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The Shampoo Bar Transition - using natural shampoo bars for the first time

If you’re switching from a shampoo that contains synthetic detergents then your hair will most probably go through a transition phase. Now in all honesty it’s not the most pleasant experience to go through but it can be really worthwhile. During this phase your hair may appear greasy or feel waxy, like it hasn’t been rinsed properly, this is normal as shampoos containing synthetic ingredients create a barrier to make your hair appear shiny and healthy. When you start using natural products your hair readjusts by over producing sebum. Some people don’t experience a transition period at all but it can last between 2-3 weeks or even longer for some. If you live in a hard water area the transition period is usually longer, a water softener helps hugely.

Before you start on your journey of going synthetic free you may want to mix a couple of teaspoons of baking soda with a pint of water and pour this over your head whilst rubbing it in, this helps unclog the pores of the synthetic ingredients previously used. I personally didn’t try this but have heard it works for some people, you should only do this once during the process and you may want to avoid it if you have coloured hair.

Don’t over wash your hair during the process, the more you wash, the more your hair and scalp will get used to this new routine and the more your hair will need to be washed. Don’t be tempted to reach back for your old shampoo either as this will set you back in the process. Try brushing or combing your hair at least twice a day to help spread the natural oils through your hair.

Natural shampoo bars are more alkaline so using an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse through the transition period and beyond helps to adjust the ph levels of the hair, many people miss out conditioner and regularly use ACV instead. Use the ACV solution after shampooing and rinsing your hair, to make a rinse mix 3 parts water to one part apple cider vinegar (also labelled as cider vinegar) and wash it over your head. Leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse through. The vinegar smell shouldn’t linger.

A few drops of essential oils added to your apple cider vinegar rinse can help improve your hair and scalp (and make it smell less vinegary), my favourites are lavender and rosemary. Different essential oils help different hair types for example lemongrass is good for more oily hair whilst lavender is good for dry or damaged hair.

Give your hair time to settle into using more natural products and you should feel the benefits of lighter and softer hair and a happier scalp. Personally, I had an itchy scalp before due to the harshness of the synthetic detergents in regular shampoo, this itchiness eased after a few weeks of using natural products. I also experience less hair loss in the shower and my hair is longer than I was ever able to grow it before! I’ve had lots of feedback from customers who have reported similar experiences, hopefully you’ll find the same.


I’ve used shampoo bars before so why am I having a transition phase now?

Not all shampoo bars are free from synthetic detergents. You can usually tell by the look of a bar, if it looks like it contains little strands that look like hundreds and thousands then that’s most likely a syndet bar (a bar containing synthetic detergents).

Do you make a synthetic bar that doesn't involve a transition?

Sure do, and it gets great feedback... Solid Shampoo 60g.

Are your shampoo and conditioner bars suitable for coloured or bleached hair?

Yes they are (my hair is coloured), I’d recommend against using an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse though as this can strip colour.

My hair dye contains synthetic ingredients, if I dye my hair will this start the transition phase again?

Your hair will be fine after colour treating it, you’re only likely to go through a transition if you use products containing silicones a number of times.

If I go to the hairdressers and they use liquid shampoo with synthetic detergents will this start the transition phase again?

Your hair will be fine after one or two washes, you’re only likely to go through a transition if you use products containing silicones a number of times.

I’ve been trying for over a month now but my hair still feels waxy, what am I doing wrong?

Try a really thorough double wash, many people struggle to get a good lather if their hair is coated in silicones so wet your hair and the shampoo bar, work the bar well into your hands to get a good lather and work this through your hair, run the bar down your hair, working the lather through all areas, give it a really good rub then rinse and repeat.  Brushing or combing your hair will help to disperse the oils and silicones.

If you're new to using the solid conditioner bar too then try leaving this out, this may be too much for your hair.

If you live in a hard water area then you may struggle to get through the transition as the soluble salts in the water affects the lathering ability of the shampoo, a water softener can help.

Some peoples’ hair is just not suited to natural shampoo bars or it could be that my bar isn’t the one for you.

I’ve decided I just can’t go through the transition, what are my other options for going plastic free?

First off if you already have one of our shampoo bars then don’t let it go to waste, use it as a hand or body body. Solid Shampoo bars containing sulfates or synthetic detergents don’t require a transition, sulfates can be harsh on your hair and scalp so avoid those and go for ones that include an ingredient called Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate instead.  Alternatively, try liquid refills, if you’re lucky enough to have a local refill store take your bottle along and fill it up!