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Shampoo Soap Detox For Beginners

In this article:

Introduction

Why The Detox Happens

If It’s Not Soap, It’s Not Natural!

What Happens During Detox?

-How Long Does It Last?

-But Why? Hair Chemistry

-Dandruff

-Frizz

-Tangles

-Waxiness

-Greasiness

-Dryness

-What Factors Determine This?

How to Help the Detox Period

“Are you telling me… that I may have to endure up to a week (OR MORE) of bad hair days in order to get the best hair of my life??” Yes… that’s exactly it! Keep on reading to make it make sense.

We’re delivering the dirty details of the often unavoidable detox period which plagues beginners… The detox period is necessary for 90% of beginners using shampoo soaps for the first time after using detergent shampoos their whole life.

If you are racking your brain trying to figure out why people even want to endure this hairy ordeal – take a look at our other article Why Use Shampoo Soap.


Why The Detox Happens

The detox period isn’t caused by shampoo soaps — it’s caused by the nasty detergents you’ve used as shampoos your entire life… That’s a lot to detox from! If you used shampoo soaps from birth, you wouldn’t have to detox!

If you have nightmares about bad hair days, then the detox period will sound terrifying – and rightfully so. BUT we’re here to shatter all of your dreams of having the best hair of your life without any work on your part. There is always a price to pay for things that are worth it – usually the price is something you needed to pay anyway! It stinks, but it’s the truth.

And remember, good things come to those who wait… … Are you still here? The virtue of patience is uncommon these days and it’s only getting worse in this microwaved, instant gratification generation. Let’s help reverse that impatient attitude through amazing haircare that will blow. your. mind!


You will (most likely) have unattractive hair that feels “greasy, coarse, waxy, sticky, gummy, heavy, limp, and downright disgusting” during the start of using any natural shampoo soap if you have used detergent shampoos all of your life – and 99% of you probably have!!

Trust us – about 99% of you have been using nasty detergents as shampoos all of your lives. Even if the shampoo was claimed to be “natural” or “organic”, just research ALL of the ingredients you couldn’t pronounce. Spoiler alert: “surfactants” are another word for detergents! We encourage you to challenge/ask us if you think what you have been using is truly not a surfactant or detergent.

It would take an additional article to list and define all of the surfactants and detergents companies use – literally hundreds of different chemicals are commonly used . They are often cleverly hidden in online listings or with additional natural-sounding names such as “cleanser derived from plants” or they are omitted completely from sight.

Don’t worry – it’s easy to become a conscious consumer with a computer in your back pocket 24/7. Type the confusing-sounding ingredients into your search engine and see what pops up. Or highlight the word on your device, tap and hold it, and select “web search” from the expanded pop up options.


If It’s Not Soap, It’s Not Natural!

On the same note, it’s quite easy to determine if a shampoo is truly natural or not – it needs to be 100% pure soap. Saponified fats or “Sodium (fat or oil)-ate” are the common ingredients naming what soap is. Make sure no other surfactants or detergents are mixed in though!

Unfortunately liquid soap will never hold as much moisturization and nutrients as cold process soap bars do – for reasons of chemistry. Pure and true liquid soap does not and will never hold a candle to cold process soap bars in hair care for 3 main reasons: #1. Liquid soap is only stable if it has less than HALF the moisturizing superfats as cold process soap! #2. Liquid soapmaking requires many hours of high heat, destroying a lot of nutrients! #3. True liquid soap does not lather like bar soap. If you are interested in more details, read our Why We Don’t Make Liquid Soap article.

So even if you don’t stick with our shampoo soap bars, try to stick with only natural soap bars – for your hair’s sake!


What Happens During Detox?

Over 90% of people using shampoo soaps for the first time will go through a detox period due to using detergents their whole life.

During the detox period, the hair may feel “unattractive, greasy, waxy, sticky, heavy, limp, and downright disgusting”, using some choice words from our customers… But don’t fret, when they stuck it out, it ended up being the best decision they ever made for their hair.

