From Shampoo to Soap
Common bad ingredients in shampoo are SLES and other –eth’s. (linked to the carcinogenic byproduct 1,4 Dioxane). There’s another realm of common shampoo ingredients called “quats” which stand for quaternium compounds. These little lovelies are linked to another carcinogenic byproduct – formaldehyde. However, this is our hair we’re talking about. How much variance from conventional products can it take? As moms we’ve often already accepted that parts of our bodies will never be what they once were. Do we really have to give up our hair, too, in order to be truly healthy?
When my brother first started talking about using the castile and Shikakai soaps for hair, I really thought he was taking things a little too far. I can hardly exaggerate my skepticism of this idea. Personally, I am a sucker for those shampoo commercials with the slow-motion shots of luxurious, strong, super-shiny hair. Despite what I know about what’s in conventional shampoos, I just couldn’t give it up in exchange for what I figured would be a head of dull and tangled frizz.
Once the Hair Rinse was fully produced and marketed, I finally bit the bullet and gave it a shot. At least I could pronounce all the ingredients and was familiar with them. At the time I was responding to customer service emails, and I needed to know first-hand what we were selling.
So, instant conversion? Nope. Here’s what happened. (This is based on my observations and deductions – not scientific research.) When I washed and conditioned my hair conventionally, my hair felt slippery even after it was rinsed. I thought this texture was good and meant my hair was strong and smooth. In retrospect, this slipperiness was a coating to conceal damage.
The first time I washed my hair with soap, that coating was quickly and completely stripped away, exposing my hair for the overworked, tired mess that it was. I applied the rinse, diluting it and doing the double dose that the instructions recommend. It helped detangle my hair, but my hair had no natural moisture and the strands were clearly damaged. By the end of the day, my hair was completely flat. It seemed full of static, and just didn’t feel clean. This just wasn’t going to work. I gave up.
It was several months later that I resolved to try again, this time giving the soap/rinse more of a chance. I washed my hair every two days, just as I always have. I rinsed with the Hair Rinse. I let the hair rinse sit on my hair for most of my shower, rinsing it off at the end. Once a week, I used a more conventional shampoo and conditioner, to help ease the transition. Over a period of two weeks, my hair got stronger and stronger. It became soft and silky – all on its own. I think my scalp realized it needed to wake up and do the job it was meant to do.
I also discovered that my hair is much wavier than I knew, now that it’s not weighed down by all the residue. That’s been kind of fun. My hair does better when I blow my hair dry, but that was true before I made the switch. Now that I’ve been using the soap for over a year, I only need one dose of the rinse. I no longer use any other products on my hair. It looks worse when I do.
I’m really pleased with my hair now. I got used to this different system. I keep a plastic cup in the shower for diluting the Hair Rinse (although I’ve poured a cupful straight on my hair when my cup has walked away – works OK). My hair does not feel slippery when I’m done, but it is tangle-free, and when it dries, it is smooth and soft. It is a big time and money saver to be able to wash myself from head to toe with one product. It’s a lot less complicated, too – a lot less to think about, especially in my pre-coffee morning fog.
Regarding the Style Crème, I had to do a little more trial and error with this. I found that for me it works best after my hair is dry. I use a pea sized amount to smooth any frizzies and keep things a little more in place.
Everyone’s hair has its own personality and there will need to be some trial and error in switching to Dr. Bronner’s soap and the Hair Rinse. Whether to use the pure castile soap or the Shikakai soap. (I prefer the castile because I like the almond, but texture-wise, they both work great.) How many rinses to do. How long to let the rinse sit on the hair. Whether to dry with a blow dryer or let it air dry. Whether to use the Style Crème on wet hair or dry hair. How many days you’ll need to wait for damaged hair to repair. You see what worked for me. That should get you started.
One disclaimer – don’t do this on colored hair. The alkalinity of the soap opens up the hair follicles, where the color resides. The color will drain out and fade quickly. Colored hair needs acidic products only. (Soap, by nature, cannot be acidic. Only detergents (shampoo) can be.)
Simplifying the Shower
One soap from head to toe. That’s it. I use it on my face. I use it on my body. I use it on my hair.
It’s a common question we get, whether the soap is OK for this or that body part. So much marketing has gone into specialty face soaps and body soaps and hand soaps. Then there’s the realm of shampoo – do you need volume today or moisture?
I used to have so many different products in the shower that the little built-in shelf was pretty much a joke. And as we added little ones to our family, the problem multiplied. We had kid soap and baby soap and my soap (body and face) and my husband’s soap, and then the shampoos and separate male and female shave gels. Now there’s just a bottle of the liquid castile and the Hair Rinse. Occasionally the Shave Gel if I’ve remembered to stock up on it.
To answer the question, “What’s this soap for?” I have to say, “Everything.” I may get a look that says I must be naïve at best or at worst a nut on the fringe. Maybe, but nonetheless, experience speaks.
I’ve bought the gamut of facial cleansers that are supposed clear problem skin. Nothing worked until I came back to using only Dr. Bronner’s (Pure Castile Tea Tree when it gets bad, but any scent the rest of the time). And I was a really hard sell initially regarding using the soap on my hair. I’m no beauty queen, but I do have some vanity, and I thought washing my hair with soap would leave it frizzy and dull. But my hair is strong and healthy. (I’ll speak more in another blog about my switch from shampoo to soap, but I want to mention here that you do need the Hair Rinse.)
I’ve already blogged about my switch to the soap for my baby. My older kids are washed head to toe with it, too. It’s a lot easier on them as they learn to wash themselves. Hand them one bottle or bar and off they go.
I use the Shave Gel, when I have it on hand, which is about 50% of the time. It lathers more quickly and thickly than the castile soap. And it is more moisturizing. It’s a nice treat when I’ve remembered to grab some. When I don’t, though, the castile soap works well, although requires a bit more effort.
So our skin is clear, our hair is healthy. No one has dry skin or funny fragrances. It’s a whole lot more efficient just to grab one bottle – and a lot less to think about in the morning.