From Shampoo to Soap – My Story

shampoo - washing hair with soap

It’s been 12 years since I originally wrote about washing my hair with Dr. Bronner’s soap, so I thought it was time to update this post and let you know how it’s going. I’ve washed my hair quite a lot since then.

I still wash my hair with soap, and I love it even more now than I did then.

I love that I can wash myself with one product from head to toe. In my early morning pre-tea fog, I appreciate this so much. Most of the time I use the Castile Liquid Soap—usually Almond, sometimes Citrus. If my hair is feeling extra dry, I go up to the Organic Sugar Soap—Lemongrass Lime—with its sugar and Shikakai powder to give extra nourishment. (Sugar is a humectant which draws moisture into skin and hair. Shikakai softens skin and hair.)

And when it’s really dry here in Southern California, like when the Santa Ana winds roar out of the desert, sucking every last drop of moisture from all forms of life, I use the Organic Shaving Soap. That’s the most moisturizing of the Dr. Bronner’s soap line, and great for more than just shaving.

So let me take you back to the beginning. To why I started washing my hair with soap instead of shampoo and how I survived the transition.

My motivation

When I started learning about problematic ingredients in personal care products, I noticed a disturbing trend. All the ingredients that populated the “12 Worst” and “Avoid These” lists were common in shampoos. Ethoxylated compounds like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (not to be confused with its cousin Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, aka SLS), Polyethylene Glycol, and other -eths with the carcinogenic stowaway 1,4-Dioxane. Quaternium compounds and Ureas which are common allergens and formaldehyde-releasers, another known carcinogen. Ethanolamines, aka DEA, MEA, TEA, which readily react with nitrogen compounds in the air or in other ingredients to form skin-penetrating carcinogenic nitrosamines.

It was time to find another way to wash my hair. But I still wanted my hair to look good. Who doesn’t?

Choosing an acidic rinse

I knew that one key to success was going to be an acidic rinse. A trait that differentiates soap from shampoo is its pH, which is whether something is acidic or alkaline. Soap is always alkaline. Shampoo is acidic. The keratin scales of hair strands raise up in the presence of an alkaline (soap). I’ve heard people describe their hair feeling sticky or tacky after washing with soap, or it’s dull or easily tangles or it feels like Velcro. All of this is because of the raised keratin scales. The scales must be smoothed back down with a balancing acidic rinse.

Here are three great options, and my dilutions. Bear in mind that I have fairly long hair. Shorter hair may need less or even none, as I’ll discuss with my husband and son:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse: 1 or 2 capfuls diluted in 1 cup of water
  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV): ½ cup in ½ cup water
  • Lemon Juice (filtered to remove all pulp): 1/3 cup in 2/3 cup water
    • (Take note that lemon juice is not shelf stable and needs to be kept in the fridge.)

Basic method

  1. Wash hair with soap of your choice. Rinse out.
  2. Apply rinse of your choice, finger combing through the hair. Let it sit for 1-3 minutes. Rinse out.

My first hair wash with soap (anticlimax)

The first time I washed my hair with soap I was frankly horrified. What I realized is that conventional conditioners had been coating my hair with silicones, usually dimethicone, which accounted for that slippery post-shower feel. However, not only did those weigh down my hair, but also they concealed its neglected malnourished state. So the first time I washed my hair with soap which removed this coating, my hair looked awful.  By the end of that day, it was completely limp and lifeless. It was full of static and didn’t even feel clean. I was so discouraged that I gave up the attempt.

My second hair wash with soap (months later)

It was several months later that I decided to try again. I washed my hair with soap, again found my hair to be the same tired overworked mess, but I had a different resolve.

I knew my hair needed to heal.

Tactics I used to ease the transition

  • Once a week I did deep conditioning treatments, where I left a masque on my hair for about 10 minutes. Hair strands are comprised of two or three layers. Fine hair has only two layers. The outermost layer, or cuticle, is made of keratin in an arrangement of overlapping-scales. This covers the inner cortex, which is solid keratin. Thicker hair has a central shaft called the medulla. I needed a deep conditioning treatment that would penetrate into these layers. At the time I used a brand of conditioning masque that isn’t now available, but now I use coconut oil (a pea-sized amount on my long, thick hair) or the Dr. Bronner’s Hair Crème.
  • I doubled down on the five lifestyle habits that most impact hair (and skin!): good nutrition, plenty of water, plenty of sleep, exercise, and laughter. When these are not in place, the hair is sure to show it.
  • Once a week I used my previous shampoo and conditioner. This might have been more of a psychological help than a restorative one to my hair. But using the old comfortable stuff once a week made me feel better about the whole thing and got me through, so that’s worth something.
  • I let the acidic rinse sit on my hair for most of my shower to give my hair lots of time to smooth.
  • I used 1-2 pumps of Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hair Crème after each hair washing, which is a leave-in conditioner that is like lotion for hair. I would apply it while my hair was still damp after I had brushed it out, concentrating on the lower half of my hair which tends to be dryer since it is further from the sebum-producing scalp.

