Why Men Should Jump On The Natural Shampoo Bar Wagon
You see them popping up everywhere – stores, social media, your girlfriends shower. They are colorful, unique and don’t come in bulky plastic bottles. Without the added water weight and packaging they seem to be environmentally friendly, indeed. Being the forward-thinking-grooming-savvy man that you are, lets take a closer look before adding this to your daily routine…
Not All Shampoo Bars Are Equal – What’s Important
The vast majority of the shampoo bars currently on the market are made with 70-90% detergent (typically sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) in “needle” pellet form) compressed with other ingredients like perfumes and dyes. Basically, it looks like stamping large tabs of ecstasy, without the buzz. Shitty enough, a report by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review recommends products not to contain more than 1% or risk increasing skin irritation. So with concentrations of 70-90%, much greater than liquid shampoos, it seems the likelihood of adverse effect would be high. To make things worse, high concentrations of SLS in these typical shampoo bars may lead to black heads, damaged hair follicles, and hair loss. Damn.
So, you say, what is a less irritating cleanser? Saponification from plant oils and lye (soap salts) produce the most mild of lathers. Including the right balance of potassium hydroxide in formulation produces a thicker, richer lather and differentiates, among other things, from a basic bar soap formulation. Additionally, the free fatty acids from excess plant oils help your skin and hair return to their natural pH balance faster. This leads to the next important trait of an excellent shampoo bar, natural moisturizing.
Having the right balance of conditioning agents is important. Too little and your hair can become brittle and frizzy, too much and it will look oily. Damaged hair cannot return to the look of newly grown hair, however conditioning agents like kokum butter and avocado oil will coat and soften hair, making it easier to comb, as well as sooth the scalp.
Look for shampoo bars that contain natural additives like seaweed, dead sea salt, or kaolin clay. These additives nourish your scalp and hair roots by remineralizing, treating dryness, and cleaning out clogged pores.
This is huge. A lot of people stress the harmful effects of synthetics fragrances, but to me, more importantly, the scents tend to be very flat. Aromatics rich with absolutes, isolates and essential oils produce a much better experience in the hot shower. They are aromatherapeutic – meaning make you feel better. Would you rather have the distillation of 2 lbs of blue cypress, 1 lb of black spruce, and 5 lbs of Moroccan orange blossoms per shampoo or a wash of synthetic apple pie candle scent? Exactly.
Men’s hair tends to be much shorter than women’s and often only around for a month or so before the old growth is cut. Therefore, we are allowed much more simple yet important traits to look for in a shampoo bar – mild cleansing, moisturizing with beneficial plant oils, nutrient rich additives and natural aromatic distillations.