How to tell if your shampoo is actually a soap.

How to tell if your shampoo is actually a soap.

At HiBAR we are all about ditching plastic bottles in favor of solid shampoo bars and solid conditioner bars.  But sometimes when you buy a solid shampoo bar in a store, you might actually have soap that is masquerading as shampoo. Why is that a bad thing? Well, soap strips your hair of natural oils and doesn’t condition.  This can leave your hair thin, damaged, dry, and unmanageable.  So it’s best to avoid putting soap in your hair.   The same is actually true of solid facial cleanser bars.  So how do you identify if you’re looking at soap? 


1) All soaps use lye to turn oils into soap.  Look on the ingredient label. If you see the word “lye", that’s a dead giveaway that you’re looking at a soap. Lye can also go by its scientific names, “Sodium Hydroxide,” or “Potassium Hydroxide.”


2) Sometimes lye can be hidden on the label by listing oils as saponified.  To saponify oils means to convert into soap by reacting with lye.  Look for the word “saponified” on the ingredient label as well.


3) Alas, “Saponified” can be hidden too when saponified oils have already gone through the process of reacting with lye.  Sodium cocoate is an example of this.  That’s the scientific term for coconut oil after it’s been reacted with lye (ie. saponified).  The following is a list of common ingredients and the scientific name they get after being saponified:


Almond Oil –> Sodium Almondate

Apricot Kernel Oil –> Sodium Apricot Kernelate

Babassu Oil –> Sodium Babassate

Beef Tallow –> Sodium Tallowate

Borage Oil –> Sodium Boragate

Canola Oil –> Sodium Canolate

Castor Oil –> Sodium Castirate or Sodium Ricinoleate

Cocoa Butter –> Sodium Cocoa Butterate

Coconut Oil –> Sodium Cocoate

Grapeseed Oil –> Sodium Grapeseedate

Hazelnut Oil –> Sodium Hazelnutate

Kukui Nut Oil –> Sodium Kukuiate

Macadamia Nut Oil –> Sodium Macadamiate

Mango Butter –> Sodium Mango Butterate

Neem Oil –> Sodium Neemate

Olive Oil –> Sodium Olivate

Palm Oil –> Sodium Palmate

Palm Kernel Oil –> Sodium Palm Kernelate

Rice Bran Oil –> Sodium Ricate

Safflower Oil –> Sodium Safflowerate

Sesame Oil –> Sodium Sesamate

Shea Butter –> Sodium Shea Butterate

Stearic Acid –> Sodium Stearate

Sunflower Oil –> Sodium Sunflowerate

Sweet Almond Oil –> Sodium Almondate


See any of these scientific names on the right on an ingredient label for a solid shampoo bar?  Yep, that’s soap.  We know, that’s a lot of ingredients to look for on an ingredient label.  So here’s an even easier way to avoid putting soap in your hair or on your face.  Use HiBAR. Our solid shampoo bars, solid conditioner bars, and solid face wash bars contain zero soap (and of course zero plastic). So you’ll be confident that when you’re doing a solid for the planet, you’ll look great doing it.

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