If you’re looking for animal-based hair care (that actually works), you’re in the right place.
I tried Perma Earth shampoo bars a little over a month ago, and feel like I hit a goldmine in finding them.
Prior to trying them, I heard about them here and there. I read through the testimonials (which are impressive). And I became curious.
The more I mentioned animal-based beauty products on my blog, the more people reached out to me raving about how much they loved their Perma Earth shampoo bars.
It got to a point where I had heard about them enough and had to give them a shot.
I expected them to be just like every other natural shampoo out there…okay.
I did not expect my hair to transform in the way that it did in such a short amount of time.
The experience was so transformative that I felt like it deserved an entire blog post, not just a few story slides.
So, here we are.
In this post, I talk about:
- the history of my hair and the chronic problems I had,
- the 7-day detox I sent my hair through,
- how my hair transformed,
- the exact shampoo bar I used and why,
- how to start your own detox,
- help with troubleshooting if you run into problems during the detox,
- thoughts on conditioning,
- and more.
My hair history
Over 5 years ago, I gave up conventional shampoo and conditioner. In its place, I explored a variety of natural-ish shampoos, food-grade shampoo/conditioner, and periods completely abstaining from hair products altogether.
I felt good knowing I was no longer pouring chemicals onto my scalp. But once I gave up conventional hair care products, that clean, soft, and nourished post-wash feeling vanished.
I assumed this was just the name of the game…that as long as I wasn’t using conventional hair care products, my hair would never feel as clean again.
My post-giving up conventional shampoo pre-Perma Earth hair would not dry. Ever. Even with a blow dryer.
It would stay mildly wet/oily for days if I just left it.
And if I tried to dry it, well, imagine putting coconut oil in your hair and trying to dry it. That’s how it felt. At all times.
This was my #1 problem.
I assumed that because I no longer used conventional hair products, the oil that sat in my hair was “natural” and permanent.
I ended up disassociating from my hair altogether. I wore it up in a bun most days and never did anything fancy with it since the excess oil was so uncomfortable.
I figured that my hair would be like that as long as I didn’t use conventional products, and that buns were in the cards for me forever.
But after my 7-day detox, I learned that I actually don’t need to live with oily hair.
I wish I had a before picture to show you how bad the oil was, but I don’t.
The 7-day detox
If you check out the shampoo bars on Perma Earth’s website, you’ll quickly learn that Perma Earth:
- is adamant about following their wash instructions
- is particular with their directions for use
- repeatedly writes “DO NOT skip” when it comes to various parts of their process
This is the first thing that captivated me. When a person (or company) is meticulous about how their products are used, the conviction intrigues me.
It gives off the “we mean business” vibes, which I like.
Perma Earth recommends starting out with 3 of their unscented buttercream bars “for first-timers as a clean slate so you know how your hair does with our basic formula.”
So, that is the bar I started out with.
And I made sure I followed their instructions to a T to give the experience a fair shot.
Here is a summary of the instructions (and some commentary about what I learned while going through the process):
- Wet your hair fully. I mean, really wet your hair. You will probably need to wet your hair more than you did with conventional shampoo since you will need to work harder to get a lather. Drench it. Let it sit under the shower head for at least 20-30 seconds.
- Swipe the shampoo bar in the direction of growth. This usually means swipe down. You may need to do this a few dozen times. With each swipe, you should feel the lather increasing. Do not wet your hair once you start the swiping process.
- Put your bar down once you get a very fluffy lather. Scrub away. Really get in there…massage your scalp, work the lather through to your ends, part your hair into sections and get the nooks and crannies. Tend to the beast. I’ve heard this called a “Santa beard lather”…that’s how fluffy your lather should be at it’s peak.
At the peak of your lather, rinse immediately. Don’t delay here. As soon as you feel the fluffiness decreasing, even slightly, rinse. If you wait too long, you risk soap residue getting left in your hair.
- Your hair will feel “squeaky clean”…a sensation you’re probably not used to feeling after a wash. It may also feel heavy, tight, or even a little uncomfortable at first. These sensations decrease over time with more washes.
- Your hair will likely feel more tangled and/or harder to brush/manage when wet. Be gentle while brushing. Don’t be a barbarian like me and try to rip through the knots.
- You are done with your wash! Dry with a blow dryer or let your hair air dry.
- Wash up to twice a day multiple days in a row until you’ve achieved the number of washes you committed to for your detox. After your detox, repeat the same process for maintenance washes whenever you see fit.
I committed to one wash per day, 7 days in a row.
Here are the improvements I noticed:
- My hair now fully dries (on its own (!) – without a blow dryer) in half a day to a day. It dries even faster – usually in 1/4 of a day or less – if I leave it down post-wash (which is rare).
- It doesn’t feel like any oil is sitting in my hair. I just have dry, soft, smooth hair.
