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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Grace says:

Hi Lisa,
I’m in LOVE with all your family’s products.
I am just making the transition to washing my hair with them.
Instead of the castile soap, I am using the shikakai soap. Just confirming with you.. I don’t need to dilute this at all?
I first tried washing my hair with it last night, and also used the hair rinse.
It all looks and feels great apart from the roots, where it feels like it has a lot of residue, quite thick and rough and hard. I think it may be because I did not put the rinse on my roots as much as I put it on my ends. Do you think that is the case? Or is it because I did not dilute the shikakai soap, or because of something else?
Of course it is all trial and error and I shall hopefully find out why with experience. But for now just confirming I do not need to be diluting the soap, and if I should be putting the rinse on my roots too.
Thank you, and best wishes,

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Grace – I’m glad you’re trying this out! You are correct that you do not need to dilute the Shikakai. It does sound like the Hair rinse didn’t get all the way down to the roots. Be sure to work it in. You can dilute the rinse in a small cup of warm water to help it penetrate the hair. I let it sit on my hair for a few minutes before I rinse it out.

Grace says:

Thank you so much for confirming things for me.
Just checking I am doing it right.
Am already seeing benefits of using the products already and it’s only been one hair wash!
Whoever is reading this now… YOU MUST TRY IT!!!
Thank you x

Krystal Smith says:

Lisa, I have been using Bronner’s Rose liquid for 3 weeks now, with a cap-and-a-half rinse, every 2 days. My hair is great! My fine, flat, wavy hair now has some volume to it and the rinse surprisingly does amazing things if you straighten your hair, as I discovered when I got it cut and styled the other day.My stylist said my hair felt like satin, a huge compliment and change from the stringy mess big box store shampoos. A big thank you to your family for making products that I can feel good about using as well. I will continue to stock up on your products as my family goes through them.

Jen says:

Hi Lisa,

I am thinking of purchasing the Baby Unscented Organic Pump Soap for my 6 month old. If I wash her hair with the soap, do I need to do a vinegar rinse on her hair as well?

Thank you!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jen – No, baby hair doesn’t have the same characteristics as adult hair and is wonderfully soft with just the soap. Please keep in mind that the soap is not tear-free. I used it on all my babies, though. It’s the best thing for their skin.

D'arcy says:

Hello Lisa–
Now that it has been six years since your post, any advise or changes? I am about to embark on this, haven’t bought anything yet. But my husband is a fan and has been using the shaving stuff for years. So as I’d like to begin whittling own on products, I just want to make sure you don’t have any new additions. And, by chance, do you have a comment on the cider vinegar/water option? Seems a lot are doing this as an alternative to the rinse. Appreciate any input!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi D’arcy – Has it been 6 years?! Wow. This method is so the norm for me now. I wash with the Castile (whichever is on hand, but often the Citrus or the Almond), rinse it out, and then put a capful-ish on my very wet hair (I let the water in my hair do the diluting). I work it through with my fingers, let it sit a bit, and then rinse it out. After I towel dry my hair and brush it, I work a small squirt of the Dr. Bronner’s Leave-In Conditioning Creme through my hair and let it air dry.

I think the apple cider vinegar and the Dr. B’s Hair Rinse are interchangeable. If you have that on hand, go for it.

With the transition, give it time. Like I said in the post, I still used a more conventional regimen once a week to ease the transition. It’s just different, especially not having that slippery feel after the conditioner.

Good luck!

D'arcy says:

Just to add a comment…I was brushing my hair a lot with a boars hair brush and I couldn’t figure out why the brush was getting so sticky but after a few weeks I figured it out. I was using Bragg’s organic cider vinegar and this still has the mother in it (the probiotic part that settles on the bottom) and this left a residue, which in turn was coming off on my brush. It also, at times, left my hair feeling coated. I switched to white vinegar, which is filtered, and this problem has been eliminated.

Kelli says:

I’m thinking about making the switch from normal shampoo to castile soap but I’m wondering if it would dry my hair out. My hair tends to be extremely dry and someone told me that the high alkalinity level could eventually make this worse. Is that true? I don’t use any product on my hair and I don’t blow dry, straighten or curl it yet it seems to still always have a dry, damaged look. I just don’t want to make this worse. If you have any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kelli – I too have very dry hair, and if I don’t take care of it right, it gets brittle and frizzy and dull. Not pretty. I have found that the castile soap with the rinse has made my hair much better. I think traditional shampoos were stripping natural oils out of my scalp, but the castile soap doesn’t do this. I only wash my hair every other day, or else it gets too dry. I also use the Dr. Bronner’s Leave In Hair Creme and Conditioner on my hair while it is still wet and then just let it air dry. It works great!

