Thursday, July 02nd, 2009 | Author:

It’s been a while! This will probably be the last shampoo bar review for a while, because I’ve settled on a routine I’m really happy with and am done playing the field, lol. This is a great bar called Fragrant Tresses from Heart of Iowa Soapworks.

Ingredients: Castor oil, Water, Coconut oil, Palm kernel oil, Olive oil, Sodium hydroxide, Rice bran oil, Fragrance oils, Jojoba

Smell: This is a synthetically fragranced bar that smells a lot like commercial shampoos. I purposely tried this one out because of dh’s smell-aversion to a lot of the shampoo bars I’ve tried.

Texture: This is a nice, hard soap that lathers up to a rich, creamy lather.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes,this was a very cleansing bar — leaving that squeaky clean feeling. Great for those who don’t want anything left on their hair to weight it down.

How does my hair look and feel? Very shiny, slightly on the grabby side.

Price plus shipping: $6.50 + $2.75 shipping for a 4 oz bar

Verdict: I give this one a thumbs up :) As I mentioned earlier, it is more on the cleansing side so probably best for those with fine, limp hair.

Saturday, March 07th, 2009 | Author:

It seems there is a neverending supply of great shampoo bars out there! This time around, I’ll be reviewing the Unscented shampoo bar from Earth Muffin.

Ingredients: Saponified oils of sweet almond, Sunflower High Oleic, Avocado, Olive, Jojoba OIl and Castor, silk protein, wheat protein, panthenol

Smell: This is an unscented bar, with a nice, fresh, soapy smell.

Texture: Wow! This bar gives such a rich, creamy lather — tons and tons of it. It feels like a wonderful, indulgent treat, washing my hair with it.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, it is a balanced cleanse and is definitely more on the conditioning end of the spectrum. I could feel that my hair had just a bit of something left on it to keep it smoothed and conditioned.

How does my hair look and feel? Very soft, slightly heavy, but not in a bad way.

Price plus shipping: $5.00 + $3.00 shipping for a 4 oz bar

Verdict: Definite thumbs up :) I think this is a great bar for those with dryer hair. You definitely won’t need a separate conditioner with this one. May be too heavy for those with fine/limp hair.

Saturday, February 28th, 2009 | Author:

If you are looking for an amazing variety of shampoo bars, and an incredible wealth of information about them as well, look no further than Chagrin Valley Soap and Craft Company. Ida has created 16 different shampoo bars, along with a general guide for which ones work best for what type of hair here. Seriously, there is so much information on this site, that you could spend hours happily reading about shampoo bars.

I purchased four sample bars, and will be reviewing my current favorite, the Summer Sunshine bar.

Ingredients: Saponified oils of castor bean, coconut, palm kernel, wheat germ, sunflower, babassu, jojoba, palm, and expeller pressed canola; filtered rainwater; coconut milk; essential oils of lavender, sweet orange, pink grapefruit, lime, rosemary, and ylang ylang; sea kelp; vitamin E oil; and rosemary oil extract.

Smell: I truly love the smell of this shampoo bar. First of all, I’m a sucker for citrus. And it also turns out that I *love* ylang ylang. I never knew that about myself. This scent is such a nice blend of the fruity and the floral — it really makes me feel pampered and lingers lightly in my hair for most of the day.

Texture: This is a medium-hard bar that lathers really nicely. I get lots of rich lather which enhances the spa-feeling I’m already getting from the scent.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Absolutely! I find it is a balanced clean, not too dry or stripping. I have read on other boards that many people find this to be a cleansing and drying bar, so your mileage may definitely vary.

How does my hair look and feel? So soft, silky and shiny!

Price plus shipping: $6.60 + $5.70 flat-rate shipping (for orders up to $41.00) for a 6-7 oz bar

Verdict: Huge double thumbs up! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite bars :)

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 | Author:

So, in all my obsession about shampoo bars, I’ve happened along some amazing forum threads with tons of information. For example, the Long Hair Forums has a massive shampoo bar thread (244 pages and counting!!), the Everyday Minerals forums has a long thread dedicated the Chagrin Valley bars (I’ll be reviewing some of those soon!), and there’s been a lot of talk at Naturally Curly as well. There is an incredible wealth of experience buried in these threads, if anyone is so inclined to read through them.

