When it comes to hair care, all of us are extremely diligent and like to go that extra mile for the health of our precious strands. And like you are already aware, a good hair care routine that consists of using the right products is just as important as consuming a healthy and well-balanced diet or indulging in regular haircuts and spa treatments.
But the world of hair care is forever evolving and there is a group of experts who claim that washing your hair with a soap bar is just as effective as a shampoo and delivers similar results. But of course, using a soap bar to wash your hair not only makes your scalp feel super dry and itchy but also leaves hair coarse and brittle. So, what kind of soap bar should one use, is soap good for the hair, if yes, how should one use a soap bar to wash hair without the dryness that follows? This article addresses all of these common questions and a lot more! Scroll down for everything you need to know about using soap bars to wash your hair…
- How exactly is soap made?
- Difference between soap and shampoo
- Disadvantages of soap for hair
- How to reduce damage caused by soap bars?
- FAQs about soap for hair
How exactly is soap made?
Soap has to be one of the most commonly used beauty products and you’re most likely to find a bar or two in almost every house. A common bar of soap is generally a mixture of sodium salts and fatty acids, which is made using hydrolysis or saponification by converting the fat and oils to soap by applying heat. It is a cleansing agent that gets rid of dirt, bacteria and other impurities quite effectively, but then why is soap not a preferred way of washing your hair? This is because soaps are usually quite alkaline and have a pH balance of about 9-10.
This works well for the skin, because of the acid mantle on the skin, as it can easily come back to its natural pH level, but the same doesn’t happen with your hair. This is because hair has a pH level of about 4.5-5.5 and the alkaline properties of soap disrupt the pH balance of your hair, leaving it dry, dull and super frizzy. This alkaline nature of soaps also has the ability to destroy the keratin in your hair, thereby making it weak and brittle.
Difference between soap and shampoo
We know just what you’re wondering - soaps and shampoos are both cleansing agents, then why do both of them deliver such different results. Here’s why this could be happening. Simply put, shampoos are nothing but a liquid detergent that help in removing oil, sweat, dirt and product build-up from your scalp. Since shampoos have a liquid formulation, the makers have a lot more flexibility to add hair-loving ingredients to make it especially suitable for hair. But a traditional soap, on the other hand, needs to stay in a solid form, and therefore the number and type of ingredients you can add is a lot more limited. To give you a simple example, thanks to the liquid formulation of shampoos, it is a lot easier to add conditioners to leave your hair soft and frizz-free.
Disadvantages of soap for hair
1. Leaves a residue
If you are someone who uses hard water to wash your hair, then a soap bar may not be the best solution. This is because the soap and the minerals in hard water undergo a chemical reaction, that forms a film of ‘soap scum’, that usually gets rinsed out (you see this around your drain). This same thing happens to your hair as well. Since soap scum is water-insoluble, it forms a thin film or layer, that makes your hair look really dirty and weighed down.
2. Extremely dry scalp
As seen earlier, soap is extremely drying on your scalp, thanks to its alkaline nature. Therefore, when you apply soap to your scalp, it strips it of its natural oils and leaves behind a really dry and tight feeling. On continued usage, this bar of soap could also cause inflammation as well as other problems such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and even eczema.
3. Dry hair
Just like your scalp, using soap can also seriously damage your hair, leaving it really dry, coarse and brittle. The soap scum and lack of conditioning agents, as well as the silicones present, are to be blamed for this. Needless to say, this really makes your hair really prone to breakage.
4. No conditioning agents
The biggest disadvantage of using a soap bar to wash your hair is the lack of conditioning agents present like in your shampoos. Add to this the problem of soap scum, and you’ve got yourself dealing with really dry and frizzy hair. Additionally, a lot of traditional shampoos also contain silicones to give your hair a nice glossy finish and reduce frizz, which are absent from soap bars and that’s why washing your hair with a soap bar leaves your hair extremely dry.
How to reduce damage caused by soap bars?
Even with all these disadvantages we discussed above, it would be better to clarify that soap bars are an excellent way to adopt a more sustainable approach to beauty and reduce your carbon footprint. A lot of good shampoo bars available these days are formulated using very nourishing ingredients to reduce post-washing dryness and leave your hair a lot more manageable and frizz-free.
So, if you are seriously considering switching to a soap bar instead of a shampoo, here are some tips you can employ for better hair health…
1. Use a conditioner
Even though a shampoo and soap bar are both cleansers and do the job of leaving your hair and scalp clean quite well, the major difference between the two is conditioning agents. While shampoo is loaded with conditioners and silicones to smooth down frizz, the same can’t be said of soap bars. Therefore, ensure that you use a generous amount of conditioner after each hair wash and also include a deep conditioning hair mask in your routine at least once a week.
2. Try an acidic rinse
Soaps can leave behind a waxy residue on your hair, making it look really dirty and greasy. This is more common when one uses soap to wash their hair with hard water. But this issue can be easily prevented by following up your hair wash routine with an acidic rinse. This will help in balancing out the pH level of your hair and make your strands appear a lot softer and smoother. To make this acidic hair rinse, simply mix about two tablespoons of white apple cider vinegar in one litre of water. Mix well and use this mixture to rinse your hair as the last step in your hair wash routine. This will balance the acidic mantle of your hair and scalp and improve the look and feel of your strands.
FAQs about soap for hair
Q. Should we use soap on hair daily?
A. No, it is highly unadvisable to wash your hair with soap everyday. This is because soaps are extremely drying and can therefore leave your hair super brittle and prone to breakage.
Q. Why does my hair feel waxy after using a soap bar?
A. It is very common for your hair to develop a waxy, greasy feeling after you’ve used a soap for the first few times. This could be happening because your soap bar is reacting to the hard water you’re using. But a lot of times, it could also be your hair and scalp adjusting to the change in product. This is because shampoo bars don’t contain silicones or other fillers, and therefore it takes time (about a month) for your hair and scalp to truly adjust to this.
Written by Urvi Dalal on May 31, 2021
Writer, avid reader and hardcore beauty enthusiast is the best way to describe Urvi Dalal. With over 5 years of writing experience in the beauty industry, you can trust her to have the latest skin, hair and makeup tidbits on her fingertips. In her time working as a beauty writer, she has had the opportunity to interact and work closely with a string of dermatologists, makeup artists and hairstylists. All that knowledge exchange, coupled with her flair and love for writing make it possible for her to bring you some authentic yet fun beauty content. When Urvi isn’t working, you’d usually catch her curled up with a big, fat book, drinking a cup of tea or practising her makeup skills; there is no in-between!