Allie says:

My sister started making her own shampoo and she loved it so much right off the bat that I was hooked.

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup castile soap
1/2 t avocado oil
1/2 t jojoba oil
20 drops essential oils

It smelled great, felt great in my hair during the shower, and then I got out. Instant tangled, greasy, rubbery, heavy mess. I was dismayed. My sister didn’t know what to say because she hadn’t noticed a problem at all. I started researching, tried to make moisturizers, used more conditioner, nothing. I was tempted to go back to my old shampoo – which being organic and all natural made me wonder why my hair is being so crazy.

Then I discovered this post and that gave me hope. I ordered the hair rinse. The first time I used it everything was so much better. My hair felt lighter, it was super curly, and didn’t look greasy. Yay! But then the next day it was disgusting again. I gave up and threw it in a bun, determined to try again later. I only wash my hair every other day. Today I tried again, this time adding in my homemade weekly conditioner. Disaster. Maybe I didn’t get all the oil out from the conditioner, but my hair is back to being greasy, tangled, and heavy again. Back in the bun it went. I’m going to have to wash it on my off day tomorrow and see what happens. I’m getting really tired of gross hair, but I’m hoping it will turn around. It’s been about 4 weeks for me now. I’ve used a little bit of my old shampoo three times in hopes of helping ease the transition. Maybe it will just take longer for me.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Allie – I had to ease my transition by using the soap/hair rinse option only every other time I washed my hair. I’d use more “normal” shampoo in between times, and a deep conditioner once a week. I think my scalp and hair had to do some recovery or something. Now, years later, I just use soap and hair rinse and I have no problem. Also, sometimes my hair does better with apple cider vinegar instead of the Dr. Bronner’s Hair Rinse. I just dilute the vinegar by half and pour it on my hair – about a cup.

Michele Wilt says:

I have horribly dry scalp and just bought Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. How often shall I use it? I have to do a rinse of Apple Cider Vinegar after I use the soap, b/c it makes my hair so sticky. I’ve used everything under the sun, for dry scalp and nothing has worked. I’m hoping this does work, just need to know how often I should use the Dr. Bronner’s.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Michele – There is so much variation with people’s hair that I can’t give you one answer. Personally, I wash my hair every other day and it maintains the right moisture level. If I wash it more than that, my hair and scalp get very dry and itchy. I have friends who need to wash their hair every day or else it gets really oily. Perhaps start with an every other day regimen and see how it goes.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Cindy – No, the Citrus Hair Rinse will not strip color treated hair. The pH of the Hair Rinse is acidic, which means it is low. However, our Castile soaps are not recommended for color treated hair because their pH is alkaline, at 8.9. This can cause color to drain out.

Ambriel Joy says:

Thanks for this post! Due to an extremely sensitive system I am switching back to Dr. Bronner’s products but had the same trouble with my hair. I was wondering why the rinse is necessary and appreciate you sharing your experience. These soaps are my “go to” when everything else sets off a reaction. Thank you!

Kristin says:

Castile soap is pH “basic” while our skin and hair is pH “acidic. When you put something basic on something acidic it basically leaves what feels like a residue. It is basically stripping the necessary protective acid from your skin.
I recommend diluting the Castile soap first. A few drops goes a long way. After you are finished COMPLETELY rinsing out the soap, put a diluted mixture (50/50) of vinegar (to restore the acidic nature of your skin) and water on your hair. You hair will feel so soft and conditioned. I have tried apple cider vinegar as well as white vinegar. I recommend trying both and seeing what you like best.
I hope this helps!

Kate says:

I used Doc’s Hemp soap on my hair on a whim when trying to get the goop out of my hair after a sleep study, and a tad, I mean a Q-tip size of citrus organic conditioner that I have; and my hair is fluffy, soft and wavy. I have very fine hair. I don’t use shampoo, I have been doing the baking soda, unfiltered cider vinegar clean for quite come time, but am loving the Hemp so far

Hailey says:

So what about babies and children? In another post you talk about using the baby mild on little ones, will I need to use a rinse on my baby’s hair too? Or is it mild enough to not strip his hair?

