What distinguishes a "shampoo" bar from an ordinary bar?...

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gigisiguenza

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... and why is it a bar vs a liquid?
... and who actually uses a bar for shampoo?
... and would you need conditioner after using a shampoo bar?

Curiosity abounds... :)
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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..........the recipe
................you can have it liquid if you want - but many people prefer making bar soap rather than liquid soap
..........have you checked out the "Ginny" thread? A good number of people do
.............some do, some don't.

In all seriousness, the Ginny thread is a very important one, but here are some highlights -

Too cleansing and all the natural oils are removed making the hair rubbish. Too much superfat and the oils weigh down the hair. This is why what would be considered a pretty standard body soap would be bad as a shampoo soap in many cases. But the recipes are rarely "one size fits all" and each person usually tweaks it to get it right, although some people just can't get one to work for them.

Most people need to use some sort of acidic rinse after using the lye-based shampoo, be in Ls or bar soap. I use a citric acid solution (5%) on mine.
 

Susie

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There is much controversy over shampoo bar vs syndet bar. You have to choose for yourself.

Be aware that there is a condition known as FHS-Funky Hair Syndrome. It is the all too common occurrence of hair that looks like you have not washed it in weeks despite washing it that morning. It can last up to a month. Or more. I sort of decided that if you are happy with your current hair care routine, then don't fix it. If you aren't happy with it, then maybe look into it. There is a behemoth of a thread on this forum. Lots of opinions on there.
 

TeaLeavesandTweed

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Okay, I've used shampoo bars off and on a few times in my life, so I'll give this a stab.

Generally, shampoo bar users like the bar over a liquid because it reduces packaging and is more space-economical. They're also nice for traveling because they're not a liquid. Generally, a "shampoo" bar is formulated with more castor oil to give big fluffy lather that people want in shampoo, but without the drying effects of coconut oil. Some soap makers will also add specific hair-friendly ingredients, like marshmallow root extract, beer, honey, egg, horsetail, or nettles. Some also use specific oils that are good for hair, like jojoba. One soap maker I know specifically hot-processes her shampoo bar so she can choose to add argan and jojoba oils after saponification is complete. Others will use essential oils tested in the Aberdeen alopecia study (rosemary, cedar, thyme, and sage, I think) or tea tree oil for dandruff.

BUT. There is no rule that says you MUST have these things to be a shampoo bar. I discovered that soaps with a high percentage of castor oil built up on my scalp and left it nasty, so I used a plain coconut-and-palm oil shampoo bar as my most successful shampoo bar.

As far as conditioners go, because soap is alkaline, it raises the cuticle of your hair. Some people don't notice this. Some use diluted vinegar or citric acid to smooth things down and potentially remove some soap residue. Some may add other moisturizing ingredients to this rinse, like honey or aloe or herbs. Some just use a conditioner, though the people who are trying to reduce waste generally shy away from this.

Who uses shampoo bar? Well, lots of people do. I know people who use them when they go camping, or people with short hair who just want to be as low-maintenance as possible. I was one of those low-maintenance short-haired women a couple years ago. I lived with three guys and took the least time in the shower with the fewest products. But some very long-haired people use them, too. Because shampoo bars are not as cleansing as modern surfactants, they don't strip hair and can be somewhat targeted to the scalp, which is something very-long-haired people appreciate, as the length of your hair generally wants more oil rather than getting it cleaned off. I know at least one woman on the long hair forum of which I am a member who specifically likes shampoo bars because they make her slippery fine hair thicker and less slippery (probably from the raising of the cuticle). So to each his or her own.

There are also shampoo bars that are synthetic detergents in bar form. Those have the advantage of being in bar form and reducing waste, but without the drawbacks of using true soap on your hair. You can also get conditioner bars, which are generally similar to lotion bars and would leave a coating of moisturizing and conditioning ingredients on your hair (like oils, butters, fatty alcohols, etc).

You didn't ask about personal experiences, but I'll share mine anyway. I've already mentioned how I've noticed that soaps with castor oil caused build up on my scalp. My scalp got gunky and never felt really clean and was very itchy. But I used a simple (and cheap!) soap bar with just coconut and palm oils on my hair for a while and it cleaned well, but as you can imagine was a little drying. Since I've found a liquid shampoo and conditioner that cleans my hair without stripping it and leaves it feeling clean for a few days after washing, I haven't gone back to shampoo bars, though one idea I had in making my own soap was to try making a bar formulated just for me, with no castor or shea, but without being so high in CO. So we'll see if I try that one again, maybe in winter when my hair doesn't get so dirty and often ends up under a hat.
 

KristaMarie

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I think the biggest distinguishing factor is the oils selected. Low/no coconut, or any other cleansing oil, and high castor. Just like we all prefer different properties in our body bars, everyone has a different preference in shampoo bars. TeaLeaves likes coconut and that would leave my hair a mess!

