Beauty brains/the manual
Shampoo bars and men’s fragrances
The other day a reader emailed to ask whether this column would tackle soap shampoos.
How hard could it be? They look adorable in their blameless brown-paper, biodegradable packages, with their twine ribbons and their botanical illustrations. The smells were promising. The textures covered every base, from nubbly and gritty to smooth and silky. The research was going well.
Then I attempted to wash my hair. The thing about soap shampoos is that many don’t contain surfactants, which make products foam, lather and emulsify. I reminded myself that bubbles aren’t essential, but you need some kind of traction when you’re hair washing. Without lather I found it difficult to judge whether I’d applied enough. I kept overdoing it, which made washing all the residue out impossible, especially in hard water.
I stuck this rigmarole out for several months and found two that worked for me: Christophe Robin’s Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera, which produced enough suddettes to provide a guide to coverage; and Ethique’s Mintasy, which lathers, has a lovely smell and does everything you can ask of a shampoo. (See below for recommendations from the rest of the fashion and beauty team.)
I love the idea of a minimally packaged product, but because I’ve stopped using conditioner, the soaps left my hair a tangled thicket. The consensus among soap shampoo fans is that your hair needs to adapt. I’m afraid I’m back with Virtue’s liquid shampoo until it launches a soap version.
Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera, £16, Christophe Robin (spacenk.com)