Are Preservatives Necessary in Solid Conditioners and Shampoo Bars? A Test Begins
Today, we're going to take a look at a little test I was inspired to undertake late last year because of the seemingly endless amount of confusion about whether or not preservatives are necessary in solid conditioner and shampoo bars.
In my own formulas, preservatives are not required.
If you're thinking I make some kind of amazing magical formulas that no one else on the planet has ever thought of before and probably ever will again, you would be incorrect.
(sorry if I just burst a bubble)
I would go so far as to maintain that anyone making conditioner and shampoo bars in a similar way to the way I make mine, will not need to add preservatives.
Does this mean people who don't add preservatives to their shampoo and conditioner bars are dousing themselves with bacteria and nasties?
Not at all.
Let's take a closer look.
Constant Exposure to Water is Asking for TroubleNow, I realize full well both shampoo bars and solid conditioner bars are used in the shower and bath and repeatedly exposed to water, wetness, moisture, humidity, and everything else bacteria loves with a passion.
However, there are a couple of things worth observing.
For one thing, these are solid, hard (pressed) and (for the most part) anhydrous products.
Even a solid product that is constantly exposed to moisture and wetness has a limited amount of exposure area. Even if it gets thoroughly wet (which it does in a shower), it is only wet on the surface of the product.
Soap vs SYNDET barsThis is not unlike the way a bar of soap is exposed to water during use. And although it is somewhat comparable, soap is still different from a SYNDET (SYNthetic DETergent) shampoo bar and solid conditioner bar in that the pH of a bar of soap is naturally much higher – making it far less susceptible to pathogens. Have you ever heard of anyone adding preservatives to a bar of soap? That's because it isn't necessary.
Even though they are (comparably) solid, SYNDET shampoo bars and conditioner bars generally have a lower, more skin and scalp friendly pH which is unfortunately also a more 'pathogen-friendly pH' .
And if it sounds like I just made an argument against preservative free, the fact remains that
exposure to water is still limited in an unpreserved solid bar.
After each use, it DRIES again.
No water = no pathogen-friendly environment.
OK. So it works if you are careful to dry the product /allow the product to air dry after every use.
Of course, not everyone does that.
So let's say an unpreserved shampoo / conditioner bar is living in a place where it is constantly wet and allowed to stay wet to the point where it gets all smooshy and gross. That might just be the most bacteria-and-pathogen-inviting kind of situation of all.
Putting Preservative Free to the TestI decided to put one of my own unpreserved solid conditioner bars through the wringer, and if you check back for the next post, I'll walk you through the entire process.
Teensy spoiler alert: the test is still ongoing.
Do TellDo you add preservatives to your solid conditioner and shampoo bars? Please share in a comment below.
Want to make your own preservative free solid shampoo? This e-book contains preservative free formulas and something for every hair type
Links to Shampoo Bar Freebies on this BlogMake your own Shampoo Bars with Horsetail
Make your own Conditioning Shampoo Bars
@Jackie Coup - I understand where you're coming from. I wonder if the next post (where the results of this bar after 50 days is revealed) will cause you to reconsider although the idea of letting a bar go all smooshy in an aluminum tin intrigues me... I might have to test this! :)