Sherry says:

For anyone with greasy scalp and dry ends I love love love bronners but I would not be able to use them if not for using a boars hair bristle brush on the off days. Your scalp produces enough oil for all of your hair. I have fine, thin hair but with bronners AND the boars brush I have great hair. The boars bristles pull the oil from the scalp through to the ends of the hair. It stopped me fighting with what I thought was an oily scalp & dry ends and I have long hair. Boars bristle brushes can be expensive but I got mine at Ulta, it will last forever. Amazon has pretty cheap ones too but be sure to get 100% boars hair. If I have any tangles I brush them out with a wide tooth comb then brush brush brush the natural oils down to my ends in long brushes of sections of my hair. I love the almond Castile and citrus rinse.

Tenaj says:

I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s for a homemade shampoo recipe for the past 2 weeks. I love how soft and healthy my hair has started to look but my hair is really waxy feeling when it’s wet and has build up when I brush my hair after it dries. The recipe I used calls for 1/2 cup castile liquid soap and 3 1/2 cups water. Is that not diluted enough and the reason my hair feels waxy and looks like it has dandruf? If i’m using the dilution ratio here (1/2 tbsp to 1/2 cup), that means the ratio is 1 part soap and 16 parts water correct? I just need to know how much more i need to dilute my shampoo or if maybe this recipe isn’t right for my hair.

Kristin says:

After you are finished COMPLETELY rinsing out the Castile Soap, put a diluted mixture (50/50) of vinegar and water on your hair. You hair will feel so soft and conditioned. I have tried apple cider vinegar as well as white vinegar.

no-poo. | keep beeping. says:

[…] if that’s something you’re looking for. I was also very eager to try the soap out on my hair. I had been going through a rough patch with my shampoos and in my going green frenzy, had learned […]

Els says:

So I’ve been using this method for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve tried all sorts of things, different amounts of water, coconut milk instead of water, ACV, this hair rinse.. Whatever I do, my hair becomes more greasy from washing it.
Even whilst I’m still in the shower, my hair just starts feeling greasy and it doesn’t go away unless I use a dry shampoo or a regular one. I can step in the shower with perfectly clean hair and come out with oily. I’ve tried washing my hair several times, or only once.. And my water isn’t hard so that can’t be it either.
Does anyone know if this is normal? And if not, what I am doing wrong?

Vickie says:

Here’s my experience with going from shampoo to soap. I have really fine, straight hair, so I was not on board with any change that would mean weeks of limp, greasy hair during the adjustment period. I first tried a combination of Dr Bronner’s castile soap mixed with canned coconut milk. It was not a disaster, but did result in greasy hair within a few hours. I switched to just using about a tsp of castile soap directly on my hair, followed by a 50/50 rinse of apple cider vinegar/water mix in a spray bottle, which I allowed to sit for a few minutes while I finished my shower. I never had a single bad hair day while my scalp adjusted to the new regimen, and within two weeks, when I got a trim, my stylist (unprompted) commented that my hair seemed healthier and thicker. I’m happy with my new hair care routine.

Michelle says:

HELP…I too have colored hair and want to use something without synthetic ingredients. Is there a Dr Bronners shampoo for colored hair? Does anyone have an answer to this much asked question? 🙁

Caitlin says:

I am confused by all the information out there on castile soap. Many say it will strip your hair of oils, if not right away then after some time of use. Others swear by it and say their hair has never been better.
Right now my hair feels a bit dry. I diluted the liquid soap, bought the citrus rinse and bought a shower filter to make my water softer. My hair now tangles easy and I’m afraid I’m damaging it.

