First, if you've never tried true handmade soap...you're in for a treat! Handmade soap, made in the way that soapmakers have been creating soap for literally thousands of years (and yes, we use LYE!-not nearly as scary as it sounds!), delivers a quality soap product that will leave your skin conditioned and balanced. Okay, I just had to throw that out there, because soap can get a bad rap. In fact, I may do a future blog on what makes soap "real" soap, and why it's better for your skin. But I digress...
(picture of handmade soap to divert your attention...)
BUT...why isn't that great bar of handmade soap also great for your hair? Well, first of all, your hair has a completely different makeup than your skin. Both skin and hair are made up of layers. But the hair cuticle, that surrounds the inner cortex of the hair strand, is actually layer upon thin layer, and these layers overlap, kind of like the tiles on a roof. Then these cuticle layers are wrapped up in kind of a fatty acid coating that helps reduce friction to those delicate cuticle layers. Very different from skin.
These cuticle layers generally do a good job of protecting that inner cortex. But if you wash your hair with the wrong product, or you are damaging those layers in a different way (blow dryers and flat irons, anyone?), over time this can bring some serious damage to those cuticle layers, which now will not obediently lay down like the tiles on a roof. NOW you have some serious hair problems.
That doesn't yet answer our question as to why that handmade soap can't be used for hair. Hair generally has a pH level of around 6.0. Cold process soap/handmade soap generally has a pH level of between 9 and 10. Now, we can alter those recipes to create products that will be amazing for your skin, even though those pH levels are more alkaline. But those same formulations don't translate well to hair, since hair is so different from skin. Using products on your hair at that pH level will cause the hair follicle and cuticle layers to "stand up", and they won't lie down. This causes friction and abrasion at the hair follicle, which leads to dry hair, breakage, and damage. We definitely don't want that!
By using mild, coconut and palm based surfactants (remember from my last post, we are staying AWAY from SLS and SLeS, they are too harsh for your hair!), we can create a product that has a pH level of between 5 and 6, which is perfect for hair. We get the lather we want, our hair feels clean (but not "squeaky" clean) and manageable, and that hair follicle is ready for conditioning!
I hope this is helpful information. Stay tuned for my 3rd blog post on the topic of shampoo bars, where I discuss the benefits of shampoo bars over the drugstore bottle that's sitting in your shower right now (yes, I see that bottle!....). As always, if you have any questions about any of our products, we're just a click away!