(Update: Giveaway contest closed!)
Since I know a lot of people have tried the no-poo method with unsatisfactory results, I’ve been trying to hunt down a good alternative. I’m still perfectly happy with the no-poo method myself – honestly, it just keeps getting better with time – but I really wanted to be able to suggest a second option for those who weren’t having luck but still wanted to ditch conventional shampoo. Conventional shampoo is so bad, you guys!
I wanted something that was frugal, eco-friendly, and body-friendly – i.e. something that didn’t rely heavily on plastic packaging or synthetic chemicals, but was still affordable.
Enter the shampoo bar.
I first heard of solid shampoo a few years ago, being sold by a company called Lush (they had a store in our city mall). The first major appeal to me in solid shampoo is that it doesn’t require throwaway plastic bottles. Apparently, solid shampoo doesn’t require (harmful) preservatives, either, unlike its liquid counterpart. I was totally pumped!
After digging a little deeper, though, I discovered that Lush used sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) in its solid shampoos – one of the bad ingredients I’d hoped to abandon with conventional shampoo. (According to the book No More Dirty Looks, SLS isn’t super-harmful in itself, but when mixed with other ingredients to soften its harshness, it produces a carcinogen called 1, 4-dioxin. No thanks!). They also often use questionable perfumes. So I kept looking.
I eventually discovered that there are plenty of other artisan-made shampoo bars available for purchase on the internet (like these), made with all-natural ingredients. Most looked a little pricey, though, and shipping in Canada is always expensive, so I was wary about taking the risk.
So I was excited when I came across a tutorial on making your own shampoo bars from Frugally Sustainable. I’d always wanted to try my hand at making soap, so I decided to give it a try. Here are my notes!
Making My Own Shampoo Bars – Notes:
The first thing I need to tell you about is the cost involved: the ingredients needed to make your own shampoo bars are a rather expensive investment. I didn’t keep my receipts, but I probably spent $40 at Whole Foods on the oils that I didn’t already have on hand (i.e. castor oil, jojoba oil, shea butter and cocoa butter). I decided that for me, it was worth it, since I wanted these things in my cabinet for future homemade body-care projects anyway. I already had beeswax on hand from my parents’ beehive, but that would be an additional cost for anyone whose family members are not dabbling in beekeeping. I also pinched some lye from my mom.
Whether or not it would be worth it for you to invest in these ingredients would depend on a number of factors, including how much you plan to use them in the future and how much you value the learning experience.
Making my own soap for the first time was SO COOL, you guys! I felt like a mad scientist, cooking up crazy concoctions in my kitchen. It was fascinating to observe the lye get scalding hot just by adding it to water, and to watch the liquid oils “saponify” – i.e to transform into a solid mass that could be cut into bars that create a lather when applied to my wet hair. Rad!
I went into it really, really optimistic: the tutorial says this shampoo bar is “the most amazing natural hair product I’ve ever used!” How can you beat that?
In the shower for the first time, I LOVED the way it lathered. After two years of pouring cold liquids onto my head in the shower, it felt good to massage that rich, luxurious lather into my hair.
Even though I thought I’d put in a good amount of essential oils (I went with lavender and lemon), the smell ended up being very subtle. Turns out you need close to half a bottle of essential oil in a recipe that size to get a strong scent, and that would just get too expensive. So I guess I’ll settle for subtle.
Sadly, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the results when my hair was dry. It almost felt like the shampoo had cleaned my hair too well – the roots of my hair felt like they’d been stripped of all their natural oils. My hair looked and felt kind of limp. It was perfectly clean, but lacked oomph.
I admit I only tried it once more after that. Since I wasn’t dazzled, I didn’t want to mess with the delicate balance I’d finally achieved with the baking-soda-vinegar method. The no-poo method had been working so well for me, and was still cheaper and simpler than the shampoo bar, so I decided I’d just stick with that.
I gave my mom a bar for her and my sisters to try, and they weren’t super-crazy about it, either – I’m not entirely sure why.
But it’s not a loss at all, and I’ll tell you why.
First of all, Ben has been using the shampoo bar ever since I made it two months ago and has no complaints. Being a guy, he’s not so concerned about his hair falling exactly perfectly, and the shampoo bar is really handy. For one thing, it enables him to wash his hair in the sink if he wants to.
Moreover, the shampoo bar makes a lovely a body soap. It’s lather-y and moisturizing and smells (subtly) nice, and I know exactly what’s in it. (For someone who used it as a shampoo bar as well, it would be the ultimate minimalist shower bar: everything all in one.)
I’ve read that shampoo bars are less ideal for people whose water is on the harder side. So someone with softer water might have more positive results.
As for cost, I figure it probably cost me about $20 to make one recipe, which made 7 bars. With Ben and me both using it as a body bar, and him using it as a shampoo bar, it has lasted us over two months, and there’s still quite a bit left. I gave several away, but if I’d kept them all they probably would have lasted us a year. $20 a year for all-natural shampoo (and soap!) is not bad!
Even though I didn’t personally love it on my own hair, I will probably make this recipe again (or one very similar)!
Giveaway Time! (Update: Giveaway Closed)
Curious? Want to give the shampoo bar a try, but not sure you want to invest in the ingredients? Now that I’ve told you every freaking thing there is to know about this bar, I want to offer my last two bars to you dear folks as a giveaway! You can give it a try at no cost; and if you don’t like it in your hair, you still have a luxurious homemade soap for your shower. Just let me know in the comments that you’re interested. If there are more than two of you by the end of the week (Saturday night), I’ll randomly select a winner and send it to you! (Canada and US only, I’m afraid. I can’t afford to mail it overseas!)
*Linked to Your Green Resource over at SortaCrunchy.