hair as normal.
Ida's Favorite Technique for Long Hair
Men and women with short hair seldom have hair adjustment problems. Folks with long hair have to experiment a bit and I have found that the technique can make all the difference. The most common spot for build-up, especially for people with long hair, is at the nape of the neck.
This technique allows me to avoid washing the length of my hair with a shampoo bar. I have found that just rinsing over the ends will keep them clean.
You have to experiment with your unique hair type. I have long, fine hair.
Below is my technique for using a shampoo bar. I...
- tie my long hair into a loose ponytail
- thoroughly wet my hair -- really wet
- wet the shampoo bar and rub the bar across the top of my head in strokes from front to back until I have covered the entire scalp area. (I have found that if I rub any shampoo vigorously in all directions, my fine long hair gets very tangled). I continue to add water as I create the lather in order to allow the shampoo bar to do its job. (You can also use lather created in your hands)
- massage my entire scalp in a combing motion to work up a really good lather. I do not rub the bar or work the lather on the length of my hair.
- take out my ponytail and rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse allowing the shampoo to drip down the length of my hair. (I have found that this rinsing is enough to clean the length of my hair.)
- rinse for at LEAST one minute as I rub my fingers through my hair to be sure that all of the shampoo is rinsed away
- squeeze gently on the length to remove excess water and cover with a towel while I dry off the rest of me. I do not rub the towel over my wet hair because it causes nasty tangles.
- use a wide-toothed comb and gently comb from the bottom up
- dry and style as usual
We are often creatures of habit and prefer to keep doing what we have always done in the past. I know that sometimes change can be scary, but when it comes to shampoo, there really are great reasons to make this switch.
In May of 1908, a New York Times article provides some simple directions on “How to Shampoo the Hair.” The article states that hair is best shampooed with white Castile soap applied with a "not very stiff nail brush" and rinsed four times once a fortnight. It is a cute quick read if you have a chance.
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