Tag-Archive for » shampoo 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.

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, November 30th, 2008 | Author:

First off, you should read the ‘About me’ page for this store — what a great story. I love how entire businesses can grow off of chance occurrences. Your child takes piano lessons at a goat farm and next thing you know, bam!, you’re running your own soap-making business :)

So our next shampoo bar is the beer shampoo bar from Country Soaps by Marlene . Let me start off by apologizing for reviewing another sold-out shampoo, but the good news is that Marlene does have a few other shampoo bars listed.

Ingredients : Olive, Castor, Almond, Jojoba, coconut, almond butter, palm, wheat & silk proteins, beer & NaOH

This bar has some of the ingredients I’ve learned to love in shampoo bars, including jojoba oil, wheat and silk proteins, and, of course, beer.

Smell: This soap is basically unscented, but the almost oil/butter gives it that almond-y smell I tend to associate with maraschino cherries. It’s very soft and subtle.

Texture : This is a slightly softer bar than some, rubs on easily and lathers up really well.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, it did. It seems to have a slight bit of waxiness right up against my scalp, but nothing that affected the look and feel of my hair.

How does my hair look and feel? Very nice — this one leaves my hair slightly on the squeaky side so I think it would work best for fine hair.

Verdict: Thumbs up :)

Thursday, November 20th, 2008 | Author:

A Scentsible World (BJRussell) offers several yummy sounding shampoo bars (the Herbal Silk bar I’m reviewing today is shown on top in the picture, the Peppermint Tea Tree I’ll save for another day, but that’s the one sitting below).

Ingredients: coconut oil, babassu oil, palm oil, castor oil, rice bran oil infused with marshmallow root, chickweed, nettle leaf, Horsetail and Chamomile, shea butter, cocoa butter, hydrolyzed silk proteins

I’ve heard lots of good things about marshmallow root in shampoo bars, horsetail is one of the ingredients in the Giovanni leave-in conditioner I like so much, so I’m happy to see that in here, and the silk proteins I’m finding are great for giving me that silky, glide-y feeling.

Smell: This bar has a surprisingly earthy smell (surprising to me, based on the ingredients — I’m not sure what is imparting the most fragrance). I find it quite pleasant, but it is on the stronger side compared to most of the other bars I am reviewing.

Texture: This is, again, a nice, hard bar of soap which glides very easily over my hair, forming a nice, long-lasting lather.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, very well indeed.

How does my hair look and feel? Really nice — soft and silky, and not weighed-down at all. I’m really happy with the results of this one.

Price plus shipping: $6.95 + $2.95 for a 4-5 oz bar

Verdict: Big thumbs up! Barbara also offers herbal hair rinses in her store, which might interest those of you looking for something a bit more special than plain old vinegar.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008 | Author:

I debated on whether to delay my review on this soap, as it seems that Dragon’s Den is temporarily shut down due to a family emergency (hope everything’s okay, Amanda!). But I’ve decided to go ahead and write my review now, while the experience is still fresh in my mind.

Ingredients: Olive, palm kernel, and castor oils, water, lye, cocoa butter and hemp oil, honey, grapefruit seed extract, essential oil blend (Lemon, Lavender, Bitter Almond, and Ginger)

Smell: This soap has a light, slightly earthy smell which is really only detectable if you hold the soap right up to your nose. Afterwards, the only smell I noticed on my hair was the comforting smell of soap.

Texture: This is a nice, hard shampoo bar that glides well over my hair and lathers up really nicely. The bubbles are really slippery and long lasting (as opposed to some soaps which seem to break down faster and don’t give that slippery / lather-y feel).

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, in a wonderful way. Both hair and scalp were left feeling light and clean.

How does my hair look and feel? I loved the way this bar made my hair feel — it was really light, yet silky, so I’m thinking it left something behind to condition my hair, but in a very non-greasy, non-heavy way. I had thought the only way to get this effect was with silk proteins, but maybe it’s the honey or something, working its magic here.

Price plus shipping: $6.00 + $2.50 for a 5 oz bar

Verdict: Two big thumbs up! I’ll be visiting again in January when Amanda opens back up.

Friday, November 07th, 2008 | Author:

Shampoo bar number four is Hot Summer Nights by Baby Bird Bath Works. This was actually the first shampoo bar I ever tried. I’ve been holding off on reviewing it because I’ve been waiting for Merna, the shop owner, to make some unscented soap. Although I really like the fragrance, I’ve found that I’m more sensitive to smells these days and anything that has a fragrance tends to distract me. However, I was in the mood for fragrance this morning, so I decided to use my Hot Summer Nights and see if it’s as good as I remembered, after having sampled all these other shampoo bars… It is!

Ingredients: Beer, saponified oils of (olive, coconut, palm, cocoa butter, castor) fragrance

This is one of the simplest soaps I’ll be reviewing, ingredients-wise. But I think this soap demonstrates that you don’t actually need a lot of additives to make an exceptional product. Must be in the technique of how it’s made. I’m starting to realize that soapmaking is a lot like baking. Two bars can have the same exact ingredients, just like two cookies can, but the end result is just as dependent on the proportions of the ingredients and skills of the soapmaker / baker.

