From Shampoo to Soap – My story

Here’s the problem. All the bad guys I mentioned in my post about ingredients are in shampoo. Common among them are SLES and other –eth’s. (linked to the carcinogenic byproduct 1,4 Dioxane). There’s another realm of common shampoo ingredients called “quats” which stand for quaternium compounds. These little lovelies are linked to another carcinogenic byproduct – formaldehyde. However, this is our hair we’re talking about. How much variance from conventional products can it take? As moms we’ve often already accepted that parts of our bodies will never be what they once were. Do we really have to give up our hair, too, in order to be truly healthy?

When my brother first started talking about using the castile and Shikakai soaps for hair, I really thought he was taking things a little too far. I can hardly exaggerate my skepticism of this idea. Personally, I am a sucker for those shampoo commercials with the slow-motion shots of luxurious, strong, super-shiny hair. Despite what I know about what’s in conventional shampoos, I just couldn’t give it up in exchange for what I figured would be a head of dull and tangled frizz.

Once the Hair Rinse was fully produced and marketed, I finally bit the bullet and gave it a shot. At least I could pronounce all the ingredients and was familiar with them. At the time I was responding to customer service emails, and I needed to know first-hand what we were selling.

So, instant conversion? Nope. Here’s what happened. (This is based on my observations and deductions – not scientific research.) When I washed and conditioned my hair conventionally, my hair felt slippery even after it was rinsed. I thought this texture was good and meant my hair was strong and smooth. In retrospect, this slipperiness was a coating to conceal damage.

The first time I washed my hair with soap, that coating was quickly and completely stripped away, exposing my hair for the overworked, tired mess that it was. I applied the rinse, diluting it and doing the double dose that the instructions recommend. It helped detangle my hair, but my hair had no natural moisture and the strands were clearly damaged. By the end of the day, my hair was completely flat. It seemed full of static, and just didn’t feel clean. This just wasn’t going to work. I gave up.

It was several months later that I resolved to try again, this time giving the soap/rinse more of a chance. I washed my hair every two days, just as I always have. I rinsed with the Hair Rinse. I let the hair rinse sit on my hair for most of my shower, rinsing it off at the end. Once a week, I used a more conventional shampoo and conditioner, to help ease the transition. Over a period of two weeks, my hair got stronger and stronger. It became soft and silky – all on its own. I think my scalp realized it needed to wake up and do the job it was meant to do.

I also discovered that my hair is much wavier than I knew, now that it’s not weighed down by all the residue. That’s been kind of fun. My hair does better when I blow my hair dry, but that was true before I made the switch. Now that I’ve been using the soap for over a year, I only need one dose of the rinse. I no longer use any other products on my hair. It looks worse when I do.

I’m really pleased with my hair now. I got used to this different system. I keep a plastic cup in the shower for diluting the Hair Rinse (although I’ve poured a cupful straight on my hair when my cup has walked away – works OK). My hair does not feel slippery when I’m done, but it is tangle-free, and when it dries, it is smooth and soft. It is a big time and money saver to be able to wash myself from head to toe with one product. It’s a lot less complicated, too – a lot less to think about, especially in my pre-coffee morning fog.

Regarding the Style Crème, I had to do a little more trial and error with this. I found that for me it works best after my hair is dry. I use a pea sized amount to smooth any frizzies and keep things a little more in place.

Everyone’s hair has its own personality and there will need to be some trial and error in switching to Dr. Bronner’s soap and the Hair Rinse. Whether to use the pure castile soap or the Shikakai soap. (I prefer the castile because I like the almond, but texture-wise, they both work great.) How many rinses to do. How long to let the rinse sit on the hair. Whether to dry with a blow dryer or let it air dry. Whether to use the Style Crème on wet hair or dry hair. How many days you’ll need to wait for damaged hair to repair. You see what worked for me. That should get you started.

One disclaimer – don’t do this on colored hair. The alkalinity of the soap opens up the hair follicles, where the color resides. The color will drain out and fade quickly. Colored hair needs acidic products only. (Soap, by nature, cannot be acidic. Only detergents (shampoo) can be.)

379 thoughts on “From Shampoo to Soap – My story

  1. I have been using the hemp and peppermint as a shampoo it is leaving my hair very dry. When applying I am putting direct on scalp shampooing then rinsing and using a conditioner. I don’t like the feel of my hair, am I using the product correct? Thank you.

    • Hi Julie – A regular conditioner will not properly balance the pH of the soap and will leave your hair feeling dry or sticky. Your conditioner needs to be acidic, such as apple cider vinegar or the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse.