Sam says:

I’ve been using Tea Tree soap from Dr. B for about 2 months on my hair now, which I feel should be past the adjustment time. My hair was great at first. I started to use Dr. Bronner’s soap because I had a very itchy scalp. I felt like the tea tree might help control what ever was making it itch and maybe sulfates were the cause of my irritation. I always had a lot of dandruff near the front of my scalp and residue near the back. Dr. B’s helped immensely with both of those initially. Now however, I constantly feel like my hair isn’t clean, and when I brush it I can see a grayish white residue that covers the bristles and the sides of the brush. I don’t have nearly as much dandruff as before though, but the residue problem is worse. I use about a 1:1 diltuion of water to soap. I just mix it in my hands, then follow with natural conditioner just on the ends. Could it be that I am stripping away too much oil now? I feel like I have to wash my hair every other day otherwise it gets tight and itchy from the waxy residue, whereas before I could go 3-4 days without washing. I can’t straighten my hair anymore either because it looks so greasy, but at least it looks healthy and nice when I wear it natural. I’m going to try to use ACV, if that doesn’t work I’ll go back to conventional shampoo… Hopefully I can find a balance between the look of my hair, cleanliness, and dandruff problem!

Kathy says:

I started using it for 3 days only, but I found out that i have lots of white residue and losing lots of hair too. This happened on the first day I used it. I don’t know if I should continue to use it or not?!

Alana says:

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?

Sandra says:

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 ?

Beth Crawford says:

I also have fine hair and I don’t use the rinse, I only use the soap and my hair dries really soft not sticky. I use the unseated baby mild soap you might try that. When I rinse my hair it feels sticky but it dries without any sticky feel. Hope this helps.

LisaRose says:

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!!!

james says:

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.

Margrit says:

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!

Natalia says:

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!

Anne says:

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?

jeannie starling says:

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?

Weilun says:

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

Cheryl Gilkerson says:

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

nathan says:


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?


Cheryl Gilkerson says:

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

Cheryl Gilkerson says:

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.

Andrea says:

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!

Sarah Algoet says:

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?

Megan says:

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?

Michelle says:

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?

Rachel says:

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?

Nyann says:

I know this thread is over a year old but I have long thicker hair thats super oily!!! My hair also got worse when using the lavender about 6 months ago. I decided to give up and try other natural shampoos which didn’t work either. So I am back to square one, I have ordered the tea tree organic pump soap to try castile soap again. I know the pump soaps are different than the pure castile soap so I’m hoping that along with trying the tea tree will make my hair less oily and maybe I won’t have to wash it everyday anymore! I’ll comment in a few weeks on how things went! hopefully we can find a solution!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nyann – I’m glad to hear you’re giving us a try again. Be sure to use an acidic rinse after the soap, such as apple cider vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse.

Haley says:

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?

Flo says:

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

Beth Crawford says:

The information on says 1/2 Tablesoon to 1/2 cup of water, then pour on your hair. This is what I do and I get LOTS of soap in my hair. I really love the Dr Bonners. My hair is cut in layers just below my ears and it is fine and wavy. Dr Bonners causes it to curl even more. When I rinse it out my hair feels almost sticky, but it dries soft without any sticky feel. I like the indented baby mild the best so far.

Shortazz says:

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!

Alice West says:

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.

Virginia Menz says:

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

Jo says:

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 🙂

Mark says:

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

kate says:

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.

Gia says:

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

Alice says:

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Which form of this product did/do you use? Is the peppermint soap a liquid soap or a bar soap? Do you still use it, if so, what are your views on it now, is it still effective?

manon plante says:

sorry I forgot to mention that I already tried baking soda and water and it was awful.

manon plante says:

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

Sherry says:

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


Kim says:

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!

dorit says:

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

Shannon says:

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! 🙂

Gloria says:

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.

Erin says:

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!

Donna says:

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
South Carolina

My-Le says:


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 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. 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!

Rhiannon says:

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.

Abby says:

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!

Anwen says:

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.

RJ says:

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.

Rebecca says:

Personally, i would go out and buy a boar bristle brush. They clean your hair, and also distribute natural oils from your scalp to your ends. Youll have to read up on good quality brushes, care and how to use it… but it helps so much. I can now stretch out my washes for days!

Jessyka Nunes says:

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!

Tonie Delaere says:

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

Ava says:

What color are you going for? I highly suggest Ancient Sunrise (Mehandi) henna. Henna does NOT fade. It’s a vivid red-orange that can deepen to burgundy with a couple applications. You can do henna & indigo for more of a brunette, or use cassia if you want to brighten and go for a yellow-blonde. They only apply color, they don’t bleach. It’s also much better for your hair than box dyes. Doing henna before you lighten protects your hair. I know many long-haired women who swear by castile soap and they also use henna.

Steffanie says:

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?

Elizabeth says:

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.

Steffanie says:

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.

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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