From Shampoo to Soap – My story

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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.)

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323 thoughts on “From Shampoo to Soap – My story

  1. I have been using the Castile soap and the conditioning hair rinse for a month and my hair has never looked better. But I’m now on my fourth bottle and the rinse looks different. The others were a dark brown and thick. The rinse I’m using now is a light orange and thin and my hair doesn’t seem the same. Do you think I just got a bad batch?

    • Steffanie,
      That happened to me too. My first bottle was thick and chunky and very dark. It didn’t always mix completely with water either. My second and third bottles of the citrus rinse were thiner and much lighter in color. I found the thin and lighter version to be way better as it was more soluable with water. No chunks. I assume my first dark thick bottle was old?? I bought it off amazon. I don’t know if that helps, but I had a similar experience. Also I found it took my hair a good 2-3months to adjust to the dr. bronners routine. I recently started using the peppermint hair cream (dr. bronners) in addition to the rinse. At first it was too much and made my hair look greasy but I mixed it with %80 water and %20 product in a spray bottle and I found my hair to be much less crunchy. My hair is loving it. Hope that helps.

    • Thanks Elizabeth!
      I didn’t even think to dilute the leave in cream! I would either put it in when my hair was still dripping wet or just forgo it all together because of the same greasy look and feel. I’ve been reading that after two weeks your hair will be transformed and after a month I still have my moments of frustration, so you definitely made me feel better saying it takes takes maybe three months to get accustomed to the new routine. I really appreciate your reply.

  2. I just read that the soap can’t be used on colored hair. What about the rinse and the cream?

  3. I have 2 months using soap, sometimes the stick sometimes liquid. I love. The first 2 weeks were tough and wear braids because my hair looked greasy and dirty. After this hards 2 weeks, every day is better!
    Now, sometimes it feels somewhat dry at the ends, I use a few drops of coconut oil to moisturize, this helps a lot!
    I recommend you try!!!
    good luck!

  4. As one who has had horrendous oily hair, like after 24 hours it starts to look wet, I’d like to try something gentler on my hair to give it a fighting chance to be soft and silky without having to be stripped of oils every night. Anyone else with very thin, very fine, flat, and oily hair use this? I welcome tips, tricks, and advice please! :-)

    • If you ever get an answer please let me know. I, too, have thin, very fine oily hair. I recently started trying the no ‘poo method but I find that it dries out my ends while leaving my roots oily. Looking for another method.

    • I have terribly oily, fine, thin hair as well! I’ve been using a mixture of 1/3 C. Dr. Bronner’s (lavender), 1/4 C. Coconut milk and a few drops of vitamin E for several months now. Beautiful results! My hair wouldn’t even make it a full 24 hours before looking “wet” but now I can go at least a day and half/ 2 days before it looks too greasy. Every second or third wash I use a conditioning rinse of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. My hair has never been healthier. I put each mixture into a spray bottle and apply it that way. Saves some of it from rolling out of my hair before I get a chance to work it in. :-) good luck!

    • By any chance did anyone ever respond to this post? I have a lot of hair, each hair is really fine and super super oily!!! I tried Dr. Bronner’s Almond (mixed equal part of soap & water). The first time I didn’t use any rinse and it looked & felt oily at the crown. The next day I used an apple cider/water rinse and it STILL looked oily. I gave up.
      If anyone answered you or if you found something that works I would love to hear about it.
      Thanks in advance
      Donna
      South Carolina

    • Shannon,

      I have short fine, flat and thin (Asian) hair. I would have to wash my hair every day because it gets oily if I go more than 24 hours without shampooing. I’ve been no-poo since the beginning of December and I love it! At first—the transition period….terrible! My hair seemed like it got super greasy as soon as I got out of the shower! But that was just my hair getting used to not getting all those nasty chemicals in it, literally detox! I read many blog posts to make sure it wasn’t just me, and lots of people said to stick with it..so I groaned and complained about my grease ball head and some days I would wash my hair 2-3 times because I couldn’t stand how oily it was (i hadn’t figured out the right ratio for my homemade shampoo and ACV rinse and was tempted to try the Dr. Bronner’s hair rinse, but stuck it out long enough to see results) 5-6 weeks later was when I started seeing “real” results. I now only have to wash with the homemade natural “shampoo” every 3-4 days (I’m a runner and sweat a lot so I have to wash my hair more often) and am able to stretch that out a little longer when I’m not running as often (I’ve gone 6 days without a hair wash even with light work outs). I use this natural shampoo recipe from wellness mama but cut the recipe in half (made with the citrus orange castle soap) and without the essential oils just to try it out. http://wellnessmama.com/3701/natural-shampoo/. I rinse with diluted ACV (approx 1TBSP in 1.5 cups water). In between washes I just use water and a good scalp massage :) I just finished my first “batch” and am trying the lavender castle soap and adding essential oils now. Once every 2 weeks I will deep condition with coconut oil before a hair wash day and I love it! It is a lot of trial and error because everyone’s head and hair are so different, but it is worth it knowing I’m not putting extra unneeded chemicals in my hair. I hope this helps!

