My shampoo bar journey

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I started to post this in the what did you do today thread, but it's so long that I decided to start a thread...

First, reading the SCM website is work, but I'm impressed by the depth of the information. I'm learning a lot even though jumping around from linked page to linked page makes me crazy. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly certain that the key thing I learned from reading about micelles and surfactants is that bigger is better. As I understand it (right now), blending milder/co-surfactants with the anionic surfactants leads to bigger micelles which equates to milder cleansing.

Testing - I did a round of shampoo bar testing this morning at the sink, using my hands, and compared the following bars: DIY B&B pourable, Lush SCS-based "Honey I Washed My Hair" bar, Kitsch Tea Tree and Mint Clarifying bar (SCI and Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate), a bar I made last year using Syndopour base which is Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (20-40%), Propylene Glycol (20-40%), Glyceryl Stearate (10-20%), Aqua (10-20%), Glycerin (10-20%), and a mystery shampoo bar that I bought last year, but I forgot the brand name. For additional comparison, I added in a bar of my avocado oil-rich, low CO soap that was sitting by the sink.

pH - I only tested the DIY B&B and Lush bars and the liquid shampoo I've been using lately. The DIY B&B bar was around 5.5 using Machery-Nagel pH strips (2-9 range) and a 10% solution. The Lush bar pH for a 10% solution was 6.5% (lower than I expected based on SCS being the main ingredient). The liquid shampoo was between 5.0 and 5.5.

Lather - I'm happy to say that the DIY B&B pourable bar I made on April 20th, with coconut and castor oils but no water phase additives, performed very well. It's making a lot more lather than it did when I tested during the first week. I'm happy with the lather structure, which can go from creamy to bigger open bubbles depending on how much water I add. It is lathering at least as well as any of the other bars, including the SCS Lush bar and better than my low CO cp soap. At this point the only thing I feel it's lacking with respect to lather feel is some slip. Maybe this is because I didn't add any of the phase B additives, or possibly I need to play around with the types and amounts of oil/oil soluble additives? Suggestions please!

Mildness - too early to say much for any of the bars except the Syndopour. When I used a Syndopour test bar for a few months last year my scalp did not get irritated or itch and my hair seemed fine throughout (I was using my normal liquid conditioner). Even though the Lush bar is testing at pH 6.5 I'm worried about using it on my hair for more than a few trials due to the SCS (which has plenty of SLS in it). Plus, now I'm worried about rinsing it out of my hair (see below).

Slip - I do like a little slip in my lather. My cp soap bar and the Lush shampoo bar both have some slip, which the others are lacking (IMHO). The slip of the Lush bar seems to make it easier to distribute the lather in my hair. If I wanted to increase slip in cp soap lather, I would add rice bran oil (linoleics) or silk. Will either of those noticeably increase slip in a shampoo bar? Additives I have in addition to all kinds of oils and butters are: silk amino acids (liquid), silk peptide powder, panthenol powder, allantoin powder and two silicone alternatives - Neossance Hemisqualane and Natrasil - that I bought from LotionCrafters to try in conditioner bar and possibly lotion. ETA: I may also have Honeyquat, plus I have glycerin and sodium lactate, edta and sodium citrate. If anyone has any suggestions, TIA! If not, I will just keep reading. Given the price of ingredients, I've decided to read as much as I can before making more bars.

Texture - I'm finding that I'm very aware of the textures of the various bars, which range from smooth to grainy/gritty. My cp soap is the smoothest, the Lush bar is next. Even though the Lush bar seems to be made from prills/noodles based on the photo on the website* and looks and feels a bit lumpy/bumpy (a bit like ciaglia soap), the base texture actually feels very smooth. I like the overall hand feel of this bar the best and went ahead and bought a bit of SCS to see if I can replicate/understand the texture. All of the rest of the bars have texture issues (IMHO, or possibly I have unrealistic expectations for shampoo bar texture). The DIY B&B pourable bar I made is almost smooth, but with some distinctive small, but gritty pieces. Did I not thoroughly dissolve/melt the SCI? The Kitsch bar has pit-like features on the back surface and the bar shape is so odd that it's hard to evaluate the texture at this point. The Syndopour bar has a smooth consistency, but has gone a bit chalky over time. The mystery bar is very gritty and another very noticeable thing is that it makes a milky lather. Maybe it has clay or rice flour or something like that in it?

