Shampoo & Conditioner
As of today, Avital’s Bee Fresh Shampoo and Conditioner Bars are available at GreenStar on Buffalo. More locations coming soon!
I hesitated to step into the shampoo arena for a long time, because it is a very different beast from the cold process soap I make.
Soap is great stuff. Properly made, it gets you clean but doesn’t strip all the oils away. You need less (or no!) moisturizer after a bath or shower than if you had used a harsher, detergent-based “body wash.” It lasts a long time. It comes in a paper box that can be composted or recycled. It’s a win all the way around.
As nice as it is for your skin, though, soap is not great for your hair. If you have very short hair and cut it frequently, it doesn’t matter much what you do. Your hair isn’t around long enough to get too damaged. But if you keep that hair on your head and let it grow, maybe color it, or bleach it, or use heated styling methods… well, your hair needs a bit of love. And handmade soap does not love hair.
tldr? Hair likes slightly acidic products. Handmade soap (liquid or bar) is slightly alkaline. Doing a vinegar rinse post bar soap wash won’t undo actual damage, though it will smooth the cuticle. But too much acid is also bad.
Slightly longer science-y bit?
Alkaline pH may increase the negative electrical charge of the hair fiber surface and, therefore, increase friction between the fibers. This may lead to cuticle damage and fiber breakage. It is a reality and not a myth that lower pH of shampoos may cause less frizzing for generating less negative static electricity on the fiber surface. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158629/)
If it’s your thing, read the whole article. If not, take my word for it: alkaline soap is not the way to go, unless your hair is kept short.
So I knew that if I was going to make shampoo, I’d have to do some research and get it right. My hair is color treated, and my 10-year-old has dry, curly hair. We rarely use any styling products, so we don’t need shampoo that’s terribly cleansing. We need something mild, with a slightly acidic pH. That smells good. My first foray into any new product is to make something that will work on me and/or loved ones, because isn’t that the easiest way to test it? Will it wreck my salon colored hair? Will it make Avital’s hair look like straw? Let’s find out!
What else? I always strive for low packaging, and minimal to no plastic. Not easy, sometimes it’s not possible. But that’s always the direction. How to do that with shampoo?
Make a bar, not a liquid.
But not a cold process bar. Time to experiment with surfactants!
There is a whole world of ECOCERT and environmentally friendly ingredients that we can use to make a product that works really well, and lets us stay Earth-friendly. When you look at the label of the shampoo I came up with, though, the ingredient names can look intimidating, or be easily mistaken for less lovely things. So let’s go through them, one by one.
Let’s start with this one: Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate. OMG. That sounds horrible! And if it were Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, I would agree with you that it’s not good. I know that SLS, as it’s called, is in a ton of shampoos out there, including some pretty pricey ones. It’s also super harsh. Not ideal, in my opinion, for skin or hair.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa) is a different thing entirely. SLSa is mild, makes great bubbles, is derived from coconuts, is ECOCERT certified, and is even kosher (though I don’t recommend eating it, obviously). It also costs about twice as much as SLS. Which might explain why the similar-sounding, cheaper SLS is everywhere instead of SLSa.
Next up? Sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI). (These names!) Like SLSa, it is ECOCERT approved, derived from coconuts, makes great bubbles, and is mild and slightly acidic.
Those two surfactants make up the majority of my shampoo bar. A third surfactant is Cocamidopropyl Betaine. As the name indicates, this is yet another coconut-derived product that is so mild it can be used for babies and as a makeup remover.
The rest of the bar is made up of oat proteins, some panthenol, an emulsifier (also plant-derived), mango butter, grapefruit and rosemary essential oils (because we love things that smell good!), a little green mica to make it pretty, and a paraben- and phthalate-free preservative (because mold and bacteria are gross).
It all comes in a hard little bar that lasts about 40-50 shampoos. Keep it high and dry between uses so it doesn’t melt away in a puddle, mkay?
Can you use it on your body? Of course! Your skin will love it!
Next post? Conditioner!