Why does my hair feel waxy after using a shampoo bar?

Round-Shampoo-Bar-In-Hand

This is a question I get asked quite a lot and I think it’s one of the reasons people worry about switching to a shampoo bar. Patience is key!

If you’re using a pH balanced shampoo bar, it’s unlikely you’ll notice a waxy feeing. If you do, use less shampoo and try rinsing your hair for longer to make sure all of the shampoo is washed out. Like with anything new, sometimes our body needs a little time to adjust.  

If you’re switching to a higher pH (alkaline) shampoo bar, you might find your hair does feel waxy after the first few washes. Don’t worry, this is completely normal. It’s called the ‘transition period’ or ‘purge’. It’s just your scalps way of re-balancing it’s natural oils and getting use to your new shampoo.

What is a shampoo bar transition period and how long does it take for hair to get used to shampoo bars?

The ‘transition period’  or ‘purge’ is the amount of time it takes for your

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hair to get used to your new shampoo bar. How long it lasts will depend on the type of shampoo bar you are switching to as well as your hair type, hair condition and whether you live in a hard water area. Read on to discover the difference between pH balanced and higher pH, saponified shampoo bar transition periods.

pH balanced shampoo

pH balanced shampoo bars are usually marketed as having no transition period. They’re pH balanced so very gentle on the scalp. Although your scalp and hair shouldn’t find it too much of a change from your liquid shampoo, it may take a couple of washes to adjust to your new product, so you may have be to be a little patient.

Higher pH, alkaline shampoo

An alkaline shampoo bar does have a transition period because of the higher pH. Your scalp and hair will take some time to rid themselves of natural residue as well as build-up from commercial products you’ve been using. It’s important that your scalp re-balances its natural oils. The transition period varies from person to person so yours could be anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks. If you live in a hard water area, it may be even longer. This is where patience comes in! But don’t worry, if you follow advice on how to use your specific bar (they’re all a bit different) your hair will soon be feeling fabulous.  

There are a couple of things you could try to help speed up the transition period:

  • Use an acid rinse straight after using your shampoo bar. This will help re-balance the pH of your scalp and leave hair detangled, soft and shiny. It’s cheap and easy to make at home using apple cider vinegar, white vinegar (2 tbsp) or citric acid (1/2 tsp) mixed with water (250ml).
  • Another trick is to apply a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) (1 tbsp) and lukewarm water (250ml) mix to your hair before shampooing to help remove oils.

Once your scalp and hair have ‘transitioned’, you’ll probably find you can reduce the number of times you use an acid rinse or stop it altogether.

Where to find a shampoo bar that doesn’t leave residue

There are a few tips and tricks which will help ensure residue isn’t left in your hair after you use a shampoo bar. But like with any body care product, you might need to try a few different bars before getting your perfect match. We have a great selection available in our webstore for you to explore.

So, before giving up on your shampoo bar, try these tricks:

  • Rinse your hair thoroughly to ensure there’s no trace of shampoo left in it.
  • Try using less shampoo. Create a lather on your hands to apply to your hair, rather than rubbing the shampoo bar on directly. Shampoo bars are more concentrated than liquid shampoos (which are watered down), so a little goes a long way.
  • Make sure you evenly distribute the shampoo over your scalp and through your hair so you don’t end up with greasy or dry patches.  

And lastly, don’t forget that sometimes our bodies just need a little time to adjust to a new  product.

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Do you need to condition after using a shampoo bar?

The answer to whether you need to use a conditioner depends on the type of shampoo bar you use, your hair type and personal preference.

If you’re using a pH balanced 2 in 1 shampoo bar, like me, then it’s very unlikely that you’ll need a separate conditioner. Just make sure you leave the shampoo on your hair for a few minutes before washing out, to give it time to do its thing.  

If your pH balanced shampoo bar isn’t a 2 in 1, you might find that you want to use a conditioner. Having said that, a lot of shampoo bars contain natural oils such as coconut and argan which are great conditioners.   

If you choose to use a higher, alkaline pH shampoo, you’ll need to use an acid rinse after most, if not every shampoo, during the transition period. This will help rebalance the pH of your scalp and leave hair detangled, soft and shiny. It’s cheap and easy to make at home using either cider vinegar, white vinegar or citric acid mixed with water.

After the transition period, you’ll probably find you don’t need an acid rinse as often and could try introducing a conditioning bar instead.

What is the best shampoo bar for hard water?

If you live in a hard water area (there are a lot in the South and East of England) the best option for you is a pH balanced shampoo bar.

Shower-head-on

Why? Because hard water contains a higher content of minerals like magnesium and calcium. When these minerals come into contact with ingredients in an alkaline natural shampoo bar, a chemical reaction occurs creating a residue. It’s this residue that’s really difficult to rinse out of hair and might be why, if you’ve tried using an alkaline shampoo bar in a hard water area, your hair has felt sticky and waxy afterwards.

If you live in a hard water area and you’re still really keen on giving a higher pH shampoo bar a go, you may need to use an acid rinse more often and your transition period is likely to be longer. As boiling water makes it softer, one option would be to use boiled water to wash your hair.