Using Shampoo Bars For The First Time: Everything You Need To Know

A detailed guide on how to use shampoo and conditioner bars for a flawless and effective first time.

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Shampoo bars and conditioners are revolutionising the world of hair cleansers, and they have their fair reasons. From becoming the number one eco-friendly option, to leaving your hair looking absolutely gorgeous, these babies are just starting to get noticed by many. They are not difficult to use and can last roughly three bottles of shampoo!

If you’re interested in switching from your traditional liquid shampoo/conditioner to their solid versions, this article will come in handy. Below you can read absolutely everything you need to know about shampoo bars, including what they are, how to use them, and key differences and tips to have in mind. We also included some crucial information about their positive environmental impact and how they can restore your hair’s health in little to no time. 


What On Earth Is A Shampoo Bar?

Shampoo bars have become very popular on the internet, but what are they really? As the name gives away, a shampoo bar is a solid, more concentrated version, of your traditional hair cleanser. Think hand soap instead of liquid soap in a container, but our shampoo bars are definitely not soap, and contain specific ingredients for keeping hair clean, and healthy. 

Shampoo and conditioner bars are eco-friendly and are a really easy way you can ditch plastic from your daily routine. This is the main difference that makes people interested to try them out to begin their zero-waste journey. These kinds of hair cleansers are usually made from natural butters, oils, and gentle conditioners that keep your hair healthy, strong, and shiny without greasing your scalp or harming it. Many shampoo bars don’t contain the same amount of harsh chemicals as regular hair products.

There are shampoo bars for all hair types, and their composition equals roughly 3 bottles of common shampoo or conditioner, therefore once you purchase a single shampoo bar, you’ll be enjoying a long-lasting and ecological product that will leave your hair looking its best without having to spend a fortune on different products.

Shampoo bars are not hard to use, but there are a few differences between common shampoo and conditioner bottles as well as some tips beginners should know about. 

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How Does A Shampoo Bar Work?

Since shampoo and conditioner bars are more concentrated versions of the regular bottled product, they contain no water, unlike bottled shampoo. To give you a general idea, common shampoo and conditioners found in stores typically contain 70%-80% water.

This might not seem like a huge deal upfront, but is an essential part of shampoo bars. This means that they last longer, are solid, don’t need to be in a plastic bottle, and they don’t contain preservatives that are needed in liquid shampoo.  You can truly enjoy the benefits of the active ingredients and most people see a notable difference even after the first wash. If you are used to using more traditional off the shelf bottled shampoo, switching to shampoo and conditioner bars can help restore your hair’s health and enhance its strength.

Apart from working wonders in your hair, shampoo bars have a positive impact on the environment, which regular bottled hair cleanses don’t, but more about this shortly. 


Are Conditioner Bars The Same?

Shampoo and conditioner bars share some similarities in terms of how you should use them, but just like the liquid versions, they each play a key role in cleansing your hair.

Conditioner bars are made with more hydrating ingredients that restore your middle and ends, leaving them soft and silky. If you constantly use heating / styling tools on your hair or dye your hair then opting for a super gentle and moisturising conditioner bar is essential for establishing a great hair care routine. 

For example, our argan oil and jasmine conditioner bar is perfect for fine, dry, and damaged curly hair. Whereas our coconut conditioner bar is suitable for all damaged hair types. There are other options to choose from for your specific hair and situation so you can treat your scalp according to what it is needing. 

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Environmental Impact Of Shampoo Bars

According to National Geographic, “currently, about nine million tons of plastic get thrown into the ocean annually, which breaks down to one garbage truck full of plastic being dumped into the sea every minute. Shampoo bars cut out the need for plastic bottles, and most come wrapped in recycled paper or in paper boxes.”

As we talked about in the previous sections, shampoo and conditioner bars are far more eco-friendly than traditional plastic-bottled hair cleansers. Plastic can take over a millennium to break down, in which during that time it will only break down to small bits that contaminate our oceans and end up killing precious species that are fundamental for the proper functioning of the ecosystems. 