Rinsability - My cp soap is the easiest to rinse off, followed by the DIY B&B bar. The Lush bar is the most difficult to rinse off. I initially noticed this by chance, but have since read on SCM that anionic surfactants can be hard to rinse off skin. After using the Lush bar, making lather and then rinsing all of the lather off (based on visual and wet feel), I stuck my hands back under the running water and rubbed them together. Voila, more suds. Rinsed again, rubbed again and still a tiny bit of sudsing. All of the detergent bars do this to some degree, but it doesn't happen with my cp soap which has sodium citrate and is low superfat (3%). I will definitely want to be paying attention to this quality as I move ahead.

Fragrance - If you're looking for lasting fragrance, the Lush bar wins by a mile. Even after I wash my hands with any of the other bars they still smell like the Lush bar. Is that a good thing? I guess it depends on what's in their mystery "fragrance."

* a photo of the Lush bar after a fair amount of testing compared with photo on website.

IMG_0940.jpeg
 
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Thanks for writing up your results! I have only made/used the DIY B&B "regular" (not pourable) bar, a couple of HumbleBee recipes and my own CP shampoo bars, but based on those some comments re slip, texture, rinsability and fragrance:

What do you mean exactly by slip? I have never looked it up, so in bar soap I just think of how easily it glides on the skin, here it looks like you mean how well the lather distributes in your hair? If so, I thought both the DIY and HumbleBee bars did very well in that respect. My own CP bars (as I remember them) did not lather or distribute lather as well. I did not add anything specifically for slip, although did add Panthenol and rice protein, not sure what the rheology would be there.

Texture: I only used surfactant powders/liquid, not prills, but again the syndet formulas (DIY and H'Bee) were smooth, not gritty, as was my homemade CP bar. I just quickly glanced at my recipe notes for the DIY and Hbee bars and they say that I added a little cetyl alcohol and/or stearic acid to the Hbee ones because comments on those said that they sometimes came out too soft.

Rinsability: very surprised to see that your CP soap performed best here, mine did the worst. I have fairly coarse, wavy hair (ethnic Indian), and mine seemed to take forever to wash out well, plus it felt straw like afterwards. Both the DIY and Hbee bars did well on rinsability.

Fragrance: Big fail on the homemade syndet bars here. I tried adding rice flour and clay (separate tests) to anchor the scent, neither worked. Do not remember how the CP bar did because it was so long ago, but I don't remember it being a standout. Would love to know how the big companies do this.

I know Lush claims they are preservative free, but include "Parfum"in their ingredient list. "Parfum" is the INCI for Naticide (which is allegedly "all natural" and appears to contain some fragrance elements as well as anti-microbials), I don't know if this helps to anchor the scent somehow. This is a thread from Chemists' Corner about the preservative effect, but no real conclusions: https://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk/discussion/naticide-can-parfum-inci-really-be-used-as-a-preservative/#:~:text=Apparently, Naticide's INCI name is,as “preservative-free”.

I still want to try adding benzoin powder to the shampoo bars to see if it helps, and have AromaFix on my LotionCrafter list, although it supposed to work best with top notes and less well with base notes. https://lotioncrafter.com/products/aromafix?_pos=1&_sid=103211883&_ss=r
 
I add liquid silk to my shampoo bars for slip, or glide maybe? I also add panthenol. Both of these are added in the percentages recommended in the DIY hot pour recipe. This recipe doesn’t feel gritty or bumpy to me at all, but I understand that others “feel” things differently.

Since I prefer very mild scenting during use, and don’t want to smell it on my hair all day, I won’t be much help there. I will say that based on the strength and durability of scent in Lush products, they are most certainly using some kind of fixative. My understanding is that these can all be lumped under “fragrance” so they don’t have to disclose it.
 
Rinsability: very surprised to see that your CP soap performed best here, mine did the worst. I have fairly coarse, wavy hair (ethnic Indian), and mine seemed to take forever to wash out well, plus it felt straw like afterwards. Both the DIY and Hbee bars did well on rinsability.
To clarify- I judged rinsability based entirely on handwashing with the bars at the sink.
 
I add liquid silk to my shampoo bars for slip, or glide maybe? I also add panthenol. Both of these are added in the percentages recommended in the DIY hot pour recipe. This recipe doesn’t feel gritty or bumpy to me at all, but I understand that others “feel” things differently.