Over a period of two weeks, my hair got stronger and stronger. It became soft and silky. I think my scalp realized it needed to wake up and supply some necessary oils, too. Without those silicone residues, my hair does not feel slippery when I’m done, but it is tangle-free, and when it dries, it is smooth and soft.

I also discovered that my hair is much wavier than I knew, now that it’s not weighed down by all the conditioner residues. That’s been kind of fun. I have discovered that if I gently scrunch the Hair Crème into my hair and let it air dry, the waves are more pronounced.

My other takeaways

I use a dab of the Hair Crème to smooth flyaways on dry hair, especially if I am going for more of a structured style like a braid or twist.

I also have found that I don’t need to wash my hair very often. The most I’ll wash it is every two days, but sometimes I go three or four with it still looking nice. I’m really pleased with my hair now that I’ve gotten used to this different system.

Remember that for me, it wasn’t an instant switch. It took some time for my hair to adjust, for my scalp to adjust, and even for my own norms to adjust. But it has so been worth it. My hair is healthier, stronger, and most importantly, I like how it looks.

Hair washing with Bar Soap

The Castile Bar Soap also works excellently for washing hair. Two members of my household use it regularly: my husband and my son. The only reason I do not is that it takes a while to work it all the way through my long hair. However, when traveling and I haven’t wanted to bring the liquid for risk of spilling, or when for some reason I don’t have the liquid on hand, the bar soap has been a great substitute.

Another great way to use the bar soap on hair is to make up a batch of Soap Cream, which is a semi-liquified bar soap. This would work through the hair more quickly.

Washing traditionally colored hair

If you’ve been on board with this whole discussion of soap for hairwashing, I may derail you: it is not recommended to wash traditionally colored hair with an alkaline cleanser. Soap is always alkaline. The reason goes back to the fact that the alkalinity of soap opens up the hair follicles. This is precisely where traditional hair dye is stored. The color will drain out and fade quickly. Colored hair needs acidic products only. Check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database for healthy color-safe  hair care options.

Washing Henna-dyed hair

Henna-dyed hair does not have this same caution and can be washed with soap. Henna works by staining the outer keratin of the cuticle, rather than storing the dye inside the cortex. Soap will not affect this stain.

Washing highlighted hair

Highlighted hair also is safe with soap. Highlights work by removing some of the color of hair, not by adding color in. Unless you have also added lowlights back into the hair, you can wash highlighted hair with soap. I have highlighted hair myself and cover this topic in greater detail in another article.

Finding what works best for you

It takes some time and tinkering to land on a routine that works best. Our hair is all so very different from one another. And what we want from our hair is different. What one person calls sleek, another calls flat. What one person calls full of body, another calls wild and out of control.

You will need to decide whether to use the Castile Soap or the Organic Sugar Soaps or the Shaving Soap. Which rinse works best and 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 Organic Hair Crème on wet hair or dry hair. How many days you’ll need to wait for damaged hair to repair. I hope that seeing what worked for me will get you started.

For more tips and tricks on hair washing with soap and to find your perfect method, check out my colleague Rafi Loiederman’s excellent overview, The Definitive Guide to Washing your Hair with Dr. Bronner’s.

Further reading

Benefits of Shikakai for Hair and Body

Styling Long Hair with Dr. Bronner’s Hair Creme

Simplifying the Shower

Hair Masques with Dr. Bronner’s

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Kay says:

Lemon: juice may destroy your hair. Coupled with the sun it could burn and fry it. I would hesitate on vinegar too before researching. My sister fried her hair with lemon, it was so sad. Those two products kill live things…I just wouldn’t want it on my hair. Egg whites, soaps, oils seems fitting
Lavender: study was done that lavender effects hormones. Increasing estrogen. So, it said to not use on boys/men. Hair falling out can sometimes be a hormone issue. So…maybe stop all lavender use for a few months, to see if that fixes the issue. You may have too much estrogen.

Susan says:

I have been showering & hampooing with Dr. Bronner’s for several years and love it. I add about 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil per cup of liquid castile soap. Shake the bottle hard before each use. I squirt a tiny amount in the palm of my hand and massage gently into wet hair. I have never diluted it with water. I get wonderful suds! I leave it sit for a minute or two. I rinse well with water and then follow up with a weak apple cider vinegar rinse. I put about 4 ounces of vinegar in a 32 ounce plastic bottle and fill the rest with water. Shake before each use – it usually lasts me a couple of weeks of daily shampooing. I pour it through my hair and then rinse all of it out with cool water. My hair is shiny, full, and soft. I have short baby fine thin hair and most commercial shampoos & conditioners weigh it down too much. Using castile soap with the apple cider vinegar rinse leaves it shiny, full, and soft. My hair salon stylist always comments on how soft it is. For me, adding a jojoba oil works better than straight castile soap.

Elizabeth says:

Is the citrus rinse safe to use every day? I was an every day conventional shampoo washer and conditioner and now Im using Dr. Bronners mild baby wash and citrus rinse. So far I really like both despite the transition. I try not to wash every day but I do use the rinse every day. My hair is growing a lot faster and looks so much better but I do lose a lot of hair when I brush and it’s still very coarse when it dries. Are these products safe for every day use?

