A reasonably comprehensive set of shampoo bar questions and answers

Shampoo bars are nothing new. That said, in recent years, they’ve received a lot of attention. Shampoo bars are functional, offer a lower environmental footprint, and provide a strong alternative to liquid shampoos.

We’ve made shampoo bars for years (nearly 20). In that time, we’ve answered a lot of questions about them. So, we’ve compiled these into one long shampoo bar Q&A.

Looking for an answer to a specific question? Find your shampoo bar question in this list, and jump directly to the answer:

General information

Pros and cons

Process and ingredients


Transition period

Hair types and conditions



Environment and testing

General information


What is a shampoo bar?

The short answer: Shampoo bars are a natural bar soap specially formulated for use on hair.

The longer answer: Most shampoo comes in liquid form. Shampoo bars do all that a common shampoo does, but, they come in a solid form. Shampoo bars look like soap bars. That said, their ingredients are chosen specifically to support a healthy scalp and hair. They cleanse, add volume, protect, and brighten hair sheen. Shampoo bars can also moisturize your hair.

Most shampoo bars are made with natural ingredients. The good ones are free of preservatives, chemicals, detergents and other unwanted additives. Shampoo bars are highly concentrated (because water isn’t their primary ingredient). They also require less packaging. They travel nicely, take up little space, and can’t spill.


How did shampoo bars come to be?

Your scalp secretes sebum: an oil that protects hair from splintering. It also collects dirt and dandruff. Over the years, there have been many approaches to cleaning hair. Ancient Sumerians oiled their hair to keep it shiny (they also masked hair odor with perfume). In The Middle Ages, some put burnt barley bread, salt, and bear fat on their hair.

The name shampoo originates in India. It was a form of hair and body massage (called chāmpo). When colonial traders experienced it, they brought the practice to Britain. The first commercial shampoo product arrived later—in 1914, and quickly evolved. Most modern shampoos combine a surfactant with a co-surfactant to remove dirt and leave hair soft feeling. Along the way, a number of soapmakers experimented with delivering shampoo in a solid form.

Some (typically cheaper) liquid shampoos contain harmful chemicals. For this reason, many people are turning to all-natural shampoos. Although some shampoo bars still contain chemicals, many don’t. As such, we believe they represent an evolutionary step for shampoo. All-natural shampoo bars offer the cleaning power of a liquid shampoo, without any synthetic detergents or harsh chemicals.


Why should I use a shampoo bar?

That’s a tough question. It all comes down to your hair, and what you value. Some hair types do better with liquid shampoos. If this is the case for you, just stick with one of our standard shampoos. That said, many people find shampoo bars to be quite nice.

Let’s start with a look at store-bought liquid shampoos. These commonly use petroleum-based detergents that strip protective oils from your hair and dry out your scalp. They then rely on silicone-based ingredients like dimethicone copolyol to add shine/gloss. So, they strip the hair of natural oils and use chemicals to imitate the qualities of healthy hair. These ingredients can cause hair to thin. They also result in residue build-up in your hair.

Shampoo bars use natural oils as a base. These are gentle on your scalp, and cleanse while moisturizing deeply. They won’t remove your hair’s natural protective oils. These oils keep your hair healthy and shiny. That said, they will remove residual left from chemical-heavy shampoos (especially if you normally use shampoos that contain a lot of artificial ingredients and preservatives).


What are the advantages of shampoo bars?

The benefits of shampoo bars are numerous. In our minds, the key ones relate to quality, function, convenience, and their environmental benefits.

Shampoo bars are typically of high quality. Most are comprised of all-natural vegetable oils, butters, essential oils, and other natural ingredients. Typically, they are free of preservatives, synthetics, and other unwanted additives. Since most don’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), they won’t dry or damage your hair. They create a thick and natural lather—and leave your hair feeling clean and healthy.

Shampoo bars are also functional. They are leak and spill proof, which is particularly nice when you travel. On a related note, you can take them in your carry-on luggage, without getting hassled by airport security. Take your shampoo bar camping, or to the gym. It’s small enough to just leave in your bag. Plus, shampoo bars store nicely, and declutter your bathroom.

Shampoo bars are convenient. They’re easy to apply: just rub on wet hair and they’ll create a nice, natural lather. For many, they’re multi-purpose, meaning you can skip using conditioner. Some people use them as an all-over body wash, or even as a shave soap. They’re less expensive to use than liquid shampoos, and last longer—which means fewer trips to the soap store.