The reasons for why this happens are many and complicated – because detergents affect hair in ways we don’t see until we get rid of them and start using the good stuff.

Switching from detergents to real soap requires a total overhaul in how your hair has been cleansed your entire life. From differences in pH, chemistry, and changes in washing technique – your hair will go through a transformation for the better. Just think of it as the cocoon effect, out pops a beautiful butterfly in the end!

How long does the detox period last?

This transition period, which can range from a few days to a few weeks or even a month, is literally a time for your hair, which has been addicted to chemical-laden shampoos, to go through withdrawal, and learn to live a chemical-free life. It’s not easy! Your hair has literally become dependent upon the drugstore formulas, which isn’t a good thing.

Since everyone’s hair is unique, it is impossible to tell you exactly how long your transition will be, if any, or how intense it will be, or how many stages it will go through. Sometimes the “weird feelings” take several weeks to pass due to the detox, transition, and adjustments to your washing technique. Sometimes people don’t go through hardly any detox symptoms at all (in rare cases).

More on this below…

But, why? We can deduce what might be going on from what we already know about hair chemistry.

Our natural shampoo bars do not strip the hairs or coat them with waxes, silicones, esters, emulsifiers, or other additives to make it feel smooth like detergent-based shampoos do. Therefore, you may notice your hair feels different immediately after washing because your hair is accustomed to the chemically clean feel of detergent-based shampoo. It may also take a couple of washes with natural soap for some to notice the detox taking effect.

Switching from conventional shampoo to a natural shampoo soap most likely means a transition or adjustment period. While some folks have only minor problems with their hair adjusting to a new routine, many struggle during this period.

Like your gut and your skin, your scalp has a microbiome that has developed over the years. While it may not be the best microbiome for healthy hair, it is the only one your scalp knows. As you transition to a completely new product, your microbiome will change. 

Since everyone’s hair is unique, it is difficult to tell you exactly what your transition, if any, will look and feel like. Your hair may feel greasier than normal or it may even feel drier than normal. It may feel waxy, coated or just plain weird.

When you first begin, your hair or scalp may become oily or dry or even switch between the two extremes. You may have increased tangles or frizz and the hair shafts may feel weird or waxy. Let’s go into more detail!

The pH Factor

In chemistry, pH (historically denoting “potential of hydrogen” or “power of hydrogen”) is a scale used to specify the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Acidic solutions (solutions with higher concentrations of H+ ions) are measured to have lower pH values than basic or alkaline solutions.

Detergent shampoos have a much more acidic pH than soap – similar to the skin’s acid mantle – yet they disrupt the skin and scalp’s acid mantle by stripping the hair and skin with harsh surfactants. This defeats the claim of “pH balanced” cleansers.

Natural soap has a more alkaline pH of 8 or 9 – similar to that of sea water. Soap will not disrupt the skin and scalp’s acid mantle after the wash since the skin and scalp regulate their mantles minutes after being exposed to substances above their 5.5pH – like if they are exposed to water which is found to be anywhere between 5.5-9pH.

Soap actually helps protect the acid mantle better than detergents because it helps to moisturize and gently cleanse the skin and scalp rather than stripping them with harsh chemicals.

A baking soda water pre-rinse and apple cider vinegar water after-rinse can help this factor during the detox period. More tips on improving the detox period are listed near the bottom of this page.

This factor is important to consider in many of the detox symptoms listed below.

Dandruff

Detergent shampoos, which your hair is used to, strip the hairs and also coats the hair (and scalp) with waxes, silicones, emulsifiers, esters, and the like. Your scalp is adjusting to a new life without these!

Your hair is adjusting to a completely new microbiome and moisturization balance – TRUE moisturization with real fats and natural saponins. Allow it to regain its balance and over time you will have a clear scalp.

Now although your hair feels nice and soft while using detergents, your scalp is actually dry and will produce excess sebum (natural oil) to compensate. Your scalp then becomes conditioned to this vicious cycle of excess oil production. This is why people often have to wash much more often with detergents versus much less often with shampoo soap.

