Shower products have been one of my more difficult eco-friendly switches to date. My hair is very thin and finicky when it comes to shampoo and conditioner, and it took almost 2 months to finally find eco-friendly alternatives that work for me. Hopefully I can provide some insight to make your transition a little easier if you’re thinking of making more eco-friendly shower choices!
There are 3 main components that I focused on in my switch:
- Natural & Safe Ingredients
- Environmental Impact
- Results (Hair Look & Feel)
The best solution I’ve found in all three of these categories for my hair is shampoo and conditioner bars. Shampoo and conditioner bars are rising in popularity because they are convenient, eco-friendly, and often cost cutting! The bars usually come as is, so you can eliminate the need for any plastic packaging. They are super easy to travel with and use, just rub in between your hands, create lather, apply to your hair, or rub the bar directly onto your wet hair. And, they last! One shampoo bar can last up to 80 washes, which is up to 3 times more than a typical liquid bottle.
You can easily find bars that are cruelty free and made from mainly natural ingredients on Amazon or at local natural beauty stores. I am currently using the Lush brand “Seanik” shampoo bar and “Big” conditioner bar. The Seanik shampoo is meant for flat, thin hair and voluminizes using natural ingredients like seaweed (don’t worry, it doesn’t smell fishy). The Big conditioner bar is also meant for volume, and conditions using coconut oil. I’ve been using the bars for over a month now, and am loving the results! I can’t say I’ve noticed a big difference in the volume of my hair, but it is clean, soft and healthy, so I’m a happy camper. I’ve been putting a small amount of jojoba oil in my hair when I get out of the shower to add a little more shine and conditioning, but that’s it!
For body soap, I’ve been using this charcoal bar soap that I ordered on Amazon and has amazing reviews. What’s nice is that you can use it as body, face and shaving soap, so it’s convenient and reduces packaging waste in all those other areas as well! Not to mention this bar was under $10, and has lasted me over 6 months! If you have dry skin like me, I would recommend moisturizing when you get out of the shower, as I’ve noticed this soap can leave my face a little bit dried out if I don’t.
While these solutions sound pretty straightforward and easy, it was a long process for me to get here. When I first started doing research, I read a few articles about the dangers of sulfates in beauty products, and that was the factor that kind of stuck in my head. I started out mainly searching for all-natural, sulfate-free products. Sulfates are a type of powerful detergent that make that foaming lather we’re so used to in soap and beauty products. There are many people that consider sulfates to be harmful chemicals, and the production of them tends to involve some not so eco-friendly methods using petroleum. However, there are a lot of myths around sulfates, and if you’d like to read more about how they really affect your body and the environment this article gives some good information.
There are a couple reasons I settled on using Lush bars, which do contain small amounts of sulfates (as do upwards of 90% of all shampoos and conditioners). I did some experimenting with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioning methods that didn’t turn out so well. I tried using natural castile soap along with several different natural conditioners (an apple cider vinegar rinse, a citrus rinse, and coconut oil) and also tried Acure sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. While my hair did feel very soft and healthy while using these methods, it was also extremely greasy and seemed to always have a slight soap build up in it, no matter how well I rinsed it. I tried these methods for over 6 weeks hoping for a change. I had read that going sulfate-free usually has a 1-4 week transition period while your hair is adjusting and getting rid of the chemicals from the products you were using previously, but my hair never seemed to adjust. After almost 2 months of greasy hair, I decided to go with the Lush bars, an approach that was waste-free, but at the sacrifice of sulfate-free. After doing more research, and reading Lush’s article on sulfates, I decided that since there are such small amounts of sulfates in the Lush products, and I had not noticed any adverse effects that some people notice from sulfates (skin irritation, breakouts, etc.) that there were factors that were more important to me than just sulfate-free. I will continue to experiment with other bars and brands, and will keep you up to date if I find any that I love. If you have any recommendations of shower product brands or methods that have worked for you, especially if they are sulfate free, let me know in the comments below!
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