I use a shampoo bar, partially because I just like the idea of it lol. I'm one who tries to avoid unnecessary ingredients, especially artificial fragrances, so when I started soaping it just made sense to try a shampoo bar.

Is it the best thing for my hair? Probably not, but I only wash once a week and follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse, which has decreased a lot of build-up I was getting from just using the shampoo bar.
 

DeeAnna

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Hear, hear, TeaLeaves -- well said.

I also want to add that lye soap makes soap scum if there are "hard water" minerals in your water. Soap scum is sticky and insoluble in water, and this can create buildup in the hair (and on the skin). I suspect this is at least part of that "funky hair syndrome" you hear about. If you want to minimize the soap scum problem but still use a true soap, look into adding a chelator such as tetrasodium EDTA or sodium citrate to your shampoo formulation.

When I was using soap to shampoo my hair for well over a year, I didn't notice much if any soap scum build up (we have a water softener), but my shoulder length hair gradually got drier, duller, and harsher feeling from the long-term effects of the soap's alkalinity. That was with regular use of a citric acid rinse and separate conditioner. I even noticed the same thing with my husband's much shorter hair. I recently went back to a syndet shampoo and the problem has gradually gotten better for both of us.

I would like to formulate a syndet shampoo bar. I don't have any problems using a bar shampoo as long as it works well on my hair. Bars are convenient, easy to use, long lasting, and compact -- handy for travel, but just as nice for at-home use.
 

Obsidian

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I have a love/hate relationship with shampoo bars. I have seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp so I have to be very careful what I use on it. Sulfate shampoo and conditioner will cause a flair so I have to use sulfate free shampoo but even that can cause a flair. My hair loves the sulfate free shampoo though, it super soft even with no conditioner.

Using shampoo bars (a altered version of gennys recipe) almost completely stops the flair ups I get. I go from 1-2 flair a months with store bought shampoo to 2-3 a year with shampoo bars. Seems like a pretty easy decision on what I should be using but its not.

My hair doesn't particularly like shampoo bars. I like how the shampoo bars define my curls but at the same time, it makes my hair a bit dull looking. My hair is really fine and gets damaged easy, I recently had to cut it all off because it got crunchy. I'm sure it wasn't the shampoo bars alone, coloring it and not being able to use conditioner was really rough on it.

I've been using shampoo for the last three months or so and I just can't take the itchy, bloody skin anymore so I'm going back to shampoo bars. This time I will not use any chemicals and try deep conditioning at least once a month. I never have issues with funky hair syndrome. I think part of the reason is because I don't use conditioner or styling products so I don't really get a build up on my hair. I always use dilute apple cider vinegar as a rinse and a touch of V05 hair dressing to add shine.

Funky hair syndrome is the product build up on hair, shampoo bars aren't cleansing enough to wash it away quickly or easily so you are left with icky hair until it all finally is gone. Easiest way to avoid FHS is a week before you start using your shampoo bar, start washing daily with a clarifying shampoo, I use suave daily clarifying. Try and not use condition but if you have to, use a silicone and oil free one. Again, suave daily clarifying is a good one to go with. This should prevent or greatly reduce the transition period. Its a good idea to use the clarifying shampoo once a month to remove any build up from your shampoo bar.

Here is the infamous thread http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=30946&

The changes I made were to completely remove the soybean oil and replace with 5% coconut and 5% neem. I also dropped the SF to 3%. Next batch I will try 1% SF and add citric acid. I once tried replacing the shea with lard, made a fantastic bar of facial soap but the soap scum was awful so it didn't work on hair.
 
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cmzaha

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Shampoo bars are really be syndet bars not bar soap, made with mild surfacants. Check out Swift Crafty Monkey blog, she has several recipes for syndet shampoo bars. No matter what the bar soap recipe is it is to harsh for hair and I never consider them shampoo bars. Another note, it you color your hair, bar soap will fade out your color quickly. If you color your hair you are adding double trouble to your hair strands, since coloring hair lifts the cuticle so the color can penetrate. Think what happens if you wash out the hair color with bar soap that also lifts the cuticle, not you are getting the soap directly under the cuticle, eventually causing damage that you will end up cutting off over time. If your hair is blonde or gray any hint of soap color will yellow the hair over time. This is especially bad for gray or salt & Pepper hair. If you make syndet bars anyone with gray or silver can add in some nice purple or blue to add a whitening effect. When bluing was still around for whitening clothes it was also used as a gray hair rinse. Ooohhhh my age is showing.....:p
 

kumudini

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My experience with shampoo bars just 1 batch worth, but before making that one batch, I had read the entire shampoo bar thread, making mental notes about what might work and what might not. And then I drew from my own experience with hair care herbs, from using them on my own hair when I was a little more enthusiastic about hair care in general and also a bit of reading on the long hair forum, which I love visiting from time to time. I made a HP soap, added herb infused CO as my super fat.
It was what I hoped for and a bit more. I have been using it close to six months, have come up with my own routine for using it. So far no issues with build up, no weighing down. No dryness till now. My hair is just clean and fresh, Shinier than it was when I was using conditioners. Even a week after washing( yeah, sometimes I get lazy when I'm not going out or anything ), my hair is bouncy. The fact that my scalp never had dandruff issues and is otherwise healthy might have something to do with my good results. But I will keep using it as long as my scalp and hair like it.

