Read This Before Purchasing A Shampoo Bar

I attend many craft fairs around Norfolk selling Nudge skin and hair care products, so I have the fantastic opportunity of listening to customers’ needs.

I’ve been hearing that some of you who want to switch to a zero waste/plastic free shampoo bar are running into one of these 4 problems (listed below).

Today, I share what may be causing these issues and I hope this helps nudge you to finding the perfect bar for you!

First a little bit of hair science

A pH value is a number from 1 to 14, we use it measure the acidity or alkalinity of water-soluble substances. Anything between 0 and 6.9 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and anything between 7.1 and 14 is alkaline.

Our hair generally has a pH of 4.5-5.5. This natural hair acidity as a lot to do with our hair’s ability to hold moisture, maintain its sebum, prevent fungi and bacteria in the hair and scalp and keep the hair cuticles closed and healthy.

A ph of between 4.5 – 7 works very well on the hair. If you use a product that has a pH above 7, it will strip away the naturally acidic sebum and cause the hair follicles to open.

In other words, the higher the pH level the harsher the shampoo, which can cause:

  • Itchy and sore scalp
  • Very dry and tangled hair
  • Dry and damaged hair
  • Loss of hair
  • Colour loss

Conditioners have a ph of between 3.5-4.5, which help restore your hair to its desired pH range and close the cuticles of the hair leaving it smoother and shinier. This helps reduce damage and hair loss.

  1. My hair feels dry, tangle or waxy

Have you been using a Soap Shampoo?

Natural, cold processed soap has a naturally higher pH level of 9-10 (alkaline), which is why natural soap bars can feel drier on the skin and create a ‘squeaky clean feel’ (I am talking about handmade natural soap and not commercial soaps like Dove).

Some cold process and hot process soap makers, but not all, modify their ingredients to lower the pH level to around 7.5-8 and market them as all natural or organic shampoo bars.

Transition Period

You may have been told at the time of purchasing your shampoo soap that your hair would go through a transition period. In other words, your hair may become drier, frizzy, tangled or waxy for a while before transforming into healthier looking locks.

This is more likely due to the higher pH of the bar, so if you wish to continue to use one, it is extremely important that you use a vinegar rinse to neutralise the hair and help lay the hair follicles back down. It is also very important to finish off with a suitable conditioner for your hair type.

* What type of hair are these bars good for?

Greasy hair

In my experience, I have heard more people with short hair say they get on with shampoo soap bars than those with long hair


People who want to use 100% natural and organic ingredients and don’t mind using a vinegar rinse to neutralise the high pH

* Personally, I do not recommend using a soap-based shampoo because of the high pH, but I understand and respect that many soap makers and their customers swear by them.

  1. My hair feels too squeaky clean and/or it is itchy

Have You Been Using a Sulphate Based Shampoo Bar?

Solid Shampoos made with surfactants are known in the trade as syndet bars, so it’s important not to confuse them with soap based natural shampoo as mentioned above.

Surfactants play an important role as cleaning, wetting, dispersing, emulsifying and foaming agents in our cosmetic products, including toothpaste!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a classic anionic surfactant with a pH of 7.5-8.5 and makes all those wonderful big bubbles we associate with cleanliness. Most commercial brands use it as their primary surfactant.

The pH of a liquid shampoo depends on what it has been designed to do, for example, a clarifying shampoo can have a pH level of 8, while one made for sensitive skin may have a pH level of 5.

SLS is known to be a skin irritant. It can strip the skin of its natural oils, which can cause dry skin and hair, skin irritation and reactions. As a result, a less irritating version was released called Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). However, it can still cause skin irritation.

Sodium Coco Sulphate

This is a surfactant derived from coconut. It is not the same thing as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and is generally accepted as a gentler alternative. However, it has a slightly higher pH level between 7.5-10.5.

This makes it a strong cleanser/degreaser but can cause irritation to people with sensitive skin. Most formulators will mix it with a secondary surfactant with a lower pH to help bring down the overall pH of the bar.

What type of hair are these bars good for?

Sensitive scalps

  • Removing product build up in hair
  • Greasy hair

    Have You Been Using A Shampoo Bar Containing Oils & Butters?

    Natural and handmade formulators work very hard to bring gorgeous products to the market.

    As I am one myself, I understand that we want to include lots of nourishing oils, butters, waxes and fatty alcohols (an emollient and emulsifier, not pure alcohol) to our bars so that your hair feels gorgeous.

    Percentages used in a shampoo bar very from brand to brand, but these ingredients can make the hair feel heavy and appear greasy once dry. This is especially true if you have straight, fine or thin hair.

    Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know when too much is too much, so it really is a question of reading the ingredients, trying out a bar or getting in contact with the brand to see if they can offer you some guidance and assistance.

    What type of hair are these bars good for?

    • Very dry hair
    • Coily or curly hair
      4. My Shampoo Does Not Lather Up Like Normal Shampoo

        Are you using a sulphate free shampoo?

        Some surfactants like SLS and SLES produce lots of bubble and cleaning power, whereas something like a sulphate free surfactant called SCI produces a rich creamy lather and is one of the gentlest dry powder surfactants available to formulators.

        If you have tried a sulphate free liquid shampoo, you may have experienced they didn’t foam very well despite the fact they are cleaning the hair.

        This is not the case with Shampoo Bars. A sulphate free shampoo bar made with SCI (like Nudge Shampoo Tablets) will create lots of lovely creamy and dense foam but will not be the large bubbles you expect from a sulphate bar.

        The pH level of SCI is between 4.5-6, so it’s much kinder and gentler on the hair.

        This also cleanses the hair without stripping it of its natural oils. If you use a lot of product in your hair, you may wish to use a clarifying shampoo on occasion to help remove product build up.

        What type of hair are these bars good for?

        • Colour treated hair
        • Sensitive skin/irritated scalp conditions
        • All hair types, but particularly dry hair


        Anyone wishing to use a naturally derived surfactant

        Have you tried a shampoo bar?

        At Nudge Boutique we create solid shampoo made with SCI, a gentle non irritating surfactant, and all our ingredients are naturally derived.

        Also, we don’t use a high amount of butters and oils that can make the hair feel heavy. The pH of our bars are between 5.8 and 6. Find out more here

        Learn more about ph and hair here

        #combinationhair #dryhair #itchyscalp #shampootabs #haircare

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