It occurred to me the other day how cool it would be if we had one central location to leave and read reviews about shampoo bars. So, being not only obsessed with shampoo bars, but also a code geek, I coded up an annex to this blog as a place where everyone can join in and leave reviews. You can check it out here:

I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but please leave a comment if you have any questions. Please consider leaving your reviews on the above site for posterity’s sake and so future shoppers can benefit from your experience. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 03rd, 2009 | Author:

Here are some soaper’s responses to this question:

What do you think are the best ingredients in a shampoo bar for those with dry or oily hair?

I think that this is really something that is hard to say what exactly is going to be the “best” because there are so many variables. My favorite though is a shampoo with sunflower seed oil. It is very moisturizing and yet it doesn’t weigh down my super fine hair. Beyond that I think that a good amount of coconut and/or palm kernel oil are good to have in a shampoo because they are oils that have great cleansing properties in soap. You just don’t want too much or else it will dry out your hair and scalp.

I wish I could recommend the perfect shampoo bar for everyone, but to be honest most everyone’s hair and scalp are unique and react different to shampoo bars. I guess my recommendations would be for the type of rinse after shampooing. I have found that Citrus oils tend to help with dry hair and scalp so I normally recommend Chamomile & Citrus Vinegar Rinse and for oily hair I recommend an apple cider rinse with a few drops of rosemary, lavender, peppermint or tea tree.

For dry hair, an infusion of marshmallow root, nettle and burdock would help combat dryness along with a balance vegetable oil blend of jojoba, olive, cocoa butter and sunflower. For oily hair, a shampoo bar with citrus essential oils would be good

Rochelle, Karess Krafters
Well for dry hair, I like the castor and olive oil combinations mostly for that reason. Then of course essential oils.
In Wild Mane shampoo bar I use rosemary, peppermint, cedarwood, sage, lemon, ylang ylang and Italian lavender for scalp and hair care. These essential oils are good for normal to dry scalp and hair.

For oily hair, lemon and rosemary can be used for that as well interestingly enough. I would also probably include geranium as well because that is known to help the hair and scalp not be so oily.

I think good circulation is also important to scalp health which is why I like the peppermint and rosemary in Wild Mane.

The nettles and horsetail I gathered from the wild and these ingredients work well for all hair types,strengthening the hair. Horsetail is an amazing herb for nails too.

I don’t know much about customizing shampoos for dry or oily hair. I would only suggest if you’re looking for one or the other then use the same guidelines you would use when looking for soap for dry or oily skin. For example I know that lemon essential oil is a good ingredient for soaps meant for oily skin. I imagine this would also be true for a shampoo bar but I haven’t heard any testimony of that.

Dry hair might enjoy such additives as avocado oil, any butter, emu oil, and such.
Oily hair might enjoy sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, macadamia nut oil, etc.

Monday, February 02nd, 2009 | Author:

I purchased a bunch of samples from Mema’s Cold Process soaps because she has so many lovely-sounding fragrances like Ginger Lime, Plumeria, and Pomegranate. The ones I’ve tried so far are the Cucumber Aloe and Plumeria.

Ingredients: olive oil, canola, jojoba, goat milk, glycerin, coconut, palm, avocado, sweet almond, kernel, rice bran, nettle oil, sodium hydroxide.

Mema’s shampoo bars have mostly the same base ingredients with different fragrances and extras added in.

Smell: This soap has a very very mild scent — even the scented ones. Mostly what I smell are the base oil, which have a soft, cake batter smell. The fragrance is really only noticeable during the lather-up, and not so much as a smell that would linger in your hair after it’s dry.

Texture: These bars are quite a bit softer than most of the other I’ve tried. The lather is maybe not as bubbly as some, but still enough to get the job done.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes! As I’ve tested more and more bars, the thing I’ve honed in on to really check is for any waxiness or residue deep under all that hair (like close to the scalp, halfway between the nape of my neck and the crown of my head). This bar cleans well, and no residue left behind.

How does my hair look and feel? This is a nice, conditioning bar, and my hair feels nice and soft without being weighed down or greasy feeling.

