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.
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.)
- Wash hair with soap of your choice. Rinse out.
- 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.
Hi, I have a beard and I shave my head, and I use the liquid castile soap to wash my head and beard (though I have to be careful to not use too much for either, unless my beard or scalp get dry and crunchy. While I do use a high-quality beard oil (in my beard) and moisturizing aftershave oil (on my scalp) after I shower and both of work fantastic, it would be nice to have something I can use immediately in the shower to get that smooth feeling immediately.
My question is about the use of the rinse and the leave-in creme.
(1) Are either of these products useful for my beard or shaved head? Or are there other products/solutions that would work better?
(2) In terms of safety, I have some concerns about a product being used in my beard since obviously it means incidentally getting some in my mouth. Is this a concern for either the rinse or creme?
Hi Jeremy- I think the Hair Rinse in your beard would be a great option. It wouldn’t be helpful to your head, though. It’s fine if it gets in your mouth – it tastes like lemon juice which is the base ingredient – and there’s nothing that would be harmful. The ingredients in our Hair Crème are actually almost identical to what’s in our lotion, and I call it “lotion for hair.” I think that might be a way to sort of straddle the needs between your skin and your hair. It’s also fine if any gets in your mouth. The peppermint or lavender essential oils taste a little bitter, but they’re fine. If you would want to take things up a notch, our most intense moisturizer is actually our Magic Body Balm. It’s a super nourishing balm for skin, but I’ve also had feedback that it is great for facial hair as well. Go for the Unscented as the Arnica-Menthol would probably knock your socks off if it were right under your nose. The Unscented is what I use on my skin after I shave. So, all in all, here’s my recommendation: If you want only one product that’s the most moisturizing, try the Unscented Magic Balm. If you’re up for two products, try the Hair Rinse on your beard and the balm or Crème on your head. Let me know how it goes!
I’ve been shampooing my hair with your liquid castille soap for about 2 years now. My main motivation was wanting to reuse my shower water by diverting it to my fruit trees. That means I can’t wash my hair with questionable ingredients that can harm my trees. In conjunction with this, I also cut my hair really short so that I could skip the conditioners. My hair is short enough that I don’t need to bother with conditioners/detanglers, but it’s nice to know about the vinegar rinse if I decide to grow it out again.
Hi Naomi- That’s great! Thanks for sharing! While vinegar is nontoxic, it is acidic, and I’m afraid your fruit trees may not like it.
How long will the Dr. Bronner’s soaps last if you buy in bulk?
Hi Tikvah- As with our smaller bottles, we recommend using the one gallon jug within three years of the manufacture date. The soaps are good for 24 months after opening the product, within that 3-year window.
Could I please suggest that you publish your website text in a BLACK font? The use of gray font should have faded in popularity years ago, but somehow it still persists. It would make reading your blog so much easier. Thanks for all the information you provide!
Hi Susan- Thanks for reaching out with your comment. It’s something we’ll consider.
Does Dr. Bronner make bar shampoo for white hair
Hi Lynda- We don’t have any soaps specifically made for white or grey hair, but our Castile Bar Soap can be used for washing hair. We hear from customers that Castile soap keeps gray and white hair from yellowing. Because of the alkaline nature of our soaps, you’ll want to follow with an acidic rinse of either our Citrus Hair Rinse or a 50/50 dilution of apple cider vinegar and water.
I really enjoy your sharing of thoughts, experiences, and also your science experiments! Observation is the foundation of science after all! I am currently researching the hard water situation for my home well water (3-4 on the scale). This led me to your wonderful columns and I have long been a Dr. Bronzer customer. I have known people who used it in the shower All over but I have never done so, unless in a pinch. I was wondering if you have compared, and found a preference for, either the liquid or solid bar soap products as shampoo? Or are they equivalent? I am trying to eliminate using products in plastic bottles and have switched to shampoo bars recently. Thank you in advance for your response and help in my search!