    • Y’all need to start out by spacing out your regular shampoo routine. Go every other day a while, then every third day, etc. I wash my thin, flat, straight hair every 6-7 days now (once a week). I can’t get it wet at all throughout the week or it will turn greasy & need to be washed. I just bought the eucalyptus castille bar and I’m going to use it either today or tomorrow for the first time. I didn’t get the rinse, but I color my hair & have the conditioner that comes in the box, so I’ll use that. I’ll report back after my wash.

    • I use the Bronners soap everyday on my hair. I have not tried the rinse yet. I usually use a homemade rinse of ACV. My hair is very fine and oily also. It took my hair about a week to adjust but its now stronger than ever. You just need to give your scalp a chance to get use to Not having to produce so much oil. Shampoo is a vicious cycle!

    • I have fine wavy-ish hair and am on day 30 of using Dr B’s. I use the bar soap and am currently rinsing with about a 5% solution of ACV and water. My roots look good, as do my ends, but on day 3 the middle is a little oily (but that was true with regular shampoo too).

      The transition has been a little tough and I’ve done a lot of trial and error. On day 20 I was about to give up, but decided to give it one more wash, one more shot. That’s also the day I got scientific and tested my ingredients and water for both hardness and pH. I already knew my water was very hard. Dr. B’s soap, the rinse, ACV solution, baking soda solution and regular shampoo all change that to different degrees. Same for pH. For my hair and my water the rinse lowers both too much, even at only a half cap. The same is true of my first ACV solution. Since lowering the volume of ACV and leaving it in my hair only while I wash the rest of myself, my hair turns out pretty well. It still seems a bit sticky while drying and I have to brush it out once it’s dry. I also notice that it has the texture hairdressers add product to get as soon as it’s dry.

      I’m sticking with it for the time being. I’m going to experiment with decreasing the volume of rinse (I’m not thrilled with the ACV lingering smell), I just bought the styling cream to try and I may try the occasional wash with the addition of some baking soda, which has always worked well for me with regular shampoo. One change at a time though.

      If you’re interested in testing your own water and soaps, you can buy some aquarium test strips any place hat has fish. Keep in mind that fish like pH that is higher than your hair (hair is naturally something like 4.5 – 5 and the fish test strips range is about 6.2 – 8.8), so your info will be helpful, but not definitive. Alternately you can get a wider range version on Amazon very inexpensively. Some of my results definitely went off the scale on both ends.

      Hope this helps.

    • Shannon, if you try this shampoo out, please tell me how it goes! I have similar hair. Like Gloria, I tried going no-shampoo. I have been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash my hair for almost 3 months. It still looks greasy at the roots, dry at the ends. It lies flat on my head with no body. I’m switching to a natural shampoo soon. Considering Dr. Bronner’s or Alaffia.

  5. Hi I was about to go out and buy the soap and hair rinse when I read here not to use on colored hair. So now I am stumped. Can I use any of these products on my hair? Because it is coloured I definitely need some type of conditioning to get the comb through.

    Thank you so much for helping me out with these questions

    Sherry

    • Sherry,
      I use it on my colour treated hair and have never had a problem. I’m brown tone with highlights and grey that I cover up. I find the rinse a bit too acidic and so just use aveda detangler after I wash it and it leaves my hair really full and soft. Once a week I give the ends a good condition. Love Dr. B!

    • hi sherry…i am in the same boat as you…
      desperately searching for a n a t u r a l shampooing for my color treated hair…
      did YOU find a solution….thx..dorit

  6. hello,
    I used castile soap on my dyed hair for a month and realized that the greys appeared very quickly, it was really stripping my hair. So I researched this on the internet and saw this post, to not use on dyed hair. how can I make another type of homemade shampoo without castile soap. Is there a solution or do I have to buy it already made.
    Thank you for this post
    Manon

  7. hey i just wanted to throw this out there: dr. bronner’s peppermint soap is the answer to fine hair. THE ANSWER. i have super fine but pretty thick hair and after trying almost every shampoo and conditioner combo under king solomon’s sun, i had resigned myself to flat hair despite the ridiculous number of styling products i used to achieve volume. i love peppermint and i use peppermint oil instead of perfume so, wandering through the cosmetic section at the store, i grabbed dr. bronner’s peppermint soap. what the hey. i figured i’d give it a try on my mane and if worse came to worse, it would be bathroom hand soap for the next year or two (there’s a lot of soap in there). after two days of using this as shampoo and not adding any conditioner, i realized i had uncovered a true panacea for bad hair. HOW HAD I NEVER USED THIS BEFORE?! my hair looks and feels twice as thick as it did before. the only product i use now is root powder made of citric acid- applied sparingly- for a tiny root boost. i get comments from people i’ve known forever who say my hair looks so healthy now. and it does. i want other folks to know that if you have fine hair, dr. bronner’s peppermint soap is the only hair product that you ever need. i’ve been using it for several months now and i love it.