What’s more, shampoo and conditioner bars don’t contribute to the emission of carbon, helping reduce the carbon footprint. This is due to their concentrated formula and no plastic packaging. And since shampoo bars last longer, their production is not as demanded as regular bottled hair cleansers that tend to run out in a short period.

Since bottled hair care contains 80% water, they are bigger in size, and end up weighing more, which means the carbon emission will be higher.


Shampoo Bars vs Regular Shampoo: Key Differences 

Now it is time to talk about the differences between shampoo bottles and shampoo bars so you can understand a bit further why you should consider switching to the ecological version and how to make the most out of them.

Most supermarket branded bottled shampoo will contain cheap chemicals and ingredients which can be harsh on your hair and scalp. These can strip natural oils from your hair, and  end up drying out your hair and damaging your scalp. 

If you have sensitive skin, you might know what it is like to have shampoo irritate your head and even parts of your body when you rinse. People with sensitive skin and scalps can react to different things, so it can be hard to pinpoint what is not agreeing with you. Many bottles of shampoos contain 25+ ingredients. Switching to a more natural shampoo bar means less ingredients and it will be easier to understand what suits your hair and meets your skin's needs. For example our coconut oil shampoo bar contains only 6 ingredients - Sodium coco sulfate (derived from coconuts) , natural organic cocoa butter, organic shea butter, virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut extract.  

As for shampoo bars, their initial composition is more ecological and more gentle. Taking as an example Hair Cooki’s shampoo bars in Australia, we base our bars from coconut derivatives, shea butter, and cocoa butter, and jam pack our bars with natural and essential oils which are nourishing for the hair and scalp. Depending on the shampoo bar you choose, such as our argan oil shampoo bar or our best-seller jasmine and cypress shampoo, among others, you can focus on repairing your hair, making it stronger or shinier. 

Using shampoo and conditioner bars is a bit different from regular shampoos and in the next part you can find a detailed explanation of how to properly use them to make the most out of your product.

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Benefits Of Shampoo Bars And Conditioners

There are many benefits of using shampoo bars that have to do with your hair, the environment, your mindset, and more.

To begin, the number one benefit of switching to shampoo bars and conditioners is their positive ecological impact as we mentioned above. Another benefit of shampoo bars is that they truly nourish your hair and can restore your scalp’s health and enhance its strength. They are made from all-natural ingredients that are great for hydrating your roots and restoring your hair fibres. 

Next, we have the psychological benefit of these solid versions, which can help you transition to a zero-waste lifestyle and grant you with a new mindset, focused on looking after the environment and being grateful for what the Earth can offer us.

Bonus benefit: If you love to travel then another benefit of shampoo bars is that they do not occupy any space in your luggage and you can say goodbye to the tedious airport security raids where you need to open your bag and throw away your plastic bottle containers because officials find them suspicious.

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How To Use Shampoo And Conditioner Bars

Shampoo and conditioner bars are slightly different to use, but overall the concept is the same. Here are a few top tips for washing your hair and keeping it healthy.  You’ll notice many of the tips we recommend below will be the same as using any other shampoo and conditioner. 

  • Dry Brush Your Hair. We recommend brushing your hair before you step in the shower to wash it.  It’s a great practice to make your hair untangled before applying the product, and this will give the best coverage. It is recommended that you use a natural and non-harmful brush that doesn’t pull your hair such as a bamboo hair brush. The brushing will help to distribute the oils in your scalp to the rest of your hair and should be done by everyone using shampoo and conditioner bars or bottled versions, and that is, all hair types. Dry brushing is great for detangling without breaking your hair. 

For super curly hair, if brushing your hair doesn’t sound like a very good idea, try running your fingers through your hair, taking your time to ensure your hair is detangled and ready for the product. 

