What is solid hair care?
We’ve found people generally fall into one of two camps when asked about solid hair care: 1) “I’ve never heard of it,” or 2) “I’m on board with the concept, but I need a product that works as well as the liquid products I use now.”
For those of you in the first camp: it’s okay; you’re not alone! Think traditional hair care products, but without paying for water and without needing a single-use plastic bottle to contain it.
For those in the second camp, we agree! We would never ask you to sacrifice product quality and effectiveness. It’s why we’ve focused on creating a product that is not only good for you and the environment, but one that works as well (and often times better) as what you’re used to.
Our solid shampoo and conditioner bars replace traditional liquid products. Why is this better? For one, you aren’t paying for water, which is the number one ingredient in liquid shampoo and conditioner. Instead, you’re only paying for awesome ingredients in a concentrated form. Secondly, our sustainable packaging means you aren’t contributing to the exploding rate of plastic pollution.
Why do your “plant-based” ingredients have scary sounding names?
Check out Our Ingredient Philosophy for more information.
Do your products contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)?
Nope! More info here!
You say your bars are sulfate free, yet one ingredient in your conditioner bar is called behentrimonium methosulfate. What gives?
Behentrimonium methosulfate, or BTMS, is an amazing hair conditioner. Chemically, it’s made up of two parts: the first part is a carbon chain which is attached to a positively charged ion, helping it adhere to your negatively charged hair. The bonding of BTMS to your hair makes the hair smooth and sleek! The second part of BTMS is a sulfate ion with a methyl group attached to it. Interestingly, the sulfate ion also has a negative charge, making it bond to the positively charged ion and stick together forming BTMS! I love chemistry!
Sulfates get a bad rap in the hair care industry. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are known to be some of the harshest cleansing agents and can cause scalp irritation or hair breakage or loss in some people. These types of sulfates are different from the sulfates some shampoo companies, like ours, pledge to avoid.
The word sulfate is just what chemists use to refer to a specific chemical structure, like what makes up BTMS. It isn't the chemical structure that makes certain sulfates potentially harmful. Instead ingredients like SLS and SLES go through a process called sulfation, which exposes an alcohol with sulfur trioxide gas. The result is alcohol sulfuric acid, which isn’t chemically stable and can potentially leave behind traces of dioxane - a probable human carcinogen, according to the US EPA. (Though, it should be noted that these chemicals are most risky to those exposed to them through work that uses dioxane or dioxane by-products and typically won’t cause harm to someone who uses a shampoo with SLS or SLES daily. We just think there are better, less irritating cleansing agents out there, which is what we chose to formulate our products with!)
Are your bars soap-based? And what is the difference between shampoo and soap, anyway?
Our products are 100% soap-free. Many products on the market today are advertised as “solid shampoo bars,” but are, in-fact, soap. While being soap isn’t a bad thing, for many people it is not good for their hair.
Soap is a cleansing agent that is made when a chemical reaction called saponification turns oils into the lovely bars you know and love. But soap is also very high in pH (alkaline, if you think back to high school chemistry) which can damage hair. Our hair and scalp have a pH of around 5-5.5 (acidic) so, we need to use products at that pH range to keep our hair and scalp happy. Anything alkaline will make it so the outer cuticle of the hair doesn’t lay flat and leads to more breakage. This is also why some “solid shampoo bars” being sold as soap recommend doing an apple cider vinegar rinse after shampooing with their product. It’s to bring the hair and scalp pH back down to the correct levels. Soap can also leave a film on some hair types and for others, the user has to go through a “transition” phase to go from using traditional liquid shampoo to soap. (Trust me, I’ve tried it and it’s not fun. I gave it a good 4 weeks and never fully transitioned, dealing with greasy, tangly hair for that entire time! All in the name of science…)
So if you’ve tried a shampoo bar in the past that may have left your hair not feeling great, chances are it was soap masquerading as a shampoo. To avoid these frauds in future, if you see the label has the words “saponified” or “lye” or “sodium hydroxide" on the label, set this product back on the shelf and head to getsolidroots.com. We promise our products will not leave your hair feeling the same.
Are your bars safe for color- and chemical-treated hair?
All of our bars are totally safe for color-treated hair. The cleansing agents are super mild, they are pH-balanced, and sulfate-free. We’re also working on a specific color-retention formula so hopefully we’ll have something like that in the future.
Are your products vegan and cruelty-free? What about animal testing?
They are both vegan AND cruelty-free. We made a conscious decision to avoid any ingredient that comes from an animal, including honey and eggs. We never test our products on animals...only many, many willing humans! :)
What is your stance on palm-oil?
Sigh. This is a tough one that requires a dedicated blog post to really get into the nitty gritty (coming soon!), but in short, we choose not to use palm-oil derivatives in our products. Palm oil is an ingredient that, in the past, has been harvested unsustainably and has left much destruction, habitat loss, and decreased biodiversity in its wake. We work hard to source all of our ingredients, such as cetyl alcohol which is almost always palm-based, to be palm-free. To be honest, this has been one of the most challenging aspects of formulating these bars.
Do your products contain a preservative?
Of course! The topic of preservatives is very controversial in the world of personal care products and for good reason. A few bad actors have been linked with some not-so-great health outcomes, which has caused quite a scare. However, most preservatives used in products today are very safe. On top of that, the risk of using preservatives in personal care products, like shampoo and conditioner bars, is significantly lower than the risk of using unpreserved products. We like you and we want to keep you safe!