Mari says:

I don’t quite understand how to dilute for shampoo? And for now how to dilute ACV as I have it on hand?

shuk says:

i’d been using liquid castile soap for hair about 1/2 year, my hair was dry and dull. but i do not know that it needed to rinse with another product. the bad new was my hair fell off a lot and became thinner and not soft at all, since then i stop to use it anymore. what i suggest is dont make ourselves as guinea pig, be careful and sober in trying anything which we read from the internet.

Miquela says:

I just picked up a bottle of the conditioning rinse, which I ordered through my local health food store. I know it’s supposed to be like mud but my bottle has slimy clumps in it that won’t go away even after a lot of shaking. It’s almost like chunky seaweed. Even after I dilute in water, the clumps sit at the bottom and end up in my hair and all over the shower floor. This can’t be normal right? Does this mean the bottle is a bad batch?

Joan Barnett says:

I am having the same trouble and don;t know how to get rid of he lumps, has anyone any suggestions?

Joan Barnett says:

I bought the conditioning rinse through my health food store for $10.99 and I am very disappointed as it is exactly like the comment above. Big lumps that won’t go away even after vigorous shaking and it all ends up in the bottom of the shower or stuck in my hair. Any advice would be helpful as I have 2 bottles both the same!!!

Cindy M. says:

I just wanted to let everyone know what I did today that majorly helped my hair. This was my 4th day of washing with the castile soap. For those three washes I used the Almond scent soap. The first wash I didn’t use any rinse afterwards. Boy was my hair a wreck. Waxy, clumpy, stringy and oily all at once. Eww. The next night I used ACV. Just a small amount mixed with about 2 cups of water. Well it smoothed my hair some. I was glad it helped but my hair was still so gross. Same thing on the 3rd night. By day 4 my hair was so nasty, I could barely stand it anymore. I read nearly every comment on here and made a plan. I went out and bought the lavendar scented bar. I soaped up beyond common sense. I just kept soaping and scrubbing. Finally I rinsed it and made my rinse. I used a half cup of white vinegar and a small amount of ACV and about 2 cups of hot (hard) water. I put it in an old water bottle so I could control where the rinse went. I meticulously made sure every strand underneath and on top was saturated. I clipped up my shoulder length hair and finished my shower. At the end I rinsed for a looooong time to make sure all that vinegar was out. When I unwrapped the towel from my head I could actually run my fingers through my hair!! I combed it gently and blow dried it. It wasn’t nasty! It was amazing! Not perfect yet but my hair showed so much body and volume, I was actually in shock.
I could tell things were different. My hair wasn’t clumpy and matted underneath. It also dried normally when in the last few days it took forever to dry. And I can run my fingers through it. The only downside is my hair smells so bad. I am going to try lemon juice next.
I think I was doing a few things wrong. First I wasn’t washing good or long enough. Shampoo works fast and easy. Wash way longer with the castile soap. The next thing I think I did wrong was not using enough vinegar and not making sure it got everywhere. Pouring it at first just didn’t cut it. Using the squirt bottle made a big difference.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this post.

Alice Purton says:

Dear Amanda,
Try not using the coconut milk and honey and diluting with just water. Make sure you use the proper amount of soap (not too much, not too little.) ACV is a great conditioner when you get tangles. See my earlier post on how to avoid tangles!

Alice Purton says:

So I have been using the Lavender soap as shampoo and I think the Lavender smell is quite strong, good thing it doesn’t last to the next day. I have an easy solution to the tangles that happen when using the Dr. Bronner’s magic liquid soaps as shampoo. Here goes:

Add room temp or hot water to a 250ml or larger bottle (mine is meant for salad dressing but the vinegar bottles work great as well)
Add one squirt of the soap to the bottle.
Brush hair thoroughly.
Wet hair and pour soapy water (from bottle) over hair.
comb hair with fingers from root to tip. This will agitate the soap and make it foam quite a lot, enough, actually to soap your entire body.

This does not tangle because you are not doing the traditional shampooing movement (circular) that causes tangles. When I get out of the shower my hair is perfectly brushable even when I have not used conditioner!

Cindy says:

I have been using water and the hemp mild baby soap (bar soap) on my hair. Wet hair, lather up, and it works well. My hair has been thicker, stronger, and has stopped falling out. The baby mild soap is wonderful for those of us who are chemically sensitive to the perfumes in soaps and shampoos. I really like Dr. Bronner’s because I really feel clean when I use it. We tried using the Kirk’s Castille Soap to save money, but I didn’t like the lemony scent in it or how it cleaned. Even though it’s more expensive, Dr. Bronner’s is high quality and worth it.

Amanda says:

Thanks for the post! I’m sure there’s a response further up the thread, but I have concerns about my hair being very string and oily after washing with the castile soap. I usually wash my hair everyday since I’m pretty active and my hair is thin.

I’ve been using Dr. Bonner’s Lavender Castile Soap and diluting it about 50/50 with coconut milk and a touch of honey. I rinse with ACV. I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks and while my hair feels silky smooth, it has an oily residue and looks stringy and gross.

I’m debating what to do – ditch the castile soap and go straight to BS/ACV or stick it out and see if there’s a change. Any suggestions?

