In which I try a shampoo bar

One of my consistent inconsistencies, as Eric calls them, is my willingness to try something new based on its weirdness factor. I like routine, I’m happy with my established likes and dislikes, I don’t need to go chasing the next big thing. Um, except when I do.

While in Banff last month, we happened into the Rocky Mountain Soap Company shop. Never heard of it, but this place was right up my alley — minimally packaged soaps of all description that weren’t overpowering (I kind of hate smells. Also, there were plenty of packaged items, but I wasn’t in the market for lotion).

As I looked around the shop for the lavender bar that had been supplied at the condo we were staying at — I wanted to get a couple of gifts — I spotted a rosemary shampoo bar.

You know, I’ve always wanted to try a shampoo bar. Back during my Simple Year/zero waste year, I thought a shampoo bar would be the answer to all my packaging problems. I was following a couple of zero waste boards at the time, and everyone seemed quite excited about their own shampoo bars. But, living in a small town with limited options, I never did find one.

And here was whole stack!

So I bought one. I talked to one of the shopkeepers and she suggested cutting it into pieces so I wouldn’t have an entire bar to contend with in the shower AND because it would help on the lather front. I took note and gleefully made my purchases.

Here’s what I didn’t think about before actually hopping into the shower with a shampoo bar: I have thick hair. We’re talking enough hair for three people, and I wish that was hyperbole, but it’s the truth. Ask the darling woman who cuts and thins it every three months so I can keep this mop under control. I lathered my piece of shampoo bar — wow, very nice lather! — and then … tried to figure out how to translate that to my entire head. I concentrated on my scalp. I tried my best. And overall, my hair did feel clean. It just that it did not feel like my hair. The texture was off.

I was ready to try again. And again.

By the third try, I decided that what I really needed to do was lather up in my hands AND rub the bar all over my scalp for maximum suds. And that was the best hair wash I’d had up to that point. But while my hair definitely felt and looked clean, the texture was still off.

The next time I washed my hair, I used Eric’s packaged shampoo and conditioner. And breathed a sign of relief. And then I sat down to write a post about my shampoo bar failures.

But as I was writing, it occurred to me that there was a possibility it wasn’t the bar, but my lack of experience / knowledge of how to properly use one. I did a quick search and found the following advice:

Rub the bar up and down your hair to work up a lather, rinse and repeat — and then rinse and repeat again for a total of three times, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse.

Bonus weird round! I was on it!

So that’s what I did. I rubbed the bar on my hair in sections, and lo and behold, I got an amazing lather that translated quite nicely to my scalp. I repeated the process until I’d washed my hair a total of three times. By the third time, I felt like I had really gotten somewhere with the bar — my head felt clean.

Then it was time for the apple cider vinegar rinse. I have a squirt-type bottle I use for the bulk bins (bulk jugs, I guess) at the grocery store, so I filled that with a little ACV, topped it off with water (um, maybe a cup total?) and rinsed my hair all over with that. I used the whole thing because why the heck not? The site said that the ACV helps restore the pH balance. I could tell it worked right away as I was rinsing it out. (Um, wow, that hurts when it gets in your eyeballs.) I could tell it worked as I brushed my hair. I could tell it worked as I watched it dry.

My hair felt soft! It was manageable! There was a slight apple smell from the vinegar, but I didn’t mind. It’s the manufactured smells that make me feel slightly ill.

I will be darned. I guess I’m a fan after all. Good thing this Canadian company does mail order. 😉

That ended up being a really good stop.

10 thoughts on “In which I try a shampoo bar

  1. Chris N says:

    i’ve really wanted to try the shampoo bar and rinse. Amazon has a few they sell but maybe I’ll check the co op next time I’m in Sacramento, which is frequently now.


  2. Roberta says:

    I want to make a relevant point, but I’m obsessing over how much hair you have! I had super-thick hair in college, and now…I have a thin, puny braid because I’ve lost so much hair.

    I’m glad you figured out how to use the shampoo bar, and I’m more impressed that you thought you might be using the bar wrong. Because I would just assume there’s only one way to rub soap on my head. And I’ve been using the ACV rinse for years, and really love what it does for my hair. Glad it works for you!


    • Trisha Walker says:

      Ha ha, you should see our shower drains and the hardwood floor — three girls in this household and we all have thick hair, and it’s everywhere. (Thanks, Grandma M!)

      Ah, well, as a reporter I am confronted every single day by how much I don’t know, so really, it’s kind of sad I didn’t think of checking into how I was using the bar after the first time.


  3. Jenni says:

    Thanks for this info. I have a shampoo bar in the drawer and I am yet to even try it so I’m so glad I read your post before trying!


  4. sarahn says:

    My recent month in Europe I returned to small bottles of shampoo or whatever was on hand, and really missed my solid bar!! My hair just never got as clean and light feeling? But also. It’s a different water system so it could be that too???

    I buy mine at lush which are smelly, but only initially. And they last ages. Oh and I put them in a stocking to keep it all together; the old little bit with the new hunk.


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