Shampoo bars are environmentally friendly. They’re almost entirely packaging free, whereas liquid shampoo requires a lot of plastic/packaging. They’re also small and lightweight, which reduces shipping requirements. And, since they’re so highly concentrated, you can get more washes out of them than their liquid counterparts.


What is the difference between a shampoo bar and bar soap?

Soaps and shampoos contain similar—but different—ingredients. Both can be made using different processes, too. As such, each type of bar is suited to its own unique purpose. The key difference between the two relates to the types of oil used—and the volume it’s in. It’s also worth noting that most shampoo bars are not mass produced. (This will probably change as they become more popular.)

Soaps are typically comprised of quality fats, salts, oils, and possibly a fragrance. Although soaps lather, they don’d create as much lather as you’d find in a shampoo, or shampoo bars. Additionally, many specialty soaps exist to remedy specific needs and problems. For example, there are soaps specially formulated for babies, facial soaps, foot soaps, loofah soaps, saltwater soaps, and unscented soaps.

Shampoo bars are made for use with hair. Sure, you can use them all over your body, but they’re best used on hair. Shampoo bars have a higher concentration of oils, which act as surfactants (compounds that lower surface tension between liquids). These shampoos are built to penetrate the hair mass, create richer lather, and moisturize your hair—without weighing it down. Their use helps retain natural oils in the hair, reduce hair breakage, and stimulate hair growth. Shampoo bars have a different pH balance than hand/body soaps.

Some have tried to use regular body soap in their hair. Most who have will tell you that it works—but not that well. They might find that their hair is left heavy feeling after using a hand soap bar on their hair. Others will note that it cleaned their hair, but left it damaged and brittle.

So, to summarize: Use soap bars on your hands and body. Use shampoo bars anywhere—but they’ll work best on your hair.


What should you look for in a shampoo bar?

All shampoo bars are solid soaps that perform the same job as a liquid shampoo. Good ones are made with natural butters and oils. They also tend to contain essential oils and assortments of botanicals. Most will be free of sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) as well as chemicals, artificial fragrances, detergents and harsh preservatives.

Moisturizing oils are a key aspect of shampoo bars. So, check the ingredients list and look for moisturizing oils. We often rely on olive oil because it is deeply hydrating and soothing to the scalp. Coconut Oil moisturizes dry hair, preventing split ends and adding lustre, shine, and softness to hair. Castor oil contains a high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids which increase blood circulation and improve hair growth.

Some shampoo bars will use palm oil or palm derivatives. Palm oil has a bad reputation, and for good reason. A lot of its production is unethical and has grave consequences. That said, palm oil is a high quality oil with desirable attributes for soap making. So, if a shampoo bar contains palm oil, ask if it was sustainably sourced. If it is, you get the benefits of a great ingredient—without the negative ramifications.

Essential oils are another key ingredient in good shampoo bars. Lemon oil balances and stimulates natural scalp oil, and minimizes flaky skin. Calendula Oil has anti-inflammatory and immune stimulating characteristics. Chamomile oil contains antioxidants that strengthen hair. Jojoba oil is rich in vitamins and minerals that nourish hair. Peppermint oil cools, stimulates, and relieves dry scalps—while eliminating dandruff. Rosemary oil increases hair thickness and fullness.

Many shampoo bars are vegan-friendly. So, if animal rights are important to you, be sure to check the ingredients. Doing so will help you ensure that your chosen shampoo bar is free of milks, honeys, and other animal byproducts.

We suggest avoiding artificial perfumes/fragrances. Instead, opt for shampoo bars that use naturally sourced fragrances, essential oils or are fragrance-free.


What are the best shampoo bars?

That’s a difficult question to answer. We’re tempted to say “ours”, but we’re (admittedly) biased. Everyone’s hair care needs are unique. Shampoo bars are equally unique, with each one containing varying blends of moisturizing oils and/or butters. So, check the detailed notes on each of our soap bars to see which ones will do what you need. If you can’t find something suitable, run a Google search for shampoo bars and try some different brands—to find what’s right for you.


How are Saltspring Soapworks shampoo bars different from others?

We can’t provide a definitive answer to this question, because there are so many different shampoo bars on the market. These range from individual craftspeople, to small soap making companies, and even large corporations. The quality of product offered varies greatly, depending on the maker’s values and integrity.

