Introducing our solid shampoo bar's ingredients. Ingredient number 7: Sodium Lactate

Making the best men's shampoo bar we can starts with choosing the best possible ingredients.

It took over 30 iterations of our shampoo recipe to develop our unique Tidy solid shampoo for men. Each carefully chosen ingredient used in our honed recipe plays a very specific role in making our shampoo.

To make a shampoo bar you need to combine fats (oils), water, and an alkali in a process called saponification. (See our how to make your own solid shampoo bar for men blog post for more details.)

In previous posts we've written about our alkali of choice; Sodium Hydroxide and the fats that we use in Tidy solid shampoo bars for men; Organic Olive oil, Organic Coconut oil, Organic Almond oil, Organic Jojoba oil, and Organic Shea butter.

In this post we introduce an unsung hero of shampoo bars sodium lactate.

It can be surprisingly difficult to make solid shampoo bars hard.

A cold pressed shampoo bar (the process that we use at Tidy) is naturally not as firm as mass-manufactured soap bars you may use for washing your hands, or in place of shower gels.

Shampoo bars specifically tend to be softer than soap as they need to contain more of something called "super fats" in order to be gentler on your hair. The more super fat a bar of shampoo (or soap) contains, the softer the bar will be.

Getting the balance between making a solid shampoo actually solid and making it work as a shampoo can be somewhat tricky.

A soft shampoo bar is harder to make (they take longer to cue and firm up, and can be difficult to get out of their moulds). They are also more fragile, needing more packaging to protect them in storage and when being posted to customers. They also don't last as long when using them.

Luckily ingredients like sodium lactate offer a solution.

Derived from the natural fermentation of sugar found in corn, beets or other plant based sugars, sodium lactate is the sodium salt of lactic acid. And it's dairy free (people often associate lactates with milk products, but sodium lactate is 100% dairy free).

Which means it is vegan friendly and natural.

As a stand alone ingredient it has a number of useful properties that lend themselves to being used in a range of cosmetic products:

  • it's a natural moisturiser
  • it's a natural preservative enhancer as it helps inhibit bacteria growth
  • when added to soaps or solid shampoos it helps produce harder bars.

We use it in small quantities in our mens solid shampoo for this very reason. Our shampoo bar recipe is designed to not only wash your hair, but to mildly condition it too (do more, use less 💪).

In order for that to be possible we have to use a recipe that results in slightly more super fats than many other shampoo bars and a lot more than soap bars, which leads to our shampoo being at the softer end of the solid shampoo bar spectrum of firmness.

The biggest problem with a shampoo bar that's super soft is that it will not last as long as we'd like. If we did nothing about it, one of our bars may end up lasting you fewer washes than a bottle of shampoo!

We couldn't live with that...

So, we add sodium lactate to Tidy solid shampoo bars to make the firmer. Making them easier to make, package, post and - most importantly - making them last longer when you use them.

Helping you do more, using less.

That's Tidy.

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