My oils are 45 OO infused with henna, amla and hibiscus, 40SAO, 10 CO, 5 CaO. 6%SF with rosemary, basil and curry leaves infused CO. My lye water is a ?tea of fenugreek and flax seeds.
It also has sugar, CA and a bit of salt. Yep, it was quite a concoction. You could make a simple bar with the right oils for your hair and call it a day.
I oil up my hair atleast few hours before wash. I use vinegar rinse once or twice a month. I work in few drops of OO into damp hair after the wash. This is all of my hair care and I'm not complaining :).

I guess what I'm trying to say is, you can design a shampoo bar that best suits your hair and scalp after reading that thread as it gives an excellent idea of the concept behind a shampoo bar and as people with different kinds of hair and different water types shared their experiences, you can kind of see what might actually work for your situation and hair. After you made the bar, please stick with it until the FHS passes. As obsidian mentioned, it might help to clarify before you start using the bar. It really helps to use an acidic rinse with some regularity, especially if you have frizzy hair like me. Why go through all the trouble? When I was using shampoo, my hair needed conditioner to keep it manageable but every time I used conditioner, my hair would come out in clumps and even then, the frizzy hair is barely manageable. So I needed an alternative. Glad I found one. So if you have a reason to ditch your shampoo and conditioner routine, do give this a try.
 

cmzaha

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My experience with shampoo bars just 1 batch worth, but before making that one batch, I had read the entire shampoo bar thread, making mental notes about what might work and what might not. And then I drew from my own experience with hair care herbs, from using them on my own hair when I was a little more enthusiastic about hair care in general and also a bit of reading on the long hair forum, which I love visiting from time to time. I made a HP soap, added herb infused CO as my super fat.
It was what I hoped for and a bit more. I have been using it close to six months, have come up with my own routine for using it. So far no issues with build up, no weighing down. No dryness till now. My hair is just clean and fresh, Shinier than it was when I was using conditioners. Even a week after washing( yeah, sometimes I get lazy when I'm not going out or anything ), my hair is bouncy. The fact that my scalp never had dandruff issues and is otherwise healthy might have something to do with my good results. But I will keep using it as long as my scalp and hair like it.

My oils are 45 OO infused with henna, amla and hibiscus, 40SAO, 10 CO, 5 CaO. 6%SF with rosemary, basil and curry leaves infused CO. My lye water is a ?tea of fenugreek and flax seeds.
It also has sugar, CA and a bit of salt. Yep, it was quite a concoction. You could make a simple bar with the right oils for your hair and call it a day.
I oil up my hair atleast few hours before wash. I use vinegar rinse once or twice a month. I work in few drops of OO into damp hair after the wash. This is all of my hair care and I'm not complaining :).

I guess what I'm trying to say is, you can design a shampoo bar that best suits your hair and scalp after reading that thread as it gives an excellent idea of the concept behind a shampoo bar and as people with different kinds of hair and different water types shared their experiences, you can kind of see what might actually work for your situation and hair. After you made the bar, please stick with it until the FHS passes. As obsidian mentioned, it might help to clarify before you start using the bar. It really helps to use an acidic rinse with some regularity, especially if you have frizzy hair like me. Why go through all the trouble? When I was using shampoo, my hair needed conditioner to keep it manageable but every time I used conditioner, my hair would come out in clumps and even then, the frizzy hair is barely manageable. So I needed an alternative. Glad I found one. So if you have a reason to ditch your shampoo and conditioner routine, do give this a try.
Hair will not like it forever, if you are talking soap not shampoo. If the bar is superfatted you will risk an oil buildup over time. This is why hair conditioners are usually oil free. You do not want a build up of oil on hair
 

kumudini

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Hair will not like it forever, if you are talking soap not shampoo. If the bar is superfatted you will risk an oil buildup over time. This is why hair conditioners are usually oil free. You do not want a build up of oil on hair
Thank you for the heads up Carolyn, I'm dreading that that's going to happen. But for now, my scalp is super clean. I even scraped it with my finger nails to see if I'm missing something, nothing :). Right now, my hair is at its best it had been in years, with the minimum upkeep that is. I could obsess over it and do all kinds of things to take it to stellar but I'm loving being lazy.I've read enough about the alkalinity being bad for hair that if my hair starts changing for the worse, my shampoo bar would be the first suspect.
 

gigisiguenza

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You guys are like walking encyclopedias :) I'm soaking up the knowledge :)
 
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