Shampoo Bar Testing Results

I sent out samples of my latest shampoo bar to 13 ladies at the beginning of November. They were given the task of using the shampoo bar for a full 14 days, keeping notes about the changes they saw in their hair, and submitting answers to my survey questions when they were done. Since this is a rather busy time of year, I simply asked that they submit their feedback by mid-December. The group of testers consisted of ladies who had never used a shampoo bar before, as well as some seasoned users. Seven of them have natural hair, six have color-treated hair. There was representation of nearly every hair type and length, except for oily. Only two of the testers reported having hard water, the rest had soft water, or somewhere in between.

So what was this shampoo bar that I sent out? It’s a beer and seaweed bar, with aloe vera juice, hemp oil, nettle, and silk. I took a chance using Jen’s lovely patchouli, cedarwood and lemongrass essential oil blend, knowing that earthy fragrances are not everyone’s favorite. Only three of the testers “loved” the fragrance.

I had one local tester who did NOT have a very good experience with this bar. This was Juliet’s first experience with a shampoo bar, and while she loved the idea and convenience of the bar, her hair didn’t get past the greasy stage, and she was forced to stop using it after 7 days. Her hair type is coarse, normal, natural (no color added), and shoulder-length.

Karen P. also had difficulty. She says, “My hair felt weighted and grimy during the day. In some cases, my hair became uncontrollable by the end of the day. Previously I was able to go 2-3 days without washing and restyling my hair but during the testing time, I HAD to wash and style my hair every day.” She pushed through the 14-day testing period, but after returning to her regular shampoo and conditioner, she says, “my hair is softer and flows better than it did with the shampoo bar.” She described her hair type as normal, natural, and shorter than shoulder-length.

On the other end of the spectrum, Diana Z. is a seasoned shampoo bar user (and one of my regular blog readers!) who responded, “I had super positive results!!! Loved the suds! Loved the feel of my hair…not grippy after like some soap bars! LOVED the shine of my hair! Loved my fluffy hair!! Better than any bar I have used. I would definitely buy this bar!”

Laina L. is another seasoned shampoo bar user with fine, shoulder-length hair. She says, “I’ve used a shampoo bar soap (all natural) for about 2 years now. This one did lather much better, but with the other one, I did not need to use as much conditioner to detangle. [With this shampoo bar] I have to use conditioner to detangle it. Vinegar won’t do the trick to get a comb through. Yours gets my hair cleaner, though.”

Two gals mentioned that they thought it stripped the color off their hair. Teresa D. said, “I can see my hair color come out in the water each time I wash (just light coloring) of brown that i had done about 3 weeks ago. My scalp always felt very clean after using the bar but my color did come out and my hair felt coated and greasy like I could not wait to wash.” Elizabeth S. said, “The only thing I wonder about is if anyone else thinks it strips color off of their hair after you have it first colored. Maybe it just seems that way because your hair seems to grow faster. I think this would be my only concern about using it.” This wasn’t a huge concern apparently because she’s already asked me when I will have these bars for sale!

I got to thinking that perhaps the dark brown color of the soap makes the lather turn a light brown…just a thought.

Those with shorter hair were more likely to be able to go without conditioner. “Jaime R. says, “I used only vinegar the whole time – I didn’t feel like I ever needed conditioner. My hair felt great.” However, she felt like it was more work to use the bar/vinegar than it is to use regular shampoo & conditioner. Diana Z. also has short hair, and used just the bar. “No vinegar rinse (or conditioner) needed!”

I was glad to have several soapmakers test this shampoo bar as well. Patrice H. of The Soap Seduction said, “Black hair is very different from Caucasian hair. The most obvious being the texture. I really enjoyed using this shampoo bar because it lathered like a dream, and it did not cause unruly tangles like most commercial shampoos. I typically use a vinegar rinse after my conditioner to seal in shine, so that was part of my regular routine. I highly recommend this bar for coarse, dry hair!”

Rachel L. of Harvest Moon Soap Co. said, “My hair is softer, I see a lot less breakage/split ends, my hair feels healthy!” She also became a convert in favor of the fragrance over the course of time. “At first, I wasn’t crazy about the fragrance, but the next day after the first wash, I kept wondering what that earthy scent was and realized it was my hair! Now I just love it!”

