Switching To a Solid Shampoo Bar

Making the Swap

Many of you have made the swap to solid shampoo bars with us since 2018 (!), and we are now proud to stock a huge range of plastic, vegan and palm oil free options. The main thing we have learned along the way is that all shampoo bars are not created equal. There are two main types:

  • Soap Based Shampoo Bars
  • Syndet Shampoo Bars


The Difference

The main difference is in soap based bars the main ingredient in the shampoo bars is usually Sodium Olivate, or well, soap. You will find the PH of soap is not naturally matched to human hair and this is where issues around residue and waxiness can arise from.

Soap Based Bars

When I first bought a shampoo bar several years ago, I cracked it open and was really excited about my first hair wash. However the excitement soon disappeared when I dried my hair; it felt really sticky and almost greasy. I thought that maybe I just needed to have another go, but the next 2 washes over the following couple of weeks left me with the exact same result. This came down to it being a soap based bar.

Beginning to fear that this was going to be a complete bust I fortunately turned to the internet to check out if this was normal. It seemed to be fairly common that chemical laden hair has to go through an adjustment period when swapping to a soap based solid shampoo bar. First of all, you need to really rinse well. The articles I read said that to help with this it is advisable to do a rinse with apple cider vinegar to help clarify the hair, and ensure there is no soap residue left behind. I checked out Chagrin Valley and decided to follow their recipe for a herby apple cider vinegar rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I brewed up a decent batch and decanted it into some old squeezy plastic bottles. I rinsed my hair really well and then squirted the mix all over, really rubbing it into my scalp and through the lengths. It’s optional to rinse out the mix, though sources of information did say that you can also leave it in if desried. After drying my hair felt great! It felt clean and soft and did not smell of vinegar at all. I had made enough of the rinse that I could leave several uses worth in the fridge, so for the next few washes I could just use what I had left. I chose not to use a conditioner as I didn’t feel I needed it, but if you have purchased a conditioner bar then the majority of advice says this is what your wash routine should look like:

  1. Wet hair and your shampoo bar.
  2. Either lather up your hands and apply the lather to your hair, or, if your hair is really thick, rub the bar directly onto your hair and scalp.
  3. Rinse well with water.
  4. Use an ACV rinse all over.
  5. Rinse again.
  6. Lather your conditioner bar up with water and apply it sparingly through just the ends of your hair.
  7. Rinse well.
Syndet Based Bars

Now these bars are a whole different kettle of fish. First of all, you’ll find they cost a little more. This is for a good reason. Soap based ingredients are generally much cheaper, hence why soap free bars are more expensive. However, both types of bar can last up to 3 months (if left to dry between uses). This can therefore still be a really budget friendly swap.

Since learning all about the differences since 2018, we’ve chosen to mainly stock the syndet based bars as the results are so much nicer- and the bars much easier to use. We do have a fragrance free soap based bar, which is an amazing value option and can be just fine for shorter hair or those who are willing to adjust to it. But if you’re looking for a super straightforward swap with lovely results straight away, we recommend our Hairy Jayne or Zero Waste Path ranges. The latter is actually a 2 in 1, making it even better value for money. Enjoy!

shampoo conditioner bar