Since I prefer very mild scenting during use, and don’t want to smell it on my hair all day, I won’t be much help there. I will say that based on the strength and durability of scent in Lush products, they are most certainly using some kind of fixative. My understanding is that these can all be lumped under “fragrance” so they don’t have to disclose it.
Doesn't have to be a fixative per se; they may be using high %-- or hydrophobic fragrance that resists washing out, like the ones in detergents and fabric softener. I've never smelled their products so I can't guess which.
 
@not_ally and @AliOop I think of it as slip in soap because the soap slips out of my hand, but glide sounds better for a shampoo bar! I will be sure to try silk in the next round.

I’m happy to hear that neither of you have the grittiness issue. I was so focused on melting the SCI for the first round that I missed the opportunity to dissolve the SCI properly in the liquid surfactant before heating. I hope that’s the only reason I have some grittiness.
 
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I’m reading about hydrolyzed proteins and other additives while on our road trip to Georgia.

Is anyone avoiding any of the hydrolyzed proteins due to the odor? Or is any odor generally masked by the fragrance?

There are so many different kinds of extracts to try that I really don’t know where to begin.

Can anyone make suggestions for extracts or other additives that would be good for wavy to curly hair that gets frizzy when it’s humid?

Due to regrowth, I have a lot of short length hair (< 4”/10cm) mixed in with shoulder length hair. These short bits are really hard to control. Between my hair being so thin and now the frizzy regrowth it’s a struggle to feel good about my hair right now.

I’m wondering if I should also try to work on a leave in product? Or any other suggestions welcome.
 
@Mobjack Bay, my hair (normal-dry/medium thick/somewhat coarse/wavy) is usually a little frizzy after I wash it. That was true with liquid shampoos, and continues, but much less so (I think maybe unnoticeably to anyone but me) with shampoo bars. I add hydrolyzed rice protein to my bars because I read somewhere - I can't find where now! - that it helps with frizziness, and it does seem to. Chemists Corner's insistence that proteins are all just added for label appeal notwithstanding :). Most of the commentary about rice protein is that it helps with volume to the extent that is of interest.

I do not find that any odor associated with proteins persists in the bars after adding fragrance. The other thing I want to add to my next round of shampoo bars for the frizziness is Centrimonium Chloride, mainly for the detangling and the idea that less tangling/brushing would also help with the frizziness

I would note that the DIY B&B non-pourable bar includes BTMS (which seems like it would help with conditioning/detangling/non-frizziness) but the the pourable bar doesn't, so I am curious what you think of it in that respect, I still haven't made the pourable one yet because I keep forgetting to get some kind of PH testing mechanism.

Maybe we should do an SMF shampoo bar swap, it would be a good way to test a bunch of recipes at the same time. If there is enough interest out there, I'm in! ETA: @KiwiMoose, after reading a number of your posts on shampoo bars I'd love to try yours, if you were interested people could send me an extra set of theirs and I could send them all to you in one package. You could do the same, Ie; send all your US samples in one package to me (which I could distribute in my sample mailing to everyone) to save on postage.
 
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I have dry, thick, coarse, low-porosity, curly/wavy and sometimes frizzy hair that is probably 50% grey at this point. I've used hydrolized silk, oat, and rice proteins in my shampoo bar. They all felt the same to me, and there wasn't any objectionable smell from any of them, even in unscented bars.
 
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Mine contain BTMS, a little shea butter and a little fractionated coconut oil - all of which help to reduce frizz, but my hair is still frizzy anyway (just less so than when I was using store bought liquid shampoo). @not_ally I could do a swap but given that each bar has a cost price of circa $7 NZ I would prefer to make some smaller sample bars, so the cost outlay is not so high. They would also be a lot cheaper to send if they are smaller : ) Ain;t nuthin' gonna happen soon though, we've just moved house and everything is in complete disarray and probably will be for a few weeks to come.
 
Definitely, I was assuming that if we did this everyone would send samples that were small enough for two or three washes each, ie, maybe an oz each. I was thinking of taking a 4 oz bar and cutting it into quarters, I think anything smaller would be harder to handle.

ETA: @Mobjack Bay, sorry for hijacking, will desist immediately! @KiwiMoose, good luck with the move, I hate the period where you feel like you are looking for everything all the time.
 
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Thanks @not_ally @AliOop and @KiwiMoose for the additional ideas and suggestions. I’m all for a swap if others are interested!

I brought the 5 syndet test bars I have right now to Georgia with me and hope to get my sisters and niece to test them tomorrow. All of the bars are making lather more easily in the soft water here than they did at my house where the water is hard, but the difference is not as much as I expected.
 
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