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Switching to a natural shampoo bar? Here's what you need to know

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Making the switch to an all-natural shampoo bar can be a bit daunting, especially after hearing all the horror stories of ‘transition periods’ and waxy, straw-like hair! Find the right bar, and you shouldn't experience a transition period at all, but if you are struggling, read on for our handy "how to" guide and top tips.

Why make the switch?

Besides the obvious benefits to the planet - less plastic waste, no nasty chemicals entering the water system, no animal-based or animal-tested ingredients - by switching to an all-natural shampoo, you are also doing your hair a huge favour.

Natural shampoo bars are SLS, SLES and paraben free. They are also free of other nasty chemicals often found in synthetic shampoos, including sodium chloride, formaldehyde, alcohol, synthetic fragrances and colours, and more.

Our handmade shampoo bars are also vegan, cruelty free and palm-oil free, and have recently been updated to make them all sulphate free, so you can be confident they'll be kind to coloured hair and sensitive skin. You also shouldn't experience a transition period with them, unless you have a heavy build up of synthetic products in your hair.

Why is there a transition period?

There are lots of potential reasons for a transition period. First of all, everyone is different, and just like how different people have preferences for different brands of bottled shampoo, not all shampoo bars will suit everyone. Also, shampoo bars can contain a range of different ingredients and there are several very different processes for making the bars, all of which can affect the outcome. Some shampoo bars are also affected by hard water.

People might also experience a transition period due to a build up of synthetic products. When we use synthetic hair care products, they strip the natural oils from our hair and leave a residue behind. This might make our hair look shiny and healthy, but it is actually very damaging and can cause our hair to dry out. At the same time, our bodies work hard to rid our hair of this residue by generating more oil, leading to greasy hair which we try to combat by washing more... and so the cycle continues.

When we switch to a natural shampoo, we break this cycle. However, it can take a while for all of the nasties to be completely removed from our hair, and during this time we can experience a few unwanted side effects, such as a waxy-coating and dry ends. In addition, it might not feel like the shampoo is lathering very well, and you may be tempted to just give up.

Depending on the bar you are using, you could experience a transition period for anywhere up to two months. It is worth persevering, as most people report lovely soft, shiny hair once they have adjusted. Many people also find themselves with much more voluminous hair. Many synthetic brands promise us volume, but switching to a natural shampoo bar removes the build-up of products responsible for weighing it down, thus creating more volume naturally!

If you're using one of our shampoo bars, you shouldn't experience a transition period at all, but if you are experiencing any issues, here are our top tips to help make the adjustment period a little bit easier.

How to use your shampoo bar

Using a shampoo bar is slightly different from a synthetic product, as it doesn’t lather as much. However, you can be sure that it is doing its job just as well. In order to get the best from it, try following our how-to guide:

1) Soak your hair thoroughly.

2) Part your hair, so that you can get right to the roots and your scalp.

3) Wet the shampoo and lather with wet hands. Make sure you get plenty, and add more as you go if you need to.

4) Rub the lather directly into your roots and massage through. Some brands advise not to rub the shampoo bar directly onto your hair, but I do tend to at this point as my hair is thick and I need a lot of shampoo – try it and see what works best for you.

5) Lather more shampoo and rub down the lengths of your hair.

6) Repeat if necessary. You might find it lathers better on this cycle!

7) Rinse thoroughly. An apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse can help to remove some of the residues during the adjustment period – you can make your own by adding 2-4 tablespoons of ACV to around 500ml warm water. You can also infuse herbs into the water if you’re feeling adventurous!

8) Most people find it easier to brush their hair after it has dried, and it’s best to dry naturally if you can

9) Steer clear of all synthetic hair products – all of these will add to the residues you are trying to remove

10) Keep at it – the transition period will be over soon!

If you want to try following with a conditioner bar, you might want to check out our blog post on how to get the best results, as they can take a little bit more getting used to than shampoo bars!

Important note - Keep your shampoo bar dry between uses and it will last for ages. This soap dish made from natural coconut fibres will work well to keep your shampoo dry, or you could stand it on a loofah. Be warned - extreme temperatures will affect your shampoo - don't store it in direct sunlight or on top of the radiator!

Safix plastic free, biodegradable, compostable soap rest made from natural coconut fibres

Everyone is unique, so what works for me might not work for you – if one shampoo bar isn't working after a couple of weeks and you’re really unhappy with the results, try a different one. It’s well worth persevering. Once your hair has adjusted, it will be soft, shiny and healthy. It will also be less oily as it won’t be fighting to remove the residues any more, so you won’t have to wash it every day, although the shampoo is gentle enough that you can if you want to!

Have you found a shampoo bar that works for you? Get in touch and let us know how you get on and give us your top tips!

Thanks for reading!

Sophie x

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