It’s definitely time I provided an update on my hair care routine. I’ve never actually written a specific blog post about shampoo and conditioner before but I have listed my family’s choices in my complete guide to a zero waste home. One of the reasons I haven’t dedicated a blog post to this topic till now is because I’ve never really been satisfied with the results of what I’ve tried. My husband and children use water only and the occasional wash with a bar of soap but my journey hasn’t been that easy.
Four years ago I started with an attempt to go straight from washing every second day with regular shampoo and conditioner to using water only to avoid plastic bottles and reduce the chemicals on my body. I persisted for three months but didn’t notice any improvements on the greasiness. I couldn’t take it anymore so I started using a locally made shampoo bar about once a week. This was much better, but after about a year my hair seemed to be getting very dry and frizzy, so I switched to the method of washing with diluted bicarb soda and rinsing with diluted vinegar (my homemade kombucha vinegar). It wasn’t so bad but it wasn’t a breeze to implement either. I continued this for about two years but again my hair was quite frizzy – and then I noticed the smell!
Many people will argue online that hair not washed with shampoo and conditioner smells or does not smell. I can tell you that my hair and scalp developed a strong ‘natural’ smell that was not pleasant. I couldn’t smell it all the time, only when weather conditions were damp or humid and when I was physically active. If I could smell it, other people must be able to smell it too, perhaps more often than I noticed it. I’m already self conscious about my hair, I have alopecia, so that was the last straw for me and I went out and bought a bottle of shampoo and conditioner.
Interestingly, my daughter also developed this smell whilst washing mostly with only water but the boys didn’t. I gave some shampoo and conditioner to my daughter who had just turned eight years old and I was surprised to learn that she had no idea what to do with it or how to use it! Even though her hair has never really been washed with shampoo and conditioner, I assumed that she would have learnt from the TV or friends or relatives.
I didn’t feel good about going back to bottles of shampoo and conditioner, so I looked around for something that was as close as possible to the shampoo and conditioner experience but better for the planet and people. Ethique was the clear winner for me on paper (or more accurately on webpages) but would it perform well in real life?
Ethique bars are made with 100% naturally derived ingredients. This means they are free from parabens, petroleum by-products, palm oil (and its derivatives), synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde donors and more. Ethique bars are also plastic free (the packaging is compostable), plant-based and vegan, fairtrade and cruelty free.
They’re easy to use, check out the video below, and are basically the same as shampoo and conditioner except the water content has been removed to make them a concentrated bar rather than a bottle of liquid.
My first Ethique shampoo and conditioner bars arrived in May 2019 and lasted until January 2020. That’s a good run for my money and I am very happy with the look and feel of my hair now. The smell also went away very quickly and has been replaced by the lovely bar scents.
I used the shampoo bar, Frizz Wrangler – Dry Frizzy Hair (110g) and the conditioner bar, The Guardian – Dry, Damaged, Frizzy Hair (60g). Despite the difference in the weights of these bars, I still have lots of the conditioner bar remaining.
We store our bars on their boxes on the bathroom window sill which is conveniently right next to our shower, so that they dry out between uses and last longer.
My daughter is back to washing mostly with water and occasionally with these bars. The smell has gone away for her too and when she came back from her first school camp she commented on how much better the bars were than the large bottles of shampoo and conditioner that everyone else brought with them, because they took up less room and were easier to carry around. Great point, and I have to agree because I also find them a much better option for travel situations and camping trips.
Let me know if you have any questions, or check out the Ethique website to learn more. I’ve tested quite a few of Ethique’s products now, so you’ll probably be hearing more about those soon.