The Helpful Guide on How to Use Shampoo Bars

how to use shampoo bars

We’ve had shampoo bars in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop for a good long while now. They’re a great zero waste alternative to shampoo in plastic bottles. There are four really great bars to choose from in the shop that are all organic, vegan, palm oil and SLS free, and come wrapped in flower seed paper that you can plant to grow wild flowers!

Basically, the zero waste shampoo dream come true!! I feel like this is an essential zero waste blog post, and I apologize for the delay in writing it. If you’ve used a solid shampoo bar, I’m sure you’ve realized it can take some getting used to. I’m excited to share with you my own tips and tricks for making the transition to natural shampoo bars.

How to Use Shampoo Bars

How to Use Shampoo Bars

Steps for Using a Shampoo Bar

  • First step, wet hair thoroughly. You will want your hair to be pretty drenched, because shampoo bars don’t lather like traditional liquid shampoos.
  • Make a good lather in your hands using your shampoo bar. Again, you’ll notice the lather from a shampoo bar isn’t as strong as that from tradition shampoo. That’s because most liquid soaps are full of harmful chemicals, especially SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) – a foaming agent, that make a really rich lather. A lot of foam is absolutely not necessary for clean hair, so don’t worry. *Note: if you have really short hair, feel free to rub the bar of soap directly on your head. For best results, I don’t recommend this method for long hair, because it’s harder to rinse it out.
  • Scrub the soap into your roots and scrub well in circular motions. Commercial shampoo often contains chemicals that strip the oils from your hair but zero waste shampoo bars do not. In this way, it’s important that you scrub and massage your scalp really well to break up the oils and then rinse it out really well. Start from the top of your head and work the soap down the hair shaft to the ends of your hair.
  • That’s it, you’re done! It’s that simple. Be sure to put your shampoo bar somewhere where it can dry between uses, like a soap dish with drainage holes. This will help extend the life of your bars. I have a hanging wire rack in my shower where I keep my bar soaps so they can drain and dry thoroughly. You could use a soap lift to help keep your soap bars dry as well!
  • Another shampoo bar tip: When you bar gets too small to effectively lather in your wet hands, put your small soap bits in a soap saver with your other body bar bits and you can continue to use this soap to wash your body!
  • You can follow up your hair washing with solid conditioner bars to keep your locks healthy and tangle free.
How to Use Shampoo Bars

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How to Use Shampoo Bars

Shampoo Bar Transition Period

I’d say the number one issue that arises when starting to use a plastic-free shampoo bar is the transition period. Not everyone goes through it, but many people often do. Your hair is used to the chemicals you’ve been using from conventional shampoos which are intended to strip the natural oils from your hair.

If it’s your first time using a solid shampoo, your hair might continue to produce those natural oils at the same rate as it was with your previous shampoo but now you aren’t stripping the oils from your hair… which can cause your hair to look greasy. Your hair will need to get used to your new method and accommodate to the new, more gentle cleansing routine you are using.

To counteract the greasy hair look you might have in the first few weeks or months, you can use an apple cider vinegar rinse to help balance the pH of your hair. Dilute about 2 tablespoons of ACV in a cup of warm water and use this to rinse your hair after using your shampoo bar. Do this ACV rinse about once per week.

Shampoo Bar Still Not Working?

So you’ve been using your bar shampoo a few weeks now and your hair STILL looks oily. There’s a possibility your hair hasn’t gotten used to the new routine yet or it could be your water. Do you have hard or soft water? Shampoo bars don’t work so great with hard water. The soap reacts with the high volume of minerals in your water and sometimes that creates build up on your scalp. You can counteract this again with an ACV rinse or you could also purchase a shower head filter to help soften your water.

Words of Wisdom on Trying Shampoo Bars

My personal advice is to just experiment around with different shampoo bars until you find what works best for you. Everyone’s hair reacts differently to shampoo soap bars and sometimes it requires a little trial and error to find a bar that you really love. We have some great ones to choose from in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop, but also check your local farmer’s market for soap suppliers.

My friend Amber over on the Zero Wasted blog and shop said, “my advice would be for people to give the switch to a shampoo bar time. Give your hair a few washes and see how it goes. Also, look for an unpackaged shampoo bar or one in paper.”

Also, check out my friend Kathi’s blog post on How to Use a Shampoo Bar if you’re looking for more tips!

My Personal Favorite Shampoo Bar 

My hair type is long, thin, and fine. This pair of shampoo and conditioner bars is what I use on my hair and LOVE it. I’ve been using it for several years now, and it’s always the first bar I recommend to my friends. I’ve had so many friends and family members make the switch to a shampoo bar by trying out this particular pair of bars. I felt like with this bar, there wasn’t really a transition period at all. It works just as well as conventional shampoo but without all the plastic waste! If you have thin hair like mine, these are seriously the best shampoo bars to try.

