Simplifying the Shower

One soap from head to toe. That’s it. I use it on my face. I use it on my body. I use it on my hair.

It’s a common question we get, whether the soap is OK for this or that body part. So much marketing has gone into specialty face soaps and body soaps and hand soaps. Then there’s the realm of shampoo – do you need volume today or moisture?

I used to have so many different products in the shower that the little built-in shelf was pretty much a joke. And as we added little ones to our family, the problem multiplied. We had kid soap and baby soap and my soap (body and face) and my husband’s soap, and then the shampoos and separate male and female shave gels. Now there’s just a bottle of the liquid castile and the Hair Rinse. Occasionally the Shave Gel if I’ve remembered to stock up on it.

To answer the question, “What’s this soap for?” I have to say, “Everything.” I may get a look that says I must be naïve at best or at worst a nut on the fringe. Maybe, but nonetheless, experience speaks.

I’ve bought the gamut of facial cleansers that are supposed clear problem skin. Nothing worked until I came back to using only Dr. Bronner’s (Pure Castile Tea Tree when it gets bad, but any scent the rest of the time). And I was a really hard sell initially regarding using the soap on my hair. I’m no beauty queen, but I do have some vanity, and I thought washing my hair with soap would leave it frizzy and dull. But my hair is strong and healthy. (I’ll speak more in another blog about my switch from shampoo to soap, but I want to mention here that you do need the Hair Rinse.)

I’ve already blogged about my switch to the soap for my baby. My older kids are washed head to toe with it, too. It’s a lot easier on them as they learn to wash themselves. Hand them one bottle or bar and off they go.

I use the Shave Gel, when I have it on hand, which is about 50% of the time. It lathers more quickly and thickly than the castile soap. And it is more moisturizing. It’s a nice treat when I’ve remembered to grab some. When I don’t, though, the castile soap works well, although requires a bit more effort.

So our skin is clear, our hair is healthy. No one has dry skin or funny fragrances. It’s a whole lot more efficient just to grab one bottle – and a lot less to think about in the morning.

79 thoughts on “Simplifying the Shower

  1. Dr. Bronner’s, I am your biggest fan!
    I first used your bar soap over five years ago…and when I rinsed ‘squeaky clean’ and experienced the bliss of no residue on my skin – which made my skin soft and no longer flaky dry – I became a user for life. Then I began washing my hair with it for the same squeaky clean. Two years ago I took it a step further to use it with a sprinkle of baking soda as a tooth cleaner. Did it do the same for my teeth? You bet! Smooth, shiny teeth without any fluoride or chemicals. Not only was there no icky-feeling film build-up during 24 hours after brushing, over the next 10 months of use the tartar at the base of my two bottom front teeth was gone. My teeth are clean, white and cavity-free. Just started my six year old grandson on this as well after noticing that, although the toothpaste his mother sent was fluoride-free, it contained sodium-laurel-sulfate. There was no complaint of the taste as with his tube paste, so he brushed longer and even loved the suds, calling himself Santa! LOL Thank you for a truly wonderful organic product.
    Most sincerely, Jan

  2. I’m a new Dr. Bronner costumer and I was wondering Do you know how to dilute shikakai tea tree soap for hair use? I’ve been using it the past couple of days and it leaves a bunch of residue in my hair.

  3. I very much apologize for my delay in responding here. I hope my responses are still of help to someone.

    Sherry – If it’s your first time with the castile soap, you might find it drying. However, mixing it with an oil will only cause the soap molecules to bond with the oil, and take away their cleansing ability. It is better to use a light moisturizer afterwards until you skin gets used to the castile, which it will.

    Elizabeth – Many people have found good results with apple cider vinegar as a rinse. It depends on your hair type, the condition its in, and what style you’re looking for.

    Thanks, Betty! Glad to have you on board!

    Elyse – I’m so glad to hear it! I agree that the Shikakai requires a bit more than the castile, but try lathering it up in your hands before applying. I find that I’m able to go further with a smaller amount that way.

    Kelsey – The pH needs to be balanced each time you use the soap. The soap is causing the follicles on your hair strands to stick straight out. Oddly, this creates the oily feeling. If you don’t get those smoothed down each time you use the soap, they’re going to give you that look. I’ve never done the baking soda and ACV method, so I’m not sure if it’s the same scenario, but it might be. As far as a transition period, mine was about two weeks til I didn’t have to think about it, but I noticed that my hair grew stronger and stronger over the next year as damage caused by conventional products was replaced by new growth.