That said, we are sometimes shocked by what some well known soap brands are willing to pass of as a “quality” shampoo bar. Some use melt-and-pour techniques. Worse yet, they sometimes include detergents and chemicals that we simply would not put into any product.

We’ve made soap and body care products for over 40 years. For almost half of that time, we’ve produced shampoo bars. These are informed by our founding values: quality products, made ethically, from good ingredients. As such, our shampoo bars are free of detergents, preservatives, and chemicals. They are biodegradable, safe for your septic system, and easy on the environment.

Additionally, we are committed to our craft—and to continual improvement. Every day, we search for better ingredients, test new methods, and explore ways to deliver the best soap and body care products we can.



Pros and cons


Are shampoo bars good for hair?

Again, whether a shampoo bar is good or bad for your hair depends on the shampoo bar. That said, many shampoo bars are made by people at conscious companies that work to produce healthy soaps.

Well made shampoo bars contain all-natural ingredients that are good for your hair. They’ll clean well and moisturize deeply. They’ll also clear away residue left by low-quality traditional liquid soaps. Some will also include essential oils that cam add vibrancy to your hair, invigorate your scalp, or address problems like dry scalps and dandruff.

At Saltspring Soapworks we’re always refining our methods and recipes. We also share the ingredients of every product we make on its dedicated product webpage and the product label (if space permits). Whether you buy your shampoo bar from us, or another fine soap maker, please read the ingredients, learn how the shampoo bar is made, and pick a product that suits your needs.


Are shampoo bars bad for your hair?

Any product can be hard on your hair, if it’s made with poor ingredients, or nasty chemicals. (We aren’t against using synthetics, but we are highly selective about the ones we choose.) So, we’ll keep repeating this: Your body is important. Before you put any product on it, research what’s in it and how it’s made.

The vast majority of shampoo bars we’ve examined are good products made of all-natural ingredients. As such, you probably won’t go too wrong when you buy one.

A notable characteristic of shampoo bars is found in their high concentration of cleansers. These can build up and create a somewhat waxy consistency. You can avoid such build up, and remove the waxy coating from your hair, by rinsing it with apple cider vinegar. (Doing so will also add shine to your hair.)

One other note: Long, curly, and/or porous hair can sometimes become more tangled or frizzy feeling when you use a shampoo bar. In such cases, some liquid conditioner can help. If it’s not enough, your hair might see better results with one of our liquid shampoos. (They’re made with as much care and attention as our shampoo bars.)


Are shampoo bars better for hair than liquid shampoos?

It depends. Liquid shampoos can be specially formulated to address specific hair types; whereas, shampoo bars tend to be more general in nature. We’re working on producing new shampoo bars that address unique hair types and challenges. That said, they’re works in progress. So, if you have a particularly challenging hair type, you might find that a liquid shampoo suits your needs better.

Many liquid shampoos are excellent products that treat your hair well. These can be formulated to work with certain hair types, and address specific issues. Some work better with treated or artificially colored hair. Others help manage dandruff. Some are gluten/wheat-free. Others are formulated specifically for babies or animals.

The challenge with liquid shampoos has everything to do with how they’re made. Unfortunately, many commercial shampoos contain detergents. These strip natural moisture from the hair and scalp. They then use silicone-based ingredients to make your hair look shiny. This is hard on your hair, and can leave unwanted residue.

So, there’s no clear answer to this question. Some liquid shampoos are wonderful products (we make a lot of them). Meanwhile, there are some not-very-good shampoo bars out there. Do your homework: inspect the ingredients list of any hair/body care product you buy. Check the company’s history, research their values, and read customer reviews. Then choose the product that’s right for you.


What are the disadvantages of shampoo bars?

Shampoo bars have some shortcomings—albeit minor ones. Let’s go over those, now:

Some find rubbing a bar on their head awkward or uncomfortable. For most, this weirdness passes quickly. If you feel differently, you can lather the soap in your hands before applying it. If you hate doing this, you might want to stick with liquid shampoo.

Common liquid shampoos offer intense lather. Most times, this is chemically produced—to give you the feeling that your shampoo is working. (True story: Lather doesn’t get your hair any cleaner. It just makes you think it does.) Shampoo bars don’t contain the chemicals that create an abundance of lather. As such, some initially wonder if it’s not cleaning as well. (It is—and often better.)

Shampoo bars can expire sooner than their liquid counterparts. This is especially true of ones that are made from all-natural ingredients. So, only buy as many shampoo bars as you need. Then, re-order when you need more.