There are also some organic shampoo bars from Unearth Malee in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop. My customers adore these bars! If you’re looking for a bar shampoo with high quality, natural ingredients (scented with essential oils), you’ll want to check these out. We love the organic, fresh ingredients without the plastic packaging. Unearth Malee wraps their zero-waste shampoo bars in flower seed paper that you can’t plant to grow wildflowers! You simply soak the flower seed paper in water and then plant it. Keep it watered regularly and it will sprout wildflowers.

How are Shampoo Bars More Sustainable than Traditional Shampoo?

Here are a few reasons why shampoo bars are considered more eco friendly than conventional shampoo:

  1. Packaging: Shampoo bars typically come in minimal or plastic-free packaging, such as paper or compostable materials. In contrast, conventional shampoos often come in plastic bottles that contribute to plastic waste and take a long time to decompose.
  2. Plastic waste reduction: By using a shampoo bar, you eliminate the need for plastic bottles, which are a significant source of plastic pollution. Shampoo bar users can significantly reduce their plastic waste and help protect the environment.
  3. Transportation emissions: Shampoo bars are more compact and lightweight compared to liquid shampoos, which reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Less energy is required to ship and store shampoo bars, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Longer lifespan: Shampoo bars tend to last longer than liquid shampoos. Their solid form allows for more efficient use, as it is easier to control the amount of product used per wash. This longer lifespan means fewer purchases and less waste generated over time.
  5. Chemicals and water usage: Many shampoo bars are formulated with natural ingredients and exclude harmful chemicals like sulfates and parabens. Additionally, shampoo bars typically require less water during production and usage compared to liquid shampoos, contributing to water conservation efforts.

Please feel free to share any advice or questions of your own about shampoo bars in the comments. Would love to hear more about your own experiences! 

You might also enjoy these blog posts from Tiny Yellow Bungalow!

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9 thoughts on “The Helpful Guide on How to Use Shampoo Bars

  1. Thank you Jessie for explaining how shampoo bars work – and the tip to be patient and be mindful around the “transition time” – that is a real factor! At the risk of a couple of bad hair days, shampoo bars are a really powerful way to reduce lifelong single plastic use.
    Thank you

  2. Just started using a shampoo bar but I went from Plaine products to a shampoo bar, so I have already done the transition away from plastic bottles of chemicals. Actually fairly impressed with the results, my hair is easy to wash and rinsed pretty easily, and it’s silky soft and smooth. I have longer hair half way down my back, with a curl so I gets real big in humidity. I was expecting frizzy and dry. I was looking for something a little more affordable shampoo wise and easier to travel with, 1 less item I need in my quart sized see through bag with liquids under 3.4 Oz now.

    Thanks for the encouragement to take the plunge. That’s one more step away from plastic and reducing my waste.

    1. Oh that’s wonderful to hear! It seems like everyone’s hair reacts differently to bars but I’m glad yours was happy with the switch 🙂 And yes, when traveling, it’s nice because you can use one bar for body and hair. Super convenient for light packing.

  3. I have found my hair to be greasy near the head but the hair itself (I have long hair) is SO dry and frizzy!! I am concerned ….my hair looks very unhealthy after a month.

    1. Oh no! Have you tried using an ACV rinse?

  4. Hello! I am interested in purchasing your shampoo bars. I was wondering if the essential oil blend in the ingredients is organic, cold-pressed, hexane free essential oils? I know that probably sounds really high maintenance but I have an autoimmune disease and am trying to reduce my direct and indirect exposure to toxins as much as I can. If you could let me know I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

    1. Let me check with the maker and get back to you!

    2. Hi Margaret! So here’s the information given to me by the maker:

      There should be no hexane present in any essential oils, as hexane is only used in the production of absolutes, which we do not use. From our supplier, “its presence in detectable levels (>.001%) is possible depending how good a job the producer did at removing the hexane. We do not see this very often, but it possible with absolutes.” That amount in detectable levels would be in absolutes, which again we do not use in any of our creations.

      For cold pressed oils, these are mainly citrus oils. Many herbs, roots, etc… the essential oil is extracted through steam distillation. The oils we have that are certified organic are turmeric, orange, and lemon. Currently, the cost of other certified organic essential oils is way too high.

      I hope this answers your questions! Thank you for your interest in my little shop 🙂

  5. I just started using a shampoo bar, and it makes my naturally curly hair so DRY!!!!! My hair is very fine textured and thick. I’ve gone from having soft, defined curls to looking like cotton candy out of control! I’ve used the bar soap two days in a row now. How long does this take to work properly?

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