What is a shampoo bar, and what on earth do I do with it?

This is the first of a 3 part series on shampoo and conditioner bars

You may have heard of them, or even seen them at bath and body type stores (think: big box store that rhymes with FRUSH), and then went home to your big plastic bottle of liquid shampoo. And then wondered if there was anything better out there? What IS a shampoo bar, anyway?

Shampoo bars are really just liquid shampoo but without all the liquid. There are ingredients in there called surfactants (fancy word, I know!) that are chemical compounds formulated to be safe and gentle on hair. Well, at least most of them are. You may have heard of SLS, or sodium lauryl sulfate--that's the top ingredient found in most drugstore shampoos, and it's also one of the harshest surfactants out there. Thankfully, there are LOTS of options when it comes to gentle surfactants, and a good shampoo bar creator will have done her research and will be using them.

The biggest no-no in shampoos is sulfates, like sodium lauryl sulfate. Sulfates are found in shampoos, detergents and other cleaning agents. These chemical compounds are good at cleaning, but can also strip the natural oils from your hair. Sulfates have been linked to skin allergies, and even cancer. They are a solid NO for color-treated hair. Now, you may notice that I use SLSa, or sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, in my bars. This is a chemical compound, but NOT a sulfate. It is naturally derived from coconut and palm oils, and is great for creating bubbly lather. I use a blend of mild surfactants to make my shampoo bars even more gentle and suitable for all hair types, including color-treated hair.

How do I use a shampoo and conditioner bar?

Easy as making Grandma's apple pie. (okay, a heck of a lot easier...)

You use a shampoo bar like soap but for your hair. Simply rub onto wet hair, or even between your wet hands, until you've worked up a lather. It doesn't take as much as you think. Continue to massage the shampoo into your hair after you've put the bar back on its drying rack. Rinse, and follow with the conditioner bar. Our conditioner bars are very rich and emollient, and it doesn't take a lot to make your hair feel smooth and silky. I like to leave my conditioner in for a couple of minutes before rinsing clean. The first time I used my bars I was pretty happy with them. After 3-4 uses, I was STUNNED. My hair had NEVER felt this soft, and so clean and manageable. My customers have found the same to be true. And my daughters. Can't keep the bars in stock because my daughters are always taking them for themselves! Men love them too!

Stay tuned for my next segment on why it can be damaging to your hair to use handmade bar soap. Questions? Just ask! You can email me your questions at!

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