Abigail says:

I got a question for Lisa. I used bronner’s baby supermild in my teenage years to wash my hair. I agree with other comments about doing apple cider vinegar rinses, I also added a squirt of veg glycerine to my rinse water back in the day, I also used to follow up with Eco friendly conditioners as well. Now 20 years later I’ve been back to shampoo, tried wen, great for tangles but builds up awful, so does tbe bling of buying it,and I’m thinking about going back to bronner’s. I have not tried the new shikakaki line of soaps, rinses, etc. Do you dilute the soap much the same way as original bronner’s in a similar ratio ? Is it more moisturizing than the original formula? If so I’m curious to go buy a bottle. Thanks Lisa. Have a great weekend!

nate says:

Can black men with low cut wavy hair use this as a.shampoo ..please respond asap thanks

louann says:

Would someone start at square one for me. What is the benefit of cleaning my hair this way? What do I use to clean my hair? What do I rinse my hair with? What is the “transition” period? Help me out here. Thanks

looking4neverland says:

Hi! I read this feeling really hopeful to try it out ASAP until I reached the last setment… I plan in coloring my hair with henna within a few days or so. To be more clear, in your opinion, is this a teqniqe I should try out with henna colored hair or should I keep using my faith in nature shampoo?
Thanks in advance, Em.

Elizabeth says:

I have been cleaning my hair with baking soda/ACV for over a year, completely eliminating hair products. My hair is the best it’s been my whole life. I’m in my 40’s; I have very long, thick, wavy, coarse hair. I’m about 80% gray and stopped coloring it when I switched because having to use shampoo to wash out the color would have defeated the whole purpose of me using the baking soda/ACV. My hair color was closest to my natural light brown color. Prior to me switching to baking soda/ACV, I washed my hair about once a week, it couldn’t handle anything more because most shampoo and conditioner strip your natural oils. Think about it… naturally, we’re not meant to have shampoo and conditioner so our scalps produce oils for a reason, to clean and texturize our hair to protect it. Always remember that when you’re trying different things, you have to give your hair enough time to adjust, that is a must! You’ll never truly know whether or not what you used really worked.

What works perfectly for me is: I clean with 4oz baking soda/4oz water and rinse with 4oz Bragg ACV/4oz water every two weeks or more. For the first year, I was cleaning every 7-10 days. As my hair gets used to my routine, the longer I can go. I rinse my hair every time I shower. I use a microfiber towel because terry cloth sucks the moisture out of your hair too fast and I never “towel dry” either. I don’t comb or brush my hair, ever, I use my fingers. My detanglers are Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Hair Creme or the Patchouli Lime Lotion or coconut oil, whichever I feel like using that day. I use VERY little of each of these products because too much will make my hair too oily. I wrap my hair back up in the microfiber tower for a few minutes and then DONE. I don’t blow dry. I also put the hair creme, lotion or coconut oil in my hair before bed or during the day if it’s a tad frizzy. Never, ever too much!

My hair is absolutely amazing. I have never gotten so many compliments, ever. I also used to have an issue with dry scalp and flaking, not anymore.. my scalp hasn’t flaked since I stopped using hair products. I also wear my hair down all the time now, never ever have I been able to deal with it for more than a few hours and had to put it up. Not anymore.

I was recently tempted to try Dr. Bronner’s soap (Tea Tree specifically, which is already a staple in my house) and the hair rinse so I bought it.. it sat in my shower for about a week because my hair didn’t need cleaning until two days ago. I am super pleased with the soap and the rinse!! It felt squeaky clean, literally just like the baking soda/ACV makes my hair feel. Yesterday I rinsed with just water and used the hair creme, like I usually do and I was super happy with it. It was very humid yesterday too and it was fine. Today I have not showered yet and my hair is perfect. I’m in love! 🙂

Karena says:

My two cents, if you want it –
I don’t know if you used an acidic rinse with your Dr.B’s soap, but if you didn’t, you really need to. Their hair rinse, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or even plain white vinegar (dilute the vinegars) – any of these should work well (you may have to adjust your dilutions to get it perfect). (Also, I agree with you about the baking soda.) The thing about the transition period, is that the quicker you transition, the worse your hair will look. Have you considered a gradual transition? For example, if you currently shampoo your hair every day, switch to every other day. Then once your hair/scalp have adjusted to that, move to every third day . . . and so on. The overall process will take longer, but it is likely that your hair will transition very quickly between each of these gradations.
Good luck!

Cathy Oloo says:

I tried a recipe that combines coconut milk, Bonner’s castile soap and Vit. E oil (scented oil optional which I didn’t use). DISASTER! My hair felt so heavy and waxy I couldn’t get the brush through it. I tried to be patient though. I waited until the morning and was so uncomfortable that I washed it out with good old shampoo and followed with conditioner. I got a bottle of Wen a couple months ago (a freebee from a friend). I really loved it but the price tag is waaaay out of my range. I tried a store brand (can’t remember the name) and it too has worked very nicely, problem is it is $9.99 (at Target) and I go through it in about three weeks which is pushing my hair care budget. I am not willing to try the baking soda-from what I’ve read, it can be okay once in a great while but that it is very damaging. I am not really ready to give up but I cannot afford “transition” months (it would not be appropriate in my work environment and keeping my hair in a pony tail would create headaches). I am at a loss for what to try next……

Hannah says:

Thank you for this post! I recently used Dr. Bronner’s Castile Peppermint soap while I was at a festival. I have natural frizzy and curly hair. Teamed with an organic avocado oil conditioner, showed awesome results. My curls detangled and fell nicely. I definitely will be trying the hair rinse soon!

