The shampoo bar journey

A few months ago I realized that almost all of the beauty products I have been using contain plastics. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, deodorant, face wash etc. I started reading ingredients lists and tried to translate and understand what the mean. And the more I read and understood the more I got angry and frustrated. I want to understand what kind of chemicals I’m putting on my body and things like carbomer and styrene/acrylates copolymer (plastics in my old shampoo) and phenoxyethanol (preservative with an impressive list of side effects) are not what I want. I changed to natural cosmetics and it’s so nice to use products I know are good for me and read ingredients list that are sort and understandable.

But natural cosmetics and zero waste don’t always go hand in hand. And there is a lot of green washing going on. The consumer has to know a lot. I definitely made few mistakes.

I love handmade bar soaps! I actually go a bit crazy for them and I have to stop myself from buying them. I stopped using liquid hand soap and body wash around two years ago the first time I started thinking about how to live more zero waste. It was one of the easiest changes to make to reduce the amount of plastic bottles in the bathroom. Also they are a lot more economical, a bar of soap will last a lot longer then a bottle of liquid soap. But the shampoo bar change was definitely not so easy! But after two months in I’m very happy

Here are the key things I learned about using shampoo bars:

1. You have to keep using shampoo bars long enough for your hair to get use to the new soap based products. So don’t give up if the first try doesn’t work out. Shampoo bars are different from liquid shampoo and it takes time for your hair to a adjust

2. USE the apple cider vinegar rinse! This one was a game changer for me. It really works! I was very skeptical and lazy to do this, but it really is an important step especially when your hair is just adjusting to shampoo bars. Before doing this shampoo bars would leave my hair either too dry or too oily with the residue. This blog post was very informative for me. The rise helps with getting ride of the residue and makes your hair shiny and easily managble. You should find the mix that suit for you hair (oily hair more vinegar, dry less). I use one teaspoon of applecider vinegar mixed with 100ml of water. I do the mixture into an old shampoo bottle and squeeze it on to my hair and scalp and let it set for a while. Then I do a proper rinse as I don’t want to smell like vinegar (I checked with the boyfriend and he says I don’t 😉). This really makes the difference! Aparently when my hair gets use to shampoo bars, I can drop the vinegar rinse to twise a month or so. We will see… I also use after this a conditioner on my scalp but more about that below.

3. Know your hair. To me it really helped that I talked to a professional Eco hairdresser who is specialised in natural products. Everyone’s hair is different and the thing that works for one doesn’t nessessarily work for others.

I have used a few different shampoo bars. First one was from Flow cosmetics (Finnish Natural Cosmetics brand) shampoo bar for blond hair and I didn’t like the way it made my hair so dry, but I didn’t try the apple cider vinegar rinse which I know know is important. And now the bar works so much better. But before because my hair got so dry I thought I needed conditioner. I have a very long and thin hair that gets very tangled and that’s when I made the mistake of going to Lush…

So Lush. This is the first and last time I buy anything from them. On the outside it looks a perfect place to buy zero waste, no packaging etc. But Lush is not natural cosmetics as my hairdresser pointed out. No hop that smells like that 10 meters away cannot be natural cosmetics. I’m sensitive to strong smells, but I thought this ones I will try their Jungle Solid Conditioner that the sales lady said was super moisturizing. And to be fair it was, so much so that it made my hair look like a wet dog. And the smell was just plain awful and it followed me the whole day. My flatmate actually commented the smell it left to the bathroom and said it was horrible. But the worst thing is that it gave me red spots on my skin and I definitely got an allergic reaction to it. Again the ingredients list has some shady names I don’t like Behenyl Trimethylammonium Chloride, Propylene glycol which is a very common cause for skin irritation and allergy, I’m definitely not the only one who is sensitive to it. But all this I didn’t realize until later.

I found an Sweet Natural Shampoo & Conditioner Bar. From a French brand called Pachamamaï, I ordered it from Sinplastico online shop ( I got my lovely safety razor from there as well) and it was ok, maybe little bit leaving the residue, but again I still didn’t try the apple sider vinegar rinse. It works very well with the apple cider vinegar. The down side is that I had to order it from Spain which is not very ecofriendly. I also found a Finnish Ole Hyvä Cloudberry conditioner from Ruohonjuuri and the cool thing is you can go to the shop and refill it! And I really like it!

To be honest at this point I was getting tired of the battle with the shampoo bars and I was still using up my Dove shampoo, because I didn’t want to just through it away. And this is when I decided to go and see a professional. For the first time in two years I went to a hairdresser! But not just any hairdresser an ecohairdresser Huili in Helsinki where they only use natural cosmeticts and products. And I learned a lot.

So apparently I have a dry and irritated scalp. The hairdresser showed me how flaky and red my scalp was and it’s so weird I didn’t notice it before! And then I realized that I actually do scratch my scalp all the time without noticing! She said she could see that I was still using the Dove shampoo from the shine in my hair. And later I started reading the ingredients list for the Dove shampoo again. And what did I notice but Propylene glycol the same bloody thing that probably gave me the reaction with the Lush conditioner. No wonder my scalp is irritated! This time I stopped using the Dove no mater how waste full it would be.

The hairdresser did a very proper wash for my hair and scalp by using lovely products from Less is more an Austrian company. I had never even thought of putting conditioner on my scalp, because I have a long hair. But this scalp relieve conditioner is so nice you can feel it cooling and soothing with the tea tree oil! And my hair never looked more healthy. But because zero waste and Natural Cosmetics don’t always go together, this wonder liquid comes in a plastic bottle.

The hairdresser also gave me good advice on tackling the whole shampoo bar thing. The hairdresser recommended to try the apple cider vinegar rinse. She told me it’s a good way also to clence your hair from chemicals.

I also got so exited from the tea tree oil that I bought a tea tree oil soap/shampoo bar from Saaren taika. It’s a small one woman company in my home town of Salo in the archipelago of the Baltic Sea where she makes these soaps by hand. I love it when I can support small, local entrepreneurs and even more when the products are great! She also has a great blog where she explains shampoo bars very well (in Finnish). She also makes tea tree shampoo bars for oily hair, it’s a is little less moisturazing than the soap. But the soap can be used as normal soap as well and it’s good for problematic and sensitive skin. Win win!

This soap bar, together with the applesider vinegar rinse and the scalp relieving conditioner have been a super good combination. And I’m very happy the way my hair and scalp feel and look like. Now the shampoo bar is finished and I will definitely buy a new one. So to sum up two months in shampoo bars/natural cosmetics work very well, I think my hair has never looked better!


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