Why isn't my Shampoo Bar Working? Tips and Trouble shooting for hair types and transition.

April 16, 2019 5 min read

why isn't my shampoo bar working the yellow bird blog post

Over the last 2 years, we have had lots of questions about our shampoo bars-- people wondering which hair type it’s best for, what are the best practices to use it, why there might be residue. So I gathered these questions, just in case some of ya’ll have the same question. You can check out our previous posts all aboutwhy you should switch to a shampoo bar, why our shampoo bars are eco friendly, or evengetting started questions with information on transition.

How are shampoo bars different from liquid shampoo?

Shampoo Bars are different from liquid shampoos in a couple key ways-- there’s no water in our shampoo bar.Our shampoo barsalso don’t have a lot of the filler ingredients that liquid shampoos have, specifically preservatives, sulfates, and parabens. Those ingredients give hair a silky feeling (the parabens) but are in essence stripping the hair of it’s natural oil and coating it in plastic, and the preservatives help keep the shampoo from going rancid.  

We go deeper into the shampoo bar vs. liquid shampoo debate in our blog post here.


Q: Why don't shampoo bars lather like my liquid shampoo?

Shampoo bars can lather differently based on ingredients. Our shampoo bars don’t have any foaming detergents, like SLS (but there are other shampoo bars that do. This is one reason people have different results with shampoo bars-- just because it’s a shampoo bar doesn’t mean the ingredients are the same. It’s always a good idea to read the ingredients. For more on why SLS is not good for your skin or scalp, check out this post on why you should avoid SLS.  Bottom line: It’s a harsh detergent that strips the hair/skin of it’s natural and healthy oils)


Q: I seem to have a wax feel to my hair, and when I brush it out after the shower my brush/comb has a white residue left on it. What is the shampoo bar residue from and will it go away?

Are you able to build a good lather with the shampoo bar when washing your hair?  If the shampoo bar isn't lathering well it's more likely hair can remain coated with the soap and more difficult to rinse out thus leaving residue. If this is the case you may try building a lather in a loofah or your hands first instead of just swiping the bar across your hair.  

When you first switch from a liquid shampoo to a natural shampoo bar, you may experience a transitional phase where the hair appears more greasy and dull. During the transitional phase it's also not uncommon to have more challenges with residue being left in hair because natural shampoo bars don't strip hair in the same manner that conventional sulfate/detergent shampoos do.  It can take some time to remove buildup from previous hair products as well as for scalp to balance its oil production.

You may also want to really consider using anapple cider vinegar rinse.  An ACV rinse is both clarifying and conditioning and really the best natural way to address any residual buildup.  

Some more tips:

    • Use a boar bristle brush.  This helps to pull the excess oils off of your scalp and distribute them along the shafts of your hair.  This is the body’s natural conditioner and you will probably notice an improvement in the health of your locks too.  “I like using it before bed and before hopping into the shower. Just don’t brush too vigorously because you can irritate your scalp and cause some dandruff.” Check out some more success with shampoo bar ideas here.
    • Wait to blow dry your hair. Blow drying right away can cause the hair to re-solidify and leave that white/gray residue on your brush. Allow it to air dry as long as possible (and if you’re afraid of a weird flat / no volume look, but half of it up to air dry and once the bottom is dry, but the rest down. And once it’s dry, you can style it with low heat if you want)

    Q: Will shampoo bars work for my thin hair?

    Yes! Our customers tell us that our shampoo bars are one of the best shampoo bars for thin hair. It allows the scalp to be nourished and not strip the oils. Here is what a user with fine hair had to say about it:

    I have baby-fine and elder-thin hair. It is stick straight but super easy to damage so prone to frizzy dryness at the middle/ends, plus my scalp is oily and sensitive. This shampoo bar is incredible, after one use my hair was smoother with oils actually distributed instead of concentrated on my scalp. After 3 days I was losing noticeably less hair in the shower and my hair stayed looking clean longer. A week and a half in and I’m in love, my hair is fuller and softer. Can not recommend this product enough!!!”  Marface

    Here are some tips for using our shampoo bar if you have thin hair :

      • Make sure your hair is SUPER wet before applying the shampoo
      • Rinse it off in sections
      • Rinse your hair in cold water (helps seal the hair shaft) if you have hard water
      • Work up a lather (either in your hands or using a loofah or washcloth)
      • Try using the ACV rinse from the ears down if your hair still looks greasy

    Check out more tips on fine hair and shampoo bars especially, here 


    Q: Are shampoo bars safe for the Curly Girl Method? 

    YES! It is a great option since it is sulfate free, alcohol free, fragrance free, silicone free, and rich with emollient ingredients. Plus, you can use it only 1-2 times a week, which is ideal for the Curly Girl Method. To read more about the Curly Girl Method and texture typing, check it outhere. (I love that this bar works for both curly girls and men.) PS: take the curly quiz to find out your texture. I’m a 2B.


    Q: Can I use heat tools if I use a Shampoo Bar?

    Yes, but not right away or at high temperatures. Blow drying right away can cause the hair to re-solidify and leave that white/gray residue on your brush. You want to allow it to air dry as long as possible (and if you’re afraid of a weird flat / no volume look, but half of it up to air dry and once the bottom is dry, but the rest down. And once it’s dry, you can style it with low heat if you want). I like using a diffuser attachment with my head upside down, to circulate air but not heat it. Also to protect hair, do not use the highest heat setting on your irons/tools.


    Q: Why does my hair feel clean after I wash it, but dries looking greasy?

    It could be that your hair is holding on to the soap. Here are some tips:

      • Rinse in sections (to be extra thorough and make sure you’re rinsing out all the soap)
      • Use ACVbefore shampooing
      • Only use the lather (built up in your hands/on a loofah) to wash your roots
    Q: My hair feels dry after washing. Can I use a conditioner?

    Absolutely. In the summer I love using conditioner on the ends of my hair. Remember, a little goes a long way. Also, Apple Cider Vinegar will help your scalp continue to learn how much oil to produce (so you should be able to need conditioner less and less). I think it depends on hair type with how much/if any conditioner you need. I look for one that is sulfate free and paraben free. And it usually lasts me forever, since I just use it on my ends only a couple times a month.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. Check outour shampoo bars here, and don’t forget that you can read the reviews for even more tips from users.

    Nicole P
    Nicole P

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