Price plus shipping: $4.50 to 5.00 plus ~$2.00 shipping for a 4 oz bar

Verdict: Thumbs up :) This bar is more on the conditioning end, but also cleanses well. I would say it’s good for normal to dry hair.

Saturday, January 10th, 2009 | Author:

Here’s a shampoo bar from the maker of my favorite face cream (I’ll save that for a later post), DressGreen. Lauren offers three different scents (Chamomile and Calendula, Rosemary Peppermint and Sweet Orange), and I’ll be reviewing the unscented version, which she calls UnDressed.

Ingredients: distilled water, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, sodium hydroxide, castor oil, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, meadowfoam oil, wheat germ oil, vitamin E

According to Lauren, the meadowfoam seed oil “adds shine and moisture to the hair and scalp.”

Smell: This is a truly unscented soap — even the base oils don’t really come through in the smell. It just smells fresh and soapy.

Texture: This bar is very hard and glides smoothly over my hair. It works up into a nice, light lather.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, very well. This is another soap that strikes a good balance between cleansing well without being drying.

How does my hair look and feel? It feels very soft, light and clean. I love it!

Price plus shipping: $6.00 plus $2.50 for a 5 ounce bar

Verdict: Total thumbs up. I really love Lauren’s shop and this is just another example of her excellent and effective products. As an aesthetic plus, her items are beautifully packaged and labeled.

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 | Author:

As you know, I use an acid rinse when I wash with a shampoo bar. I love how smooth and shiny it makes my hair. But I figured I would ask the experts for their opinions:

Do you think a conditioner or acid rinse are necessary when using a shampoo bar?

This is a hard one to say exactly what is going to work best for everyone because there are many variables. There are plenty of people who do not use a conditioner or acid rinse so it wouldn’t hurt to start from there and see what you need. The specific shampoo can impact your decision as can whether you have soft or hard water. When I had short hair I never used any sort of a conditioner but now it is very long and sometimes I’ll skip the conditioner/acid rinse but many times I need it to keep my super long fine hair from getting tangled.

Modern shampoos contain synthetic silica and polymers. Shampoo bars will not dissolve and remove the remnants from your hair. So, for the1st couple of weeks we recommend that you use a vinegar rinse to remove these polymers. After that it won’t be necessary, but they add shine, control and help balance the ph of the scalp so why stop? We use infused horsetail (natural silica) and nettle leaf in all our shampoos & rinses for conditioning the hair and scalp.

This depends on the persons hair. For a person who is new to shampoo bars, I would say yes. IME, I had to use an acid rinse for a while before my hair became accustom to shampoo bars. Now I can wash with a shampoo bar and not have any problems with my hair. So to answer you question, I would say yes an acid/lemon rinse would be great.

Rochelle, Karess Krafters
Well, that is a good recommendation actually. All shampoo will build up on the hair eventually, so using 1 tsp of vinegar per pint of water on occasion will cleanse the hair naturally.

Using an herbal rinse is also alot of fun and healthy for your scalp.
Take a handful of your chosen herb and pour a pint of boiling water over the herb and allow to cool. Strain and add a dash of vinegar.
When using this rinse, pour it over your head and try to let it sit on your hair and scalp a couple minutes for best results.

Rosemary -sage rinses have been used for dark hair.
Chamomile has been traditionally used for blonde hair.
You could use mint, nettles, or anything you’d like to really.

This makes the hair soft also.

One person used the Wild Mane shampoo bar and wrote me and said her hair was all over the place. Some people may feel they need a conditioner after using a shampoo bar.

What I recommend is Flax Seed Gel for a natural way to calm the fluff.

Take 1 Tbsp of Flax seed and simmer in 1 cup of water until it is reduced by half. Strain the seeds, and add your own essential oils if you’d like scent to your gel.
It will be different than store bought hair gel, but actually dual purpose to help hair not be so fluffy and also condition at the same time. It is very inexpensive to make as well. Refrigerate what you dont use and toss out after a few days.

Aloe vera gel I hear will also work if your hair gets too fluffy with a shampoo bar.