Hi Carolyn- It’s great to hear you’re enjoying the blog! The Bar Soap absolutely can be used to wash hair. My son does this. Just wash and go. He does have short hair though. If you have longer hair, you’ll want to follow with an acidic rinse – either apple cider vinegar diluted in half or our Organic Citrus Hair Rinse. Not only is the bar convenient, it is slightly more moisturizing than our liquid soaps and slightly better in hard water conditions.
I am about halfway through my third week of trying to transition to castile soap for hair washing. I rinse each time with ACV. My hair is still really oily after the castile soap/ACV rinse. I have been occasionally using baking soda mixed with castile soap to decrease oiliness, but I’d like to get to the point where I can use castile soap/acv alone. Any tips? Or am I doomed to return to normal shampoo?
Hi Rebecca- That transition period can be so tough! If you have hard water, it could be that the soap is reacting with minerals in your water, leaving a film on your hair. If that’s the case, switch to the Castile Bar Soap which is slightly better in hard water conditions, or try a water softening shower head. The Definitive Guide to Washing Hair on the Dr. Bronner’s site has great solutions – both in the article and the comments. https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/
I haven’t been able to find the dilution amount for the organic hair rinse, I’ve read add it to 1 cup of water, but add how much? Sorry if this is on the bottle, vision issues are making it difficult for me to read the bottle. Thank you!
P.S = My hair has changed dramatically since I’ve changed to the sugar soap (hair and body) and the citrus rinse for hair . I am ecstatic at the improvements!
Hi Christine- I’m so glad to hear our products work so well for you! For my long hair, I use 1 capful of the Citrus Hair Rinse in 1 cup of water. Use less if your hair is shorter. When I’m out of hair rinse, I use apple cider vinegar diluted equally with water. Works just as well!
I’ve been inspired by your blog posts and now shampoo my hair with Dr. Bronner’s soap–alternating between the castile and the bar soap, and alternating rinsing between just apple cider vinegar and the Dr. Bronner’s citrus rinse. Finally, after decades of an itchy scalp and oily dandruff, my scalp is calm and itch free. My hair, which is brunette and only a little grey, is shiny, wavy and less frizzy than ever in my life!
I am also transitioning to only using your soaps to clean my face and remove makeup. I have very reactive sensitive skin and being able to use just the soap for makeup removal and cleaning is wonderful. I do use a bit of the magic balm (plain) to complete eye makeup removal. At night I use a witch hazel toner after the soap followed by a serum or moisturizer. Often I use the body lotion on my face in warm weather. It’s the only scented product my face tolerates. In winter I may use the magic balm.
I also use the magic balm on my toenails and fingernails and to prevent chapped lips.
For what it’s worth, I am 71 years old. I wish I’d discovered Dr. Bronner’s earlier in my life as a shampoo and facial cleanser..I would have saved a lot of time, money and itching!
I have been cleaning my hardwood floors for nearly two years now with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and they look (and smell) better than ever. I wash my bedding, towels and hand washables with the castile soap as I’m prone to hives.
Thank you for sharing, Mary. It’s great to hear our products are such a help to you!
Hi there! I’ve tried using both the Lavender sugar soap and Peppermint castile soap and both times finished with a rinse of diluted ACV. Both times my hair felt as though I washed it with glue and chewing gum. What am I doing wrong?!!! I don’t live in the US, so cannot purchase the organic hair rinse..
Hi Nicole- Making the transition from conventional shampoo to soap requires time for your hair to adjust, as well as some tinkering to find what works for your hair’s unique “personality.” During the couple weeks of transition, especially if you’re coming from a conventional shampoo/conditioner regimen, you may need to use another crème conditioner after the rinse. I also recommend check out the “Definitive Guide to Washing Hair with Dr. Bronner’s” written by my colleague, Rafi. It’s a great trouble-shooting guide in itself, and the comments are full of good tips too. https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/
Love Dr. Bronner’s products. I started with the soap bars years ago. My husband’s fav is the peppermint. Now, I buy the 32 ounce liquid soaps for both of us and add pumps.