Like your gut and your skin, your scalp has a microbiome that has developed over the years. While it may not be the best microbiome for healthy hair, it is the only one your scalp knows. As you transition to a completely new product, your microbiome will change. This can cause scalp dryness and dandruff for some as it attempts to adjust to new levels of sebum production.

Our shampoo soaps are also made with buttermilk, which is high in an alpha-hydroxy acid called lactic acid – considered very anti-aging due to its ability to overturn skin cells, helping you retain a more youthful appearance. Your scalp may shed old, dead cells considerably faster during your first few uses while it adjusts to the new shampoo formula. In the end, your scalp and hair will definitely thank you!

The “pH Factor” described above also plays a part in the dandruff detox symptom.

Frizz

Your hair is used to the detergent shampoos and the way they coat the hair with waxes, silicones, emulsifiers, esters, and the like – helping to weigh it down, making it look smooth.

Your hair is adjusting to a new life without these and feels lighter than ever! Allow it to get tame again (it’s like fuzzy baby hair) and over time you will have more manageable hair.

The “pH Factor” described above also plays a part in the frizz detox symptom.

Detergent shampoos, which your hair is used to, strips the hair shaft and then coats them with waxes, silicones, emulsifiers, esters, and the like, which helps to coat and straighten the hair unnaturally.

The “pH Factor” described above also plays a part in the tangle detox symptom.

Waxiness

This is still similar to what is described above.

Detergent shampoos, which your hair is used to, strips the hair shaft and then coats them with waxes, silicones, emulsifiers, esters, and the like, which helps to coat the hair after the intense chemical cleanse.

Your hair is adjusting to a life without the chemical cleanse and waxes/silicones – possibly exposing the hair shaft in ways it might not be used to since it relied on the detergents to tame and coat it.

Since the hair shafts are lifted and exposed (like shingles on a roof in high winds), it may be holding onto any soap residue left behind during the washing process until it adjusts to the new cleanse.

It is also really important to make sure you are getting a good wash and following our shampoo soap directions.

If your hair is experiencing waxiness due to the detox period – make sure to follow directions! – please do NOT try to roughly comb it out as that will create breakage and hair loss. Stick with minimal styling unless detox passes and apply a vinegar water rinse (details at bottom of page) or conditioner after washing to help with detangling. Comb gently and slowly from the bottom of the ends and gradually work your way up to comb from the roots down.

Heaviness

If you are still applying the same amount of conditioner as before, that could possibly contributing to a “heavy” feeling because natural shampoo soaps are so much more nourishing and moisturizing than detergents. This is different from a waxy feeing. Your hair may get weighed down with that same conditioner application method now. Try going without conditioner for a wash and see how you feel and where your hair really needs it and where it does not!

Tangles

Similar to what is described above with the frizz factor, tangles are caused by a lot of the same adjustments including waxiness.

Detergents also weaken the sulfide bonds in the hair (even in sulfate-free shampoos) – causing hair shafts to be as flat and straight as physically possible – suppressing your hair’s natural body and texture.

Your hair is breaking loose to a new life without these and feels freer than ever! Allow it to adjust to its natural texture and over time you will have more manageable hair.

Since the hair shafts are lifted and exposed like never before due to the lack of these chemicals (like shingles on a roof in high winds), it may be less manageable after the washing process until it adjusts to the new cleanse.

We highly recommend using one of our bar-to-liquid conditioners if this is a major problem for you.

DO NOT try to roughly comb out your tangles if your tangles are caused by a waxy feeling (described above). This will cause breakage and hair damage. Apply a lot of vinegar water and gently comb out starting from bottom ends and going to top of hair very slowly and softly.

Greasiness

Detergent shampoos, which your hair is used to, strips the hair shaft. Your hair is adjusting to a completely new microbiome and moisturization balance – TRUE moisturization with real fats and natural saponins.

Like your gut and your skin, your scalp has a microbiome that has developed over the years. While it may not be the best microbiome for healthy hair, it is the only one your scalp knows. As you transition to a completely new product, your microbiome will change. 

