Archive for » October, 2008 «

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 | Author:

So those of you who are unfamiliar with shampoo bars might be wondering what’s up with the vinegar rinse. Here’s the Cliff’s notes version, but if you google “vinegar hair rinse” you’ll learn a ton more. Basically, hair has all these scales on it, and when they’re roughed up, it makes your hair tangly and dull. If they’re smoothed down, your hair is silky and shiny. A pH higher than 7, i.e., a base, like most soaps, opens up these scales, or cuticles, causing your hair to get tangly and roughed up. A vinegar rinse, which has an acidic pH, smooths these cuticles back down, making your hair, you guessed it, shiny and tangle-free. In addition, soap can sometimes form a scum when combined with your natural hair oils and have trouble getting rinsed out (this is especially true in hard water). The vinegar rinse ensures that the soap rinses out completely.

All that being said, I know people who have hard water, wash their hair with soap, don’t use any vinegar rinses or conditioners, and are totally happy with their hair. So I’m not sure if it’s a hair type thing or a matter of finding the right soap, but so far, I need to do the vinegar rinse in order to be happy with my results with shampoo bars. Maybe if I find the right bar, I’ll be able to skip this step, although it’s not hard and no big deal.

All I do is pour a glug (about a tablespoon) of vinegar into a bottle, fill the rest with water and bring it into the shower with me. Then, after I’ve washed and rinsed my hair, I pour this on my hair, finish my shower and rinse it out right at the end. The vinegar smell is not too strong — especially since I cut down on how much I use. I use white vinegar because I happened to have a big bottle of it laying around. Most sites recommend apple cider vinegar, but I don’t think it matters. As long as you have a mildly acidic rinse, that’s all that matter. Lemon or lime juice work as well, as does citric acid.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 | Author:

OK — first up is this lovely shampoo bar from BeautifulSoaps. She doesn’t actually have any listed in her shop at the moment but I’m sure she will soon.

Ingredients: Oils: Olive, coconut, palm, castor, wheat germ, jojoba, walnut, rice, avocado, sunflower, shea butter, EOs: rosemary, carrot seed, Extracts: calendula, nettle and chamomile, Liquid Silk, Vitamin E, Fresh Aloe Vera and BTMS (vegetable based conditioning emulsifier)

I love the ingredients list for this soap. All those yummy oils, plus the botanicals, liquid silk and even aloe vera. Can you tell a lot of thought went into this one?

Smell: this soap has a very soft and subtle baking smell to it. Like carrot cake, or baking bread. It is super light, and like I said, subtle.

Texture: rubbing this bar across my hair, this bar is slightly more grabby than would be ideal for me. Could just be the texture of the cut (you know, the ridges), or could be that the bar is a smidge harder than others. However, this probably means it will last longer too, and it’s not really annoying or anything. Just an observation. The lather is rich but on the lower end of the lather scale. Again, this is not a major con In fact, I’m sure that the amount of lather has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the soap. This is just a psychological thing — more lather and bubbles are very pleasing in a tactile way, which is why modern day shampoos are formulated the way they are — but doesn’t have any bearing on how clean your hair or scalp get. So anyway, the texture is fine, and rubbing the lather around releases that wonderful, soft smell. (ETA 10/31 – I took a break from the new bar I’m testing and used this one again, and the lather seemed much richer this time — hard to test all this so subjectively. Also, I’ve worn the ridges off the soap, so I’m wondering if that makes it easier to lather up. Anyway, not sure if I’d stand by the statement that this is on the ‘lower end of the lather scale’. I’d say really nice lather, and we’ll see if I need to adjust my scale somehow as I try other soaps.)

Did it clean my hair and scalp? In a word, yes. Wonderfully! This is such a step above what my regular shampoo was doing. My shampoo felt like it was leaving a weird build-up layer on my scalp. This soap left it completely clean and natural feeling, without feeling tight or dry. My hair is left completely clean but not stripped.

How does my hair look and feel? Soft, clean, shiny. I did try skipping the vinegar and leave-in conditioner for a few days, but my hair was a bit less silky and more staticky than ideal. However, with this soap, and my usual vinegar and leave-in conditioner routine, I’m a totally happy camper.

Price plus shipping: $4.00 plus $2.25 shipping for a 3-3.5 oz bar (seems bigger though!)

Verdict: big thumbs up!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 | Author:

Ok — so when I get obsessed with something, I just go whole hog. I research insatiably, follow links, dig, read forum posts, and search the internet. What did we do before the internet??

So my latest obsession, and it really has been an obsession, is shampoo bars. You know, like soap for your hair. So how did this one start? Well, something like this always starts with dissatisfaction, right? So what was I dissatisfied with? I had been using Giovanni shampoo and conditioners quite happily for about a year. But it was starting to get less effective, didn’t leave my scalp feeling clean, so I was open to new ideas.

For a while, I considered and even tried the no ‘poo thing. That’s where you wash your hair with baking soda, and then rinse with diluted vinegar. That was mildly successful, but although I’m sure my hair was happier, having all the natural oils left intact, my psyche was suffering from the lack of lather satisfaction when washing my hair and the ‘not quite clean and fresh’ feeling I had with my hair.

So that brought me to shampoo bars. Why is this concept so appealing? Well, I don’t necessarily buy into the ‘SLS’s are awful chemicals which can cause cancer and generally ruin your life’ school of thought, but I do love the idea of using something that is made from lovely sounding ingredients like shea butter, avocado oil, and oat proteins rather than a bunch of chemicals I can’t pronounce. And if it works just as well, if not better, is less expensive, avoids plastic bottles, and is fun, then I’m all in.

So ‘fun’ is an understatement. I’ve been having the time of my life looking for handmade shampoo bars (because we might as well go all the way here and skip the commercial offerings). Etsy and Hyena Cart both have sellers offering lovely-sounding products, and I officially have nine (yes nine!) samples here, or on the way, to try out. I stuck with mostly unscented or lightly scented products as I am sensitive to smells. The plan is to use all of the bars as consistently as possible — I’ll wash by rubbing the bar on my wet hair, evaluating the tactile yumminess of the lather and texture, rub that in well, rinse, then follow with a vinegar rinse and Giovanni leave-in conditioner (I love this stuff). If things are going well, I’ll gradually try skipping the rinse and / or the leave-in to see if I’m still liking the results. I’ll also evaluate how my scalp and hair look and feel after use.

Some background information — I have thermally straightened hair, which means, to look it’s best, my hair needs to be totally smooth with no flyaways or frizziness. I’m a wash and go girl, so it’s towel-dry, comb some leave-in in and go.

So are we ready? Let’s let the great shampoo bar experiment begin! I only wish I could wash my hair three times a day, lol.