Is there really a difference if I wash my hair with the bar soap?

… and not the shampoo?

Has anyone ever done an experiment to see if the hair is really differently cleaned when the body bar soap is used vs shampoo?

I suppose I should wash one half with the bar soap and the other with shampoo, then ask friends if they see a difference. But, I’d rather just start a thread about it.

I did once when I was a kid. My hair was horribly dry and frizzy. I think it stripped all bits of natural oils… more so than a shampoo would.

Unexpectedly stuck overnight in a cheap hotel without luggage or toiletries, this dive provided bar soap but not shampoo. I can personally attest the hand soap is extremely harsh on the hair relative to shampoo. Comet cleanser: hand soap as handsoap: shampoo

I’ve done it once while I was traveling. It dried out my hair pretty bad.

[slight hijack]I highly recommend Infusium to you guys (girls too). It works and smells kind of good too. My hair is silky and soft all the time.[/s.h]

Old Dutch Cleanser works Ok, too. It sure gets the dirt, oil and outer layer of hair. Failing that try Babbo, the foaming cleanser–good suds.

Turned my hair into straw–wound up looking like a hay stack. I’ll actually use dish soap before I use bar soap again.

Also, bar soap and hard water don’t mix - shampoo doesn’t tend to form “soap scum” the way bar soap does - and who wants THAT in their hair? ick!

I have a friend who ran out of bar soap, dish soap, and shampoo. She used POWDERED LAUNDRY DETERGENT. I shit you not. Frightening – really frightening.

I do it often - doesn’t seem to affect my lovely locks.

There’s a chemical difference between soaps and detergents. I can’t tell you the exact difference anymore, but they are entirely different classes of chemical compounds. Detergents, such as shampoos and body washes, react differently not only with oils but with water (I believe they’re more soluble). Soap tends not to rinse off as well and leave residues. That’s why they call it soap scum, not detergent scum, and also why we use detergents to wash our dishes. Nobody wants soap residue in their food.

VO5 used to make a combination body wash/shampoo. I imagine they probably still do.

I’m not even going to try it, because I’ve had bad enough luck using bar soap to wash my face - despite rinsing thoroughly, the resulting soapscum sticks to my stubble, and takes forever to shift. Rubbing it with a towel just causes it to form little tiny clumps… yuck!

For anything hairy, I’d definitely say a liquid or gel-type product is the way to go.

i use what ever shower gel i’m using as shampoo, followed by pantene conditioner. no hair problems here. i don’t use any other hair product other than conditioner, no hair dryer either. never use glycerin as a shampoo.

I used bar soap on my hair once when I ran out of shampoo. Never again. It was icky.

My grandfather washes his hair with Ivory soap, and it always looks clumped and greasy. (Well, what little hair he has left, that is)

I once had to scrub the top of my head with bar soap. My hairdresser had stuck a giant blob of goopy wax (it was actually kinda runny, and white like mayonaise) in my hair that refused to yield to the power of shampoo.

The bar soap wasn’t too bad, though. My hair seemed fine. Although, it was a moisturising soap, so I’m not sure if that made the difference.


**I also can’t remember the difference. :o I remember a chemistry teacher telling us that if you were out of shampoo, it was better to use liquid dishwashing detergent than soap.

Oh, could someone explain the difference between “dish soap” and bar soap to me?

I make soap (as mentioned in another thread) - and there are some bar soaps that are specifically designed to be used as a shampoo - they are actually called shampoo bars. I don’t think they are made by big corporations, but some smaller soapmakers make & sell them. They have a higher amount of castor oil than most homemade soap recipes - and they take a longer time to be ready to use. I’ve had people say that a great shampoo bar might be ready for best use a year after making!


Bar soap is much too harsh, especially if your hair tends toward dryness, as mine does. I would imagine the brand of soap might make some difference: Ivory leaves a horrible film! If I was interested in an all-in-one product, I’d probably use a baby-formulated product like Johnson’s Head to Toe.

My hair tends toward the very oily side.

Washing it every other night, or even every night, is necessary to keep it from looking like I wear the Exxon Valdiez for a hat.

So, once a week or so, I use Ivory bar soap on my hair. It’s an improvement.

the chemical difference is that soaps, which are usually sodium salts of some kind, get the sodium “exchanged” for other metal ions in hard water, such as magnesium or calcium. The sodium salts are water soluble, so they go down the drain and you never see them, but the other metal salts aren’t, so they precipitate out of solution and build up as soap scum. Detergents are soluble regardless of the metal ion they are complexed with, I think, but anyhow they don’t precipitate out and make soap scum.

And I’m a chemist and I forget the details…