I am graduating to other products for the hair and need some guidance, please. I do not chemically straighten or use heat on my tight coils. Most of the time, I wash, condition, apply a leave-in and, da duuum, I am done. Occasionally, I sport braids that I leave in for about five or six weeks. I left the old product world of shampoo, conditioners, and leave-ins this week. Yay for me! Now, I am looking for guidance for the best products from Dr. Bronner’s to wash, condition, leave-in with the braids. I would cleanse and condition once a week and a half.
I understand from you and Rafi that certain scents have different moisturizing properties. I am looking for max moisture for my tight, thin, and grey coils, with or without braids. I am considering the Shaving Soap. Which one for maximum moisture for my hair? The Citrus Rinse would be the only conditioner, right? And for the leave-in, the Organic Hair Creme. I think lavender because the peppermint is drying, right?
I have tried to gleam from what you and Rafi have said to fine tuned my hair’s best care. Do you have any other suggestions?
Thank you. Keep up the honesty/cleanliness in the products and the information.
Awesome day to you.
Hi Debra – I am so sorry for not seeing your comment from May. You have gleaned from Rafi’s and my articles exactly what I would recommend: The shaving soap is the most moisturizing soap, and the Citrus Rinse is a more moisturizing conditioning agent as opposed to apple cider vinegar. The Leave In Hair Creme is an added bonus for all day moisture. I hope this is still of some help!
What do you do on the days in between washes? Do you rinse or put anything in your hair at all to manage it? Thank you!
Hi Erin- Most non-washing days, I just brush it out and go. However, depending on the weather, I may use some of the Dr. Bronner’s Hair Crème to keep it smooth and calm some flyaways.
I have color-treated hair and I just read your comments that the soaps are not for colored hair. I get that and thanks! I also purchased the Peppermint Organic Hair Creme. Is it safe for color-treated hair? or should I return to store.
Hi Patsy- The hair creme is safe for color-treated hair. Soap’s alkalinity opens up the hair follicles which can allow hair color to drain out. That’s not the case with the hair creme though.
I normally make my own shampoo with Shikakai, Reetha, Amla and a little liquid Castile soap for lathering. Can I use the above combination on Henna and Indigo dyed hair?
Hi Madhavi – I have little detailed knowledge of hair colorants. I don’t know how henna and indigo may interact with the ingredients in your combination. I’m sorry not to be of any help. Maybe another reader will provide insight.
what wonderful information in both articles. I have used Dr. Bronners for years and just learned I can use the wonderful sugar pump soap on my hair. Wonderful, because I love all the sugar soaps. I have multiple chemical sensitivity and I have not used shampoo for over 25 years because of all the chemicals. Dr. Bronners has always been my go-to product. When I was first diagnosed there was very little information out there for those of us with chemical sensitivity, however, Dr.Bronners was the one product I could find. Thank you for wonderful products.
Hi Vera- It’s great to hear our products have been helpful to you over the years!
Hello Ma’am. Thanks a lot for your help and quick responses. You have been really helpful. And this is a wonderful product and I have recommended it to my friends and family. And they have already purchased the product. But a last question. As you had previously told that I have ordered this product from Europe. Yes I had purchased this product from UK. But my question is there any shopping website from which I can order the product from USA. Cause I tried searching but there were non I could find that delivered to India. And the one’s which do, charge a lot for shipping. And your official website does not deliver it to India. And I had ordered this product from http://www.healthstuff.co.uk . So if you could please suggest me some site from which I can order it from USA it will be really helpful. Thanks a lot Ma’am and take care in these times.
Hi Devanshu- I’m not aware of any U.S.-based websites that will ship to India. We do have an active and authorized distributor in the UK, which may ship to India: https://www.drbronner.co.uk/. The soaps are the same in the U.S. and UK, but the labels might vary slightly based on country requirements.
Can I still use Dr. Bonners soap on my hair even tho it is colored? Are you saying it will strip the color or will damage the hair?
Hi Linda- Unfortunately, we do not recommend using our soaps on color-treated hair. The alkalinity of the soap opens up the hair follicles, where the color resides. The color will drain out and fade quickly. Colored hair needs acidic products only. (Soap, by nature, cannot be acidic. Only detergents (shampoo) can be.) The Environmental Working Group (ewg.com) is a great resource for finding color-safe shampoo.