Flora2 says:

I have tried countless shampoos, whatever the cost, on my thick, dry, frizzy, color treated red hair and have found few that do much other than clean. Some are better than others at not stripping red color, but the Shielo Color Protect Shampoo left my hair in BETTER CONDITION after one washing than I have ever encountered before. My hair is incredibly smooth and shiny, which is remarkable. I would recommend Shielo for anyone with dry frizzy hair whether color treated or not. FYI- I also used the conditioner.

Ted says:

Lisa – I’m a guy who doesn’t highlight or dye my hair… But I wanted you to know that I’ve been using your castile soaps as a shampoo (and body wash) for 30 consecutive years this summer. I don’t use anything else on my hair and it works wonderfully. My hair is soft and manageable and smells wonderful!

I just recently found the pump shikakai soaps and am trying them out. I’ll have to give them some time to see how my scalp likes them.

Love your products!

Kelly says:

I just bought the citrus Castile soap and am currently using it in my foam dispensers. After reading through these comments, I’m unsure if I can use it as a shampoo. I know I read not to use on colored hair. Mine is highlighted. I’m not sure that’s considered “colored.” I am wondering if you know the answer to this. I’m really hoping I can use the shampoo.

Karena says:

An update – for those who have access to it: my sister gave me a kombucha SCOBY a few months ago – I started out with an accidentally over-fermented batch, but have since been deliberately setting aside some for this purpose – the BEST hair rinse I have ever used. I don’t know if I just happened to hit the pH exactly right, if it has something to do with the leftover sugar in the tea, or some combination of these or other factors, but my hair turns out great every time. Also, (at my sis’s suggestion!) I have discovered that if my hair does get a little dry, smoothing a little bit of cocoa or shea butter directly over it (when dry) is the best treatment I have found, and (as long as you use only a little) doesn’t leave a residue or weigh down my hair.

Also, Phil, I don’t know if you’ve found a bottle or had success with it, but I found one for a couple of bucks at a beauty supply store. It’s been great for penetrating into the deeper layers of my thick hair from the top, and if you’re mixing a solution, it has units for measuring embossed right on the bottle.

Karen says:

After reading some of the posts just ahead of my previous one, I did not realize that I had ‘waxy’ hair. It felt like ‘beach hair’ but also felt like there was a coating on it so I tried the vinegar rinse spray that Lisa above posted about and wow what a difference!!! My hair is sooo silky smooth, that waxy feeling is about gone – I may not have gotten all of my hair with the rinse but I love the way it looks and feels. I used a 1/4 of white vinegar but left all of the other measurements the same and I am so happy with the result. I am a true convert and will never go back to ‘traditional’ shampoo and conditioner again!

Karen says:

Hi Lisa,

I have been using the Lavender liquid soap and the conditioning rinse for 2 hair washes now. After reading some of the comments about greasy/stringy hair I was scared to try the soap and rinse and I am so glad that I did!!I have always only washed my hair every other day and am continuing with that routine. My hair is soft, light and fluffy – not greasy or stringy at all. On the day after a wash I can tell that the natural oils from my scalp are starting to work their way into the longer parts of my hair and it is getting so silky smooth already! I was expecting a two week transition period but it seems that my hair and scalp really like this new regimen and I don’t think I will see that transition period :)I ordered the conditioning creme and should get it in the mail tomorrow and can’t wait to see how my hair reacts to it!

Thanks for all your tips!!

Ruth says:

Hi Lisa,

I’ve read some of the blog but haven’t seen anything about how DrB’s products will or will not be affected by soft water. WE have a water softener and my hair is a mess. (Looks great when we travel:-))

I don’t blow dry, too hot. I don’t use product. I’ve tried lots of different shshampoos but nothing seems to work. My hair can’t get any more limp and dull when at home.

I’ve assumed it has something to do with the minerals in the water but am unsure what to do about it. Thoughts?

I’ve read about DrB’s with coconut milk.
I’ve read about rinsing with epson salts (to add minerals back into my hair.)
I’ve read about the ACV rinse. (How is this different than DrB’s citrus rinse?)



Lisa says:

Oh and I also I put the vinegar mixture in a spray bottle and used it that way. I didn’t use the whole amount in one go! And for reference my hair is waist length.

