Our reservations to using a shampoo bar probably echoed everything you're thinking - ‘won't that dry out the hair and scalp, what a mess in the shower, eww bacteria….’
What's in "traditional" off-the-shelf shampoo and why you should switch:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
- What it is: The most common cleansing agent found in mass manufactured shampoos. SLS is used in many body care products as a foaming and emulsifying agent (ie. toothpastes and mouthwash, face wash, detergents, shower gels, etc.). It's important to note SLS can often be found in products labeled "Natural" or "Eco-Friendly".
- Health Impact: While the USA and EWG categorizes SLS as an overall low hazard, it has been proven to cause skin irritation and burns. If ingested, SLS can cause nausea and diarrhea. The CDC warns that short-term exposure "is irrupting to the eyes, the skin, and the respiratory tract." Repeated or long-term exposure can cause dermatitis. SLS has also proven to change or damage DNA, and is one of the suspected causes of Perioral Dermatitis.
- Environmental Impact: SLS is toxic to aquatic organisms. The CDC strongly advises against it entering the environment.
Pro tip: cut and use a small chunk at a time. This will limit bacteria growth on a bar sitting in the shower.
Parabens (Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben)
- What it is: Used as a preservative to prevent bacteria growth in the product. Some form of paraben is found in 75-90% of beauty care products bought in convenience stores.
- Health Impact: Has been linked to the unsafe increase of estrogen levels, which is a suspected cause of some forms of cancer and reproductive issues.
- Environmental Impact: Similar to it's impact on humans, parabens have been found to disrupt hormone levels in aquatic animals, causing reproductive harm.
One other important thing to consider is the packaging of traditional shampoos and conditioners. Almost all traditional products are packaged in plastic. While it is possible to recycle most conventional plastics, the energy and water required to break down the plastic, purify, and reconstitute it into another (usually lesser quality) raw material has extreme environmental impact. The best rule of thumb is to say no to single use whenever possible. The shampoo bar is packaged in a gorgeous illustrated paper box - throw it in your compost bin when you're finished, or include it in your weekly recycling pick-up.
Pro tip: Use one bar for everything! Great for hair and all over the body washing. If you dislike the squeaky clean feeling, follow your shampoo with diluted apple cider vinegar or your favorite natural conditioner.
Pro tip: Without SLS you'll have less lather than you're probably used to. If your water is hard, the soap may take two washes and rinses to really get your hair feeling clean.
NO sulfates (SLS or SLES)
NO synthetic anything