Lisa, I’d love to strip the color out, without damaging my hair. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Hi Jeanne – Nothing that I know is going to work quickly, but for conventional hair dyes, theoretically, washing with an alkaline soap (all true soap is alkaline) will speed up the color’s leaching out of your hair follicles where it is stored. You’ll need to close up the follicles with an acidic rinse like I mention in the article. If your hair is dyed with a stain – like henna or other over the counter dyes – I do not know how to lessen the color. Good luck!
Hi ma’am I received my Dr bronner almond castil soap (liquid form). But the ingredients seems to be different than what I see in the website. It reads as : aqua, potassium cocate (saponified coconut oil) , potassium palm kernelate (saponified palm kernel oil)……..
I’m a bit worried if it’s the actual product. Cause here it shows organic. So is it the original one. Please guide me Ma’am. Thank you.
Hi Devanshu- Different countries have varying requirements for listing ingredients on the label. It sounds as if you are looking at a European label, which differs from that of the U.S. label. The soap ingredients are the same, but potassium cocoate, palm kernelate, and potassium olivate are listed this way because they are reacted with potassium hydroxide during the soap-making process.
Hi,I have bleached highlights, can I use Dr. Bronner as a shampoo???
Hi Valerie- Yes, you can. The issue with color treated hair is that a true soap opens up the hair follicles which can allow color to drain out. With highlights, color is taken out, not added in. There is no stored dye to worry about.
I’m a little bit confused. Am I supposed to use the 1:1 ACV and water mix all over my hair after I use the Dr. Bronner’s soap as shampoo, or just on my ends and not my scalp? Also, I only shampoo my hair about once per week usually, is it safe for me to completely switch over to Dr. Bronners unscented liquid soap as my weekly shampoo? Thank you for any help!
Hi Ana- I use an acidic rinse – either ACV or the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse – on my entire hair and scalp. After I have thoroughly rinsed out the soap, I dilute the rinse in a cup and then pour it over my head and work it through and rinse thoroughly. During the couple weeks of transition, especially if you’re coming from a conventional shampoo/conditioner regimen, you may need to use another crème conditioner after the rinse.
I used 1:3 account:water dilution for my rinse. I’ve tried 1:1, 1:2 and 1:4 and 1:3 works best for me.
hi, i was just wondering why the acidic rinse is needed?
Hi Lillianna- A true soap, like our Castile Soap, cleans hair very well, but it can leave a tangly look and feel. An acidic rinse tamps down the cuticles in your hair and give it a smooth and silky after feel. But, my husband and son, both of whom have very short hair, use the soap to wash their hair and neither one bothers with the acidic rinse. If you have longer hair, you’ll want to follow with an acidic rinse though.
Do you have any recommendations for very oily hair. I use a traditional shampoo and conditioner, and within hours my hair will be greasy again. If I go to sleep with wet hair, I will wake up with greasy hair. I’ve been doing a lot of research, but I fear my hair getting dried out. Thank you!!
Hi Shae- For oily hair, I recommend the liquid Castile Soap. The Lavender or Citrus are good moderate ones to start with, but if your hair is still oily, consider the Peppermint or Eucalyptus. You’ll need to use an acidic rinse after each washing, such as apple cider vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse. If you’re transitioning from conventional shampooing, it may take a couple weeks to make this transition. I also recommend the “Definitive Guide to Washing Hair with Dr. Bronner’s” written by my colleague, Rafi. It’s a great trouble-shooting guide in itself, and the comments are full of good tips too. https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/
Thanks a lot Ma’am. That’s really helpful. And Thanks a lot for the quick response. Also few last doubts if you could clarify please. People suggested me that peppermint is too strong. And for hair almond wil be the best. And my hair has dandruff, not much. So would this be fine. And please if you could tell how much should I squirt in my hands excatly. And if not rinse it with apple cider vinegar. Would water be fine.
Thanks a lot Ma’am.