  • Lather Your Hair. After wetting your hair in the shower, wet your preferred shampoo bar between your hands to create a nice lather to later distribute it to your scalp. You’ll see the shampoo bar is activated with water and start to foam up. Massage your scalp and roots gently and allow the product to be distributed all over, focusing on every side. Don’t forget to get the roots at the back of your head. Once this is done you can rinse like you would with traditional shampoo.  It is not recommended that you put all your hair on top of your head after applying the shampoo, this can lead to tangles. 
  • Conditioner. After shampooing, you can do the same thing with the conditioner bar but applying only to the ends of your hair. Conditioner bars don’t lather like shampoo bars (the same as liquid options), the idea of the conditioner is to coat the bottom half of the hair in the conditioner and allow it to sit for one to two minutes. The conditioner will moisturise and repair your hair ends.  
  • Dry Your Hair. If you towel-dry your hair, make sure to patdown  instead of rubbing the towel in your hair to avoid breakages. Towel and natural drying is generally preferred to avoid long term heat damage, but if you use a hair dryer, use a heat protectant too. It’s advisable to dry your hair at least 50% before brushing it through to avoid pulling and breakage. 

Although you can use a heat protectant, you should understand that taking care of your hair with high quality shampoo and conditioner bars will only work as long as you don’t keep damaging your hair. Of course, you do you, and we’re not saying don’t ever use styling tools (let’s be realistic!), but just be aware that if you regularly style your hair with hot tools or even tie your hair too tight, you can still damage your hair despite the number of great products you use in the shower.

Quick read: As you can see, there are only a few recommendations you should have in mind when using a shampoo bar and conditioner for the first time. Simply brush your hair before entering the shower, wet your hair, and rub the bar between your hands. Then apply the product to your scalp and gently massage it to later rinse thoroughly. Apply the conditioner to your ends and rinse again.


How To Store and Care for your Shampoo Bar

Our Hair Cooki shampoo bars can last for 3 months or more.  You need to dry the bar fully before placing it back in the tin in between uses. The best way to do this is using a soap tray, dish, or drainer which can let the shampoo bar drip and air dry. You can purchase the perfect sustainable bamboo drainer, or use something similar that you already have.  To ensure the bar lasts as long as possible, we also recommend storing the bar in a dry area of your bathroom, such as a cabinet, rather than in the shower. Following these directions will stop your shampoo bars from going soft and mushy and will help it last a long time. 


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The Transition Period: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Switching from one product to the other can feel different for some, and when it comes to switching from a liquid hair cleanser to its solid version, it’s generally a really easy transition, but things can take a bit of time to adjust and get used to using a new product. 

Most people do not notice a real ‘transition period’, in fact, only one-in-five-people say they do.  Although most people who try a Hair Cooki shampoo bar for the first time don’t feel any transition period, it seems to be more of a common misconception, so we feel the need to address all versions of using a solid conditioner and shampoo if you’ve never done so.

The first time you use a shampoo bar you might feel your hair waxy after it dries. This can happen due to three reasons: one, you did not apply the product properly, or used too much and ended up with build-up in your scalp that was hard to get rid of or not rinsed correctly; two, your water might be very hard water; or three, your hair is  adjusting to balancing the oil production of your scalp.

If you suspect you did not apply the product as you should have, in the first part of this article we explain how to do it step by step. It can be easy when using our shampoo bars for the first time to use too much. People are often surprised how much they lather up on your hair, and therefore how little product you really need. If your hair feels waxy, trying rinsing your hair again, you likely just missed some product that was still sitting there. 

In the case of the second reason, ideally shampoo bars should be used with soft water instead of hard water since they are dissolved effectively and without having their composition altered. 

Hard water is water that is high in minerals, which can be good for drinking but not so good for washing your hair. According to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, elevated hardness is defined as 200 milligrams of calcium and magnesium salts per litre of water. 