    Jamie – My post on the topic of shampooing with Dr. Bronner’s might be particularly helpful: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=256. ACV works for some people but the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse is formulated specifically for the pH of the castile and Shikakai soaps. I do recommend that you try that. What you are describing sounds like a pH imbalance. The other issue that those of us with long hair face is that it takes a very long time for the damage caused by conventional products to be replaced. Conventional products coat over the damage, so we don’t see it as readily. However, the castile soap strips it all off, exposing it in all its damaged glory.

    Nicole – Whatever you use for a rinse needs to be acidic in order to balance out the alkaline pH of the soap. Since citrus isn’t an option, a vinegar is the next best thing. The Dr. Bronner’s Hair Creme are not acidic either.

    Kerrie – We suggest diluting the Hair Rinse because it can be so thick coming out of the bottle and hard to work through your hair. You might end up feeling like you need to use more than is really necessary. Also, occasionally someone finds the lemon juice in the Rinse a little stinging to the scalp. I don’t have this problem, and I occasionally don’t dilute the rinse and use it straight. It is fine to do so, if you prefer.

    Jan – You are exactly right. This is another factor as well which an acidic rinse will clear up.

    Jan #2 (same Jan?) – Wonderful to hear! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!

    Nicole – Welcome to Dr. Bronner’s! If you’re using the Shikakai without the Hair Rinse, what you’re noticing is not residue, but rather a pH imbalance. The alkalinity of the soap causes the follicles on your hair to stick out all up and down the strands of your hair. These cause your hair to feel sticky and look dull, like there is a coating on it. Some people have success with apple cider vineger (ACV) as an acidic rinse, but Dr. Bronner’s has also formulated a Citrus Hair Rinse that works great. It is unconventional in both ingredients and appearance, but it works great. I wrote more about shampooing with Dr. Bronner’s here: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=256.

    Let me know if I can be of further help!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  4. Hi Lauren – Yes, you can. The only two considerations is that then you’d be pouring a cold solution over your head, which might be uncomfortable, and if the mixture were to sit for a couple of weeks, the preservative (vitamin E) would not be enough to keep it preserved. If you want to pre-mix a couple of days’ worth, though, go for it.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  5. My Dr. B rinse is goopy and clumps together. Is this normal or has my batch ‘gone off’?

    Love Dr. B’s by the way!

    • Hi Jessica – I know it’s very unconventional, but yes, it is dark brown and can be clumpy especially if it is cold. You can dilute it in warm water. Let me know if I can be of further help.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  6. I have finally figured out a solution to my previous hair troubles! I have fine, extremely straight hair. I had tried the shikakai soap alone (left it too tangly and dry) and I have tried the shikakai soap with the rinse (I had a permanent wet look). I have figured out that I have to rub Dr Bronners bar soap on my hair until I work up a big lather (just keep rubbing on hair and it will create a ton of lather). I lathered up my scalp all the way to my ends. Then I fully rinse my hair with warm/hot water. It will feel squeaky. I then add a very small amount (maybe 1 tablespoon) of the Dr B rinse to a lot of water (1000ml/4cups) in a big jug and pour it over my head. I find when I heavily dilute it, it takes away some of the “wet look”. I then rinse again very thoroughly with warm/hot water. I do find it takes much longer to dry, even with a hair drier but when it eventually does it does not look wet. The back of my head near the scalp sometimes tends to feel a bit greasy when I run my hands through my hair, but when I use a mirror to look, it does not appear greasy or wet. I had almost given up on natural hair care and went back to “poo” until I got this method right. I hope my experience can help others. Keep experimenting! Something will work eventually.

  7. Hi Jessica – Thank you for sharing your transition to soap instead of shampoo. I’m glad you stuck with it.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  8. Hi Lisa. I wash my hair with Lavender or Rose castile liquid and follow with the cItrus Hair Rinse. I wash my hair first and leave the rinse in until done with my shower, as you said worked well for you. What I’m wondering is whether I need to bother with diluting the hair rinse – or would I get the same benefits if using just a drop or two of it straight from the bottle? I have short hair, natural color [no processing damage] and in the past needed only a very small amount [pea-sized or so] if I did need to use a regular conditioner. Thanks for your advice.

  9. Hi Janet – You are welcome to use the rinse without prediluting it. Make sure your hair is really drippy wet when you apply it, and the water in your hair will dilute it. This is what I do when my plastic cup disappears and it works fine.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  10. Hi Lisa,
    I have just purchased the unscented baby liquid soap and your citrus rinse to use as shampoo for my scalp psoriasis after using a hot hemp oil treatment. I have highlights, lowlights, and a Brazilian Blowout (chemicals) in my hair. Are your products unsafe for color and chemical treated hair?