Hi Devanshu- Peppermint essential oil is drying. If you have dry scalp, a less intense scent like the Almond Castile would be better. Castile Soap is concentrated, so if your hair is short, use a couple of drops. If longer, use about ½ Tbsp. (7.5 mL). Rinse the soap out of hair with clean water, follow with the dilution of half apple cider vinegar and half water, then rinse again with water.
I am thinking to buy this product. Liquid castile ( pepermint flavour). But I am really confused and tired searching everywhere of how to use it. So please help me out with this. I generally want to use it for washing my hair ( as a shampoo). And I shampoo once per week. So how to prepare or how much should I dilute it with water. And I’ll be buying it in liquid form. So it would be really helpful. Thanks a lot.
Hi Devanshu- That’s great that you plan to use the Castile Soap for hair washing! To do that, squirt a small amount in your hand, then work through your wet hair. The water in your hair will dilute the soap all on its own. Rinse soap out and then follow with a rinse made with of half water and half apple cider vinegar.
I have some chemical allergies and want to find a shampoo and conditioner that don’t make me itch. My hair is fine and thin. Do you have any suggestions that could help?
Hi Sharon- From our line, our simplest soap is the Unscented Baby-Mild Castile, which may be a good option. Slightly more moisturizing is our Unscented Organic Sugar Soap. The ingredients are super mild. For a follow-up, I recommend for you an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse. Dr. Bronner’s has a Citrus Hair Rinse, but that may be too intense for sensitive skin. Try diluting apple cider vinegar at 50% and pouring over the hair after you’ve rinsed the soap out. Then rinse out the apple cider vinegar. This is a way of shampooing & conditioning with completely natural ingredients. For other ideas check out this thorough article on hair care written by my colleague: https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/
Hi. I use an organic, Aloe based shampoo. Can your Organic Hair Rinse be used with this type or other shampoos, that are not castile? Or is it just meant to be used with your castile/bar soaps to complement the alkalinity and PH of ones hair?
Hi Mimi- The Citrus Rinse can be used with an shampoo. Since acidity makes our hair smoother, you’ll definitely get the benefits.
Would this be considered as a clarifying shampoo? I am thinking of doing a hair treatment on my hair and was wondering if I could use this as a clarifying shampoo. Does is deep clean your hair?
Hi Cielo- Yes, it really would. In fact, sometimes people say too much so, but I like how clean my hair gets. It will remove any buildup you have on your hair.
I am interested in using Dr Bonner’s soap as a shampoo. I have not tried it yet. My hair is only about 3″ long & I never use conditioner or any kind of rinse, just plan ole water. Is this a problem if I don’t use a rinse?
Hi Nadine- It all depends on hair type. My husband and son both wash their hair with the bar soap and nothing else. I would say to try it and see how it goes. Using a rinse might make your hair smoother afterwards, but then again, you might not need it.
What would you recommend for LONG, thick, oily hair? Conversely, what for children with long, fine hair?
Hi Natalie- Either the Castile Soap or Sugar Soap for both. Choose a more mild scent for children, such as Unscented, Almond or Citrus, while Peppermint oil is naturally drying on oily skin and hair. In either case, you’ll want to do an acidic rinse. Use either our Citrus Hair Rinse or half apple cider and half water. For children, use just a little bit of rinse, focusing primarily on the hair and not on the scalp.
Hi, I read a couple of replies where you suggest that the apple cider vinegar rinse is supposed to be 50/50. I am confused as this is not what is said in the “Definitive guide to washing your hair with Dr Bronner’s” by Rafi Loiederman. In the comments he suggest 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup of vinegar for 1 cup of water. Can you enlighten me?
Hi Catherine- The correct dilution for the apple cider rinse comes down to personal preference. Hair type and hardness of water are just two influencing factors on this. I recommend starting off with a 50/50 dilution – although you could just as easily start with Rafi’s recommended dilution – and adjust the concentration as needed. If your hair is rough, increase the concentration. For dry scalp, you may need to dilute more. It takes some time and tinkering to figure out what works for your hair’s unique personality.
