Archive for » December, 2008 «

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!

Sunday, December 07th, 2008 | Author:

So here’s the next installment of our deep dive into the nitty gritty of shampoo bars:

What do you find are the pros and cons of different oils when making a shampoo bar? What about olive vs. coconut oil? Also, do you think it likely that castor oil would cause build-up?

It depends on what all of the oils are that are going into the soap and what percentages they are in and thus how they will interact to make the soap. (I’m using the term soap interchangably with shampoo here.) Darn near every single soap that I make has both olive and coconut oil in it so I think that they are both good oils. The issue is the percentage that you use. Olive oil is the only oil in a pure castile soap. It’s the best soap for babies and those with sensitive skin. However, while it will clean you it’s not going to cut grease or suds up like a soap that is made from coconut oil. An all coconut oil soap would be great for washing clothes or dishes etc. but you wouldn’t want to use it on your body because it is way to harsh by it’s self. A soap that has both (so long as there wasn’t too much coconut) and maybe some other oils however would make a great general use soap. So you have to know the purpose of the soap and how the oils will interact with each other when putting together a recipe.

I am not aware of castor oil being more likly to cause build-up. Usually castor oil is added to add a little bubble power to a bar of soap above and beyond what the coconut oil will give you. Castor oil is great as an added oil and is in almost all of my soaps. It is great for conditioning and yet creates a nice bubbly lather without drying the skin.

Different oils have different properties for sure. Coconut oil will make a wonderful lather, but too much may be drying. Olive oil in my opinion is natures greatest creation, a plain castile bar will leave a protective layer on your skin, yet allow it to breathe as well. Castor oil alone may cause a build up, but used in a shampoo bar castor oil is a fabulous humectrant and will rinse away. I’ve also read somewhere that castor oil promotes new hair growth and prevents hair loss.

HeatherRai, Beautiful Soaps
Well Olive and Castor are wonderful for attracting that moisture so many of us need.
Olive oil also does not inhibit any of the normal skin processes we need to accomplish , such as shedding dead skin cells or even sweating, so this is why it is the largest percent of my soap blends.
However by itself, the lather is pretty low and also the soap is pretty soft.

Coconut oil can be pretty drying if too much is used, but it sure helps with lather and hardness so I love using it.
Sweet Almond oil is mild and is emollient and a little goes a long way in soap.
Avocado contains vitamins A, D, E, protein, and so much more nutritionally, and it remains pretty intact throughout the soapmaking process. A little goes a long way with this oil as well.
Shea Butter is the same. It makes it through the rugged change of cold process soapmaking, and come through taking good care of our skin and hair. It is such a wonderful moisturizer for all skin types and also mild.
I use an organic fair trade butter that is not refined, so it can smell a bit strong, but worth it. All the nutrients are still there using this shea.
Palm oil is often used to help a bar harden. Since using too much coconut oil in a formula will by too drying for the skin, palm oil compliments by supplying the hardness and cleaning ability to keep the soap mild.
There are many other oils that are wonderful to work with for conditioning, cleaning, or nutrition, however most do not have a long shelf life, such as hemp or flax.

Some oils have an extremely strong smell, such as that fair trade shea I was discussing earlier. Castor can be strong as well.

So, I think each soapmaker finds what they love and works with it.
For me, I love the oils I use for my work because they all have positive benefits for the skin or hair and scalp. I buy 35 pounds of organic extra virgin olive oil every month or so because it is so worth it to have that in my formulas.
It is harder to work with in soapmaking, but I want the first and finest pressing in my soap, instead of the chemically extracted third pressing.

Following your heart and finding what you love to work with I think is what each of us goes through as soapmakers, and choosing the oils is part of that for us all.
A local soapmaker in my region uses Neem oil in her soap. I thought ‘Neem Oil, how cool’. She is the first one I know that uses that.

So many oils are beneficial, and each of us are unique in our product and choose what we are drawn to.
I dont think there is so much a right or wrong oil, but just like art, what we create with what we love.