- With each day/wash, it took less time to dry than the previous day/wash. It felt like more and more oil (or whatever it was) came out of my hair with each wash. I’m about 12-13 washes in as I write this, and my hair still feels like it gets better/lighter with every wash.
- I now look forward to washing my hair! It was something I dreaded before. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel hope and enthusiasm when I think about my hair now.
Here are the unpleasant sensations I experienced:
- My hair/scalp felt heavy/tight post-wash. Putting my hair up in a towel to dry was borderline painful. This sensation decreased with more washes.
- My hair felt more tangled than usual post-wash and it was hard to brush. It still feels this way after washing, but way less than it did when I started.
Update: I am about 25-30 washes in now, and the unpleasant sensations mentioned above are gone.
I plan to finish up the unscented buttercream bars I have on hand (I’m almost through with one bar and have one more), then I plan to get a bar that will leave my scalp feeling tingly and cool (like Icy Hot). I’m eyeing the Crisp Apple Cider Vinegar, Eucalyptus & Spearmint, Lemongrass & Peppermint, Orange Peel & Pineapple Sage, Galaxy Night, Moon Flower & Magnesium, Cactus Flower, Deep Woods, and Sandalwood & Vanilla. So many cool scents. They even have a bar for dogs! With my next order, I’m going to order it for our mutt since we just found out he is allergic to oatmeal (and oatmeal is found in nearly every pet shampoo).
I was so excited about my experience with the bars that I encouraged my husband to try them too (he has shoulder-length hair). He said, “I have never had that much soap in my hair at once” (referring to the lather) and “my hair is so soft now, has volume, and looks like I got it styled…not sure if I like this.” Ha. 🙂
Where to start
If you’re interested in giving the shampoo bars a try, here is a road map:
- Purchase 2-3 unscented buttercream bars.
- Read through the wash instructions and follow them.
- Read through the “Detox for Beginners” page.
- Commit to not using any other hair care products during your detox.
- Commit to a certain number of washes and do them back-to-back. Perma Earth recommends at least 7-10 washes and to not “let your hair sit in the detox.” You can do up to 2 washes per day multiple days in a row.
- Understand that your hair will feel different post-wash than it does with conventional shampoo/conditioner. It will feel squeaky, more tangled than usual, and possibly hard to brush. You may also experience detox symptoms. Once dry, however, your hair will feel very clean, nourished, and soft. And the detox symptoms – like tangling – decrease over time with more washes.
- Skip the conditioner during the detox unless you feel like your hair really needs the extra moisture.
- Store your shampoo bar in a dry area away from standing/spraying water.
What about conditioner?
According to Perma Earth, most people find that they need much less conditioner (or no conditioner at all) after regularly using their shampoo bars. They recommend trying the conditioner only after the adjustment period. If you find that your hair feels optimal after using the shampoo bars alone, you probably don’t need conditioner. But if you find your hair needs more moisture and/or manageability, it may be a good idea to add conditioner to your hair care routine.
Note: depending on what shampoo bar you use, your conditioning needs may change.
Perma Earth offers three types of conditioners:
Leave-in conditioner: To be used and left in your hair after showering. Recommended if you find your hair needs a bit more moisture after the adjustment period.
Conditioner booster: Can be added to the conditioner-to-liquid bars (while formulating) for extra nutrients and shelf-stability preservation.
To learn if Perma Earth’s conditioner is right for your hair, check out their conditioner bar directions.
Since my hair started out on the oily side, I opted for no conditioner and still don’t feel the need for any. If that changes, I plan to try the leave-in conditioner spray.
If you’re not getting good results after your 7th-10th wash, Perma Earth recommends giving them a call at (812) 414-9735 to chat with their experts.
Here are some things to explore if you are not getting good results:
- Are you following the wash instructions exactly?
- Are you getting a good lather?
- Are you rinsing your hair at the peak of your lather?
- Are you washing frequently enough?
- Are you experiencing detox symptoms?
- Should you be using/not using conditioner?
- Are you using other hair care products (not just in the wash process, but hair aftercare like gel, hair spray, oil, etc.)?
Two women reached out to me (recently) expressing their dissatisfaction with the bar. Both said it left their hair feeling oily/heavy. After briefly chatting with them, both concluded that they were waiting too long to rinse. Soap residue was getting left in their hair, making it oily and heavy.
Rinsing at the peak of the lather is important! As soon as you feel the fluffiness of the lather decreasing – even just a smidge – rinse.
Other Hair Care Products from Perma Earth
If you find that your hair needs something beyond the shampoo/conditioner bars, check out the aftercare products Perma Earth also offers:
Lastly, if you end up giving Perma Earth shampoo bars a try, I would love to hear about it! Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don’t stop with your hair! Conventional household cleaners and other every day household products are filled with toxic chemicals and endocrine disrupters. To learn more about how my family and I transitioned away from toxic household products, check out the below blog post.