To loosely quote a famous movie: it takes a particular set of ingredients, ingredients carefully acquired over a long soap making career, that make the best shampoo bar for hard water perfect for your hair.
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Ethique Dandruff Shampoo Bar (Our Top Pick)
Ethique is hands down the best all-natural shampoo bar you can find that will also survive your hard water situation. They use gentle ingredients to moisturize your hair and enhance curls and waves, with some Sodium Coco-Sulfate thrown in to combat the minerals in your water.
Better yet, they’re one of the most popular shampoo bar brands on the market. Though their shampoo isn’t made exclusively for men (they lean toward being a women’s brand), all their scents are fresh and neutral, so you can throw a spicy cologne on top and leave the bathroom smelling suave.
• Gender-neutral fresh scent.
• Enhances curls and waves.
• All-natural ingredients with sodium coco-sulfate to fight hard water.
• Eco-friendly production and packaging.
• Less-than-satisfying lather. Thin shampoo.
Bambo Earth Shampoo Bar
One of the frustrating things that most guys learn the hard way is that shampoo bars will dissolve rapidly if you don’t keep them dry between uses. You’ll be left with a puddle of scum if you don’t invest in a soap dish. Luckily, Bambo Earth is hardy enough to withstand hard water and the mistakes of new shampoo bar users.
The bar itself is small, so you wouldn’t guess it, but it’ll last at least 3 months, or longer the shorter your hair is. And you can practice keeping it dry between uses, just in case you decide you want to graduate to a more expensive shampoo bar that requires more care.
• Rich lather with that creamy feeling.
• The bar looks small, but it’s long lasting.
• The Sodium Lauryl Sulfate makes this bar hard water resistant.
• Deceptive marketing, it’s not all-natural. But that’s why it lasts longer than other bar shampoos.
Mimosu Rice Water Shampoo Bar
Mimosu’s rice water bar is a triple threat. It’ll promote better hair growth (that’s the power of rice water!), lather and clean like a pro, and triumph over your hard water hair problems. Best of all, it won’t leave you smelling like rice. It has a fresh, unidentifiable smell.
It also solves one huge issue that men face when they’re getting into shampoo bars. Many leave behind a soap-like residue that moisturizes your hair but feels gross. But the rice water bar rinses nicely and feels a lot like liquid shampoo, making it an easier transition.
• Promotes hair growth.
• Smells fresh, the rice is undetectable.
• Does not leave behind any waxy residue.
• Not a great conditioner. You’ll need a bottle or bar conditioner.
Soapbox Shampoo Bar
Lots of guys decide to use shampoo bars because they feel that ethical call to help the environment. When you buy from Soapbox, you’re getting double the brownie points on that end: they use a portion of their sales to donate bars of soap and hygiene classes to homeless shelters and food pantries, promoting public health.
Better yet, their shampoo bar can hold its own against competition. It’s gentle and leaves you with softer hair. The scent is nonexistent. The only downside is that it does come in some plastic packaging to meet shipping requirements.
• Creates soft, silky hair.
• Gentle on skin but tough on hard water.
• Brand gives back to impoverished communities.
• Plastic packaging…not quite eco-friendly.
ATOMU Handmade Soap
Some of you treat every pack of bar soap like it’s a 3-in-1 product, even if it’s not. Let me rephrase that, some of you are insane with your bar soap, and I know I can’t change that. But I will recommend ATOMU if you’re the type of guy who recklessly suds up every patch of skin and hair on your body, whether or not it’s made for both skin and hair.
Their handmade soap is hard-water resistant, and it doubles as a shampoo and conditioner bar, so there’s no wrong way to use it. It’s hit-or-miss for guys with sensitive skin, may cause irritation, but will work just fine for the average guy.
• 3-in-1 bar for hair, body, and beard.
• Helps with breakouts and itchy scalp.
• Moisturizing and gentle, won’t cause skin tightness.
• Not for sensitive skin.
Do Shampoo Bars Work In Hard Water?
Shampoo bars are notoriously bad in hard water. Combining their oilier ingredients with the minerals in hard water leaves a waxy residue on your hair – some people call this the “transition phase” while you’re getting into shampoo bars. You’re bound to feel a little waxy.
The trick is to find a bar that contains a surfactant. Surfactants withstand the negative effects of hard water. They’re amazing cleansers.
To figure out whether a shampoo bar contains a surfactant, look for keywords in the ingredient list. The most common surfactants that you’ll run into include Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Sodium Coco Sulfate, Sodium Isethionate, Coco Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, and more. Avoid oils.
That begs the question – aren’t sulfates bad for your skin and hair? Lots of the best hard water shampoo bars will also contain sulfates, which beauty gurus avoid like the plague. Sulfates help with the lather of soap products, but they can also irritate your skin. It’s a trade off that you’ll have to navigate carefully, and it’s why I don’t necessarily recommend shampoo bars for guys who have to deal with hard water.
There’s also another option. If you rinse with apple cider vinegar after using your regular shampoo bar in hard water, it’ll get rid of that waxy film. The acidity will balance out the oily ingredients, leaving you with your normal hairstyle.
But that’s a step that most guys don’t enjoy. So buy a shampoo bar that’s made for hard water. It’ll treat your hair right.