Smell: This will be the only bar I review that has fragrance oils added. As I mentioned, I prefer light or no scents. As fragrances go though, this is a really pleasant one — fresh and fruity. Here’s a quote from Merna’s listing, since I’m not that great at describing fragrances: “Then we fragranced it with a wonderful blend of summery scents including melon, kiwi, citrus fruits and lime. It smells like a sweet breeze on a hot night without being overwhelmingly fruity.” I know Merna’s working on some specially formulated shampoo bars that will be unscented, and I am really looking forward to picking some up.

Texture: This has been the yardstick that I’ve measured my shampoo bar testing against. This bar glides over my hair like butter on hot corn on the cob. Then it lathers up beautifully with rich, long lasting bubbles.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, absolutely. Both hair and scalp come out squeaky clean.

How does my hair look and feel? This bar somehow manages to find that rare balance between cleaning well and leaving my hair conditioned at the same time. I think I could easily skip the leave-in conditioner. The comb glides effortlessly through my hair, and even when soaking wet, my hair has that glide-y feeling I was talking about earlier. Once it’s dry, it feels super soft and glossy. I should probably mention that this might be a soap that is too heavy for those with really fine hair.

Price plus shipping: $4.50 + $2.80 for a 4 oz bar. She’s sold out now, but I happen to know there’s an unscented batch on the way.

Verdict: Total thumbs up. This is one of my absolute favorites!

Thursday, November 06th, 2008 | Author:

OK — let’s talk about Bar Naked from Soapalaya. First of all, I love the name of this store — it’s a combination of “soap” and “jamabalaya.” That makes me happy for some reason :) This is both a soap and shampoo, and has tons of raves in Etsy feedback.

Ingredients: Saponified oils of coconut, palm kernel, avocado, rice bran, hemp oil, shea butter, and castor

As you can see, this bar is filled with gentle and moisturizing ingredients.

Smell: This bar is unscented and has no essential oils, so it’s really the smell of the base oils themselves that come through. You have to hold the soap or lather right up to your nose to smell it, and then you’re rewarded with this soft, milky, cake batter smell. I’m thinking it’s the shea butter talking. And although this is not a strong fragrance in any sense, my hair retains that smell and it’s very soothing.

Texture: This is interesting. First of all, I think I’ve learned the trick of how to reduce the gripping or friction between shampoo bar and hair. It’s to first wet the bar and lather it up somewhat before rubbing it across your hair. Makes a big difference. OK — so what’s interesting is that this soap lathers very well, with nice creamy bubbles. But the bubbles and soap seem to disappear when I try to work them across my scalp. So my hair is lathered well, but I seem to have more trouble getting a really clean feeling on my skin.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, but I would definitely classify this as more of a moisturizing bar, at least skin-wise. My hair had the same squeaky-clean feeling I am now associated with all shampoo bars, but my scalp ended up with less of that squeaky feeling. This would probably be great for anyone who has dry skin on their head.

How does my hair look and feel? With the vinegar and leave-in routine, it feels quite good. By the end of the day, however, it was starting to feel a bit oily.

Price plus shipping: $5.50 + $2.85 for a 5 oz bar.

Verdict: Thumbs up — I think this would be a particular good shampoo bar with someone with super-sensitive and/or dry skin.

Saturday, November 01st, 2008 | Author:

OK, next up we have a gem of a shampoo bar from BathLife. She has several shampoo bars listed, but Hush is the only unscented one.

Ingredients: Beer, wheat germ oil, jojoba oil, kukui nut oil, macadamia nut oil, orchid extract, castor oil, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, vitamin e

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of beer in a shampoo bar. The premise is that the protein in the hops and malt coat and repair damaged hair. Does this work? I have no idea, but people have been rinsing their hair with beer… probably since the advent of beer.

Beyond the beer, the kukui nut oil and macadamia oil sound luscious, don’t they?

Smell: This soap has a very light flowery / hoppy smell. It is very pleasant, and subtle.

Texture: Again, this bar has some grab as I rub it across my hair, and again, I don’t think this is a big deal, but am just making a note of it. It does lather up nicely and the bubbles stick around for a nice, long time as I work them through the crown of my head.

Did it clean my hair and scalp? Yes, it really did. I think this will probably be consistent through all the shampoo bars that I test. They just plain clean my hair, and especially my scalp, better than regular shampoo. The thing that feels so wonderful is, that after my shower, as I run my fingers back from my forehead and through my hair, my scalp feels like skin. Of course, it is skin, but when I was using shampoo, it always had a different texture than the rest of my skin. Like it had a coating on it or something. Now it feels like fresh, clean skin, and it’s wonderful.

I would say with the Hush bar, that my hair got squeakier clean than it does with some other bars I’ve been testing. For me, this is not necessarily what I want, because I like my hair to have that silky, glide-y feel, where the hairs can just slide right by each other. If it’s too squeaky clean, they kind of get caught on each other. But if you’re looking for that super-squeaky-clean feeling, then this could be the perfect shampoo bar for you.

How does my hair look and feel? Like I said, a smidge on the squeaky side, but I used some extra leave-in to counteract this, and then my hair felt great. I don’t think I could skip the rinse or the conditioner with this bar, though.

Price plus shipping: $9.00 plus $2.00 shipping for a 5 oz bar.

Verdict: Thumbs up — I think this would be best for someone with oily or fine hair. It might work as a clarifying bar too, I will probaby experiment with it if I feel like I’m getting build-up from my other shampoo bars.

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.