If You Try A Shampoo Bar Once And It Does Not "Work" Is It a Sign That It Is Bad For You?
Of course, I don't think so!
Over the past year, we have received emails concerning information that is circulating the internet by some companies selling shampoo bars.
The gist of these emails is basically twofold:
(1) people are being told that if you try a natural shampoo bar once, it should work and if it does not, it is a sign that natural shampoo bars are not for you
(2) the words “adjustment period” are a marketing hype or an outright lie simply to explain why natural soap-based shampoo bars do not work
Needless to say, these comments are quite troubling. Basically, the first part is stating that if your body needs to adjust to a change, then the change is never a good one.
I disagree with the logic behind this reasoning and would like to provide an analogy that may help explain.
About 2 ½ years ago I decided to commit to a healthier lifestyle by exercising and replacing processed foods and refined sugars with cleaner plant-based whole foods. I went to a doctor who specializes in Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine and came up with a plan to dive right into my new lifestyle.
After only two days, I became ill with a headache, body aches, stomach distress, dizziness, and extreme fatigue. I could not even get out of bed let alone begin an exercise routine. After a few days my husband decided that I needed medicine. What was his medicine? A few Hershey Kisses (basically sugar). Within a few hours I felt much better.
Now, I was not a junk food addict and I did not feel that my old eating habits were that terrible. However, when I called my doctor she chuckled and said she was not surprised.
My body was going through an adjustment period. Over the years my body had adapted to and accepted my diet as normal. Now it was literally rebelling as it had to learn how to live without processed foods and refined sugar. After about a month I felt fabulous.
It’s quite obvious that my body resisted my change in diet for a while. So does it mean that the change was a bad one for me?
Like your gut and your skin, your scalp has a microbiome that has developed over the years. While it may not be the best microbiome for healthy hair, it is the only one your scalp knows.
As you transition to a completely new product, your microbiome will change.
As some people transition to natural shampoo bars, they will go through an adjustment period as their hair literally has to learn how to live without the ingredients in the bottled shampoo. That is neither a lie nor a marketing ploy.
Natural Shampoo Bars Do NOT Contain Detergents
Not surprisingly, the companies cited in the emails proudly boast that their bars are “soap-free.” But they are not selling natural shampoo bars.
Soap is a natural surfactant (short for surface active agent).
Since some sort of surfactant is required to wash away oily dirt, if the cleansing product you are using on your face, body, or hair is not real soap, or claims to be "soap-free" then it is made with synthetic surfactants, basically detergents—that is a fact!
Learn More Blog: "How Soap Works"
These bars are called “syndet” (synthetic detergent) bars.
Since syndet bars are made with ingredients similar to those found in liquid shampoos, they are basically a bottled shampoo without the added water or the bottle.
So it makes sense that if your hair and scalp have adapted to and accepted as normal the ingredients in a bottled detergent shampoo, you may have little or no adjustment period to a detergent-based shampoo bar.
Companies who sell syndet bars often state that the detergent surfactants they use are safer and milder than traditional surfactants like SLS. You will notice that they go out of their way to state that these ingredients are "derived" from natural ingredients--like coconut oil.
We don't know what research will tell us down the road about these surfactants and I am not here to argue whether or not these ingredients are “safe,” but they are NOT natural ingredients.
Learn More Blog: "Sodium Coco-Sulfate: Is It Natural?"
Do You Really Expect Me To Use A Bar Of Soap On My Hair?
For those of us who grew up with shampoo in a bottle, natural shampoo bars may seem like a relatively new hair care product. However, soap-based shampoo bars were commonly used before liquid detergent shampoos became popular in the 1940s.
While the process for making a shampoo bar is the same as making soap and the ingredients are similar, a well-formulated shampoo bar is not your typical soap bar.
Shampoo bars contain carefully selected ingredients that promote a moisturized scalp and well-conditioned, shiny hair.
Learn More Blog: "What Is The Difference Between Soap Bars and Shampoo Bars?"
The Question Is: Why do you want to switch from bottle shampoo to a shampoo bar?
Decisions like this are very personal. If your goal is to help create as little packaging waste as possible and to decrease the number of plastic bottles thrown into our landfills, then any shampoo bar brand will do.
But if you are also looking for a natural alternative to bottled shampoo, know that while some "soap-free" syndet shampoo bars may contain a few natural ingredients, they must also contain synthetic detergents.
I recently wrote a blog entitled “12 Reasons to Use Handmade Natural Soap.” The reasons for using a handmade natural shampoo bar are quite similar.
Lifestyle Changes Do Take Time
As many of you already know, the idea of "one size fits all" does not work for most people. The focus should be on personalization. The focus should be on YOU!
I have been on my "healthier eating" journey for over two years. In the end, after a lot of research and listening to my own body, I have been able to craft a diet perfect for me, that is free from most processed foods.
I have learned to create some great muffins free from processed sugar, flour, and oil (still working on that perfect chocolate chip cookie). Thank goodness I have always been a label reader because "healthy" food advertising and packaging are often quite deceiving. But my lifestyle decisions and changes may not be right for you or anyone else.
In the same vein, natural shampoo bars may not be for everyone. However, if you try something once, especially changing a routine, and it does not "work" is that always a sign that it is bad for you?
It just makes sense that a change in routine to which your body has become accustomed, whether it be diet, exercise, or a shampoo bar, often requires some adjustment period.
Part of the magic (and sometimes frustration) of the switch to a natural shampoo bar is that it provides a uniquely personal experience.
If you try a natural shampoo bar once and you do not like the way your hair looks or feels, give it some time.
If one bar really is not working for you, try another one before you give up. It IS important to remember everyone’s hair and scalp are unique. Each of our shampoo bar recipes is unique—so try different samples.
A great thing about shampoo bars is that you can use them as ordinary soap bars as well. So if it is not the right bar for your hair, you can use it as a body or hand soap--no waste!
Learn More Blog: "Tips Adjusting To Shampoo Bars"
I have been using shampoo bars for over 13 years. My hair was always poker straight and very thin. It never had body, bounce, curl or shine, but now I have it all. I even developed my own technique for shampooing my long hair.
Those of you who are regular customers know that I believe in natural products with all my heart.
If that is marketing hype, then so be it.