Now although your hair feels nice and soft while using detergents, your scalp is actually dry and will produce excess sebum (natural oil) to compensate. Your scalp then becomes conditioned to this vicious cycle of excess oil production. This is why people often have to wash much more often with detergents versus much less often with shampoo soap.

As you transition to a gentle natural shampoo bar, your scalp needs time to rebalance scalp oil production. During this transition period, which varies by person and hair type, hair may feel extra greasy or heavy. 

It will take some time for your hair to adjust, but once it does you will have soft, light, and flowing locks!

It is also really important to make sure you are getting a good wash and following our shampoo soap directions.

If you are still applying the same amount of conditioner, that could also be contributing to a “waxy” feeling because natural shampoo soaps are so much more nourishing and moisturizing than detergents. Your hair may get weighed down with that same conditioner application method now. Try going without conditioner for a wash and see how you feel and where your hair really needs it and where it does not!

Dryness

Similar to what is described above, your hair and scalp is used to the detergents stripping away everything with deep-reaching chemicals and then coating the hair and scalp with waxes, silicones, esters, emulsifiers, and the like.

The great thing is that your body is extremely adaptable and will adjust to the new, more gentle cleansing environment that soap provides – it just needs time and patience and regular washes with the new soap formula.

Some people confuse dryness and flakiness or dandruff – described above.

The “pH Factor” described above also plays a part in the dry detox symptom.

What Factors May Determine Detox Intensity?

It really depends on how damaged your hair is, how many chemicals you have used on your hair, how much previous product residue and build-up is present, your genetics, your water, and especially the technique that you use. Click here to learn how to wash your hair with shampoo soap bars.

We have been making and using natural shampoo bars for over 10 years and have received so many questions…

It may take some patience, but if you can persevere, your reward will be healthy, soft, and silky hair!

Can I Quicken or Soften The Detox Period?

You can potentially mitigate or reduce the symptoms of hair detox after quitting detergents. Although not necessary, it may help. Here are some all-natural tips!

  • A baking soda water pre-rinse
    • Grab a pinch of baking soda and throw it into a quart of warm water. Stir until dissolved, and then apply to your hair for a pre-wash rinse. This prepares the hair by softening the water, raising pH, and helps pull out those chemicals.
  • An apple cider vinegar water after-rinse
    • Mix 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 8 oz of warm water. Rinse your hair with this solution after a shampoo wash. This will lower the hair’s pH, also assisting in smoothing the hair shafts. Be careful not to overapply, it can easily weigh down hair or cause static. This may or may not help some people.
  • Clay hair masks between washes
    • Similar to a clay facial mask, you can try a clay hair mask by mixing water with clay into a paste (bentonite, kaolin, or rhassoul are good choices). Apply this paste to your hair and scalp, allow to dry and then rinse out. Do this between shampoo washes to help the detox process along! We also offer our own buttermilk clay masks.
    • All of our shampoo soap bars contain kaolin clay which also helps the detox process along with many other washing aspects such as dandruff and cleansing.
  • Shampoo no more than twice per day.
    • Sometimes a double wash per day can help quicken the detox period. Try it and see. If it doesn’t help, switch back to once per day until the detox period subsides.
  • Keep your hair as natural as possible.
    • The products you use on your hair can definitely have an effect upon the detox period and the effectiveness of the shampoo soaps. Carefully research each ingredient of the products you use on your hair – you may contact us if you have any questions regarding this.
  • Try different shampoo soaps
    • Switching up shampoo soaps may help to “shock” your hair again into submission – this often actually works. We recommend finishing one soap bar completely before switching. Everyone tends to dislike their first shampoo bar due to the detox experience, but if they come back to their first bar after the detox, it treats their hair just fine.

Still Have Questions?

Feel free to contact us so we can help you have a happy hair life!

1 thought on “Shampoo Soap Detox For Beginners

  1. […] cover the process of detoxing from your hair’s addiction to drugstore shampoos, click here to learn […]

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