I'm really not anybody special, but was driven to create a good shampoo bar for my personal use. I knew I was going to make a lot of test batches so I limited my batches to 1 pound or less. All the shampoo bars make good body soap, so nothing was wasted, but I recommend if you make a shampoo bar that everybody is raving about it, don't take it for granted that YOU will like it. Make small batches & change things slowly. One thing I have learned is that even 1/2% of superfat can make a difference you can feel, not to mention each different oil & combination.
Hair can be so individual even in the same family, so creating a shampoo bar that everybody loves is going to be elusive.
Commercial shampoos MUST contain preservatives. They often also, contain silicones.
Preservatives are a necessary evil as you do not want a bottle of moldy, bacteria ridden product, yet they ARE poisons. They kill bacteria & mold. Bar soap does not need a preservative, as the pH of the bar is on the high side & the very texture of it helps prevent the growth of nasties in your product.
Silicons make your hair artificially beautiful. Dry, damaged, color treated hair is usually quite porous & the silicon patches the damage on the hair like a plastic coating. Looks great, feels smooth, but it's an artificial bandaid. It's hard to rinse off, so it stays on the hair shaft. If you have been using commercial shampoos, which are basically detergents and surfactants & switch to a "soap". The "buildup" on your hair is not being reinforced & your hair starts to look like crap as the coating breaks down. Several companies make shampoos that remove residue. I used to like the Neutrogena one until I gave up commercial shampoos entirely.
Water, also, plays an important role in good looking, healthy hair. You are very lucky if you are starting with nice soft water to wash in. My water is a nightmare of hardness & has a very high iron content. I was shocked to find the pH out of my tap was around 10.
I find that soap for hair is different than soap for the body. I usually would want things left on the skin for more protection & moisture and less running for the lotion, like a nice light coating of oils, some ingredients like sodium lactate or glycerin to act as a humectant & draw moisture to my skin. I like milks, clays, oils with lots of unsaponifiable components and a decent superfat %. This is NOT what I want in a shampoo bar. I do not want much of anything that will leave deposits or a film on my hair. It makes it dull & often, sticky. I don't want any exfoliants on my hair as I am confused as to why anyone would want to sand the hair shaft to make it weaker & more easily broken or damaged. I don't want anything TOO cleansing either, to strip off all the oils it is going to produce all next week. Some people have success with a 100% coconut oil bar superfatted at 20%. I don't think this would work for me, but I have not tried it. Coconut oil soap is a great cleanser & WILL take most, if not all, of the oils out of your hair. I use it at 0% superfat for laundry! The 20% superfat added to the bar replaces the oil that the coconut soap stripped off. Not what I want.
Each oil is made up of a variety of weak acids. Oleic, linoleic & linolenic acids are the conditioning ones. Of course, the bar has to be balanced & make some bubbles & stay hard enough to last at least a couple showers. A lot of people use lard in their shampoo bars & are very happy with it. I should get off my butt & make some so I can talk about it with first hand knowledge. It is fantastic in body soap!
My good FB friend, ByrdiJean Zoricic turned me on to Canola oil. This is called Rapeseed oil outside of the USA. It has some super qualities for both body & hair soap. It is high in all 3 of the above conditioning oils & contains less than 1.5% unsaponifiables. This means it is going to be a marvel on my skin or hair but not leave behind a lot of oils or "stuff" that is going to weigh down or grease up my hair. Excellent! Castor oil is notorious for skin & hair repair & is a wonderful nourishing oil. It is the only oil that contains Ricinoleic acid which is also a conditioning acid. It only contains 0.5-1% unsaponifiables. Saponified, it also increases bubbles in your soap. Coconut oil is a serious cleanser. It strips oil off your skin/hair when saponified. It makes super bubbles, can't beat it. It also serves to harden the bars. 0.6-1.5% unsaps, too. Mmmm, butters. All creamy dreamy but not all created equally. There are butters that are made from the item they are called after, like cocoa butter. This is NOT a butter made with a bit of cocoa oil added to a lot of hydrogenated soy. Mango, shea, peanut are all butters made from the item they are named after (there are more). Things like cucumber butter are not "real" butters (as I define them). They consist of a little cucumber oil or extract added to a hard oil like palm or soy shortening. They are usually very expensive & if you really want them, you can make them at home & save some cash. Mango has less than 0.7% unsaps & cocoa less than 0.8%. Shea is different. Refined shea has less than 1% unsaps while unrefined shea clocks in at between 6-17% or 9-13% unsaps recorded at 2 different test sources. I like unrefined shea in my products but decided the unsaps in it were way too much for my hair to handle.