Those with curly hair sometimes experience more tangles in their hair, when they use shampoo bars. This is likely due to the friction associated with rubbing the bar on their hair. It also might relate to the pH level of the shampoo bar—as curly hair can react to higher pH levels found in them.


Do shampoo bars cause build up or waxy residue?

Some (but not all) shampoo bars can leave a waxy residue. This residue is a byproduct of saponified oils. Saltspring Soapworks shampoo bars contain saponified oils. As such, some users will feel residue in their hair.

In these instances, an apple cider vinegar rinse will remove any unwanted residue. Here’s how you can make an apple cider vinegar rinse. It’s easier than it sounds, and has some added benefits.

We’re also developing new shampoo bars to add to our collection. Some will target specific hair types and the problems associated with them. Others will use different ingredients and processes.

We are proud of the shampoo bars that we make, and believe them to be of high quality. That said, they aren’t for everyone. With time, though, we hope to accommodate a wider number of hair types and needs.


Are shampoo bars more expensive than traditional liquid shampoo?

No. In fact shampoo bars are more affordable than liquid shampoos. This is due to a number of reasons. First, and most importantly, commercial shampoo contains a lot of water. Since shampoo bars are more concentrated soap, a shampoo bar lasts longer than its liquid shampoo counterpart. (For the record, we add special hydrating ingredients to our liquid shampoos, including: horsetail, seaweed, burdock root, and aloe vera.)

Additionally, when we use liquid products, we often use more than we need. Part of this relates to marketing. For example, toothpaste manufacturers commonly show photos of customers squeezing out a long strip of toothpaste—even though they only need about a pebble’s worth. The same applies to shampoo: You only need a bit to get the job done. A shampoo bar makes this habit easier to incorporate.

Shampoo bars last longer. As such, you’ll save yourself from driving to the shop as frequently. Also, since they are packaged minimally, you won’t need to go to the recycling depot as often.



Process and ingredients


How do you make shampoo bars?

There are a number of different processes for making shampoo bars. Cold-process and hot-process are good methods for creating shampoo bars. Melt-and-pour is another approach, but creates more of a detergent-based soap than a shampoo bar. (We recommend avoiding melt-and-pour shampoo bars, as they tend to be of low quality.)

Currently, we use cold process to make all Saltspring Soapworks shampoo bars. This method is similar to the how we produce cold-process soap; that said, the ingredients are slightly different.

First, we heat the (castor, olive, and/or coconut) oils to a low heat. We restrict heat, because higher temperatures can weaken the integrity of our chosen ingredients. We then add lye (sodium hydroxide), which saponifies the oils. Then we add any essential oils in our recipe.

Once properly mixed, we pour the liquid into molds. They then sit—either overnight, or for up to two days. This duration depends on the softness of the oils. Once sufficiently solid, we remove the shampoo bar blocks from the mold (this takes a lot of banging and maneuvering). Once separated from the mold, we cut the bars to size.

Each shampoo bar is then allowed to cure for three weeks. During this time, the shampoo bar continues to process, and properly turn into a shampoo bar. Specifically: the lye disappears, transforming the bar into soap. Finally, we wrap and label each shampoo bar, making it ready for transport.


What’s in a shampoo bar?

There are many shampoo bars on the market, and they vary in type, ingredients, process, quality. That said, most shampoo bars contain cleansing oils, moisturizing oils, and some combination of essential oils, plants/botanicals, and/or fresh scents. We are very particular about the ingredients we use for our shampoo bars. We aim to include as few ingredients as possible—and of the highest quality we can source.


Are Saltspring Soapworks shampoo bars sulfate/sulphate free?

Yes. All of our shampoo bars are free of sodium lauryl sulphate. In fact, all of our products are SLS free. Our shampoo bars are also free of all preservatives. Additionally, they are silicone free, paraben free, and gluten free. They contain no detergents, artificial fragrance, color, alcohol, DEA, urea, or formaldehyde. They are also cruelty-free (we do not test on animals), vegan, and as sustainable as we can make them.


What is the pH balance of shampoo bars?

The pH balance of a shampoo bar varies from one to the next. This often relates to the selected ingredients and the process used to make the shampoo bar. Our bars are made using a natural process, and therefore have a slightly more alkaline balance than ones made with surfactants and chemicals. Our bars are pH balanced between 9 and 10.





How do you use a shampoo bar?

