Plastic Free Hair Care
One of the easiest plastic free swap is to go from using bottled shampoos, body washes and soaps to using shampoo and soap bars. Many shampoo and soap bottles can be recycled, provided they are properly washed and disposed but even then, plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times and again it also all depends on your local council. And if it somehow ends up in nature, well, we have all seen what that does. So, the best way is to try to avoid it and do your bit to minimise plastic pollution.
I must admit, I wasn't really very keen on soap bars before - previous experience made me think that soap bars don't really work as well as liquid soaps and therefore, I was a bit sceptical about switching over. But I was committed to give it a try!
I was concerned about the 'transition period' associated with swapping from liquid shampoos to shampoo bars. This is very simply put a kind of a detox period for your hair and scalp, where they get rid of remnants of the chemicals added to liquid shampoos (things like silicone that coat your hair with to make it softer and more shiny). Many shampoos are also likely to strip your scalp and hair from natural oils. Shampoo bars are a more natural and less harsh to your hair and scalp and therefore, your scalp ends up adjusting its oil production during the adjustment period, which can result in increased oiliness. Luckily, this is only temporary!
Shampoo Bar Diary
Wild Sage and co. were kind enough to gift me one of their 100% natural and plastic free Rosemary and Lavender shampoo bars and a Lavender and Geranium soap bars. At the end of July (4 weeks ago now) I finally ran out of my last bottled shampoo and body wash and swapped over to use the soap bars. I thought I would keep a diary of the adjustment period and share it with you.
For reference here: I have typical fine Scandinavian hair, that gets oily very quickly and for that reason, I was not looking forward to the oiliness getting worse. I wash my hair nearly every day, and definitely once every two days if not more often and therefore my experiences probably are very different to someone, who washes their hair once or twice a week. Washing shoulder-length hair nearly every day of the week, this approx. 120g bar of shampoo (£6) will last me about two and a half months.
First time trying the shampoo bar I was surprised: the shampoo bar lathers well and therefore did not feel strange at all to use. My hair felt clean and light afterwards. The same went on for a couple of more days until in the end of the week my hair started getting oilier. The natural scents were a bit strong for my nose at first, but I quickly got used to them and actually started loving them. I also love the scent, that bar soaps give to our bathroom.
My hair roots were more oily and slightly waxy, quicker than usual during the second week and my scalp started to get a little bit itchy. However, the level of oiliness was not too bad overall - I was worried, that it would be so unmanageable that I would not be able to go out, but (as usual) my worries were not realistic at all.
So far I had only been using a shampoo bar and not tried the recommended apple cider vinegar hair rinse yet. At the end of the second week, I got my order from CONCHUS, which included a hair rinse (their apple cider vinegar free alternative). I tried it the same day and what a difference it made! A few sprays into my hair after using the shampoo bar, rinsed it out well and instead of being squeaky and messy, my hair was soft and a lot less tangled. It smells gorgeous too!
I started to use the hair rinse about every 2-3 days and it made a difference by making my hair softer and more manageable. I think using the hair rinse every day might be unnecessary for me, but depending on your hair, shampoo and the hardness of the local water in your area, you might want to use it more frequently. Oiliness started to slowly fade, my scalp was still itchy and irritated most of the week, but started to get better towards the end of the week.
My scalp has calmed down and so has the oiliness, my hair feels soft and actually lasts longer between washes than it used to before, when I was using a liquid shampoo. I can really notice that my hair is lighter, because it is no longer coated with chemicals and I feel like that is also one factor that helps with the oiliness. Like before with liquid shampoos, I do still prefer to use dry shampoo in my hair to keep the oil under control throughout the day.
in a month I have gone from sceptical to loving bar soaps: safe for you and the environment, there many 100% natural options out there, they smell lovely and work brilliantly for my hair and skin.
Shampoo bars are not only for women! Many of the natural scents can be quite floral and feminine, but there are also many more masculine ones available (if that even matters). My boyfriend is not a sustainability enthusiast, but he is awesome and takes genuine interest in what I do. I have never tried to force him to change his habits, but I have slowly helped him to try new things by encouraging him to try my shampoo and soap bars and turns out he loves them too and pretty much stole them from me. He suffers from a very sensitive scalp, and the transition period was a little bit difficult especially during weeks 2 and 3, but now in the end of week 4 his scalp looks great and he is not complaining about it anymore (let's hope it will stay like that). I bought the slightly more masculine Drift bar from CONCHUS for him and he is very happy with it. I love the fact that just by showing example to your friends and family, you can encourage them to try and find better, more gentle and environmentally conscious options.
Here are some tips that might help you on your journey:
- Cut your soap bar in half to make it last longer and invest in a good, well-draining soap dish that lets your soap bar dry between uses (also store it somewhere dry). You might want to favour metal, wooden or bamboo soap trays, as they are probably more recyclable than their plastic or ceramic alternatives. I got my stainless steel soap dishes from Amazon (unfortunately they were wrapped in plastic).
- Be patient the transition period is likely to take about a month.
- Make sure you try the hair rinse to help you manage the transition period and to also condition your hair in the future. Repurpose an old spray bottle or buy a reusable glass or metal spray bottle and make a bigger batch of the hair rinse. There are multiple recipes online for this, just google 'apple cider vinegar hair rinse'. If you are not too keen on using acv, try Halo hair rinse from CONCHUS. I can highly recommend it! How frequently you will need to use the hair rinse probably depends on the shampoo that you are using, your hair and the hardness of water in your local area.
- If you are travelling, pack your shampoo and soap bars in metal tins (you can buy some from Lush or use small lunch boxes, tupperware). You might also want to try Beaty Kubes, which are dry shampoo cubes that you simply just crush in your hand, add water to it and wash your hair with it. You can use these as body wash too, which is brilliant, because you don't need to worry about wet soap bars.
- For extra conditioning, you might want to try oils like coconut oil or argan oil for your hair too - I know they are too heavy for my hair. Some brands mentioned below also offer conditioner bars, but I am yet to try one.
I have tried shampoo bars from Wild Sage & co, CONCHUS and also dry shampoo cubes from Beauty Kubes, and can highly recommend all of them. There are many other brands to try, like the Zero Waste Path Shop, Funky Soap, Friendly Soap and All Natural Soap co. Lush offers plastic free shampoo and soap bars, but these are not even close to being 100% natural. There are also multiple useful online shops, where you can not only get your shampoo and soap bars, but other zero waste supplies too like Acala, Plastic Freedom, The Kind Store or In Green's and many more. Make sure that your soap bar comes in plastic free and recyclable wrapping!
Comment below, if you have or you are planning to swap for a shampoo bar, I would be interested in knowing your experiences and your favourite plastic free hair care routine.
And don't forget to follow my journey @elsaannukka.
Lots of love,