So it looks like a soap. J.R. Liggett’s is sort of my new best friend. I say sort of, because we had a tricky courtship. I think I’ve mentioned that a lot of green options for personal care require more effort to use than their chemical counterparts. There’s a trick to some of them. Well, after a few months (!?!) of trial and error, I think that J.R. and myself are now on excellent terms.
I have tried the Squeaky Green shampoo from Lush. What a wonderful concept, right? Solid shampoo, so it doesn’t need any parabens and doesn’t create any plastic waste. Yay! Except that it contains sodium laurel sulfate. Boo. SLS, in addition to having the lovely characteristic of being carcinogenic, also strip your hair of all of its natural oils. I’ve read that this is why conditioner was invented - 50s era shampoo was so harsh that it caused hair breakage! Eek! And the Lush stuff is on the more pricey side considering it’s a puck of solid shampoo.
Enter Liggett’s, with the packaging that reminds me of a general store, or for some reason, saddles. The first time I tried it, I used it like I did the other solid shampoo - I wet my hair and rubbed the bar directly on my head. I have superfine hair that falls past my shoulders. It made a lovely lather, and when I exited the shower, it was easy to comb through my hair. HOWEVER! (It’s a big however.) I had of the same problem that other internet people do, and that is residue. The roots and crown of my hair were perfectly clean - like with traditional shampoo but somehow better. But the lengthy part of my hair was gross and ropey. Maybe gross is an overstatement, but there was definite residue present when I touched my hair.
So I tried the apple cider vinegar rinse I keep reading about. After shampooing with the bar, I mixed about a tablespoon of ACV with about a cup of water and rinsed my hair with it. I let the mix sit for a couple of minutes, and then rinsed it out. The smell of vinegar dissipated into nonexistence when my hair dried, and after the shower, it was easier to comb than it used to be with commercial leave-in conditioner! Yay! But I still had a trace of that residue. Ugh. What’s a girl to do?
Google, obviously. I figured out that I was probably doing two things wrong. 1) I was using hard water and 2) I possibly wasn’t lathering the lengths of my hair as much. The hard water is something I was going to have to work around as we don’t have a water softener. And it’s just trickier to lather hair when there isn’t a head under it, but I was a Girl Scout once. I can figure this out.
Google tells me that one can fake soft water with a baking soda/water rinse. In fact, the “No Poo" people only use the baking soda rinse and skip shampoo altogether. This is not for me. I get greasy roots if I don’t shampoo a few times a week. So I mix a smallish lump of baking soda (probably about a half tablespoon) with a cup or so of water, and I apply it to my dry hair in the shower. Then, before ever letting any hard water into my hair, I lather up with the Liggett’s. I find that if I rub it around on the lengths the way I do on my scalp area, it gets frothy enough and then I rinse super thoroughly. Don’t worry too much about tangling while lathering (I mean, don’t go completely crazy either) because the ACV rinse is going to make everything okay. Seriously lather that stuff up. I find that when I get the good lather going on the lengths, there is no residue at all.
Go ahead and use the hard water to rinse the lather out. The only time the hard water is really an issue is while lathering - it’s fine for a rinse. Then use the ACV mix, let it sit for a minute and rinse again. It sounds sort of time consuming but it takes no longer than normal shampooing. And if you do like I do and use the soda water rinse to wet your hair, you’ll also save shower water. I think that may only be possible in warmer climates or heated bathrooms as your hair would be soaked in not hot water while lathering. I live in a warm climate (Southern California) and have a heater in my bathroom for the 2 months it dips below 70, so this isn’t an issue for me.
Awesome things about Liggett’s and the apple cider vinegar rinse:
1. I think I might be losing less hair to the shower gods and after shower combing goddesses than I did before. I really am convinced.
2. Safe for the environment AND your body. While I don’t do much bathing in rivers, it’s my understanding that this wouldn’t harm wildlife if it got into water. So if you have an outdoor shower (you lucky duck!) then feel free to rinse this out without worrying about runoff. (I just asked my water scientist husband to confirm this. The best he could do at a moment’s notice was, “well it’s definitely better than the alternative.”)
3. Biodegradable and vegetarian - yay for Earth! (Some people are weird about yay for Earth, which I don’t understand. It’s not like they live somewhere else, and no one likes poop in their living room.)
4. The smell is super mild and nice. In fact, the more I switch over to natural(er) products, the more the diesel stuff smells like weird chemicals to my suddenly sensitized nose.
5. My hair stays clean way longer than it used to with salon shampoos. I used to start to grease up before even 24 hours had passed from washing. Not so with the new routine. And I sometimes just give it a refresher rinse instead of washing, so I only end up shampooing a few times a week. And this is for superfine hair. People with thicker hair will probably have even less greasy results.
6. No plastic! You know who this pleases? This lady.
7. I think that - like many other people who have switched from diesel shampoos - my hair has more volume. It is soooo soft and fluffy after the ACV rinse that I become a freak and start telling family members to touch my hair because it feels like silk. I don’t actually use any product anymore.
Not awesome things about J.R. Liggett’s:
1. Residue in hard water. Aren’t you happy there’s a fix for that?
?. Some people have issues with it melting in the shower. It’s essentially a superfatted soap - the higher ratio of oils to lye is what makes it gentle on hair, but also what makes it somewhat softer than normal soap. Just don’t leave it in water or a steamy locker room and you’ll be fine. Mine is.
PS. I’ve read that the Herbal Formula works really well for hard water. When I (eventually) try it, I’ll report back here.
Don’t let the amount of words on this page frighten you. I am just a verbose lady. It is really simple to cut the plastic, parabens and SLS out of the hair portion of your shower and this is one great way to do it.
I also have another bar of solid shampoo on hand and will review it when the Liggett’s is dead. It’s from A Wild Soap, a Texas based soapmaker with an amaaaazing solid dog shampoo. Ooh, I might review that next!