You’ve used liquid shampoo for so long that anything else feels strange. It doesn’t take long to change this, though. Sure, there’s a transition period (we’ll get to that a little later on). Nevertheless, use a shampoo bar for a week, and going back to shampoo in a bottle might seem weird.

Shampoo bars are concentrated soap bars. You activate them by adding water. You then create lather by rubbing them on your hair. They don’t lather as much as liquid shampoos, but the lather they do produce is nice and thick.

Start by wetting your hair. Then roll the bar in your hands a few times to get build up a little lather. From there, you can rub it along your hair, massaging it into your hair and scalp. As you do, it’ll feel much like the liquid shampoo you’re accustomed to.

Once your hair is thoroughly covered, you can rinse the lather away. Then, store the shampoo bar on a self-draining tray, where it can air dry. Doing so will extend its life, saving you money, and reducing your environmental footprint.


Do you need to use conditioner with shampoo bars?

Shampoo bars are typically an all-in-one hair care solution. As such, they’ll clean—and moisturize—your hair. In some cases, though, added moisturizing is required. Those with curly hair seem to need additional moisturizing.

So, find the shampoo bar that works for you (some have greater moisturizing properties than others), and go from there. If you feel that you could benefit from added hydration, try one of our excellent conditioners. Pro-tip: Start with a smaller amount of conditioner (e.g., a dollop about the size of a dime) than you typically do, as the shampoo bar has already done some of this work for you.


How do I keep my shampoo bar dry?

This is a good question—and directly relates to how long your shampoo bar will last. Letting a shampoo bar soak in a puddle of water for prolonged periods will soften and erode the bar, reducing its lifespan.

We recommend letting your shampoo bar air dry on a soap dish. The best soap dishes self drain, or slightly elevate the bar from the dish’s surface—to reduce contact with water. Even if your bar gets a little soft, using a draining soap dish will allow it to dry out thoroughly. (Also, try to avoid leaving your shampoo bar in a travel container.)


Can I use a shampoo bar on my body?

Although shampoo bars are specially balanced for use on your hair, these bars are quite adaptable. As such, you can use a shampoo bar on your body. In fact, many of our customers use only shampoo bars (especially those who frequently travel, store their gear in a gym locker, or want to reduce the number of products they take on camping trips).

The natural oils contained in shampoo bars will cleanse and moisturize your entire body and face. A word of caution, though: the ingredients in shampoo bars make them softer than soap bars. As such, they won’t last quite as long as hand soaps. So, if you’re cost conscious, you might want to think about using a shampoo bar as well as a dedicated bar soap (for your hands, face, and body).


Should I use my shampoo bar daily?

Shampooing frequency is a contentious topic. Some believe that we shampoo too often, and should avoid it altogether. (While we appreciate the sentiment behind this idea, we kind of like washing our hair.) Others shampoo on a daily basis—be it with a shampoo bar or liquid soap.

Our recommendation is to shampoo as frequently as is right for you. Those with curly hair note that shampooing on a daily basis makes their hair unruly. So, they often leave a few days in between washes, and their hair looks all the better for it. Those with straight hair can benefit from more frequent shampooing.

Similarly, if you partake in physical activities in which you sweat, you might want to use your shampoo bar more regularly. The same goes for swimming in a pool, in which your hair can be strained by chemicals in the water.


Will the type of water I use affect how my shampoo bar performs?

Some water types can affect how your shampoo bar functions. Hard water can trigger eczema, or make your hair look tangled and dry. Chlorinated, mineralized, and fluoridated water can also affect your the way a shampoo bar interacts with your hair.

So, test one bar and see how it works. If you don’t achieve the result you’d like, contact us and we can make some suggestions. Perhaps an apple cider vinegar rinse is needed; or, you might benefit by switching to a different shampoo bar altogether.



Transition period


Will I notice a change as I switch from liquid shampoo to a shampoo bar?

The switch from liquid shampoo to shampoo bars is different for everyone. Some will hardly notice the difference; whereas, others will find that it takes a while to switch over. Some refer to this as the transition period.

If you’ve used commercial shampoos and conditioners for a while, you likely have some built up chemical residue in your hair. This is because commercial hair products contain detergents and silicones. It takes a while to draw these residues out of your hair. At the same time, your scalp is recalibrating its natural oil production. During this transition, your hair might feel heavy, greasy, and/or dull.