  11. Hi Brenda – Unfortunately, the pH of soap (any soap) does not work well with chemically treated hair. Soap is alkaline and cannot be made otherwise. In general, products that are considered “color safe” are acidic. The alkalinity in the soap causes the follicles on the hair strands to open, allowing the stored color to seep out.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  12. Hi Lisa,

    Can I use the lavender castile soap (or anything else) on highlighted hair?

  13. i don’t remember reading this: but how many times a week should i clean my hair? i workout everyday and sweat so i don’t want to over dry my hair but i don”t want it stinky either.

  14. i also wanted to give my method of cleaning my hair. it took me a good two weeks to be wean off the store shampoo/conditioner. i keep a measuring cup and my measuring spoon in the shower with me. i mix a cup of water and 1/2 tbsp and pour over my scalp. i clean my scalp with my fingertips. see, the scalp is what we really want to clean. after i have a good lather, i rinse and rinse and rinse. then i mix two capfuls of the citrus rinse in a cup of water and pour it over my scalp and hair and work its way down my hair (to seal the cuticle) and i rinse and rinse and rinse. have to make sure it’s ALL out. today i had to use the rinse two times but the second time i rinsed i only used one capful in a cup of water and tonight my hair looks and feels amazing. i have to remember NOT to touch it so much because i don’t want it greasy and dirty but i cant help it. i have very very long hair and very hard water here in Arizona. also i have completely given up store cleaners and only use Bronners for EVERYTHING. amazing product. best advice: wean off the store bought shampoo. you will not regret it.

  15. I haven’t read through the entire thread of posts here, so if this has already been asked, I apologize. I use Dr Bronners Tea Tree in a foam pump diluted with water for hand soap and was wondering if this would work for shampoo as well? I was going to try it with the unscented/baby Dr Bronners. What are your thoughts on this? And thanks!

  16. Hi Carrie – Yes! My very next post will be on that exact subject. As long as you don’t also have lowlighting, where streaks of color are added back in, the castile or Shikakai soaps are great options for you.

    Hi Jennifer – This is different for everyone and depends on your hair length, your lifestyle, your hair type and more. I go every two days, but I have long, fairly dry hair. I have friends with really short hair who wash it every day. Go with what works for you and gives you the hair you like. Your method sounds great! And no kidding about that hard water in Arizona! I thought I had hard water in California until I travelled one state east!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  17. I began using the tea tree soap on my skin and peppermint in my hair and i noticed my hair and skin were really dry at first (or should i say straw like and itchy skin). So I started moisturizing with the coconut oil after my shower and i actually take a little bit of the coconut oil and rub it into the ends of my hair. once a week i use it as a deep conditioner. It helps a lot.

  18. I’ve read the questions and answers regarding ‘greasy’ hair and how it isn’t really greasy but imbalanced. I have been using the Dr. Bonner baby mild shampoo for over a month. Before I saw your blog I mixed it with a tsp of grape seed oil (from a website recommendation) with no conditioner, then I used it with apple cider vinegar. Then I finally got on your website and bought the citrus rinse and ditched the grape seed oil. I have been using just the diluted soap with the citrus rinse for about 2 weeks. I usually wash my hair daily, but occasionally skip a day. The reason I am still wondering if it is actually greasy is because if I add my homemade dry shampoo -baking soda, corn starch and cocoa (I have brown hair) it isn’t ‘greasy’ anymore. I bought the gallon Dr Bonners because I use it in my kid’s bath and for cleaning around the house so I’d prefer not to switch types unless you think that is my problem.

  19. I figured it out. I just diluted both products A LOT like 1:8 and it worked!!! No more greasiness just soft and shiny!!!!!

  20. Hi Lisa,

    Within the past 2 months I have switched all of my household cleaners, laundry detergent to all homemade. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year. Nothing in the medical field has worked for me as far as meds go. So, I have been researching on my own. From cleaning products, to homemade meals and beauty products ( shampoo, body wash, lotions etc). While in my research, using castile soap for laundry detergent was recommend by one of my favorite bloggers. I decided to look further into Dr. Bronner’s products.

    I recently purchased the liquid tea tree castile soap due to reading the reviews about how well it has worked on those with oily skin…That’s me, as well! I am 44, and still have breakouts from time to time. It all began when I was around 12/13. It’s been a constant struggle, so much so that when I was around 15, my parents,seemed out a well known dermatologist. After trying every medicine from tropical creams to prescription meds, the dermatologist decided my situation was unique and well…ACUTANE was prescribed. I had to go in monthly for blood work to make sure my cholesterol wasn’t high. It was awful. I learned a few years back that it could affect fertility. I, however am extremely lucky. I have 4 beautiful children, all older now….21,20,19 and 17 (3 boys, 1 girl). However, I never new the risk this drug could cause. So, at the age of 44, I did finally found something that worked (dermaquest) however, this doesn’t go along with the new all natural changes I am making. I am day 3 into using the tea tree castile soap. So far so good! I just ordered the lavender coconut oil and the citrus rinse.