This is a high concentration of the minerals mentioned that can prevent your hair from growing, and lead to hair weakness. If you only have the option to shower with hard water, focus on using a hair cleanser free of sulphates such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES).  This means generally shampoo bars are better for harder water. Focus on your scalp and work slowly on the rest of your hair, making sure you get rid of the product effectively. 

Lastly, the third option is very uncommon, but some people find this can be solved by using a little bit of apple cider vinegar rinse, but this situation is temporary and you’ll find you don’t need to do this after a couple of washes switching to your new shampoo bars. 

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Top Shampoo Bar Myths

Switching to a new form of hair cleanser brings up different opinions among users, resulting in well-known myths that tend to prevent people from actually trying shampoo bars and conditioners for themselves. 

  • Shampoo bars aren't as good as bottled shampoos. We’ve shared plenty of information above that clearly busted this claim, and more often than not, they contain higher quality, and more natural ingredients than supermarket bottled shampoo. 
  • I have difficult hair so a shampoo bar is not the right solution for me. Totally false, shampoo bars can be used in all hair types and help you restore your hair health in no time. 
  • Shampoo bars don’t lather up like regular shampoo. Another false statement that can be easily put to test by investing in a shampoo bar and rubbing it between your hands under the shower. You apply the product to your hair the same way you’d do with a liquid hair cleanser.
  • Shampoo bars are just soap. Well, if we’re being honest, some shampoo bars are just soap, but not ours. Unfortunately, all shampoo bars are made differently by their manufacturer, and some of them like to cut corners and make cheaper products, some of these do in fact, use soap. Soap is not suitable for hair as hair care has many additional needs to skin. Our Hair Cookis are not soap - they are shampoo which has been solidified, with all of the goodness your hair needs to be strong, healthy, and clean. 

Shampoo bars myths have to do with their use and their results, but make no mistake and try them for yourself so you can join the zero-waste community and grant your hair with incredible results. Hair Cooki also offers a happiness money back guarantee to make sure you have peace of mind trying our shampoo bars. 

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How Often Should I Wash My Hair?

It is recommended that you not wash your hair more than 3-4 times a week, since it can dry out your hair and prevent it from producing the natural oils it needs. Even if you have oily hair, 3-4 times a week is a fair number for washing your hair that will ensure it is always clean and looking its best. 

Keep in mind that the more frequently you wash your hair, the faster it will tend to get greasy since you’re not allowing your hair to hydrate itself, and as we stated above in the article, your body produces what is lacking. 

Make sure to look after your hair when using a shampoo bar and if you notice it is starting to get super dry, consider expanding the period between one wash day and the other.

Many of our customers have feedback to us that they are not prolonging the time in between washes since switching to our hair care. Personally I wash my hair two to three times a week, but when I was younger I washed my hair every second day religiously. My hair gets far less oily now as a result of doing this, but it just took a bit of time to stretch out those washes.

Shampoo Bars For Beginner's Final Words

This article covered every aspect of using shampoo and conditioner bars for the first time, including what they are, how they work, and the best way to apply them for an effective cleanse and nourishment.

Shampoo bars are great for your hair in terms of ingredients used, because of the all-natural oils, kinds of butter, and conditioners that their formula has, as well as in terms of looking after the environment, due to their reduced emission of carbon and non-plastic packaging. We hope you find this article helpful and make the first step toward a more ecological lifestyle and mindset. 

Hair Cooki is a female-owned Australian brand that offers top-quality shampoo bars in Australia, made with natural, vegan, and cruelty-free ingredients. They contain no added water or plastic and come in a reusable tin package you can safely store your shampoo and conditioner bar after using them, purchasing only refills after. 

Here you can take a look at our catalogue as well as check out our sustainable products such as bamboo hair brushes, reusable makeup remover pads, and more.  We also have starter kits and bundles available for those starting out on their shampoo and conditioner bar journey. Check these out here 


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