Once the residue is washed away, and your scalp adjusts to the new pH, your hair will start to feel better. In fact, it’ll likely feel much cleaner, once the residue is gone. The length of your transition period will vary, depending on your hair length, type, and the amount of product you use in it. For most people, the transition period takes about two to three weeks.


Do I need to use an apple cider vinegar rinse after using a shampoo bar?

Only you can say whether an apple cider vinegar rinse is necessary. Some find them entirely unnecessary. Others treat them as a regular part of their hair care ritual. Yet others do them sparingly, as the need arises.

The best way to determine whether you should rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar is by feel. Does your hair seem a bit waxy? If it does, you’re likely experiencing build up from your shampoo bar. Alternatively, if your hair feels sticky—or like straw—the alkaline level of your hair is increased. This causes hair to stick out and tangle. In either event, an apple cider vinegar rinse is worth trying.

Certain other factors affect whether your hair will benefit from an acid rinse. Hard water can make a rinse necessary—especially if you use hard water and your hair is tangling. After you complete the rinse, any waxy sensations, tangling, or unruliness should diminish.


How do I make a vinegar rinse?

Mix a tablespoon of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a cup of water. Then pour this mixture over your hair and rub it in. Let it sit for a minute or two, before you rinse it away. (Some just leave it in their hair.) The vinegar smell will go away when your hair dries.



Hair types and conditions


Do shampoo bars work well with thin hair?

Shampoo bars work well on almost all hair types. Keep in mind that your body already does the important work. Your scalp creates oils for your hair, which keep it healthy, nourished, and shiny. Advertising might lead you to believe that your body needs shampoo to do this. In actuality, though, most commercial shampoos are hard on your hair and create shine artificially—after stripping your hair of its natural oils.

A good shampoo should help remove excess oil and dirt from your hair. The rest is largely up to your scalp and hair. Since our shampoo bars are made of all natural ingredients, using them won’t weigh down your hair with residue.

If you want your hair to feel thicker, you might like to try our Jojoba Olive Shampoo Bar or our Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar. These both contain oils rich in vitamins and minerals. These can nourish and strengthen your hair.


Can I use a shampoo bar on color treated or permed hair?

It’s totally fine to use our shampoo bars on your color treated hair. In fact, you might find that using a shampoo bar will help hold on to your new hair color, because these bars only use natural ingredients. Conversely, commercial shampoos contain detergents that can strip color from your hair. (One note: It wouldn’t hurt to run a strand test first, though—just to make sure that everything is copacetic.)


Will a shampoo bar fix scalp problems?

It sure can! Chemicals can be hard on your body—this is no different on your scalp. Commercial shampoos that contain detergents, preservatives, and other chemical additives can stress your hair and scalp—creating, or exasperating, scalp problems like dryness, itching, and flaking.

If you’re struggling with scalp problems, we suggest trying our Calendula Chamomile Shampoo Bar, Jojoba Olive Shampoo Bar, or Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar. All of these contain coconut oil, which promotes scalp health. These bars will on both dry and oily scalps. They’ll reduce itch and provide sweet relief to your dry scalp.


Can a shampoo bar reduce breakage and split ends?

Split ends are a consequence of dry, damaged hair. So, the remedy to hair breakage and split ends is often found in nourishing oils. We highly recommend our Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar to remedy problems like split ends. This bar contains coconut oil, which is known for its ability to prevent hair breakage.


Will using a shampoo bar dry out my hair?

No. Our all-natural shampoo bars are hand made with quality cleansing, moisturizing, and essential oils. Together, these ingredients help encourage a healthy scalp and hair. Shampoo bars are a nice alternative to many commercial shampoos, as they do not contain detergents, preservatives, or other chemical additives that can damage your hair.





Do shampoo bars lather?

Yes—shampoo bars lather. That said, they might not lather in the way you are accustomed to. While this can initially seem strange (like your shampoo bar isn’t working properly), it’s actually a good sign.

Liquid shampoos commonly use harsh detergents like sodium laurel sulphate (SLS). This ingredient creates a full lather, but it’s an ingredient we don’t want to put in our soaps. SLS can cause dryness and irritation. This is even worse for those who have dry skin, psoriasis, eczema, or scalp conditions.

Since our shampoo bars don’t contain artificial lathering agents, they lather differently from drugstore shampoos. Our shampoo bars do create lather, but this lather is thicker—and less bubbly than what you might be used to.