When making a shampoo bar I look at creating a hard, long-lasting, soap that lathers well but is not drying. I also look at oils that are known to be good for hair. For example hemp oil and castor oil are known to be good for your hair. I’ve stopped using coconut oil because I personally found it drying. I replaced it with Palm Kernel oil. It gives the same benefits of coconut oil (hard bar with lots of lather) but I find it less drying. Also, olive oil is always a great choice in soaps and shampoo bars. However it doesn’t create a high lather soap on its own. So it’s all about balance in creating the best bar possible. I’ve found castor oil to be a wonderful addition. I use a fairly high percentage of castor oil because of it’s lather-boosting properties. I have not found it to cause build up (at least in my shampoo bar).

Friday, December 05th, 2008 | Author:

I have ditched the vinegar and started using lime juice. That might partially account for the rave-y quality of my last few reviews. This lime juice stuff is amazing! My hair is so soft and shiny. Wow! I’m using about the same amount as I did with the vinegar: 1 few teaspoons to a tablespoon in a bottle of water, to be poured on after the shampoo-ing and rinsing.

You have to try it!

I’m also considering checking out citric acid (aka sour salt) and maybe even ascorbic acid (vitamin C powder), both of which I’ve heard work well too.

The other good thing, of course, is that there’s no vinegar smell. Speaking of smells, the rest of my reviews will focus on fragranced shampoo bars and soaps. It turns out the hubster really prefer for my hair to smell like something other than soap. You know, something lightly fruity or flowery like most salon shampoos. So I need to find something that he likes, but also something that won’t bother me. I’ve mostly gravitated towards the citrus-y fruity side: orange, bergamot, yuzu. I’ll let you know how it goes.

And the experiment continues…

Thursday, December 04th, 2008 | Author:

I’m on a roll — another shampoo bar that you can actually go and buy right now. And believe me, you’ll want to! This one is called Wild Mane and is offered by Dreamseeds Organics.

Ingredients: Extra virgin organic olive oil, infused with nettle leaf, usnea and horsetail, castor, sweet almond, avocado, coconut, palm oils, fair trade shea butter and eco friendly silk, saponified with nettle infusion; Essential oils of rosemary, peppermint, cedarwood, sage, lemon, ylang ylang and Italian lavender

Doesn’t this read like a list of all the best good-for-your-hair ingredients there are?

Smell: This shampoo bar has a stronger smell than most of the ones I’ve tested. It’s an earthy, herbal smell that I find very soothing. After washing, the smell doesn’t really linger in my hair.

Texture: This bar glides really easily over my hair and oh my, the bubbles! There are lots and lots of bubbles. It’s wonderful!

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Absolutely — it finds that balance between leaving me feeling perfectly fresh and clean, yet not too squeaky or stripped.

How does my hair look and feel? So wonderful. Ever since I started using shampoo bars, pretty much every day is a good hair day. But this bar takes it a step further and my hair is so, shiny, soft and drapey. I love it!

Price plus shipping: $6.00 plus $3.25 for a 4 ounce bar

Verdict: Double double thumbs up. I love this bar!

Wednesday, December 03rd, 2008 | Author:

I was really curious about a few specific shampoo-bar related questions and fielded them with some of my new favorite soap makers. What’s interesting is how different their answers are, leading me to the conclusion that there really are no cut and dry answers here. I guess this means we’re all going to have to just do our own ‘great shampoo bar experiments’ to find out what works best for our particular hair. So let’s dive into this one first:

What do you see as the main difference between regular soap and shampoo bars?

Well, really you can use any soap to shampoo your hair! However, when I look to design a shampoo bar I look to make something that is high in lather and is going to be moisturizing without weighing the hair down. So I do use a slightly different formulation when designing my shampoo bars.

My short answer would be the ratio of the oils used and the ingredients you either add to the oils or infuse into the oils. I always add more castor oil to my shampoo bars and infuse several herbs that are wonderful for the hair and scalp into my oils.

