If you live in a hard water area and have tried shampoo bars, there's a good chance you've HATED them. They've probably left your hair feeling waxy, unclean and oily, almost as if you didn't use any shampoo at all. Sound familiar?
Yeah, I've been there too. When I first started using shampoo bars I persevered through, trying different brands and hoping my hair would adjust, but I didn't enjoy using them so I gave up. I later discovered that there are other types of shampoo bars out there, but I had only tried soap-based shampoo bars which is why my hair felt so waxy.
You're probably thinking 'don't all shampoos contain soap?' as I certainly did, but it turns out that many actually don't! Practically all bottled shampoos (with the exception of a few eco products) are made with surfactants, which give your hair that super clean and lightweight feeling that you like so much. Luckily for you, a growing number of shampoo bars are also made with surfactants, giving your hair that same fresh feel after being washed. Let's get into why hard water makes a difference, and talk about ways to get your hair back to that lovely, light feeling....
Hard water contains minerals
If you've ever looked at the back of your clothes detergent box, you'll see that hard water requires a larger dose of detergent than soft water. This is because hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, which bind to the detergent and stop them from cleaning - meaning more detergent is needed to offset these effects. It's also why eco detergents don't work as well in hard water areas.
The most basic shampoo bars are simply just soap, and these soap molecules can bind to the minerals and stick to your hair, leaving waxy soap deposits in your hair. You'll typically find that these bars don't work in hard water as we have LOTS of minerals in our water, resulting in a lot of waxy deposits. This can be frustrating but isn't the end of the road for budding zero-wasters.
Not all bars are created equal
Like bottled shampoo, bars come in all different types - just because you've tried one bar certainly doesn't mean you've tried them all. There are certain brands, such as ecoLiving, which are formulated to work more efficiently in hard water. These bars are surfactant-based like bottled shampoo, rather than soap-based. Surfactants work by binding to hard water minerals and then carrying them away, so there's no risk of waxy deposits. Although they are slightly pricier than the cheapest shampoo bars, it's worth remembering that each bar is the equivalent of 2-3 bottles despite their small size. My shampoo bar lasts me 4-5 months on average, and it's travel friendly in a small tub! Surfactant-based shampoo bars will give you the same feel as a bottled shampoo, just without the plastic!
Benefits of shampoo bars
One of the best things about shampoo bars is that they're travel-friendly as they don't count towards your liquid allowance on a plane. Just pop them in a small tupperware and place in your carry-on, no chances of leakage and you have extra space in your clear bag for other liquids.
All of our shampoo bars are packaged plastic-free and typically come in a small cardboard sleeve, no bigger than what is necessary to protect the product. A teeny bit of recyclable card is all you'll need to recycle, as opposed to two or three large shampoo bottles equivalent!
Another benefit of shampoo bars is the cost - they last two to three times longer than a bottle of shampoo! They also look much prettier next to your bath or shower, you can even buy a stylish little soap rack to hold it. Perfect for the minimalist lifestyle and as a general way of reducing clutter!
How to use a soap-based bar in hard water
If you're set on a soap-based bar due to sensitivities, or you already have a growing collection of soap-based bars that you want to make use of first then an apple cider rinse is a great option!
After you have used your shampoo, rinse your hair with a mixture of 2 cups of water and up to half a cup of apple cider vinegar. I recommend starting with just one or two tablespoons of vinegar and building up from there until you get the desired result. No need to rinse off with water - just pat dry with a towel and you're good to go. Don't worry, the faint vinegar smell will disappear once your hair is dry!
Don't fancy an apple cider vinegar rinse? The waxy feeling is nothing to worry about, so it if doesn't bother you then just continue as normal! You hair may even become less greasy overall after a few weeks of use, as your natural oils balance out.
If you’ve been considering the switch to shampoo bars, we hope these tips will help make your decision easier. Shampoo bars are an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional shampoos, and if you live in a soft water area then take advantage and buy yourself a soap-based brand such as Friendly Soaps. But if you want one that works well on it's own in hard water or just need a little extra cleaning power then choose a surfactant-based bar, such as ecoLiving.
If in doubt, speak to an independent business such as ourselves by using the chat button below - we pride ourselves on knowing lots about our products, having tested them all personally.
Have you made the change yet? We would love to hear about any success stories -- so please share below!