We come across this question a fair bit - why are some shampoo bars (which are often at least double the size) so much cheaper than ours? They are often square or rectangular, advertised as shampoo bars, 100% natural (which we know can’t be true) and often organic.
So where is the downside and why are Ethique bars better for you?
These shampoo bars are usually soap. They are made from oils such as olive or coconut reacted with lye (sodium hydroxide). They are naturally cheaper to make so can therefore be cheaper to buy. Soap is fabulous to wash with when made properly; it lathers beautifully, doesn’t over dry the skin and smells spectacular.
The downside with soap is the pH. Despite often having the label ‘pH balanced’ there is simply no way a bar of soap can get to the pH of skin and hair which is 5.5 and lower (depending on multiple factors) without compromising its physical structure. The lowest a bar of soap gets to is around 8.
Soap is not usually problematic for washing your body with as its easily rinsed from the skin and the skin's natural acid mantle quickly recovers (a combination of your natural skin oils alongside friendly bacteria).
Unfortunately, hair is a different matter. When something alkaline (above 7 on a pH meter) touches the hair shaft, it causes the cuticle (covering the hair shaft) to stick up. This results in dry, coarse hair, colour dropping quickly (particularly reds) and a grimy ‘film’ sitting over your whole head.
This is why a lot of people passionately detest shampoo bars. It’s often a case of trying one of these big blocks of soap and never trying a solid shampoo again.
Our bars are 100% different. They are made from the same ingredients that liquid, salon quality shampoos are made from, without the water (and therefore the preservatives.) We use a mild blend of coconut derived surfactants (ingredients which make things foam), oils, butters, clays and other actives to create our shampoo bars. They are balanced to a pH of 5.5-6 so they don't cause the hair cuticle to open and stick out. The difference is immense and our reviews speak for themselves! Find your perfect hair bar here.
"Unlike the shampoo/conditioner bars at Lush, Ethique's don't contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which was a big factor in my deciding to try out Ethique's products. I'm so glad I did! My hair feels soft and looks incredibly shiny. My hair is definitely healthier than it's been in months, and is a lot easier to manage. I'm a convert!" Kim's review of Damage Control Shampoo Bar.
So how do you spot the difference? Learn to read ingredient lists. If they contain ‘sodium hydroxide’ within the first three/four ingredients that is the biggest giveaway. If the first four ingredients are oils (like Olive, Castor, Rice Bran or Palm) that is another. They are often very smooth and very hard. They will also list water as an ingredient.
Disclaimer: This isn’t a passionate hatred of soap as there is the occasional person that loves it for their hair - which is great. This is simply the chemical difference between the bars you see in health food stores and pharmacies and our bars.