Dr. Bronner’s Soaps & Highlighted Hair

I think of myself as a blonde. In my mind, my hair looks like this:

Lisa Bronner at 6 years old

Here’s a picture from about 10 years ago:

Lisa Bronner and daughter

I’m the one who is not the baby. The one who is not blonde.

Faced with this reality, I needed to change either how I thought of my hair or my hair itself, so I took the easier route. I became a highlighter. Otherwise I would have had to change my driver’s license.

Time out! Let’s step back a bit to what I wrote about my personal conversion from shampoo to soap. It ended with the somewhat devastating disclaimer that soap, due to its alkalinity, is unsuitable for color-treated hair. The higher-than-7 pH of the soap – 8.9 to be exact – causes the hair follicles where color is stored, to open up, allowing the color to escape. There has been keen disappointment in the comments over this disclaimer, and I absolutely hate disappointing people. Now I’m here to offer some hope. Hope in the form of highlights. But how can I get away with highlighting and still wash my hair with Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps?

Think of highlighting as a controlled color-stripping process wherein color is strategically removed to look like naturally occurring highlights. Color is taken out, not added in. There is no stored dye to worry about. Aha! A new day has dawned!

Warning: If you never, ever venture into the world of hair color, you may want to look away from this paragraph. The world of color is no simple sphere, so let me spin your head some more. When hair is professionally highlighted, stylists sometimes add lowlighting back in. This is more subtle streaking of color that creates depth. So, if your hair is lowlighted as well as highlighted, then you’re back in the “color added” category and the soap is not for you.

Breaking this down:

  • Highlights only = Dr. B’s soaps OK
  • Highlights and Lowlights = soaps not OK
  • Color-treated hair = soaps not OK

All of this to say, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps and Organic Sugar Soaps are safe on highlighted hair. Allow me to say that again: Dr. Bronner’s soaps are safe on highlighted hair! Release the confetti.

If you have never dabbled in the realm of hair color, I probably lost you at the first “blonde.” By the time we hit “lowlighting,” you had crossed the state line. However, if you are a highlighter, or are looking for a way to change your “look” but still want to use an organic, Fair Trade soap for shampooing, Dr. Bronner’s has your answer. As always, follow up a Dr. Bronner’s Castile or Sugar Soap hair wash with the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Organic Hair Rinse. It balances out the pH which is always necessary to keep our tresses happy. And the Dr. Bronner’s leave-in Organic Hair Crème adds extra moisturizing.

And I am happy to be a blonde again.

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Taesha says:

I want to grow gray so I actually want to strip my hair color. Is it safe to use for my hair? Also does it work on all hair types?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Taesha- I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of this, but for conventional hair dyes, theoretically, washing with an alkaline soap (all true soap is alkaline) will speed up the color’s leaching out of your hair follicles where it is stored. You’ll need to close up the follicles with an acidic rinse, such as a 50-50 dilution of water and apple cider vinegar. Our soaps do work on all hair types, but the Organic Sugar Soap is more moisturizing on dry hair. These two posts are full of good info on transitioning from conventional shampoo to soap: and

Johanna Cohen says:

Hi. I use Dr Bronner’s Castile soap as a body wash and hand wash and wanted to try to use it on my hair too so I also bought the citrus organic rinse. However I have dark hair that is colour treated so I have realised that I cannot use the Castile soap but I wondered if I could still use the citrus organic rinse or if this would also affect my colour? Thank you!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Johanna- Glad you asked! The Citrus Hair Rinse is safe on color-treated hair!


Lisa Bronner

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