Some Shampoo Bars damage hair.

Many people who have tried shampoo bars come across some that do not work well. It leaves a build-up on hair, makes hair feel very dry, or doesn’t leave the hair feeling clean for very long. My background in chemistry means I can identify the ingredients of many market leading shampoo bars and let you know which ones contain caustic ingredients. These caustic (or high pH) products are what I consider to be soap rather than shampoo. You can see a damaged strand of hair below.  



 How to see the damage.

It is not enough for me to go by feel – I want to see the proof. Myself and some kick ass scientists (Dr. Jen Mitchell in particular) at Plymouth University (PUMC) looked at hair using a Scanning Electron Microscope. This incredible instrument alows us to zoom in to see the hair stand in such detail that we can see the cuticle on the shaft of the hair strand and see the extent of the damage.


What did you see?

Comparing a hair sample from the same person after being washed in my Kelpie Shampoo and another brand leading shampoo allowed for conclusions to be drawn, and in this case the differences between the two were dramatic. The samples of hair that had been washed with the Tappermade solid shampoo bar showed no visible signs of damage or lifting of the cuticle compared to the unwashed sample from the same person.

In contrast, the hair washed with a caustic solid shampoo (soap) bar showed significant changes; the cuticle had lifted and had a very rough texture, entire sections of the hair strand split, and the shampoo left large deposits on the follicle. Seeing these differences so easily (and so quickly) means that we were able to verify the damage caused by more caustic products, as well as confirming that Tappermade shampoo bars do not disrupt the hair follicle and should leave people with soft, clean and strong hair. 



What to look out for?

Ingredients to look out for in a shampoo bar that will damage your hair include;

  1. Sodium Cocoate
  2. Sodium Olivate
  3. Sodium Palmate (derived from Palm Oil) 
  4. Potassium Cocoate
  5. Potassium Olivate
  6. Potassium Palmate (derived from Palm Oil)

The above ingredients are all the products of cold process soap making and are fine to use on your skin but will damage your hair. No amount of acid rinse or the myth of a transition phase will fix broken hair. 


What next for the study?

I will continue working with Jen at PUMC to analyse my products and competitor products. I will look at a range of hair types and textures including those that are often overlookedd in the broader cosmetics industry. Thank you so much to PUMC for your support with this case study.