I was going to wait to write this post but I’m just so excited by the results that I had to post about it today.
As some of you may remember, I decided a few months ago that once I’d used up the last of my mega-bottles of cheap, commercial shampoo and conditioner I would switch to natural shampoo bars. I wanted less plastic, and soap made from natural (i.e. non-petroleum based) products that would be gentler on my body and also on the Earth (because all our soaps and detergents end up in our water system).
This past week a large Craft Fair was on at our local convention centre and there were at least six different soapmakers, so it was my chance to check out the products and talk to the people who make the stuff. I bought a Rosemary Shampoo Bar from Pacific Coast Soap Works. Yesterday I tried it for the first time.
Now I confess, I was a bit nervous and not expecting a positive outcome. First, I’ve read about funky hair syndrome and was unsure how a rinse with diluted vinegar would turn my hair from greasy into gorgeous. Second, I had a nice chat with the lovely lady at Kama Soaps and she told me her long tresses didn’t like the shampoo bars she’d made; despite the vinegar rinse her hair was “funky” even after several days of use (she suspected it was her very hard water; ours is nice and soft; and sure enough the link above notes that funky hair syndrome can result from very hard water). So I wondered if my long tresses would suffer the same fate. Finally, I’ve bought into the whole “humans need commercial shampoo and conditioner” bit that I found it hard to believe that a bar of soap that is basically just saponified oils with some nice smells thrown in would be sufficient to clean and condition my hair.
And so into the shower I went. The soap lathered up very nicely, though interestingly the lather seemed to disappear the more I scrubbed my head (adding water helped). I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have Sodium Laurel Sulfate in your stuff! When I rinsed my hair it felt…normal! See, I ran out of my commercial conditioner a few weeks before I ran out of shampoo, so I was using a spray-on, leave-in conditioner after I was done in the shower. So I was getting used to that feeling of having hair stripped of all its oils after shampooing. You know – you run your hands over your wet hair and they don’t slide along, but rather stick to the hair and pull on it. Well, after using the shampoo bar it didn’t feel stripped at all. I didn’t notice any difference after using the vinegar rinse (which was the same bottle I use to mop my floors, lol, gotta love using natural products in your home), but the next time I washed my hair it did seem that my hair felt a bit more “slippery” after the rinse, who knows? So…after I was done in the shower I wrapped my long hair up in a towel, and when I was dry and dressed I unwrapped it to see what sort of disaster lay in wait for me (I was concerned that my hair wasn’t slippery because it was “funky”). The first amazing thing I noticed is that I was able to comb it easily, no spray-on conditioner needed! Right then and there I can look forward to less hair breakage. The next test was how it would look when it dried. I’m pleased to report that it looked lovely. Now, my hair is quite damaged from years of colouring and bad shampoos so while it wasn’t model-perfect it was, for my hair, really really nice. It feels great, too. Finally, the next day my hair did not feel any greasier than it does after washing with the conventional stuff. If anything it feels less so because it hasn’t been coated with chemical goop. I’ve now washed my hair twice with this shampoo bar and vinegar rinse and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Yet one more benefit is when you are rinsing the vinegar out of your hair and some of it gets into your mouth by accident, instead of tasting disgusting chemical goop it was sorta like salad! Anyways, the shampoo bar was $7 for a 6.5 oz slab that will probably last us for months given we don’t wash our hair every day. Definitely a good value!
Since I started using natural soaps this summer I have been very impressed with how long they last. I do keep them on a wooden, slatted soap dish like the one pictured above and I leave the shower door open when we’re not inside, and the window in the bathroom is always open. That all helps a great deal. The prices are not bad at all. For example, my favorite (so far!) soaps from the Sunshine Coast Body Care company are 4 bars for $20 and each bar lasts me at least a month. I got a big bar of Hemp Forest soap from Kama and it was $5.50 (it’s made with hemp oil and scented with pine and cedarwood; I’m using it now and it smells lovely and the lather is luxuriously smooth and creamy). I also got a lime Luffa Soap from Pacific Coast for under $6. I think people assume (I know I always did) that natural soaps are a luxury that you can’t afford for daily use, but really that isn’t the case. Sure, they may be expensive compared to commercially available soaps, but they last just as long if not longer, and they are such a wonderful experience for the body and senses, plus it feels so good to be buying a responsible product from a sustainable, local small business. Is five or six dollars a month really too much for all that? I can tell you all that I am a complete convert and I will never, ever go back to commercial drugstore products again. So get you all to a soapmaker near you (there are some amazing ones in the US) and make the switch! (as I write this I keep running my hands through my hair, not quite believing that the softness is natural and not a coating of crud!)