Thursday, February 4, 2010
The Great Shampoo Bar Experiment
Musings from the Greenhabilitator...
I spent the month of January doing The Great Shampoo Bar Experiment, although "great" isn't really the best word to describe it....greasy maybe...flaky...not great.
About a year ago I tried going "No-'Poo". I was already cleaning my house with baking soda and vinegar, why not use baking soda on my hair too? It came in a recyclable cardboard box, and the Apple Cider Vinegar in a recyclable glass jar. Not only would I be able to stop putting chemicals on my hair (and, subsequently, into my body) but I'd stop sending them down the drain and into our ground water -- AND I'd be eliminating the plastic of my shampoo and conditioner bottles. To me it seemed like an important step in treating my body and the planet more kindly.
Until I tried it and hated it.
My hair is long, thick (each strand is thick, but I also just have a LOT of hair), and very curly. I read all the websites and reviews and tinkered with green tea and honey. I gave it a good two weeks and then gave up. Not only did it seem like a hassle, it just left my hair looking crazy. And for a thirty-something mom with all sorts of body parts relocating south, I need to keep one of my better features looking its best. (If ya know what I mean.)
So I compromised (or so it seemed) and started using a shampoo and conditioner in one. My rationalization being it's only one plastic bottle instead of two. Funny what we convince ourselves of when we're not really committed to an idea.
In December, as I sat down to write out my goals for the year, I kept coming back to the environmental impact of my shampoo/conditioner (chemicals + plastic). I decided to give shampoo bars a shot.
The first one I tried was the Burt's Bees Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar because I actually had one in the bathroom from a Burt's Bees kit I'd received eons ago.
Day 1: Not so bad. I don't see what the complaints (reviews) were about.
Day 3: Is this what people meant by "greasy feeling"?
Day 4: I'm sticking with this. They say you have to press past the first week and your hair adjusts.
Day 5: Is that me in the mirror or Amy Winehouse? I'm out.
I returned to their website to see "Good on short to medium length hair." I'm guessing they didn't have me in mind. Lesson learned: read labels.
Next I tried Dr. Bronner's All-One bar soap. I use this in my homemade laundry soap, so I had a bar on hand to test out. I also use Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap to clean my floors. Is this really something I should be using on a bathroom floor, catsup stain and my hair? I'm a little skeptical, but this is the Great Shampoo Bar Experiment!
BTW, Dr. Bronner's bar soaps are vegetable-based, Certified Organic, Certified Fair-Trade, not tested on animals, completely biodegradable, and come wrapped in a recycled paper wrapper than can go in my compost heap. They had a lot of marks in the "Pro" column already.
Day 1: Looks good, feels *very* clean.
Day 2: Feels clean...a little too clean...squeaky clean...like I really need some conditioner. I check the website which says, "Can leave a tangly look & feel." Check. They suggest using their conditioner with it which comes in a plastic bottle (100% recycled plastic but still, it's plastic).
Day 3 - 5: I press on.
Day 6: Have I developed dandruff? I'm out.
Day 7: I feel guilty for saying I quit and decide to add an Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse into the routine. It leaves my hair feeling much more manageable and, after a few days, the flakiness goes away.
Day 10: The flakiness may be gone, but the greasiness is not. I wash with my old shampoo and it feels sooooooooooooooo good.
Finally I remember the Wembe Coconut Exfoliating Blend bar I have in my shower. A quick check of their website reveals that it can also be used as a shampoo bar. It, like the Dr. Bronner's, worked well with the ACV rinse the first day or so then went down hill.
I've found that the ACV makes my hair feel less tangled and prevents flakes, but it doesn't seem to do anything for the greasy feeling.
For awhile I tried to tell myself "It's okay. This is what hair is supposed to feel like when it doesn't have nasty chemicals in it." But the truth is, I don't want to look like a grease-ball with a 'fro.
I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel completely, so I'm planning to use my shampoo bar for a few days at a time, then sneak in a day of regular shampoo. That will at least cut down on my chemical use and plastic consumption while I'm scoping out some other types of shampoo bars.
I've heard good things about LUSH, but they seem a bit pricey. I also have my eye on a few etsy sellers.
If you use a bar shampoo that you love, let me know!