Hello, Lisa! Excellent work with the Bronner Soaps (well, I guess thanks to Gpa. Bronner 🙂 Wondering how I can cleanse my hair ends better with Castile Soap?? I can get my scalp squeaky clean, but the rest of my long hair from about two-three inches below the scalp is difficult to clean and ends up looking greasy from lack of cleansing. For my scalp I usually dilute the soap and then cleanse. Should I simply add a few drops or the Pure Castile to my hands and apply to the length of my hair? Thanks
Hi Rebecca- Yes, a few drops in your hands to wash the ends works great. You’ll also want to do an acidic rinse, using either our Organic Citrus Hair Rinse or a 1:1 dilution of apple cider vinegar.
Hi Lisa. My husband and I moved onto our boat, full time about 6 months ago (this forced my hand into a full “green” personal care routine). I followed the guide on switching to Dr B for my hair. With trial and error it is near perfect and I am absolutely pleased. However with the change in weather my long, brown hair has become drier. I switched to baby and it seems to have perked up (it is actually fuller!). Are there any issues with mixing liq castile scents? I would like to keep washing with the double oil but find it may too much on some days. Perhaps equal parts baby and lavender??
Hi Rene- What a wonderful adventure! There are no issues with mixing scents. In fact, its a fun way to create your own personalized scent.
I am 55 years old and I have been noticing that my hair is not growing back and is getting progressively thinner. This has been going on for about 10 years…. about the same time as I started to use DR. Bronner for my shampoo. I was wondering if anyone else has had this experience. I am not saying it is Dr. Bronner. I am just investigating. I dont know what is creating this problem and so I dont know how to fix it.
Hi Heather- I’m sorry to hear this. That is no fun! I don’t personally have any experience in this area, and there are so many factors that affect scalp and hair health. Maybe some other readers can weigh in with their experience.
Heather – I think the changes in your hair are due to normal aging and not to use of Dr Bronner’s. My hair still grows like crazy, but in my mid 40s I did notice that it WAS growing thinner. I don’t yet use Dr B for my hair so I know the changes weren’t caused by that. All my life I’ve had EXTREMELY thick hair. So thick that my Mom always had the hairdresser thin it when I was little [just so she could cope with it on a daily basis] and I was alarmed that it was getting thinner, but my hairdresser explained that most people’s hair does thin as they age – so I was at least glad that it was super-thick to begin with. I do have friends who use Dr B for their hair & several have mentioned that they notice improvements in thickness & manageability once their heads become adjusted to the Dr B formula. If I were you, I’d try using something else for several months to see if you notice your hair becoming thicker. If so, you could reasonably assume that Dr B’s was at least partially to blame for your thinning. But I’d be quite surprised if that turned out to be the case.
To combat thinning hair as you age consider diet as well. I started losing my hair as my thyroid threw a tantrum. I started taking Biotin, which is a form of vitamin B, and the hair grew back in not just on my head, but eyebrows and lashes as well. Good luck.
Thinking hair can be caused by so many things! Please consider getting blood work done. I would suspect hormonal changes (and an increase in androgen) being part of the problem here.
I have washed my hair with bar soap on and off for the last 14 years and have had fluctuations in hair thickness during that time. However, I personally feel they have been more impacted by stress, illness, and health changes that have also been reflected in skin, nail, overall physical health. My hair always falls out when my testosterone or thyroid levels are off but has always grown back when things improve.
I DID freak out a bit over high pH causing hair breakage when pH balanced being key was all over every hair and skincare article and wrote to Lisa about it ages ago. I found some decent peer reviewed studies showing hair has no problems at all in pH 4-9. Our tap water (we have a well) is already at 8.8 so I figure the soap is not causing any more breakage than the water. And most importantly, I find waaaaaaaaaay less hair in the drain trap when I wash with soap than with pH balanced shampoos and conditioners (I did try going back to shampoo for a good 6 mos. It was miserable. My scalp was irritated, my hair was snapping, it was expensive to buy the ones with ingredients I found acceptable, my showers took much longer, my hair took so much longer to dry, and the amount of plastic bottles I went through was awful to behold. I even tried silicone-based conditioners again and those were awful! And I just hated knowing that I was washing such nasty crap right into our waterways). My hairdresser consistently is astounded that my hair is in such great shape–it’s some of the healthiest she has ever seen. And that’s with significant health issues, multiple surgeries in the last year, and long hair (below bra line). To be fair, I don’t dye my hair. But I do brush it wet and blow dry it in the winter because I don’t like being cold.
