Shampoo Bars: not just soap by another name.

Have you considered using a shampoo bar as a way to reduce the amount of plastic in your life? Are you converting to zero-waste products? Some personal care brands are addressing this trend, and offering environmentally friendly commodities.  One of the products on the rise is shampoo bars.  Since shampoo bars are a newly trending type of product, a lot of people don't know much about them, or what to look for.  Let me help.

You may think "Well isn't a shampoo bar just soap?", and unfortunately in many cases the answer is "Yes".  Several brands have seized on the trend of offering shampoo bars, create nice looking or smelling products, but in the end they are really just soap.

Now you may be asking "What's the big deal?  I use soap on my body."  It may not seem like a significant distinction, but let me break it down.  Human hair and skin are slightly acidic, so they benefit from using slightly acidic products.  You can use soap on your body without experiencing negative effects because the skin is thick, alive, and resilient.  Hair on the other hand is extremely fine, mostly dead, and will show damage caused by the use of improper products, rather quickly.   

Shampoo bars are pH balanced (often with Citric Acid (illustrated as Lemon juice in the graphic above)) to be slightly acidic which helps strengthen the hair.  In the case of shampoo, pH balance is achieved by adding an acidic material to the formula to bring the final pH to the desired range.  The Nomad shampoo bar from Apothecuryous has a pH of 5, meanwhile the Apothecuryous soap has a pH of about 9, which is Alkaline or Basic. 

The hair shaft we see is made of 3 primary parts: the Medulla is the straw-like center of each hair.  The Cortex makes up the most abundant middle layer of hair and determines hair color. Finally the Cuticle is the outermost part of the hair, and the part that reflects hair damage or health.  The hair Cuticle is composed of overlapping cells, like shingles on a roof, that protect the rest of the hair from breakage and damage.  In fact when a person gets their hair colored, the hair is intentionally damaged.  The Cuticles, or shingles, are opened and the hair color is applied to the middle Cortex layer.  Once that is done, the hair is treated with an acidic rinse, making the Cuticles lie down, enclosing the Cortex and new color.

The primary difference between soap and shampoo is that shampoos use surfactants to clean. "What's a Surfactant?" you say.  A surfactant is used as a detergent, but wasn't created in the same way as soap. In Cosmetic Chemistry a solid surfactant product that does not contain soap (like a shampoo bar) is considered a Synthetic Detergent or SynDet.  This name is even given to products that contain all natural or naturally derived ingredients. The Nomad Shampoo Bar uses biodegradable surfactants, all derived from Coconut.  

Shampoo bars are considered a concentrated product so very little is needed per use.  When a product lasts longer, it doesn't need to be replaced as often.  This is a great option to consider when traveling, hiking, or just to produce less waste.  The Nomad Shampoo Bar comes in a recyclable box with a recyclable label.

So there you have it.  Don't buy a "shampoo bar" that's really just overpriced soap.  Make sure to look for a bar that says it is pH balanced, or lists Citric Acid in the ingredients.  And don't get scared off by the idea of surfactants, they are not all bad.  We use them all the time in dish liquid, laundry soap, bubble bath and liquid shampoo to name a few.  As new types of products become available, make sure you are buying a properly formulated product when deciding if that type of product would benefit your life and lifestyle.

As always Apothecuryous is proud to offer high quality personal care products, formulated to the highest possible standard.  Visit to learn more.



Shampoo Bars: not just soap by another name.
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