Shampoo bars don't work well in hard water. If you have hard water in your area (hello London!!), you may be struggling with waxy or greasy hair when you've tried the shampoo bar switch.
That greasy feeling can be enough to make you revert back to those chemical-filled plastic bottles you once used – or get really into hats!
So, why might hard water be the culprit for our shampoo bar woes? Well, the high pH balance leaves mineral residue in your hair that makes it difficult to rinse out soap, resulting in straw-like strands. Could this be the problem? If you're not sure, you can check the water hardness in your area on the Thames Water website.
The transition to soap bars can be frustrating, for sure, but don’t give up!
Not only are shampoo bars more convenient and miles better for the environment, they’re mostly made with natural ingredients so are much better for your hair. And, as most liquid shampoos are about 80% water, you’ll find your shampoo bar lasts almost twice as long. Great, right? But we understand you also want your hair to look good at the same time as you work to respect the planet.
So, how can you fight the shampoo bar waxy hair look?
#1: Get a pH-balanced shampoo bar
Tackling the problem at its source, a pH-balanced shampoo bar actually works in hard water and is even kinder to your hair than your average solid shampoo. These bars get rid of all those sulphates, silicones and parabens; they’re also soap free. How does that help?
Well, soap is higher pH than your skin and hair (9 – 10 pH versus 4.75 – 5.5 pH) so when you combine that with the high pH of hard water, you’ve got a recipe for rough hair that clings on to residue. By removing the soap and using only gentle cleaning agents and oils, pH-balanced shampoo bars remove the waxy hair risk and leave you with the luscious locks of an Herbal Essences ad (without the dubious values!).
#2: Apple cider vinegar rinse
If you've read our 5 tips for solid shampoo, you'll know about this already. For a soap-based (rather than pH-balanced) shampoo bar, this additional step in your hair washing routine may help you avoid the dreaded waxiness. Rinsing your hair with apple cider vinegar helps to restore the acidity to your hair and smooths the hair cuticles, stopping the shampoo clinging on. Combine one part vinegar with three parts water, run it through your hair and you’re ready for action! The only downside - it can be drying on hair, so best to use this rinse no more than once a week.
#3: Shower water filter
This might seem like an extreme measure, but lots of people swear by it. Much like a tap water filter, a filter on your shower head will remove all the chemicals and hard water minerals from your bathing water, so you can lather your shampoo bar without hard water slowing you down. Another upside is that soft water is far better for your skin. Here are a few options. It’s a pricier solution, but could be worth it in the longer term!
Don’t let the challenges put you off. With one of these solutions, you and your shampoo bar will be fighting plastic waste for years to come – and your hair will look great while you do it!
Have you made a successful transition to a zero waste shampoo? What are your tips?