    • I have baby fine hair and not much of it. Will the peppermint work for my hair too?

  8. I simply use vinegar and water in a spray bottle for a rinse and it works great!

    • Like Virginia Menz I also have used vinegar (organic apple cider vinegar), I put it undiluted on my hair, massage in, leave for 2 minutes and rinse off, my hair has never felt as good and looked as clean in my life 😀
      PS hair after dr bronner’s feels like made of rubber and I can’t even put my fingers through it, however the vinegar restores it and conditions it to a silky smooth feel :)

    • Hi Virginia,
      What concentration do you use e.g. 50/50? Thanks.

  9. I have been using various “flavors” for bathing and hair wash, on and off for years, especially when I do a good scrub (bath) in my pool and when not using Dr Bonners used expensive hair products (I’m extremely sensitive to products and fragrances-delicate flower I am). For the past year I have moved twice from big house of 30 yrs to apartment (active senior living) to larger apartment in same community Nov 14. Needless to say it will be a while before I can locate all my stuff and settle in (and have spare funds). Over the years I’ve suffered from itchy scalp and scaling-like scalp, on and off but I never determined just what the condition was or what cause is, if that could be determined. The past several months my scalp has been comfortable with few of the symptoms. Mid Dec I located my very expensive shampoo and rinse and used it before a party. Several days later my scalp returned to itchy and scales a few days after using the expensive product. One hair washing with Dr Bonners (liquid-eucalyptus) and I had noticeable reduction of itching and scales. In addition, my mindset was that one cannot rinse out all the soap but I was probably mistaken. A few days ago, sitting at my friend’s computer, with her sitting behind me, she stroked my pony-tail and commented on how shiny my has is! SO, FROM NOW ON IT WILL BE DR BONNERS FOR MY HAIR PRODUCT. I am 65 with unprocessed naturally blonde (and getting lighter still as I age). My hair tries to curl but the most distinguishing feature is that the texture is so fine it is like spider webs. Another WRONG mindset I’ve had is that the Dr Bonners soap just has to weigh it down. WRONG ….. or if so, at least I have a little more texture with less “fly-away”. I’ve been wearing my hair cut pretty short for past 10 yrs but past year I’ve let it grow out and wear in pony-tail most of time. So determining change in how it behaves has been difficult. But most important!!!! my scalp only gets “upset” when I don’t use Dr Bonners soap to wash. I think I’m going to try the rinse.

  10. I’ve been using the Shikakai soap with equal parts of Bubble & Bee Organic Hard Water Soap for quite some time. I’m Afro-American/Caucasian/Native-American with natural curly hair(3B-3C). I’ve suffered from severe seborrheic dermatitis my entire life. It was only after years of research and trial and error, that I realized only the right combination of organic products were successful at taming my condition. I’ve controlled the seborrheic dermatitis very well for 17yrs without compromising the ability to use creative hair styling which often changes with the times. I cut my hair down to 1/4″ and grew it to a very strong healthy waist length.

    My scalp and hair require different treatments. Seborrheic dermatitis causes the scalp to be very dry and scaly. Not to mention the scalp is very sensitive to all products. My curly hair is quite different, as it holds onto oil and locks in moisture very well.

    I live in an area that has very hard water. I have a whole house salt water softener and purification system however, I sill require soaps that eliminate build up from the residue within the water. I wash my hair and scalp with equal parts of both soaps. I also follow-up with the Shikakai Citrus conditioning hair rinse. Finally, I use diluted ACV with mothers (apple cider vinegar) as my final step. The ACV doesn’t get rinsed out. My curls are simply amazing after every wash and ready for any organic styling product I choose. No tangles, no harsh build up, no stripping, no worries. I faithfully clean my scalp using this process every 6 days.

    Dr Bronner’s products rescued my scalp!

  11. When you use the liquid soap as shampoo, is it necessary to dilute it or can it be used straight?

  12. What exactly is the purpose of the rinse? I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s soap as shampoo for about a month and like it except that my hair feels waxy when it’s wet and suuuuuper greasy when it dries. Does the rinse help with that?

  13. Is there one of the soaps that you would recommend for oily hair?? My is like super oily where I have to wash it like ever other day depending on my activity level. I tried the lavender in a diluted form and my hair felt more super oily! Any recommendations on this?