Lisa says:

Hi Lisa,

I just recently started using Dr. Bronner’s as my shampoo (previously used it for cleaning) because I moved out to the Caribbean and ran out of my organic natural shampoo that I was using, and finding anything organic on such a tiny island is next to impossible. Miraculously, there is a Pharmacy here that carries a lot of Dr. Bronner’s products (but not the hair rinse… go figure), so I decided to give it a try. I started with the Lavender Castille Soap. I had the problems of greasy, stringy, waxy hair, which seem to be common for a lot of people. Anyway, I just thought I would share my experience of today because I am so excited that I think I found a solution! After spending 3+ hours reading every blog I could find about using Dr. Bronner’s as shampoo, I have literally just washed my hair 4 times in the last hour trying different combinations of the vinegar rinse to see if anything made a difference. First I tried just with regular vinegar, with not much luck. Then the ACV with the same issue. I decided to get creative and made a combination of about 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/2 cup water and 1 Tbsp ACV and it worked! The waxy, greasy look it gone, my hair is light and fluffy again and it has great volume! My hair is a little dry but I’ll take that over a greasy, stringy mess any day. Perhaps maybe if I adjust the mixture and back off on the white vinegar it won’t be so dry. Anyway, I just thought I would post this on here for anyone that doesn’t have access to the hair rinse. I realize everyone’s hair is different, but if it worked for me it might work for someone else! 🙂

Patrick Hutton says:

Hi Lisa,

I’m interested in using Dr Bronner products on my hair and beard.

At the moment I use beard soap for my hair, beard, and body (the beard soap bar is basically saponified vegetable oils (I’ve just started using Oliva soap which is a soap bar of saponified olive oil)) for conditioner I use Argan oil as a leave in conditioner and general purpose skin ointment.

The reason I’m looking at a change is that, what’s left of my hair, is looking dark and flat although my beard is dark and healthy, the oil does wonders to my skin as a general cure all.

where I live the water is as hard as hell too which doesn’t help.

Would the Dr Bronner’s soap and rinse be likely to put a little life back in my hair? I should mention that my hair is perfectly healthy, just darker and when a bit longer quite flat.

Audrey says:

Hi Lisa, and Everyone,

I’ve been using a liquid soap for 2 weeks now, and my hair is still pretty awful (greasy-looking, sticky, clumpy, etc.). My hair is hip-length, straight and fine and I used to wear it down. Now I have to braid it every day and I’m hoping that, once my hair transitions, I can wear it down again (not to mention, I’d like to be able to run my fingers through my hair). I’ve been using this: paired with an herb-infused ACV rinse. The most distressing thing to me (besides the look and feel of my hair) is the gray fuzzy coating that I get in my brush EVERY SINGLE TIME I comb my hair, which then comes off into my hair the next time I use it. I ordered the Dr. B castile pepermint soap and the orange rinse and the peppermint styling cream, which I hope will work better than what I’m currently using; but I see that several people here also have gray stuff in their combs. What I want to know is, does that ever go away, or do I absolutely have to buy a water filter for my shower?


Kate says:

Did you find a solution? I am having this exact same problem!! Thanks 🙂

Carol says:

My husband do not like to have a rinse on his hair, he is 1 product man? I read the FAQs on Dr Bronner’s website said that “it is important to pair the soap with an acidic conditioning rinse” And I notice his hair look more puff up and smell bad not long after(smell like couple of days haven’t wash his hair or maybe that is the smell of the scalp getting dirty and oily again, but that is only 10 min after he wash his hair), and he said he can hear his hair make a sound when he comb his own hair…

So I wonder will that be too dry for his hair if he really don’t want to use anything after?? and why he got that smell?? I still can smell the peppermint castile soap a bit on his hair but I just don’t get it why he got that smell on his scalp, and I can not smell my own scalp….I can not tell is that normal !!

Deb Standard says:

I really love Sal Suds for everything. I have mixed Ivory Soap with Sal Suds. It’s great for dishwasing and delicates . I have switched to peppermint for the summer in NYC. Once with Bonner’s always with Bonner’s for me!!!

Melanie says:

Hi Lisa et al! Thanks for the tips. I’ve had a big jar of Bronner’s unscented baby castile soap in my bathroom for a year and finally decided to start using it as shampoo. Quick question, though, because I’m crazy for scented things. Since my soap is unscented, can I add a few drops of essential oil to it without messing up the pH?

Deb Standard says:

I dilute the rinse with water in a bathroom cup and use 2 times a week. I use the bar soaps to wash my hair. You need patience with using Bonner’s on the hair. It’s has to readjust to no chemicals. I have only used Bonner’s on hair and body for two years. My hair and body loves it. If I shampoo with regular shampoo is feel weird so does body soaps. I Suggest that you convert to Bonner’s but does takes some time and patience. All Bonner’s products are great for everyone.

Carol says:


I am new in your product and I got few question to ask and hope you can help me.

I used the DB Hair Rinse today with Peppermint Castile soaps for washing my hair, that is a very funny experience that I never had before, It took me so long time to finish to wash just my hair, I think because I use the foam pump bottle to get the Castile soaps for wash my hair, and I find out that took forever to get the product all in between my hair and clean my scalp, that was a huge mistake and I won’t do it again with that foam pump!

However, after I finish wash my hair, I use the DB Hair Rinse and I feel burn on my scalp from the hair rinse, that make me wonder did I do wrong? can I use the Hair Rinse on my scalp also? Or just only for Hair?

I don’t think I did over clean on my scalp when I wash my hair.

