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  5. Is Soap Good For Your Hair?

How often have you washed your hair with soap and ended up with an itchy and brittle scalp? While both shampoos and soaps can clean your hair, is using soap a healthy practice?

Let’s dig in deeper and find out why shampoos are safer for your hair than most soaps.

Is Soap Good For Hair?

The history of soap making dates back to 2800 B.C., and soap continues to be used by many till date. However, in order to understand whether this trusted product is good for hair or not, we need to understand what soap is and how it is made.

Chemically speaking, soap is a mixture of sodium salts of different fatty acids. It is produced by a process called saponification or hydrolysis of fat or oil. [1] Soap is an alkaline product with a pH between 9-10. It is excellent in removing the dirt and bacteria from the skin. This is because the skin has an acid mantle that keeps away bacteria from entering the skin. Once the skin is cleared with soap, the acidic mantle of the skin can return to its normal pH level easily.

woman in shower washing hair with shampoo

The hair, on the other hand, has a pH level between 4.5-5.5. The acid environment of the scalp and hair prevents any bacterial or fungal growth. However, if you wash your hair with soap, the soap's alkalinity will destroy the natural keratin of the hair. As a result, your hair will become dry and brittle.

Soaps Vs Shampoos

Soaps are solid at room temperature; hence there is not much scope to add any additional ingredients while making them. On the other hand, shampoos are liquid that gives the cosmetic chemists flexibility to add more ingredients while formulating them. For example, they can infuse conditioning agents that can leave the hair feeling soft and healthy.

Shampoos are cleansing agents that leave no residues. Also, soaps are usually not formulated for hair specifically. So while you can use soap to wash your hair occasionally, making this a regular habit can damage your hair.

What Will Happen If You Wash Your Hair With Soap?

When you wash your hair with soap, the following can happen.

1. Residue on hair:

There can be a chemical reaction, especially if you’re using hard water. Hard water forms an insoluble substance that doesn't get rinsed off with water. This insoluble material is known as soap scum.

2. Seborrheic dermatitis:

Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease that can affect people of all ages. Hard water and soap scum together can aggravate seborrheic dermatitis, resulting in frequent. If you have eczema or seborrheic dermatitis, avoid using soap to clean your hair. [2]

3. Dry and brittle hair:

Unlike shampoos, soaps aren’t formulated for hair, and are unable to clean your hair gently. Soaps can leave your hair dry, frizzy, and brittle as it rips off the natural oil and keratin of the hair.

How To Avoid Side Effects Of Soap Wash On Hair?

If you prefer to wash your hair with soap, then do keep the following aspects in mind to avoid side effects.

1. Use a conditioner:

The most significant side effect of soap wash is rough and tangled hair. To avoid this side effect, always consider using a good conditioner after every wash. This will help your hair to detangle and keep it soft and healthy.

2. Avoid scrubbing your hair:

Avoid rubbing the soap bar too much, especially at the ends of your hair. If your hair is long, rubbing soap on it can lead to knotting.

3. Use an acidic rinse:

If you’re using hard water, then the hard water minerals can react with the soap forming scum that stays on the hair giving an unclean waxy feeling. To solve this problem, give your hair an acidic rinse after cleaning the hair with soap.

apple cider vinegar

4. Acidic Wash Recipe:

Ingredients needed

  • Two tablespoons of white cider vinegar One liter of water
  • One liter of water

Method

Mix the vinegar with one liter of water. After cleaning your hair with soap, simply rinse the hair with the vinegar-water mixture.

Important Note:

If your scalp is too sensitive or itchy, you may add a spoonful of honey to the mixture. Alternatively, you can also use distilled water to rinse your hair if you want to skip the acidic wash recipe. The smell of vinegar usually goes away, but if you want to ensure you don't smell of vinegar, rinse hair with clean water after the acidic wash.

What Soaps Can You Use To Clean Your Hair?

While detergent bars make your hair rough and dry, some specially formulated shampoo bars are safe to use for your hair. These shampoo bars are made with natural cleansing ingredients like shikakai, reetha, and amla. Some may also contain moisturizing ingredients to keep your hair soft and healthy. Whatever soap you choose, ensure that it suits your hair type and addresses your hair concerns.

Alternatively, you can also consider using dry shampoo. Unlike shampoos and conditioners that work on wet hair, dry shampoos can be applied on dry hair, hence the name. Dry shampoos can work as a quick fix after a gym session or a humid commute.

Wrapping Up

Washing your hair with soap once or twice will not affect your hair, but regular cleaning of your hair with bar soap can create serious problems like roughness and severe tangles. Instead, go for a shampoo to clean your hair. If you want to avoid shampoo, then dry shampoo can be a good alternative for your hair.

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