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.)

288 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.

  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,
      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!

  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

  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.

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

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