You might need a conditioner or acid rinse depending on the specific shampoo and your hair type. It is said that everyone would need a rinse with most handmade shampoos but I’ve only found that I needed it when I tried a handmade liquid shampoo. And perhaps others who tried that same shampoo didn’t need it. I use a separate conditioner with my shampoo bar. I know others who use my shampoo bars don’t use conditioner. I don’t get any build up that would require the acid rinse. And I haven’t heard of any of my customers complaining of build up from my shampoo bar. I am working on a recipe now to create a conditioning shampoo bar so that I won’t need the extra conditioner.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 | Author:

Here’s a wonderful soap from Boondock G’s scented with yuzu fragrance. For those of you who don’t know, yuzu is a Japanese fruit, similar to a grapefruit.

Ingredients: saponified olive and coconut oils, mango butter, with goat’s milk, annatto seed for color, fragrance and tussah noil silk

Again, a soap with a nice, simple list of ingredients.

Smell: This soap has a citrusy-fruity-floral smell which is very light and refreshing. It has just enough strength to linger in my hair but not so much that it is overpowering.

Texture: This is a nice, hard bar that glides smoothly over my hair and lathers up really well.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Definitely! This bar is on the more cleansing end of the spectrum. It left both my hair and scalp squeaky clean and very light feeling.

How does my hair look and feel? It feels very clean and light, but slightly on the squeaky/grabby side. However, a little extra leave-on conditioner counteracts this very well.

Price plus shipping: $6.00 plus $2.80 for a 3 ounce bar

Verdict: Thumbs up. This bar is less conditioning than some, but is perfect for those with finer hair that tends to look limp. I bet it’s something I’ll gravitate to during the summer. Also, this seller has the most wonderful fragrances. I got samples of a bunch, and I can tell you that in addition to the Yuzu, I also love the Green Tea and Willow, and the Currant Thyme Tea.

Thursday, December 11th, 2008 | Author:

OK — so this is the first fragranced soap I’ll be reviewing. It’s not specifically designed to be a shampoo bar, but my friend Becky (from Becky’s Paper Creations), has convinced me that you can use (or at least try) any handmade soap on your hair. This is the Jasmine Fragranced Tea Soap from Soap Sense.

Ingredients: jasmine tea, saponified olive oil, castor oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, evening primrose oil, spring water, fragrance

Smell: OK — I feel like I could write a whole essay on the way this soap smells. First of all, I’ve loved the smell of jasmine ever since I was sitting in a park on the Greek island of Rhodes, smelled this amazing fragrance, and realized it was wafting over from these little jasmine shrubs. But anytime I’ve considered jasmine fragranced soaps, body lotions, etc., they didn’t smell anything like that soft, sweet smell I remembered. Well let me tell you, Dana, the owner of Soap Sense, has captured this smell so perfectly, it’s amazing. It’s every bit like what I remember of the real thing. And although, when I first opened the package, I thought the smell was a bit overpowering, it’s really not at all. It makes our shower smell nice, in an unobtrusive way, and after my hair’s been washed, the smell lingers very lightly, really not noticeable unless one is to bury one’s nose in my hair (which only a few people tend to do ;) ). Point being, it is a wonderful smell, makes me and my husband happy, and is not distracting to me at all.

Texture: This bar smooths its way over my hair easily and produces a rich, long-lasting lather that is a treat to feel in my hair.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? This bar is on the more conditioning end of the spectrum. I’ve found if I use it alone, that I’m feeling just a bit weighed down by the end of the day. So what I’ve been doing is first washing with my Honey Almond Shampoo bar from Dragon’s Den, and then finishing up with the jasmine bar. This also allows the jasmine bar to really lather up and do it’s thing. And keeps my hair clean feeling and fragrant all day.

How does my hair look and feel? So so soft, silky, and shiny. Really. I am honestly amazed at how soft and smooth my hair feels.

Price plus shipping: $5.00 plus $2.75 for a 4 ounce bar

Verdict: Definite thumbs up. People with finer or limp hair may find this bar too conditioning. But on my hair, and especially in the dry winter months, it is perfect! This is also really lovely as a hand or body soap. The conditioning nature of it means you absolutely won’t feel dry or itchy after using it. In fact, I might just try it on my face next!