TL/DR: So I’m a huge proponent of soap for hair. ❤️
I had this experience too several years back. Although, admittedly, I never read dilution amounts and think I burned my hair; I used peppermint full strength. It has been about 5 years now and it has never grown back, so I don’t really know if it was the Peppermint soap or coincidence. Since I had cancer last year my hair is changing yet again and I am thinking about trying the unscented diluted, or the bar. I use Dr. Bronner’s soaps for all sorts of things but only found their blog recently. I’m looking forward to trying some of the recommendations here.
Question. My daughter swims competitive Junior Olympic level daily at 30 hours a week. He hair is somewhat healthy dispite the chlorine. I have her rinse her hair prior to swim to absorb water prior to pool treated water. Its not the platinum color as other blonde haired swimmers are mainly because she rinses prior. We decided to step into this soap for skin and body but all in 1 for hair as well. How do we use this product properly for her Blond stright hair, med thickness, 13 years old. Also rinse vinegar etc.
I started on my beard and hair to test I can afford the hair loss if so.
Thanks much love.
Hi Joshua- Castile Soap and our Organic Hair Rinse are great for ridding hair of chlorine. People with thicker or dryer hair sometimes prefer the extra moisture of the Organic Sugar Soap or Shaving Soap. Your steps before swim sound excellent for preventing chlorine damage. If her hair needs more protection, use the Organic Hair Creme as a protectant before going in the pool. It’s excellent for daily moisturizing and smoothing as well.
Thank you for this post – it was really interesting!
I am planning to move from conventional shampoos to Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille all-in-one bar soap.
I use body soap for a few years now so not worried about that.
I worry about the hair – mine tends to be oily in the scalp but the ends get rather frizzy and kind of dry.
Do you recomend any specific bar soap, of the various available?
Thanks a lot!
Hi Vera- As you’re washing, concentrate on the scalp and avoid scrubbing the ends of your hair. Apply the Organic Hair Creme only to the ends of your hair to moisturize hair and tame frizzies. As for a specific scent, try something middle-of-the-road moisturizing wise – such as Citrus, Lavender or Tea Tree. For more moisture, you can go to Rose, Almond or Unscented. For more great tips, see the Hair Washing Guide on the Dr. Bronner’s blog at https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/.
Is there anything to keep in mind when using the soap with naturally gray/white hair?
Hi Lori- We hear from customers that Castile soap keeps gray and white hair from yellowing. You’ll want to follow with an acidic rinse of either our Citrus Hair Rinse or a 50/50 dilution of apple cider vinegar and water. Let me know how it goes.
I have a question about drying the hair. I use liquid soap and ACV rinse, and everything is perfect until I use blow dryer. I have a curly hair but I like it straight. When I start to straight it up, it becomes waxy and sticky immediately.
Do you have any tip? Thanks!
Hi Milica- I’ve found the Organic Hair Creme applied to wet hair works really well for this step. It nourishes and protects hair from the heat of the dryer. If this doesn’t do the trick, the Definitive Guide to Washing Your Hair on the Dr. Bronner’s site is great for trouble-shooting: https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/.
[…] For more on washing hair with soap, see “From Soap to Shampoo – My Story.” […]
Can I use unscented Bronner bar soap directly on hair as a shampoo? (I am a man BTW)
Is it okay to not use conditioner afterward?
Hi BNS- My son does this. Just wash and go. He does have short hair though. If you have longer hair, you’ll want to follow with an acidic rinse. And not only is the bar convenient, it is slightly more moisturizing than our liquid soaps.
oh! Thank you for clarifying my doubt 🙂
We’ve used your soaps for over a decade except as shampoo. Do your soaps work for seriously sensitive scalps? Have been trying shampoos all year for my 16 yr old. Dandruff shampoos make it worse. Chemicals leave redness.
