Human beings are creatures of habit, which is why many of us are brand loyal, particularly so when is comes to what we put on our faces and hair. I know I for one previously had 3-4 favourite brands of tried and tested shampoos and conditioners that I never strayed too far from. I'd keep them on rotation and buy what was on offer. On average, I'd make a bottle of shampoo last for about 3-4 weeks based on washing my hair 4 times a week. This was working out fine, however until I really began my plastic conscious journey, I didn't really take much notice of what was on the ingredients list of these products.
If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that I'm honest. Now to begin with, I didn't think a shampoo bar was a going to be a realistic, long-term swap for me. And at first, it wasn't. I tried and tested 4 different brands and did struggle to begin with during the "transition phase". This was the bit that put me off in the early days (and I will admit that I fell off the wagon a couple of times) but when I read up on WHY hair goes through this phase, it all made total sense and spurred me on. My journey started being about reducing plastic usage, but more and more I am finding that it is also to do with chemicals and their effects on our bodies. The bonus of solid shampoos is that they are are packaged plastic-free AND are free from chemicals, so they really are a double win.
Now, I have been using regular shampoo and conditioner for 36 years, so it's no surprise that when I swapped to chemical free versions my hair became a little confused. Regular shampoos strip our hair of their natural oils, which is why the transitional phase is often experienced when these products are given up. Our hair is effectively going cold turkey, which is why it can often feel greasy or waxy to begin with. It just takes a little time for our bodies to solve the problem and re-balance the oil production. Think of it like supply and demand, if hair is no longer stripped of its natural oils, then demand increases until it effectively catches up and works out how much it needs to make. To help to illustrate this point more clearly, I took a look at some labels.
This one is from a regular big brand shampoo. I was surprised that the first 2 ingredients were water and alcohol. Surely alcohol (which is dehydrating) is not good for the hair? After that, I must admit the list didn't make much sense to me, so I took the next ingredient and typed it into google.
I quickly learnt that dimethicone is a kind of silicone. When used in shampoo, it creates a waterproof film, protecting hair from rain and heat by effectively coating it. Because of this coating, hair is made to look and feel silky and shiny. The downside of this, is that it is just an illusion and the silky shine is really the product rather than our hair's natural gloss. According to Shai Amel, celebrity stylist, it also prevents hair from absorbing nutrients and causes it to become brittle over time. (See full article here: http://coveteur.com/2018/02/22/silicone-hair-products)
After reading this, I didn't need to google the rest of the list, so instead I had a look at a chemical-free shampoo label for comparison.
Now I am no expert, but already I began to recognise a lot more entries on this list: coconut fatty acid, orange peel oil and kaolin (clay). However I didn't recognise the first ingredient: sodium cocoyl isethionate, so once again I hit trusty google. A quick search told me that it is in fact a sodium salt derived from coconut oil. This sounded a lot better than silicone!
I have been using solid, natural ingredients based shampoos for about 6 weeks now and can honestly say that about a week and a half in, my hair started to feel properly silky and soft - different to before! I can't attribute this entirely to solid shampoo, because regular apple cider vinegar rinses have helped enormously (but more about that in another post!) But even without a rinse or conditioner, my hair still feels amazing, so the shampoos are DEFINITELY doing a sterling job. Here is the proof of the pudding...
Those that know me will be able to vouch for me here - my hair has never been my best asset! This picture was taken after washing my hair with the chocolate Lamazuna flavour solid shampoo bar, with no conditioner and absolutely no filters. I have NEVER had hair this shiny! (It also smells divine!)
The only downside is that the majority of these products retail at around £10, however they definitively last longer than liquid versions and it is hard to "over use" them, therefore they can last anywhere from about 6-8 weeks. If this price tag still puts you off, why not try a more affordable, entry level option. Friendly Soaps' beautifully scented shampoo bars retail at under £3.00 are are a great way to get started.
So ultimately, the message is clear - chemicals are bad for our hair! They strip it of natural oils and instead coat it with artificial silicone. Natural shampoos are exactly that - chemical free shampoos made with natural ingredients which nourish. They allow hair to really shine by feeding the strands with goodness derived from plant based ingredients rather than coating them with an artificial layer.
I for one cannot recommend this swap enough and am not going back!
You can purchase Friendly Soap, Lamazuna and Beauty Kubes natural shampoos on the site: https://www.plasticconsciousmama.co.uk/gift-box-shop