Also, keep in mind that lather isn’t necessary for cleaning your hair. In fact, most commercial shampoos only include lathering agents to make you think they’re working. (For the record, we also make liquid shampoos, but we never put sodium laurel sulphate in these shampoos.)


If I switch to using shampoo bars, will I need to wash my hair more often?

No. Most shampoo bar users don’t change their hair washing habits when they switch from liquid shampoos—aside from possibly using an apple cider vinegar rinse. Some even say that their hair feels cleaner, because it’s not exposed to chemicals that damage the hair. So, they shampoo less frequently after switching to shampoo bars.


Will a shampoo bar remove residue from common cleansers?

Yes. Mass produced liquid shampoos commonly utilize detergents (to strip the hair and create lather) and silicone (to add artificial gloss). These harsh chemicals leave residue in your hair that can start to collect.

Since shampoo bars (good ones) are made up of natural ingredients, they’ll prevent this residue from collecting. In time, using a shampoo bar will help your scalp better moderate its oil production, and achieve a natural balance.

Please note that transitioning from commercial liquid soaps to all natural shampoo bars can take a few weeks. During this time, you might need an apple cider vinegar rinse to help your hair feel its best.


Will a shampoo bar sting my eyes?

Unfortunately, soap from a shampoo bar can cause discomfort and irritation if it comes into contact with your eyes. As such, we ask that you close your eyes while using our shampoo bars—or any shampoo for that matter.


What’s the shelf life of an unused shampoo bar?

We recommend using shampoo bars within one year of purchase. That said, they will last longer. You can extend the shelf life of your shampoo bar by storing it in a cool, dry place. Over time, they might change color or lose some of their scent. By being left to cure for longer, they can also create more lather.





Can you use shampoo bars on babies and kids?

Yes, you can use shampoo bars to wash kids’ and babies’ hair. Do avoid contact with their eyes, though, as it can cause irritation/discomfort.


Why do people travel with shampoo bars?

Travel is a common reason that people switch from liquid shampoos to all natural shampoo bars. Liquid soaps can spill in your bag and leave a mess. Also, they often come in volumes that exceed the liquid threshold allowed by TSA and other airport security associations. So, you either need to put liquid shampoos in your checked baggage, or risk having them confiscated.

Shampoo bars come in a solid form, meaning you can toss them in your carry-on bag—without upsetting the people at airport security. They can’t spill and won’t break, so there’s no mess. They’re small and light, so, they pack nicely. Even better yet, they allow you to avoid using individual-sized hotel shampoos, thereby reducing waste.


Which shampoo bar is best for travel?

There’s no real answer to this question. Any shampoo bar will travel as well as another. That said, if you’re heading to a place where you’ll bathe in saltwater, you might want to also toss a Coconut Saltwater Soap Bar in your bag. It is made specifically to lather in saltwater.


How can I reduce the cost of shampoo bars?

Frankly, you shouldn’t need to worry about the cost of shampoo bars. Typically, shampoo bars afford greater value than liquid shampoos, because they are highly concentrated. As such, you aren’t paying for water—just soap. Additionally, most people waste less shampoo when it comes in solid form. When properly stored, shampoo bars last longer than liquid soaps, making them a cost-effective hair cleaning option.



Environment and testing


Are shampoo bars better for the environment?

18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the world’s ocean annually. This is in part due to the number of products delivered in plastic. It also relates to the amount of water we ship (and the environmental cost of that transportation).

Shampoo bars address this problem on two levels: They use limited packaging, reducing the amount of plastic waste created. Additionally, they are highly concentrated. This means that with a shampoo bar you buy only shampoo; whereas liquid shampoo involves shipping a lot of water.

So, shampoo bars are easier to ship, require less space, last longer, and produce less plastic waste.


Are shampoo bars septic safe?

Saltspring Soapworks shampoo bars are! We use only natural ingredients in our shampoo bars, which makes them water-soluble and fully biodegradable. They do not contain phosphates or other chemicals.


Are Saltspring Soapworks shampoo bars tested on animals?

No—we do not test our shampoo bars (or any of our other products, for that matter) on animals. Our products are all natural and cruelty-free.

Well, that about covers it. Do you have questions about shampoo bars that we didn’t answer, here? Let us know and we’ll respond—and add that question and answer to the above list.

Nov 17, 2020

I couldn’t stop reading about this company and its conscious effort to illuminate soap and shampoo bottles. This is MAJOR. I will never go back to buying products again.

Laura Martinez

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