For me, it is the ingredients used in the recipe proper – not the additives. And, I will tell you as much as I would tell any customer. I increase the amount of castor oil a dramatic percent for my shampoo bars. This is for the creamy lather, as well as the extra glycerin it produces upon becoming soap. And, it is the only oil with ricinoleic acid that is both extremely kind to skin and hair and is a humectant, which acts as a magnet in drawing moisture to itself. The second rule for the shampoo recipe is simple but effective ingredients. I use coconut oil for the big bubbly lather and to make a harder bar of soap. Castor oil softens the bar, so I try to make up for it some with coconut oil. I use silk only in shampoo bars and pet soap. Jojoba is an ingredient in my shampoo bars, too, for the emollient properties and the property of repairing damaged hair shafts. It is a nice liquid wax for the hair. It serves to protect from environmental damage, as well. And, it usually helps the shampoo bar be more lubricating. And, I use only extra virgin olive oil instead of lesser olive oils for the hair and face bars.

Then, additives can enhance a shampoo bar in many directions. (oily, light, dark, thick, etc.)

Ingredients and oils.

I like to use different oils when making bars of soap vs. shampoo bars. I will also change my ratios dramatically. When making soap I like to use a little extra to leave your skin soft and moisturized. Whereas when I’m making a shampoo bar, I’ll try to leave your hair clean and free of excess oils. There is the exeption, I have a customer who loves my regular soap bars for her hair. I myself alot of times will use a regular handmade bar of soap on my hair for an extra nourishing effect. I have frizzy dry hair by nature and I don’t mind a little extra oils to weigh it down it keep it in submission.

The ingredients are also different. For a shampoo bar, I’ll tend to try and stick to all natural ingredients. Most people have a sensitive scalp and there are so many wonderful oils and essences that are great for your hair. Rosemary, carrot seed, nettles… all such wonderful herbal remedies that strengthen your hair, promote hair growth and even prevent hair loss! When making a handmade body soap I also love to use these ingredients, but I find that most people like a nice lingering scent, so this is what I try to concentrate on.

HeatherRai, Beautiful Soaps
The ingredients used seem to be the main difference. Personally, shampoo bars would consist of a higher content of oils that produce a lot of lather. In addition, shampoo bars should also have oils/butters that are good for the hair.

Rochelle, Karess Krafters
Shampoo bars are created with a different balance of oils. Castor bean oil is often used in shampoo bars. Castor is an excellent moisturizer, but not so much a good cleanser. That is why most body or everyday use soaps will not have castor, or just a small amount of castor.

Both olive oil and castor bean oil actually grab moisture out of the air and keeping it near your skin or hair and scalp.
So handmade soap with either of these ingredients will help keep the skin in good condition.
A regular bar of soap can actually be used on the hair, in fact some of my customers order regular soap for their entire body needs including shampooing.
My hair needs a shampoo bar. My children do well with regular soap for their hair. So it just depends on each person and their type of need.

Pretty much any handmade soap can be used as a shampoo bar. I would avoid the soaps with additives meant for exfoliation that might end up leaving bits in your hair. Also, in a shampoo bar I would personally want a soap that produces lots of lather. But a really effective shampoo bar will have extra ingredients (oils and EOs) that are known to be good for hair. I used a few of these in mine but there are more out there.

Tuesday, December 02nd, 2008 | Author:

You’re in for a treat — an awesome shampoo bar that is actually in-stock! Today we have a wonderful shampoo bar from Sweet Creek Herbs.

Ingredients: coconut oil, castor oil, extra virgin olive oil, jojoba, added emu oil, avocado oil, essential oils of tea tree, rosemary, and basil

If you ever get into a convo with Kathleen, you’ll find that she takes her soapmaking extremely seriously and has done a ton of research. So you can be sure that every ingredient on this list is there for a reason.

Smell: This shampoo bar has a very soft, herbal smell. I think it’s mostly tea tree and rosemary that I detect, but it is not overpowering at all. Once my hair is washed, the only thing that lingers is a comforting, soapy smell.

Texture: This is a nice, hard bar that glides really easily over my hair. It lathers up really well, with nice, long-lasting bubbles.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? You betcha — this bar does a great job and rinses away very cleanly.

How does my hair look and feel? Fantastic! I love how soft and silky my hair feels. And I think it looks even shinier than usual when using this bar.

Price plus shipping: $5.00 plus $4.80 for a 4+ ounce bar

Verdict: Absolute thumbs up, this one’s definitely a keeper. I tried the Green Herbal bar, but Kathleen also has Chamomile Ylang Ylang, Marshamallow Root, Rosemary Honey and Lavendar Shea shampoo bars listed. Yummy!