Amanda G. of Cocoa and Shea said, “My hair is softer, and noticeably less dry. There’s less frizz, and I can actually put it in a braid when wet and just take it out when it’s dry and go – no styling or sleeking down required. I did use regular conditioner, but found that I needed far less than usual, stretching out my supply, and I only needed it on the bottom half of my hair – and even with that, I still noticed a marked improvement over time.”

Tina B. of Essentially Made Soap Company said, “My hair is silky smooth and feels so clean. I also have lots of natural wave and body that doesn’t come out when using traditional shampoo and conditioner. I like the fact that I don’t need a conditioner or vinegar rinse because it conditions so well by itself, even with long hair, although my water is softened.”

Clare S. was my rockstar hard water tester in Arizona. She says, “Because of the very hard water I sometimes use Calgon to rinse before and after shampoo, it softens water and helps it get to my scalp as my hair is very thick. Then the vinegar afterward. I was very surprised that I didn’t always need to do this and the shampoo bar rinsed out very well even with the hard water. Also, even without conditioner I could comb through pretty well, waist length tangly hair. My hair looks good and it even helped some of the natural wave come out.” Oh, and she was one of the three testers who loved the fragrance!

Linda R. was another tester who was surprised at the amazing results! She had tried another shampoo bar before, and had been disappointed. She says, “I would definitely buy this shampoo again, please let me know as soon as you start selling. I hate to go back to my regular shampoo. I’m glad I didn’t give up on shampoo bars.” Linda sent me her before and after photos of her hair:

Linda's hair before and after using Great Cakes Soapworks shampoo bar

Her description of her hair: “When I started using the bar my hair was really dry & would have to use argan oil to make it softer & less frizzy. Now my hair is soft, shiny & I don’t have to use anything on it plus it’s no longer frizzy.”

The results of this testing simply support my assumption that unfortunately there is no one-shampoo-bar-fits-all. From here, I plan to make another batch of the beer & seaweed shampoo to sell, but probably use an essential oil blend of lemongrass, lavender, rosemary and peppermint instead of the earthy blend. I may make a small batch of bars that are exactly like the testers for those who really enjoyed the earthy scent, but I haven’t decided on that yet! I will also be formulating at least one more shampoo bar – but only after the first of the year.

Page with Comments

  1. How fun to read the responses for all your testers. You recieved some really valuable feedback! I’ve come to the same conclusion about shampoo bars; there isn’t really one bar that suits everyone. I even find that I have to change my own formula depending on the time of year. But when you find one that works for your hair, there’s nothing better than a good shampoo bar!

  2. This was really great information! Thanks for posting your results! I think shampoo bars are very difficult to formulate and I agree that one bar doesn’t fit all.

    When I had my hair colored a shade of red I could not use a shampoo bar. It felt like I had a coating on my hair just like one of your testers said. I had a demi-permanent hair color that would eventually wash out, but I swear I could see color going down the drain. That was just my personal experience.

    I also agree with what Amy B (above) said about changing the formula depending on the time of year. It’s the same with any hair product. I find my hair does better when I swap products around. Sometimes I need to clarify, sometimes gentle cleansing, sometimes deep conditioning. But, I love using different products so I think it’s fun.

    Good luck with your formulating! I like the sound of your new EO blend too!
    Milla´s last blog post ..Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap

  3. Fabulous experiment and post! Loved all of the comments from people. Wow!!! I am up for round two of our exchange. Excited to try this bar!!! I recently ordered some silk and may experiment with it as well? xox Jen

  4. Great Post! I have been trying to formulate a successful shampoo bar too, and have basically had the same kind of results…it is nearly impossible to create one kind for every person. I wonder too how long it would take someone who has never tried it before to adjust to the bar versus regular shampoo and conditioner(it took my hair a while).

    Best of luck with your shampoo bar journey. Thanks for posting your experiment I may try again soon. 🙂

  5. I am still using this shampoo bar every wash and still love it as much as when I first tested it. It is my favorite of the 5 or so different ones I have used in the last years! Keep up the great work!

  6. Amy, I am still using your bars 3 years later and love them! I only need a drop of conditioner now and it is silky, shiny, and so healthy. I get compliments all the time. Just wanted you to know that you have a very satisfied customer and I recommend the bars all the time. All the best….

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