And how often I can use the DB hair rinse? Can I use it everyday or I should use it once a week or 2 – 3 times a week only? ( normally I wash my hair everyday, but sometime every 2 days if I feel it is not getting grease )

And can I diluted it for my use in the bathroom? I would love to have one bottle is diluted and ready to use when I need it.

Have a good day!


Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Tracy – I’ve come to the conclusion that no two heads of hair are the same. Yes, peppermint is drying and can trigger an overproduction of oil on some scalps. You could try one of the other scents – Citrus is my current favorite. If the baking soda is working for you, despite the lack of suds, you may want to stick with it.

Hi Sally – It is the rare person that can use the castile soap without some sort of acidic rinse. Regarding the coconut oil, I have learned that a little goes a long way, so I use about 1/4 tsp. on my long hair. The castile soap works great then to wash it out afterwards. If you decide to give it a try again, also try using apple cider vinegar instead of the hair rinse. As I said above, every head of hair is different.

Hi Angela – There are so many things that can cause hair loss – dehydration, poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, having just had a baby (that’s when I ran into the problem) – but if those aren’t factors, let’s look at the products. Any hair regimen needs personal tweaking. If the castile and hair rinse are causing this, consider the Shikakai soaps (which are more moisturizing and potentially gentler on your scalp) or consider trying apple cider vinegar as a rinse (diluted in half).

Hi Bambi & Steph- For shampooing, choose either the castile soap or the Shikakai soap. You’ll need the Shikakai Hair Rinse either way, or some other acidic hair rinse.

Hi Ridz – You’re definitely in the transition time which is about 2 weeks. The soaps are going to strip the coatings off your hair which build up with conventional products. Your hair will be limp while the damage is repaired by the healthier cleansers as well as your body doing its own good work. Every head of hair is different if yours turns out better without any rinse, then that is fantastic. Go with it. That’s one less step for you. No, there will be no damage. The greasiness you felt with the rinse and acv could have been triggered by your scalp’s not liking those products and overreacting.

Hi Steph – We have had a couple consistency variations due to a filtering issue, but I have found that it doesn’t affect performance. However, it’s totally fine if you want to exchange it at Amazon. We have a lenient return policy with retailers, but you’ll need to go through them. The hair rinse should be smooth and liquid.

Hi Tracie – I really don’t know. I haven’t heard this about Shikakai. My hair is a dark blonde with highlights and I haven’t had a problem. However, another route is to use apple cider vinegar as a rinse. This definitely wouldn’t have that issue.

You’re welcome, Ashley! Glad it all helped!

Hi Rebecca – You have described exactly what soap does to hair, which is why in the majority of hair types, it must be followed up with an acidic rinse to get that puffiness to lie down.

Hi Kyle – Awesome! I have been hoping a professional stylist would weigh in on this. Any chance you can put up a picture as a testimonial?

Hi Jennifer – Yep! That’s a great option.

All the best,

Jennifer says:

Do you think that you could use an apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse after Dr B shampoo?

kyle says:

I just wanted to say that I am a stylist and I actually color my hair I’m 75% grey and I have been using just the Dr Bonners soap as shampoo and sometimes I will only use baking soda/water for shampoo and vinegar for conditioner and neither one of these have stripped my color! in-fact I have wanted to lighten my color and it doesn’t budge LOL! I think that it has allot to do with the type of color you use on your hair, I use a keratin based color on mine so that may have something to do with it! I started doing this 3 months ago when I decided to start going all natural because I have way too much cancer in my family history, I know that I shouldn’t color but almost being 40 and not looking it is very important to me… I guess i just want to say that a good color can handle anything you throw at it I also have gone from a everyday shampoo person to maybe 3 times a week probably helps but it has been trial and error because at first I was not diluting the product and now I do but I have very oily skin anyway so that could be another reason why its not that bad for me, my hair hangs to the tip of my nose and I keep it longer because I got tired of coloring every 2 to 3 weeks! I love your products I will be picking up some of the rinse and the creme next! sorry so long LOL!

Rebecca H says:

Due to sensitivities to perfumes I have been searching endlessly for a shampoo I like. I have come across a few ‘okay’ products, but nothing great. Most perfume free shampoos leave my thick, curly, and fine hair frizzy. Over the years, I’ve come to a realization:

Soap is not meant to be used as a shampoo. Dr. Bronner’s Castel Soap is a wonderful product, but is horrible as a shampoo. Soaps (any soap) will make your hair follicles ‘puff out’ and leave behind a ‘tangle-ly’ and ‘oily’ feel. It also kills shine.
Shampoos simply work better for hair. They are pH ‘balanced’, to prevent follicle puffing.
If there were a Dr. Bronner’s Perfume Free Shampoo and Conditioner available I would be ecstatic. Until then, I use a sulfate free shampoo, purchased from a locally owned natural grocer and consider my frizzy hair to be ‘character building.’ 😉

Ashley says:

I just want to thank Lisa and all the women that have commented here in this thread! I have been making the switch to more natural and vegan products. I was so excited when I discovered Dr. Bronner’s hair rinse, but then extremely disappointed when it didn’t work with my hair.

Based from all the comments here with trial and error, I have found that Dr. Bronner’s castile soap with an ACV rinse works wonders for me!

So thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to respond so patiently and consistently to questions here!

Tracie says:

Hi Lisa – due to a recent sensitization to a preservative, I’m having to “up my game” where natural products are concerned so I’ve just ordered the hair rinse. In some of my research, I read that shikakai, used as a paste cleanser for hair, isn’t recommended for blondes as it tends to darken the hair. My shoulder length hair is not blonde – premature gray is my color, but fortunately, I have a nice shiney, bright color (almost a platinum). Thank goodness for small favors! I definitely don’t want to dull or darken it to a drab color. Do you think the amount of shikakai in the hair rinse will be a concern for me?

Steph says:

So I have gotten 2 bottles now of the rinse, the first being lumpy and disgusting and you can barely put your nose near, and now the second is runny and diluted. Which is correct? I hope amazon did not try to rip me off. Please respond ASAP so I can contact them for a refund if need be.

Ridz says:

Hello Lisa.. I am from India. I have been trying using the Castile soap (almond) as shampoo. I also follow it with shikakai rinse. The water here is soft . I have tried this to wash my hair thrice and every time my hair was greasy and limp. For the first time, I tried with a capful of shikakai rinse and next time I tried it with 2 capfuls and both the times my hair were greasy. The third time, I followed shampoo with 2 capfuls of shikakai rinse and one tablespoon of ACV. This time also my hair were greasy.. Could you please tell me where am I going wrong or it’s because of the transition phase? I really want this to work. I bought this soap twice the price from an international website because we don’t get Castile soaps here. I really want to go chemical free for my hair at least.

Ridz says:

So I tried again and this time without the shikakai rinse or ACv. My hair were not greasy at all .infact, it felt a little drier though so much better than it was when I used it with rinse. Can I use this soap without rinse or acv.?? Won’t it damage my hair because of the disturbance of acid mantle of my hair ?

Ridz says:

And does it make sense that rinse and acv was making my hair greasy?

Steph says:

That’s a good question Bambi. I just bought some Shikakai soap last night in fact, to try as a shampoo since the castile leaves my hair a bit funky feeling.

Bambi Elizabeth says:

I’m confused on the difference between the Shikakai soap and Shikakai hair rinse. Are you only supposed to choose between the Castile soap and Shikakai soap as the shampoo replacement and use the citrus hair rinse as the conditioner, or does the Shikakai soap also work as the conditioner replacement?

Angela says:

Now I need to chime in as I can not find a solution for my problem, not even really anything on google. I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s for about 2 months now, and also just got the Rinse as well…while I like the thought of being No Poo, the problem is, I am loosing hair, so much hair, and I have no idea on what to do anymore. Has anybody else have that problem? I even loose strands of hair, I don’t even have to wash it, and I am really scared right now…please help!!

Teresa says:

I’m loosing a lot of hair too but don’t know what to do. I using Dr. bronners lavender liquid castle soap. I been using soap, but I have not diliute it, I don’t have time for that process. Does this have anything to do with with it??

sally says:

sorry so many comments. i think it didnt work because i forgot to dilute the rinse with water… but i can’t risk trying it again! i just don’t have time to do a transititonal period… 🙁 hopefully one day i can have a couple weeks where i can try switching to bronners to see if it actually works. its just ive dont have time for the transition period. oh well. im glad it works for yall!

sally says:

It didn’t work. tomorrow im going to try to do coconut oil again, let it sit for about an hour, and wash it with conventional shampoo (head and shoulder) in a steaming hot shower and see if it works again.

Sally says:

Hi, my sister and I have been trying to use the casitle shampoo soap (the almond one). it makes our hair greasy and flat. i ordered the rinse and it should be coming soon.

one time i tried unrefined coconut oil in my hair, let it sit for 2 hours, and then washed it like 3 times with a conventional shampoo (head and shoulders) in a cold shower. it was still SUPER GREASY. and then i washed my hair with the conventional shampoo again but this time in a STEAMING hot shower. it worked amazing!! next time i want to try to replace the conventional shampoo with dr. bronner’s and the rinse…. but I don’t know if that’ll work.

Ms. bronner do you think that will work? thanks!! 🙂

Tracy says:

Hi. I posted a few months ago and am sad to say Dr. Bronner’s castile (peppermint) has not worked as a shampoo for me. Although I do love it for a body wash. I have tried it with the rinse from Dr. B’s formulated for it, as well as an ACV rinse. My hair is oily after 1 day of shampooing with bottled shampoo. I was hoping to go at LEAST every other day before it looks like grease pit. However, my hair on the second day with Dr. B’s peppermint is awful. It is really greasy at the roots by the next morning. I switched to using a baking soda wash (soda and water) and an ACV rinse and it is a much better result. However, on day 3 I must wash or it is really greasy. After reading the above post about peppermint being more drying, do you think it is possible that the peppermint is drying out too much thus I am producing more oil? I really like the “sudsy” feeling of Dr. B’s soap in my hair when compared to no suds with the baking soda and water wash. I have tried diluting the Peppermint soap with water and just pumping it straight onto my wet head and get the same greasy result the next day. Any thoughts?

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

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