Bacteria, yeast, and mold are able to grow anytime there is water present. So, while our formulations don’t contain enough water to allow growth when dry, they DO get wet every time you shower or bathe which increases the chances that microbes could grow, thus the need for safe preservatives.
How long does each bar last?
This is totally dependent on your hair length, thickness, and texture. Shampoo bars can generally last between 50-80 uses, while conditioner bars can last between 80-100 uses.
Why am I going through my bars quicker than usual?
When you wet the bar, don’t hold it under water for a long period of time. Just a quick splash under the shower spray should do. Also, be careful to not leave it wet or in pooled water as it will dissolve much faster.
I'm frustrated by the conditioner bar. Can you help?
We know it’s a steep learning curve to use conditioner bars when you’re used to liquid conditioners. We were there, too! It’s tough because there isn’t any visual cue to let you know how much you’ve applied. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a practice-makes-perfect situation. Make sure you apply the conditioner bar directly to your wet hair. These are super concentrated (with about 3x the amount of conditioning agent than liquid), so you actually should need less than you think you might.
We know that these products might be more challenging for different hair types and we hope someday to create some more products like a leave-in conditioner and hair masks that could work as an extra conditioning step!
Are there any future plans to make the bars easier to hold?
We have been thinking long and hard about creating a custom mold for our bars that makes them more ergonomic and easier on the hands, because we know that when they get wet they also get slippery. Sheena has tried about a million different bar shapes and sizes (and dropped many a bar in the shower) and settled on the current shape as size as a good interim step until we can invest in creating the most perfect bar shape. We’ve also been thinking about something that could hold the bars while you use them to prevent that. Inclusivity is one of the company’s core values and we want to make sure that the product is accessible to everyone, even those who may have a hard time holding a bar due to hand size, a health condition, or just general clumsiness, like our founder!
What about storage? Are you planning to sell a bar holder?
Definitely! We hope to create some options for storage/traveling containers when we get the capital to invest in that aspect of the company. So hopefully we’ll have some options in the future!
Do you sell your bars without packaging?
We would love to sell the bars “naked” if we could. We’re actually looking into that right now. It’s sticky because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires you to have your ingredients listed on the packaging (along with a few other items like product weight). There may be a way that the bars could be sold without packaging from a website that has all that relevant info. Unfortunately, when we sell in retail and at the farmers market, we do have to have packaging. Rules are rules!
What ingredients give your bars their scents, are your bars heavily fragranced, and does the scent linger on your hair?
We only use high-quality essential oils and fruit extracts to scent our products. These ingredients give a lovely, light scent that isn’t overpowering, but still makes washing and conditioning your hair a pleasant experience! We’re very aware that certain natural scents, like essential oils, can still contain allergens and irritants which is why we’re very careful about creating products that have the least possibility of irritation. We also create every bar in both scented and unscented options so you can choose what works best for you.
Due to the natural origin of these ingredients, the scent won’t linger on your hair as much as traditional products that use synthetic fragrances. We know that some customers enjoy when hair products make their hair smell purfume-y, but we’re pretty unapologetic about our choice of scent ingredients. Traditional products typically use a scent fixative that is petroleum-derived and we try to avoid those types of ingredients in our products. Plus, we love when our hair smells like fresh, cleanly washed...well, hair!
What do you use to color the bars?
We use micas and iron oxides to give the fantastic colors that you see. Mica is a naturally occurring mineral that is finely ground to create a shimmering powder. Iron oxides also occur naturally in nature and are mineral deposits that range in color from red, to yellow, to black. By combining iron oxides and mica you can make nearly any color in the rainbow and beyond! We’re enamored.
Do you sell sample-sized bars?
At the moment we don’t, but we hope to in the future once we have a little more bandwidth to create and package them. However, we will consider special orders! To inquire, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does being an inclusive company mean to you?
We pledge to encourage inclusivity as a core value in our brand by doing our best to create a product for every hair type, ethnicity, gender, allergy or sensitivity, and ethos. We know we’re not there yet, but this issue is on the forefront of our brain with every decision we make and we have an entire list of new products to develop in the future.
We also do our best to make sure things like our social media are accessible. We do this by including alternative text (alt-text) to our images and graphics for the visually-impaired and to watch out for any color blending issues for the color-blind. We will always add closed-captions for any videos we post.
We also think a lot about the act of using the bars and making sure that we create products that are easy to hold and use. (See specific FAQ “Are there any future plans to make the bars easier to hold?”)
Why do you only ship via USPS?
Rush shipping is a no-no in our company. Instead, we only ship via the U.S. Postal Service. This choice cuts down on the carbon footprint of your delivery as most likely, a USPS vehicle stops by your place nearly every day.
How much is shipping?
Shipping is calculated at checkout using USPS actual costs based on the ship-to address. We offer free shipping for all orders to the contiguous United States for orders over $50!
Does your shipping contain any styrofoam or plastic?
Nope! Never. Our shipping boxes are made of fully recyclable corrugated cardboard, free of styrofoam and other harmful packing material, and sealed with paper tape. Every piece of our packaging is 100% recyclable or compostable. Check out our page on Sustainability for more details!
Do you ship internationally?
Yes! As long as the USPS delivers there, we can ship there!
If I’m local to the Triangle NC, do you deliver or can I pick up?
At this time we’re not doing local pickup or delivery, but please check out our upcoming market schedule to see what markets we’ll be at across the Triangle. Visiting one of these markets is a great way to shop small and support local, not to mention cutting down on shipping emissions and meeting the faces behind Solid Roots! We’re also working with retail partners across the country to try to bring Solid Roots to your neighborhood.