One of the most common chat’s we have with new customers looking for natural hair care is about our shampoo bars. Do they lather, what makes them later, and why do they look so different from those “other” shampoo bars they have seen? This article is a culmination of those chats, and we hope it helps you when choosing natural products for your amazing hair!
Yes, our shampoo bars lather. They lather amazingly well, and no, we don’t add any synthetic foaming agents. Just all-natural oils and herbs to make real soap that’s formulated to work really well for washing hair.
Our shampoo bars are poured and cut into our signature half-round bars. This shape helps them last longer and helps prevent them from slipping out of your hand in the shower. Here’s why.
Our natural true soap shampoo bars are not available in blue, neon orange, or scented like bubble-gum or raspberries. We don’t use any synthetic ingredients in our shampoos. No artificial colors or micas or oxides. No synthetic fragrance oils. Just natural oils, herbs, and essential oils when beneficial for hair care.
Those “other” bars that are becoming popular are what is called a SynDet bar. Essentially, they are the same ingredients used to make commercial liquid shampoo, just without the water or plastic bottle. They are typically filled with commercial detergents, cosmetic colorants, and synthetic fragrance oils.
What is a Syndet Shampoo Bar?
The word Syndet is a combination of the words “synthetic” and “detergent”. They are typically easy to spot as syndet shampoo bars have “noodly” looking squiggles all through them which are very visible. Technically it is a non-soap cleansing product made by binding different synthetic detergents into a bar.
Syndet bars vary in chemical composition so different brands may not have the noodle look, but they are all “non-soap” bars (they are non-soap due to the fact that they are made of detergents, not soap). These synthetic detergent bars may have a pH that is more acidic than handmade natural soaps, and many people can be sensitive to the preservatives, synthetic colors, and fragrances used in them.
Additionally, SynDet bars are typically colored with synthetic colorants, artificial fragrances, and come packaged in plastic materials.
We ordered one in so you could see what they looked like. It came in plastic wrap, and without any ingredient labeling. The lather was a bit underwhelming, and the aroma a bit off-putting.
What is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)?
Some syndet bar companies have touted that they have moved away from harsh synthetic detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) to milder detergents. It took a long time to discover that SLS and other additives may not be the best option for our skin, so how long will it take to discover that these new, milder, synthetic detergents are the same way?
SLS is a chemical agent used for cleaning. It helps make the froth you see in shampoo, for example. It has been used in shampoo since the 1930’s as an alternative to soap. SLS can be made from petroleum, coconut oil or palm oil. It is an effective foaming agent that provides a lot of bubbles and cleaning power. It is used in everything from dental care products, bath products, creams, lotions, floor cleaners, and hair products.
There is no evidence that SLS causes any long term health problems and is deemed safe in small amounts. A study published in 1983 in the International Journal of Toxicology (which is the most recent assessment) found that it is not harmful if used briefly and rinsed from the skin. SLS is considered an irritant but not a carcinogen. It can irritate the eyes and if you have sensitive skin or skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis, you may want to avoid it.
What about Sodium Coco Sulfate?
Some companies are using Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS), saying that it is natural because it is made from coconuts. However, it is just another synthetic detergent that creates a foamy lather and removes oil and grease but is not soap and is not natural. And, SLS can also be made from coconut oil.
Here is a little science for you:
- SLS is made by isolating one of the fatty acids of coconut oil called lauric acid.
- Lauric acid is converted into lauryl alcohol in a process called hydrogenation.
- The lauryl alcohol is converted into lauryl sulfate by reacting it with sulfuric acid.
- Finally, they lauryl sulfate is neutralized with a sodium carbonate and then you have SLS.
- Sodium Coco Sulfate is a blend of the fatty acids in coconut oil.
- Coconut oil is made up of around 40-50% lauric acid.
- That means that the Sodium Coco Sulfate may actually contain 40-50% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
- Therefore, products using SCS are not SLS free.
Another bit of science is that Sodium Coco Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate share the same CAS number which is 151-21-3. The CAS number is from the Chemical Abstract Service which is a division of the American Chemical Society. They maintain a database of chemical compounds and each is assigned a unique CAS number.
We want you to be informed and aware of the ingredients that may be in some of your skincare products. Even though there is no evidence of harm in SLS or SCS, they are both synthetic and should not be used in any product that claims to be “natural”. You are the only one that can decide for yourself and your skin what products you want to use, we just want you to be educated.
So, if your shampoo bar is made up of “noodly” looking squiggles, it may not be a natural as you think it is. Be vigilant on reading your ingredient labels, any SLS or SCS ingredient is synthetic. We know they are also saving on plastic waste which is great, but the product is still synthetic and putting harmful pollutants down the drain into our water systems so why not just use “for real” natural products?
Why use natural shampoo bars?
Loaded with natural fluffy lather (and no foaming agents!), our natural shampoo bars are formulated to naturally clean and condition your scalp while leaving hair healthy, soft, shiny, and clean.
Here are a few more facts about our natural shampoo bars:
- All-natural botanicals and herbal infusions leave hair soft, shiny, clean, and most of all healthy.
- Sulfate-free, silicone-free, paraben-free, synthetic-free – our shampoo bars are free of the synthetics found in liquid detergent-based shampoos that can cause dry, itchy, and irritated scalps as well as lead to hair loss.
- As a solid bar, travelers love our shampoo – no need to worry about how many ounces of liquid your shampoo is at TSA checkpoints
- Environmentally friendly with no plastic bottles, minimal reusable packaging, and no toxic chemicals.
- Our customers report healthier looking hair that is shiny, tangle-free, has more body and volume, less frizz, decreased shedding, improved scalp conditions, and even retains color longer!
- Gentle and color-friendly. Our shampoo is formulated to nourish the hair and scalp. It won’t strip your hair and scalp of natural oils that your body produces to maintain healthy locks.