Hi Tina- I’m sorry your 16 year old is having to go through this. Our soaps are gentle on the scalp. I recommended either the Castile or Sugar Soap in either the Unscented or Tea Tree scents. A helpful resource on this is the Definitive Guide to Hair Washing on the Dr. Bronner’s blog, https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/. Another option, that I haven’t tried myself, is the “No Poo” method in which hair is washed with an alternative to shampoo, such as baking soda or apple cider vinegar.
Or conditioner, or just water. Use diluted vinegar as a rinse if her scalp is ok with it, otherwise, maybe try a conditioner? Either in the shower or as a leave-in or both. There are lots of alternatives for shampoo – my hair has never looked better since I stopped using it, but it has taken some trial and error to find what makes my scalp happy. It may take some time to adjust. You truly don’t have to use anything harsh, though. Good luck!
Do you have recommendations for those of us with hard water? When I dilute the Castile soap in water it becomes cloudy and I can’t get a lather, just lots of residue.
Hi Emily- I too have hard water. These days, I’ve been wetting my (pretty long) hair really thoroughly and then squirting about 1/2 Tbsp. directly on to it. If you like to pre-dilute, use distilled water to avoid the cloudiness. Another option – albiet the most involved – is installing a point-of-use water softener to your showerhead.
I noticed you said that the soaps are not ideal for color treated hair. Can I use the Citrus Rinse after using a shampoo for color treated hair?
Hi Nerissa- Yes. The issue with the soap is that it’s alkaline which opens up the hair follicles, allowing color to bleed out. The Citrus Rinse is acidic.
Hello I had a few question is their a ratio you would recommend for putting the soap in a squeezable bottle ? Or should I just use a cup like you did ?
Hi Angel- These days, I’ve been wetting my (pretty long) hair really thoroughly and then squirting about 1/2 Tbsp. directly on to it. If you pre-dilute, start with 1/2 Tbsp. in 1/2 cup of water. Diluting the soap does shorten the shelf life, so make in small batches.
Have the hair care products been tested on ethnic hair? I’m curious how the products will work on my hair being that I am African American.
Hi Dona- It’s great that you’re going to give the Castile soap a try! It works on all hair types, including ethnic hair. You’ve found my story, and you may also want to look at the Definitive Guide to Washing Your Hair with Dr. Bronner’s which goes into more detail (https://www.drbronner.com/all-one-blog/2017/03/definitive-guide-washing-hair-dr-bronners/).
I have a really dumb question for you.
After washing your hair with the soap, do you rinse your hair with water before applying the apple cider vinegar rinse?
Or, do you rinse the soap out of your hair using the apple cider vinegar?
Hi Donna – Not a dumb question at all! In fact, I also have felt that I haven’t been clear on this exact point. You do need to rinse out the soap completely before applying the Apple Cider Vinegar or any acidic hair rinse. This is important because the acidity of the vinegar will react with the soap and form and oily, waxy mess that you definitely don’t want on your hair. You can read more about that chemistry in, “A Word of Caution About Vinegar and Castile Soap”.
Suggestions for colored hair?
Hi Karen- I recommend checking out the EWG Cosmetics Safety Database, which is a great place to find info on any personal care products. You can look up shampoo for colored hair there and see their ratings.
Do I understand that we are not to use Dr. Bronner soap on colored hair? I have to stay with my old chemically loaded shampoo?
Hi Brenda- The alkalinity of the soap opens up the hair follicles, allowing the color to drain out. It is safe for highlighted hair though. But there are many color-safe shampoos on the market without the chemicals. To find one, check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which ranks products based on ingredients, environmental impact, etc. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
[…] experience when using Dr. Bronner’s organic soap as a hair wash and you can read all about it here. After reading it I am actually thinking to give it another […]
[…] my hair with soap would leave it frizzy and dull. But my hair is strong and healthy. (I wrote about my switch from shampoo to soap in another blog post, but I want to mention here that you do need the Organic Hair […]
[…] From Shampoo to Soap – My Story […]