You've decided to make the swap to shampoo bars, or maybe you've taken it one step further and want to start formulating your own bars!
Either way, how can you personalise your shampoo bar to make sure it's right for you? Let's find out.
Step 1: How to Identify if a brand is sustainable?
Is the Shampoo Bar Palm Oil Free?
This is a good starting point to find out if a product is ethically made. If in doubt, ask.
Is the Shampoo Bar Cruelty Free?
Make sure that the product you want to use has not been tested on animals. Read the label to find out if it is vegan or not.
Is the Brand Part of a Wider Social Mission?
By purchasing a particular product, are you contributing to a particular cause. Is the company giving back in some way? This is also a great way to identify if a brand is truly sustainable!
Step 2: Get to Know the Ingredients
What ingredients make a great organic shampoo bar? Let's find out...
Ingredients for Gentle Cleaning Action
These are detergents which form lather and clean the hair. The key is to look for mild, naturally derived detergents such as sodium cocoyl isethionate, cocamidropopyl betaine, capylic/capric glucoside.
Vegetable proteins such as rice, quinoa or hemp proteins increase shine while protecting the scalp.
It is very important to look for vegetable proteins because many proteins, such as keratin, are animal derived. These are often taken from pig's hair coming from slaughterhouses.
Ingredients that Nourish and Soften
Emollients such as brassica alcohol, stearic acid and BTMS soften hair, protect the scalp and make the hair easy to comb while reducing breakage. These are usually combined with oils such as jojoba, broccoli seed oil, shea butter, castor oil.
Growth Stimulating and Dandruff Control Ingredients
Natural extracts help protect the scalp, and essential oils can treat specific issues such as dandruff or they can promote hair growth. In this family we find ingredients such as nettle leaf extract or grapeseed extract.
Detoxifying ingredients that encourage shine
Clays, such as rhassoul clay, and powders, such as charcoal, provide minerals that are important for healthy hair. They work by gently pulling out toxins, cleaning our scalp without stripping it from its oils.
Vitamins such as panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5) can add incredible shine to your hair.
Safety and Preservation
Preservatives are essential in products that either contain water or will get in contact with water, to avoid fungi and bacteria from forming. Eco-friendly preservatives include, for example, benzyl alchol & dehydroacetic acid.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep oils fresh.
Learn more about Haircare Ingredients
Zero Waste Haircare is an online course that will empower you to formulate your own shampoo and conditioner bars. With support and self-paced learning, the course will help you develop an understanding of ingredients and making methods.
Step 3: Match the ingredients to your hair type
What Ingredients Work Best for Your Hair Texture?
Thin hair normally needs a boost of volume, so would benefit from ingredients that do not weight it down. Good options for thin hair are vegetable proteins, such as rice or hemp seed protein, as they give volume to hair.
Gentle clays which clean without drying, such as rhassoul or bentonite clay, are good for thin hair. Finally, look for lightweight oils like broccoli seed oil and jojoba, that won't weigh your hair down.
Medium hair normally needs a little help with detangling and ingredients that can help prevent frizz. In order to do that, it's recommended to use a shampoo bar with some conditioning power.
Good ingredients to achieve this would be BTMS, a conditioning agent derived from rapeseed oil. Other amazing deep conditioning ingredients are shea butter or cocoa butter.
Ingredients for your Scalp Type
Dry hair tends to be brittle and break easily. Here are the key ingredients that, provided you have no specific allergies to them, could help you out.
- Shea butter: an incredible butter which helps lock in moisture and soothe dry scalp.
- Jojoba: similar to our sebum, it can soothe the scalp without clogging pores.
- Quinoa and moringa proteins: star proteins that can protect any coloured or damaged hair while keeping it soft.
- Lavender essential oil: this plant provides a gentle but nourishing moisture while being incredibly calming for the skin and the senses.
If your scalp tends to get oily quite fast, you might be tempted to wash your hair frequently. This may lead to drying your scalp and getting dandruff.
Instead of washing your hair too often, why not try to use a good clarifying shampoo bar to clear the pores? This will help regulate the scalp’s sebum production and fight any possible flaking/dandruff.
Here are the key ingredients that, provided you have no specific allergies to them, could help you out:
- Activated charcoal: an incredible purifying agent that can help clean any clogged pores; it also boosts hair volume!
- French green clay: it gently detoxifies the scalp while fighting off any potential dandruff.
- Peppermint: it helps normalize the scalp’s sebum production, unclogging pores so your scalp stays cleaner longer.
- Nettle: with anti-inflammatory, analgesic and astringent properties, it regulates the scalp’s oil production
Sensitive Scalp and Dandruff
If your scalp is sensitive, it can get itchy and flaky which in turn can lead to dandruff, shedding, and even hair loss. Here are the key ingredients that, provided you have no specific allergies to them, could help you out.
- Hemp seed oil, hemp proteins: this oil has the wonderful ability to soothe irritated scalp; while hemp proteins also gently protect coloured hair.
- Jojoba: similar to our sebum, it can soothe the scalp without clogging pores
- Nettle: thanks to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and astringent properties. It regulates oil production and calms scalp’s irritation.
- Tea tree, rosemary and lemongrass: while tea tree is a potent antibacterial that can fight off dandruff, rosemary and lemongrass strengthen the hair follicles which might help reducing hair loss.
Do I need to use a conditioner as well as a shampoo bar?
A conditioner is mostly formed by "cationic" ingredients which have the power of making the hair strand "stick" together. Instead, even though shampoo bars can be extremely nourishing, they are still a wash off product, which has the opposite function of a conditioner (anionic).
I always recommend to finish off your shower with a good solid conditioner!