Sodium Lactate, can I say enough good stuff about this ingredient? I see that most people use it to harden their bars of soap. It does a great job at hardening. I made some mainly lard soap that the edges were actually uncomfortable they were so hard, lol. I was discussing this with my friend Byrdi who asked why don't I just pare or plane them off, hee hee, I love that woman, lol. The easy fix worked well, lol. I like SL because it is a serious humectant. That means it draws moisture/water to itself. An oil on your skin will create a barrier so your moisture will not evaporate, a humectant actually moisturizes by bringing moisture to your skin. This is also very nice for hair. Moisture with no grease, yay! What could be better?
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is lovely stuff. Commercial vinegar is normally reduced with water to 5% acidity. I make my own vinegar & have no idea what the concentration of acid is. I have made shampoo bars using ACV for 100% of the lye water. It is at room temperature & you must add the lye slowly as it has a tendency to foam up. The lye dissolves & the solution makes good soap without any outlandish calculations to compensate for anything. Thank you Amy Anderson for being the fist person I know of to test this out. There has been some active discussion about how the vinegar (as an acid) cuts down the effectiveness of the lye solution & yields a higher superfat than you anticipate. This sounds logical, but I have not been able to detect too much superfat in the finished soaps. Vinegar cuts soap scum (important for us hard water beauties). It helps get rid of dandruff. It somehow makes the shampoo bar milder, too.
Beer is another great hair tonic. If I use beer for lye water, I am impatient. Some people just open it & let it set to destroy the carbonation & evaporate some of the alcohol. I like to simmer it. When the volume is reduced to about 1/2 of what I started with, it's done. Cool it off, measure & you can use it right away for your lye water. Add lye slowly. Beer is full of vitamins & antioxidants. It softens, enriches & shines.
Of course these items are not the only good things for hair, or good things for shampoo bars, but I am really trying not to write a book, lol.
About the superfat in your shampoo bar. Before I discovered that shampoos were not all created equally, I had dry, thin, limp hair. I decided to change from the chemical laden soup I had been putting on my hair for years & switched to what I figured were healthier alternatives. My hair was still dry, but much thicker & started actually having some body. Because my hair was dry, I was under the false impression that I needed a hefty superfat. I was very wrong! I settled on 3% superfat, much lower than anything I would have used for a body soap. You don't want your shampoo bar to make you look like you just crawled out of a swamp, but you don't want your hair so full of static it stands up by itself, either. I started using shampoo bars that I was formulating about 7 months ago. Some were pretty good, some were total flops. I am not saying that the following recipe is the greatest shampoo ever created, but it has been working really well for me for the past 4-5 months. One of my very first bars of soap was a vinegar bar. I did not use it for the lye, but discounted the water & added the discounted amount back in ACV after the cook. That bar is really nice, has a slickness I have not been able to duplicate any other way. My hair is no longer dry! If I go out to get my hair cut (I cut it a lot, myself), I am always complimented on how thick & healthy & shiny & what great condition my hair is in & how gawdawful fast it grows. I guess I must be doing something right!
Herbal additives can be a benefit for hair. I have been using Rosemary infused oil on my hair for about 40 yrs. I had hair long enough to sit on for most of my life & Rosemary oil worked as a super detangler. Just work a bit through the tangles & on the ends. Rosemary also makes your hair shine, fights dandruff, & stimulates growth. I decided to use infused olive oil for my superfat in the vinegar bars. If I had Rosemary essential oil, I would have added that, too!
A recent post on a Facebook group mentioned adding Bergamot EO to a shampoo, for scent. I did some research to see if there were any benefits for hair, or maybe some drawbacks. It appears to be of great benefit to thin, dry hair that breaks. It increases shine & can help make a protective barrier if you style your hair with heat. If you have curls or frizzy hair this is the stuff you should try! My friend Anita tested it on her hair. She has a beautiful head of long curls that I'm sure can get pretty unruly & the weather can frizz that curly stuff up pretty good. It was quite a successful test. She loved what it did for her hair & it really looked lovely! Check this out for more info:
Bergamot for your hair
I found this article a while back. It lists some herbs & oils that benefit hair. You may want to check it out:
Lizardlady's ACV Hot Process Shampoo Bar RecipeThis recipe is for 16 oz of oils. With the liquids & lye it will be about 22-26 oz soap batter. You can make this CP, CPOP, I've made it in the microwave.
