How to Rework a Shampoo Bar

This is all because of Nika's inspiring question. What you're looking at up there is shampoo bar 'first edition' and shampoo bar 'second edition'.

On the left: the original shampoo bar with chamomile and calendula. On the right, the reworked shampoo bar with added herbs.

Why would we want to rework a shampoo bar? Let's start with Nika's question.

Nika's question

“I made a couple of shampoo bars following your awesome recipe, and would like to customize (add a few other botanicals). Is there a way to melt the bars or do I have to start all over. I know it's best to start over, but just didn't want to waste. Thank you!”

My reply 

“As for adding your own botanicals -- this is absolutely do-able but you may need to plan on doing a bit of experimenting. I have never tried to remelt or refashion shampoo bars and to be honest have never heard of anyone else doing this either. This doesn't necessarily mean it can't be done though. If I were going to give this a try, I would probably crush the bar as finely as possible without adding any liquids, then work from there”

(visit this post and scroll down for the unedited version of these comments - complete with my typos)

So That's What She Did

Nika not only tried it, but got back to me with her feedback. She also kindly agreed to let me share her tips with you:
If the bar is not dry enough, crushing won't work very well. Mine was quite dry, I started off with a mortar and pestle and continued with my hands to crumble as finely as was humanly possible.
I then mixed in the herbs and added water little by little, intuitively feeling when the texture was perfect. I imagine the required amount of water will be different, depending on the degree of dryness of the bar before crushing, so it really should be felt.
I then cured it for two days (close to a dehumidifier and that's it. It lives in the shower, holds its shape perfectly and does the 5 star job. 

So I Did it Too

I wanted to try this too, so here are pics are of my process following Nika's description.

Step 1

Crush the bar using a mortar and pestle. I imagine you could also place it in a bag and 'gently' whack with a rolling pin or similar heavy-ish object with the same results.

Step 2

Add the extra botanical. I chose handcrafted horsetail powder for this bar.

Step 3 

Add liquid bit by bit and work through mixture until the mass can be formed. I used a handcrafted 'herbal medley' vinegar tincture.

Step 4

Shape, mould, chill for a few minutes, unmould, and then let dry for a few days.

Thank you Nika for sharing! This process turned out to be easy and fun and has me eyeing my stock cupboard for more bars I can crush and rework.

Want to make your own naturally balanced shampoo bars? This book might be just what you're looking for!

Do Tell

Have you ever reworked a shampoo bar? What was your process? Please share in a comment below. 


Ieva said…
How interesting, I would never have thought that anything could be done to change a finished shampoo bar.
LisaLise said…
HI Leva - I know! I was so inspired by Nikas question I just had to try. :)
Myrlande said…
Briallient! Thank you so much for sharing.
Signe said…
I haven't done any cosmetics for a while, and haven't read about other's try outs either, so this is the first time I ever heard about this kind shampoo bars. I've been using soap shampoo bars (also called just shampoo bars) for years now, and I am never changing back to "regular" liquid shampoo. What is the differerence compared to soap with these shampoo bars?
LisaLise said…
@Myrlande — thank you!

@Signe — hello and so good to hear from you! The difference between these and a soap-based shampoo bar is in both the ingredients and process. These are ‘syndet’ bars and use synthetic detergents - they are cold-mixed. They are also pH balanced to be as hair and scalp friendly as possible. A cold processed soap has a naturally higher pH and uses a different process. 😊
Signe said…
It's nice to be back, I've missed you all and this cosmetic commununity. :) I've just been too tired and busy to make any cosmetic of my own or even follow what others have made.

Actually I have never understood the fuss about pH balance - I have very dry atopic skin and itchy dry scalp, and they have never been better than after I changed all my shampoos and shower gels to home made soap.
LisaLise said…
Signe if you have something that works for you then stick with it 😊 End of. 😊
Signe said…
My words exactly 🤗. And if one day the situation changes somehow I just need to find another solution then.
Anonymous said…
I'd love to know if remelting a hot or cold process shampoo bar is possible and what the method would be if you were to add liquid, extracts etc? Thanks, Mary
LisaLise said…
Hi Mary -- I've never tried this and am not sure it is even doable. If I were reworking a cold or hot process bar I would probably shave or grate it and add it to another batch.