  14. I’m really bummed to read this will not work for color treated hair :( But I wonder if adding lemon juice or lemon oil to the mix would help make it acidic? Any thoughts?

  15. I started using the soap and rinse on my hair and its great. I want to use some henna hair dye but don’t want to if its just going to fade fast. Is there a way to have dyed hair and still use this soap?

  16. Is it possible that the combination of dr. Bronners & hard water causes dandruff? I LOVE how my hair looks after using this routine: dr. Bronners (lavender) – vinegar rinse – Ghassoul clay (+ a few drops of argan oil and essential oils: rosemary, tea tree & geranium) More volume than ever and luscious curls.
    The only problem is that darn dandruff… I really want to get rid of it! Could the fact that I don’t dilute the dr. Bronners cause it?

  17. Is the conditioner supposed to be almost black and really thick like a paste? I wasn’t sure if the coloring was right? It also doesn’t want to mix with the water like you suggest, it just stays clumpy. Thanks!

  18. I have Psoriasis and purchased this hoping this would give me some relief. Does anyone have any experience with this product helping? Thanks!!!

    • I have been using both the hemp with peppermint castle soap and the citrus hair rinse, LOVE THEM!!! While it doesn’t completely heal it I find it has eliminated 98% of my itching!!! Because I can’t find the rinse locally I purchased online about 6 months worth so I won’t be running out anytime soon. I love how soft and healthy my hair is now! I also use the peppermint hair lotion, just adds a little extra softens.

  19. Hi,

    Im a lil confused here on which products to use.

    My hair is naturally wavy. I use the unscented castile bar. I comb my hair & do not use any styling products for holding, I just let my hair go where it wants.

    Other than the bar for shampooing is the “Organic Citrus Conditioning Hair Rinse” all I really need since I do not style my hair?

    I see the hair creme’ & shikaki soap. Is that needed for me?

    Thanks.

  20. You mention dilution of the hair rinse. What dilution ratio worked for you?

    • I use two caps of rinse then just kinda add some water until its a light brown.

  21. What about hennaed hair? I stopped using reg shampoo a year ago and started using shea moisture and an aloe shampoo but would love to just use dr bonner since I already use it for washing my body. I started using henna instead of getting my hair dyed at the salon about 9 mths ago. Do you think the dr bonners will rinse out the henna?

  22. I have been using the Castile tea tree soap on my hair for about 2 years and love it. However, in the last month or so, I have noticed that my normally beautiful salt and pepper hair (probably more salt than pepper) has become a mousy sort of brown. The contrast of salt and pepper is disappearing in a less than attractive way. Is it possible that it is the soap causing the color change or is it a natural process?

  23. I’m about to start using the Castille soap on my hair. I’ve moved to Ireland a year ago, and my hair has been struggling with the humid weather and the harder water here.
    I’ve just bought the Almond and Hemp soap (liquid) and a big jar of raw organic coconut oil.
    I don’t have access to the rinse; so I was planning on concocting something with Apple Cider Vinegar. Any recommendations?

    My hair is thin, it gets very oily on the roots, but is brittle and tends to get dry in the lengths and ends. Any suggestions or someone with a similar experience?
    I also colour my hair once every three or four months using Henna, prepared with hot water and vinegar. So no chemicals.
    Thanks in advance!
    :)

  24. Is it necessary to dilude each produkt: The castile soap, hair rinse and hair creme?
    Do you have recommendations about which product I use for little, baby fine, long and crunchy hair? Thank you!

  25. Hello Lisa i Apologize for posting this on the wrong section,but i was wondering if you could recommend Dr.Bronner products you believe would be best for african america Hair and skin care.

  26. I also didn’t have luck with any of the no-poo methods. I have short, fine, coarse hair that wants to be curly when it grows up but never does much more than get wonky waves. For the first time in my life, my hair is “controllable.” I use 2-to-1 water and Dr. Bonner’s Baby Castille Soap along with 10 drops of both rosemary essential oil and lavender essential oil. I wash and rinse one time every 2-3 days and that’s it (other than styling, which is done with no products). My hair is bouncier and has more lift and bounce, it’s shinier and after about a month on this routine, my scalp stopped itching. Yay!!!

  27. After using the soap on my hair it feels waxy & sticky but it does give volume to my hair as it doesn’t look limp. As I have very fine hair, after using the ACV my hair looks limp and flatten. is it ok not to use the rinse after using the soap? Is it ok to use the soap without diluting ?

  28. I have colored hair, but I really want to use something natural. I have used Apple Cider Vinigar as a rinse before. Would that have the acidity needed to help my hair keep it’s color? Or do you have any other suggestions?

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