(This was supposed to be my Friday off-topic post, but I was feeling generally blah. But at least I’m only a day late!)
I have bad hair. Really bad hair. This is due to a combination of the curse of naturally curly hair, a thyroid that refuses to work, self-coloring, daily flat-ironing and, sigh, age.
To prove it, I will share this incredibly embarrassing picture of myself, circa 1990-ish.
(Yes, it looks frightening in retrospect, but I looked exactly like everyone else on the street at the time. YES I DID!)
And, just because I want to find out what you think of my new glasses, here’s me now:
(Please ignore the “why-is-it-always-so-freaking-cold-in-this-office” sweater.)
See? Bad, bad hair. I wish you could see the back of it, where I sport a large chunk of frizz that refuses to lie down, no matter what I do with it. Looks like a duck’s butt. Attractive.
Anyway, all of this preamble was just to share with you what I’m recently discovering about what else might be contributing to my awful-hairedness. Sulfates. The “poo” in conventional shampoo. Not good for your hair.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is pretty commonly found in all detergents – whether you use it to wash your hair, your dishes, or your car. It produces Big Foam. We like Big Foam. Makes us feel like it’s really getting something done up there on our heads.
But what it’s really doing is drying out your hair and scalp, making your hair brittle and causing breakage and all kinds of odd scalp conditions. There are those who feel the residual buildup of sulfates contribute to hair loss. They swear that when they eliminated the sulfates, they either saw a significant reduction in the amount of hair being lost or even got some new growth in previously bald areas.
So that’s the simplified version (there’s so much more, but I haven’t even gotten to the point of this post yet) and what made me decide to start searching out some sulfate-free options.
This is when I became obsessed with Shampoo Bars. Yes, like a bar of regular soap, but for your hair. Wait! Don’t freak out. I admit, it seems very strange to think of rubbing a bar of shampoo over your head. Eeeeew, right? But still, with all the positive reviews I’d been reading, I really wanted to give it a try.
So I headed over to Chagrin Valley Soaps, the maker of THE most touted shampoo bars on hair-related message boards. (Yes, I DID go around reading hair message boards. What of it?)
They have a pretty large selection of shampoo bars that you can buy in either the full size, for $6.75, or in a pretty generous sample size for either $2.50 or $2.60. And they are packaged in the cutest little Kraft bags, ever!
Overwhelmed by options and fearful that I would HATE IT after I bought it, I bought a full size of the Coconut Milk and one sample-sized bar of Carrot Milk and Honey and another of Rosemary Mint. The two products I was most interested in, the Olive Babassu and the Babassu and Marsh Mallow, were both temporarily out of stock. (I would link to the specific products here, but their website doesn’t have separate pages for each product. They also have a pain in the ass shopping cart, but I can deal with it.)
Another advantage of shampoo bars is that if you decide you don’t like it as a shampoo, it’s perfectly fine to use on your body. No waste.
I had already decided I WOULD NOT rub a bar of shampoo on my head. I would lather it up in my hands and then massage it in, like a civilized person. So, picking a day when I had no one to impress but my dentist (in case things went horribly awry), I grabbed the bar of Coconut Milk and marched bravely into the shower.
I got my hair really, really wet and picked up the bar. And I rubbed it directly on my head. I don’t know what happened! It just seemed like the natural thing to do. And I enjoyed it. It had a decent lather and it smelled really nice. And you know what? After I rinsed it out (very, very thoroughly, of course), my hair freaking SQUEAKED. Yes, it did. I don’t remember the last time my hair squeaked after shampooing.
Now, in theory, you do not have to use a conditioner with these bars. Or, if your hair is really dry, you might be able to just use a lot less conditioner. I debated doing a true experiment and not conditioning at all, but panicked at the last minute and used a small amount of conditioner on the ends. All the squeaking had frightened me.
Then, as is my custom, I let it air dry. Usually it air dries into a poofy disaster, so I was surprised that it dried like a normal person’s hair. No poof. My hair was very soft and I didn’t feel any residue. And that duck’s butt on the back of my head was gone! Seriously. A mini-version of it popped up a little later in the day after three hours in the dental chair, a nap and two hot flashes, but it stayed tame for a pretty good long time.
So, obviously, I like it! And I like that it will be so much easier to travel with than regular shampoo. And that cutting out all of those plastic shampoo bottles will be good for the environment. And that one shampoo bar lasts as long as about three bottles of conventional shampoo. And that I may someday be able to get rid of conditioner altogether. Naturally, I’ve already ordered more. It’s a sickness.
Of course, this isn’t the only company that makes shampoo bars. There are also other options for sulfate-free shampoos that don’t involve rubbing a bar on your head.
Lush Cosmetics: Their shampoo bar is smaller and pricier ($9.75), but it is VERY highly rated. Order online, or find a store near you. I’m going to check them out the next time I’m at the mall.
And here’s a way for you to try it for close to free. I found a lot of the products I was looking for at iherb.com – and if you’ve never ordered from them before, you can use my coupon code (DUP544) to get $5 off your first order. I think they will kick back 15 cents to me if you do, but that’s not why I’m giving you the code. I’m giving it to you because most of this stuff costs right around $5, so you can get it just for the cost of shipping. And they ship super-fast. I love them.
Here are some I found today. Okay, I’ll be honest and admit this is what I actually ORDERED today. Maybe you’ll find something that looks interesting to you. I think you can also find these at Whole Foods, if you’re near one:
J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Bar Shampoo. I got the one for damaged hair, natch, and the Tea Tree and Hemp Oil. $4.79 each
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. On this one, I actually bought the 16-ounce Hemp Almond liquid to try out. You should read the reviews on this product line. Dang! $6.83
Giovanni’s Shampoo and Conditioners. Again, not a shampoo bar, but this also a very highly rated sulfate-free line. I got a leave-in conditioner, a restructuring conditioner and a couple of other things I don’t remember. $5.17 each
So that’s it. Have you ever tried a shampoo bar? Would you? Next up in my quest for more natural products: Toothpaste. (I heard my dentist telling someone to stay away from Colgate Total and Crest Pro-something because of all the additives. Interesting, no?)