Canola Oil 50% 8 oz
Coconut Oil 33% 5.28 oz
Castor Oil 7% 1.12 oz
Mango Butter 5% 0.8 oz
Cocoa Butter works well, too
Sunflower Oil 5% 0.8 oz
Melt the above oils together & cool a bit
ACV 6.08 oz (divide in 2 parts A 4.08 oz, B 2 oz)
ACV is Apple Cider Vinegar
Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) 2.39 oz
Sodium Lactate 5% 0.8 oz
Slowly add lye to 4.08 oz room temp ACV (or colder, temp not critical). Stir to thoroughly dissolve the lye. Cool a bit. When cool add Sodium Lactate & stir.
Add lye mixture to the oil mixture & make soap!
Superfat (your choice)
I used Rosemary infused Olive oil 3% 0.48 oz
Right before molding soap add superfat, any scent (hope you stick to EOs good for hair) & the 2 oz of ACV you saved out of the lye liquid. Stir it up good & mold.
I always zap test my soap before I mold it but some people like to mess with strips or phenophthalein. (that's another blog, lol). You can scrape up the scraps out of the pot & go wash your hands to check out what you made, but it will be even better in a couple days. Cut it or unmold it when it cools off.
I have had many people write & let me know they like this soap & it was made successfully. I have had 2 people who did not have success with this recipe. Both said they had crumbly soap. One was a very new soap maker & that could have been from a lot of things. The other was from an experienced soap maker which kinda bugged me as I do not now what the problem was. She said the batch came out crumbly & with powdery layers. I didn't get much technical info from her like the brand of vinegar, whether she stuck to the recipe. She was concerned about the amount of Sodium Lactate & thought that was the culprit. She had read that 3% was the max to use. I have used 9% in recipes & had no problems. I have to admit, I am not real critical about measuring THAT ingredient so no tellin how big a % I have actually used. I love the stuff, lol. Thanks Byrdi! What would I do without your great ingredient suggestions?
ACV Rinse may be necessary if you have hard water. It cuts the soap scum so it can rinse clean(er). Put a bit of ACV in a plastic cup, fill with warm water, pour over your hair after your water rinse. Don't leave it in as some suggest, make sure you rinse it well. Leaving vinegar on your hair is just as bad as leaving soap scum on it. Some people do not like the final rinse with ACV but prefer another type of vinegar, lemon juice or even citric acid. Whatever works for you is good! Your hair will also benefit if you can stand to do your final rinse with cool or even cold water.
Lizardlady's Dark Beer Hot Process Shampoo Bar Recipe
This recipe calls for 16 oz oils
Canola Oil 50% 8 oz
Coconut Oil 33% 5.28 oz
Castor Oil 7% 1.12 oz
Cocoa Butter 5% 0.8 oz
Hemp Oil 5% 0.8 oz
Melt the above oils together & cool a bit
Dark Beer 6.08 oz I use Leinenkugel Creamy Dark, but any dark beer will work
Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) 2.393 oz (67.84 grams)
Open a 12 oz bottle of the beer & simmer for about 10 minutes until volume is reduced by about 1/2. Cool & measure the beer. Make the weight up with distilled water to 6.08 oz
Slowly add the lye to the cooled beer.
After it is thoroughly dissolved & cooled, add to the lye solution
Sodium Lactate 5% 0.8 oz
Add lye mixture to your oils and make soap!
After cook add your superfats:
Hemp Oil 1% 0.16 oz
Apricot Seed Oil 2% 0.32 oz
1 egg yolk
Separate egg, we are only using the yolk. Mix the yolk into the superfats with a frother, or some other method to really incorporate it well. When the soap is done cooking & it's time to add the superfats to the batter... wait. Add about 1T of soap batter TO the superfats to temper the egg yolk so you don't get scrambled eggs in your soap. After you have incorporated the bit of batter & your superfats you may want to add a bit more soap batter, then add the tempered superfats to the main soap batter & stir well to incorporate.
You do not HAVE to add the egg yolk but it sure makes a nice hair soap with it in there.
I have to admit, I made these with no scent & they do not smell so great. You may want to add some of the EOs discussed above or pick your own, but make sure they are good for hair. I love BOTH of these shampoo bars & alternate them as the mood strikes me. I hope you enjoy them!