    I also have been using the tea tree castle soap for my hair HOWEVER, I just read it’s not good for color treated hair. I decided to contact my hair dresser… I can’t remember if I have low lights or color. I also read that some people have found just using the citrus hair rinse as a shampoo worked for them. I will give it a try. I REALLY want to use the castile tea tree soap. Do you have any recommendations if this doesn’t work for me?

    Thanks for all of the great info! It’s really helpful when learning about ALL NATURAL products. P.S…. I absolutely LOVE coconut oil. Too!

    Julia

  21. Hi Julia – You definitely have been down a long road! I hope you have now entered a simpler time, even if there is a steep learning curve on all the DIY natural stuff. If you have color added to your hair, either by a full color treatment or low lights, Dr. Bronner’s may not be the best option. I have had readers say that it doesn’t seem to remove their color, though, so you could try it out. Another option is to use a henna dye, which is a different process and isn’t as affected by alkaline hair washes. In order to look for a color-safe shampoo, you can check out the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics safety database and see what they say, http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  22. I recently switched to using Dr. Bronner’s soap and Hair Rinse on my hair and its awesome! I wash every other day (although I may try waiting longer) and I no longer get the itchy feeling on my scalp that I used to if I didn’t wash every day. Also, I asked my husband last night if my scalp looked greasy, just because I’m paranoid, and he said it didn’t. Which is awesome because my hair feels so soft right up by my scalp and that is totally not something I’m used to (hence the reason I was worried about it being greasy). Not only that, but my normal dishwater blonde color looks much less dingy now than it used to. I was previously using an organic shampoo and conditioner and it just felt like it wasn’t rinsing out all the way and it took FOREVER to comb out my long hair. Now my hair feels thick and my scalp feels clean, and it only takes 5 min or less to comb out my hair (halfway down my back, so a reasonable amount of time) and I notice less tangles that I did before. Great products! So glad I made the switch!

  23. Hi,

    I wonder do any one have a same PBS as me, I use the Castile soap as a shampoo, and after I washed my hair, my hair is look clean but feel dirty with a very thick layer on top, when I comb my hair it seem a hard job for me, and It make my comb dirty….. I don’t think I do not rinse well… But this pbs is keep on and off to me and I really don’t know why! Anyone can help?

    I do use ACV n Dr. bronner conditioner

  24. Hi Lisa Bronner,
    I just wanted to ask if you had any alternatives that I can use instead of Dr. Bronners. Reason why is because my skin has gotten even more acne than usual since I started using this product, I think it might be an allergic reaction but I am not sure.

  25. So I’ve been using the baby mild soap undiluted and the hair rinse for about a month now, and I’m starting to get a bunch of white flakes on my scalp. It doesn’t FEEL dry but my hair doesn’t exactly feel greasy, either. It still has great texture to it. I’m not sure what to do. More soap? More hair rinse? My scalp isn’t itchy or anything. Really odd that its just super flaky. Or should I be using one of the other soaps? I have no idea. Any help would be appreciated.

  26. Hi, I just started using Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil bar soap for my body and hair as I have developed hand eczema and thought this would help, it has. I am 69 years old and have naturally curly hair, going grey, that I have been fighting with for 69 years!! I tried the bar soap in my hair and it did an amazing job of stripping away the build up. Now I am using it for both shampoo and body wash which will be very good when we travel. I live in Alberta Canada and I am having a hard time finding the hair rinse, do you have any suggestions where I might be able to buy it? Right now I am using a cream leave in conditioner and 2 drops of Orofluido Oil on soaking wet hair and it is working. I would like to try the rinse though. I am washing my hair twice a week and when I don’t wash I just rinse my hair in the shower then do the leave in and oil routine which works wonderfully. I am so glad I found Dr. Bronner’s.

  27. I have a 4 month old that I am looking for soap for him. I really want to use organic everything for him. Would I have to dilute the baby soap?

  28. Hello Lisa,
    I first wanted to tell you that I love all the Dr Bronner soap products. They are such high quality products! My family is a fan for life!

    I am currently trying to remove a bad henna color from my hair and Dr Bronner’s Castile soaps were recommended to help remove this henna stain. Have you talked to anyone that can verify this? I haven’t used it yet. But I really need to find a solution to this problem. I was told to wash my hair a couple of times with the Dr Bronners soaps before attempting to color correct my hair with any other hair dyes. I was told that it would help strip the henna stain from my hair.

    If you have any insight into this issue – please let me know. I haven’t attempted this color correction yet. But I trust Dr Bronner products will do the trick!

    Thanks!

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