  2. I have a oily hair, But what i can shampoo I using for the best luxurious, strong, super-shiny hair ?

    • Hi Rizvi – I recommend for oily hair Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile liquid soap. The Lavender or Citrus are good moderate ones to start with, but if your hair is still oily, consider the Peppermint or Eucalyptus. As I mention in the post above, you’ll need to use an acidic rinse after each washing, such as apple cider vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse. If you’re transitioning from conventional shampooing, it may take a couple weeks to make this transition.

  3. I have had a really dry, itchy, flaky scalp for quite some time now and nothing seems to be working for me to change that. I was considering trying one of the castile liquid soaps as a shampoo with ACV for conditioner. How much castile liquid soap should I use on my hair? Is there a recommendation to specific instructions on how to do so as a shampoo? (directly on scalp? agitate? co-wash? focus only on scalp or good for both hair and scalp?) Also, would you say all of the castile line/scent options would work as good as the others or should I specifically only attempt with Tea Tree or Peppermint, etc? HELP! Please and thank you =)

    • Hi Melissa – Because your scalp sounds already a bit irritated, I recommend one of our milder castile soaps. All of them have the same base, but the added essential oils really differentiates them. The Peppermint is the most intense, so steer away from that one for now. The Tea Tree is great, or even milder would be the almond, and the mildest of all is the unscented (which does have a higher ratio of olive oil in the soap base). This is good for both scalp and hair. The amount totally depends on the length of your hair, but you want enough so that your hair feels soapy. For my fairly long hair, I use about 1 Tbsp. of soap, washing it every other day. Work it in to your hair, massaging it into your scalp with your fingertips. Rinse it out and then apply a diluted Apple Cider Vinegar rinse (cut in half with water). I like to let that sit for a minute or two if I have time, and then rinse it out. Give your scalp a week or two to heal and adjust to this gentler regimen before you decide if it’s working. Let me know if you have additional questions.

    • I have been using Dr Bonners for many years. It takes awhile for your body and hair to adjust Dr Bonners. I find almond and lavender the least harsh. The bar soap works well as a shampoo. I have scalp issues that have been resolved by using Dr Bonner soap bars. My hair is short. Be patient your hair will adjust in a month or two. It’s worth the wait. I find if I use a commercial shampoo my hair now really looks and feels strange.

  4. My daughter is a swim instructor/life guard and the chlorine/salt in the pool water leaves her hair very damaged and her skin very dry (which makes her skin break out). Any suggestins?

    • Hi Joyce – I apologize for my delay, especially as swim season is well underway. I have seen the same situation myself – damaged, irritated skin is much more likely to break out. I find coconut oil to be the best aid in fighting the damage. It sounds funny to fight acne with oil, but in this case, the skin is overreacting to a lack of nourishing oils, so if you can keep it nourished with good oils, it won’t freak out. Apply a small amount of coconut oil (a little goes a long way) to clean skin before sunscreen. Let it absorb for 10 minutes or so. Then apply sunscreen over it. Also apply coconut oil to the hair before swimming. I would do about 1/4 tsp. to medium length hair. This will protect the hair from the chlorine. After swimming and showering (very important to get that sunscreen and chlorine off), apply coconut oil again. If you use too much coconut oil, it will stay on the surface of the skin and get clothing or bedsheets greasy, so be sure to use just a bit.

  5. I was reading about so many benefits of using castile soap as a shampoo,as Im intended to free myself from a mainstream products I gave it a try haveing big hopes. Unfortunatelly it leaves my hair “dirty” and greasy 🙁 no matter how I use it. Whats wrong with my hair 🙁 ? Some people say it dryes their hair up,i wish it happen to me instead of awfully greasy residue it leaves…

    • Hi Kat – I am so sorry not to have gotten to your question earlier. Are you using an acidic rinse afterwards? Either apple cider vinegar (50% dilution) or the Dr. Bronner’s Hair Rinse. The greasiness is probably either from hard water reacting with the soap or from the pH of the soap causing the hair strands to be rough. An acidic rinse will solve both these problems.

  6. I know this can’t be used on colored hair, but what about blonde hair with highlights? Are highlights the same as colored hair? Can this product be used on blonde, highlighted hair?

  7. Hi Lisa,
    I see that on the Dr. Bronners website the Citric rinse is temporarily out of stock. I desperately need to wash my hair but I always have used the citric rinse, is there a website you think is trustworthy that I can order more from, and/or is there a home made mixture I could use to substitute? I dont know how long it will take to restock this item.
    Thank you so much for your time, I am in love with everything “Dr. Bronners”, it truly changed my life years ago.

    • Hi Gabrielle – Apple Cider Vinegar makes a very good substitute. Dilute it in half with water and use it as a rinse. We’ll have our rinse back in stock soon.

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