What Makes a Good Shampoo Bar?
A German Soap Box shampoo bar is everything a great shampoo should be but without the plastic bottle!
Ok, so our opinion may be a tad biased, but we make the best shampoo bars on the market! How can we say that so confidently? Simple. It's true!!
Shampoo bars currently on the market are either:
- Made with sodium laurel sulfate, well known as one of the harshest cleansing ingredients. Sodium laurel sulfate is more likely to strip your hair of natural oils. When products claim to be "sulfate free" they are typically referring to this ingredient.
- Contain many added fragrance compounds such as linalool, geraniol, and eugenol which many people are sensitive to. Sometimes you even see fragrance listed as one of the top three ingredients.
- A bar of soap! Many soap makers who sell at farmer's markets, fairs, or online often create shampoo bars what are really just soap bars made with extra castor oil. All soaps regardless of castor oil content will have a pH above 8 which is not suited for hair.
Proper Hair pH:
Although a good bar of soap feels absolutely lovely on your skin, it is poorly suited to meet your hair's demands. Soap has a pH above 8 which allows the hair cuticle to open and expose the hair shaft. An open cuticle is more prone to breakage, allows hair color to leach out, and allows hair to lose shine, luster, and manageability.
If you have ever washed your hair with a bar of soap and ended up with that dull, dry "doll hair" feel then you have experience the open cuticle effect! This increases the friction between hair fibers that may lead to breakage.
Did you know that the scalp has a pH around 5.5 and hair fibers have a pH around 3.7? That means a good shampoo, whether liquid or a bar, should have a pH less than 5.5.
Next time you're at a farmer's market and a vendor wants to sell you a shampoo bar ask them what the pH of their product is. Chances are they may not know but if their ingredient list says something like "saponified oils of coconut, castor oil, etc" then it's a pretty safe bet it's soap. That's a pH above 8 - keep walking!
At German Soap Box we formulate our shampoo bars with a pH around 5.0-5.3. The only factor we can not control is the pH of your water which is typically 6.5-7.
Many women, especially those with color treated or chemically processed hair, will benefit from an additional conditioner after they rinse. This is because the chemicals have created some degree of cuticle damage which require a cationic product i.e one that has a positive charge which bonds to the hair to smooth the cuticle and reduce frizz. Hair that is not chemically processed will love our shampoo bars without additional conditioners!
Best Shampoo Bar Ingredients:
No lie! No, seriously, no lye! By not formulating a shampoo bar with sodium hydroxide (lye) we are able to keep the pH below 5.5. But there are other ingredients that can make a good shampoo bar great!
- We start with a wonderful surfactant called Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate which some even refer to as baby foam. Also referred to as SCI, this surfactant is much milder than sodium laurel sulfate and produces loads of tiny silky bubbles! SCI is based on fatty acids from natural, renewable coconut oil and is biodegradable!
- Cupuacu butter! This wonderful butter from Brazil has a high capacity for water absorption and some refer to it as the vegan alternative to lanolin! Its ability to hydrate makes it perfect for dry or damaged hair, adding elasticity and sheen.