ersatz (1): hair product find of the millennium

French tickler optional

Yes, absolutely seriously. No not serious about that over on your left: but I have found some totally amazing stuff. It’s solid shampoo and conditioner, and—unlike L*SH—it ticks all my boxes and then ticks some more and generally tickles me pink all over:

    • unscented (the shampoo has a tiny amount of lavender flower extract: I get skin reactions from lots of lavender, usually the oil, but this has been fine)
    • none of my known irritants, and no new ones
    • sensitive-skin friendly: happy scalp, neck, back
    • soothing and moisturising: not just relabelled cold-process soap and a solid lotion bar
    • smooth, sleek, shiny, bouncy, glossy
    • no frizz, tangles, dryness, breaking
    • not greasy, lank, or greasing up fast
    • strong but manageable happy hair
    • cruelty-free
    • vegetarian (actually, I think vegan) ingredients
    • FWIW… no mineral oil or petrochemical-derived ingredients (but does contain some sensible synthetics, FWTW)
    • saves on packaging and thus plastic and its production, even though my last hair stuff has all been in recyclable bottles; the solid bars are also travel-friendly
    • decent democratic prices
    • sensible formulation; ex. the store owner participates in the Mad Scientists of Etsy team
    • supporting small independent business
    • low-BS company, no silly claims, and been around for a fair time

These marvels are from Get Lathered: their Hair Care that Rocks and Rolls, $17.50 + shipping for Shampoo That Rocks Au Naturel Unscented Shampoo Bar & the matching Conditioner That Rolls. Buyable separately, and in various scented versions too, if that’s your thing.

UPDATE (2013-07): though I’m using another Etsy solid unscented shampoo and conditioner now, I would be happy to recommend either that or the Get Lathered stuff. Both are, in my view and experience, great. So is having a choice, even—heavens above—when we’re talking the small niche area of unscented sensitive-skin-friendly solid shampoo and conditioner. How great is that?

So I’m definitely certainly wholeheartedly still recommending the Get Lathered shampoo and conditioner:

For storage, I’ve put them in small Ziplock tubs and punched holes (using a plain old kitchen knife) in the base, for draining water. For travel, I’ll put each tub in a Ziplock bag, just in case. No, I don’t go through loads of plastic bags willy-nilly: I have some old very solid freezer-bags from Tesco’s. Been using them for ten years or so for various things (bathroom but kitchen too), cleaning them out between uses. Here’s what the bars look like, in their stylish boxes (courtesy local No Frills supermarket, source of the few swankier plastic containers in our home collection that aren’t from IKEA):


Close-up on the instructions and ingredients:

I thought I’d end up writing loads of tips and tricks on using them, but actually I’ve got little to say. So long as the following hold true for you, you’ll be able to figure it out for yourself with a little experimentation on quantities and so on. Or someone else could do it for you, which is always a lovely treat:

  • if you know how to wash your own hair, using your own hands
  • if you know how to use a bar of soap, rubbing it on yourself by gliding in one direction (not scrubbing up and down, tempting though that is)
  • if you know how to use a bar of soap, rubbing it between two hands so as to obtain a lather, and then apply that to yourself and massage a bit to get more lather going

I’m doing a variation on my usual hair-washing technique:

  1. wet hair
  2. pre-wash condition: oil (meadowfoam + olive) or conditioner, lengths of hair only; leave that to sit for a few minutes (from 5 to 35…), do something else
  3. rinse hair, soak well
  4. apply shampoo, a first approximate fast shampoo (seconds only) and rinse out
  5. thorough shampoo, concentrating on the scalp and roots (not lengths), then pile hair on top of head and wash rest of self
  6. rinse and squeeze out excess water
  7. apply conditioner with a couple of drops of oil mixed in, focussing on lengths and ends of hair; then pile hair on top of head, oil self or do something else for a couple of minutes
  8. rinse, then rapid final cool rinse
  9. dry: towel then air-dry
  10. leave shampoo and conditioner bars out to dry

That’s it.

Here’s what my hair looks like, with apologies for the dire photo:

and it feels soft. You’ll just have to take my word for that.

Conclusion: consider this a rave review.

Note that both the shampoo and conditioner DO contain dimethicone; I’ve found that to be absolutely fine on my hair so far…


  • Free & Clear shampoo and conditioner: still using this occasionally [ed. at time of original writing of this review]
    SHAMPOO INGREDIENTS: purified water, lauryl glucoside, coco glucoside, acrylates copolymer, disodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium cocoyl glycinate, glycerin, sucrose cocoate, panthenol, pentylene glycol, 1,2-hexanediol, sodium cocoyl glutamate, disodium EDTA, caprylyl glycol, sodium hydroxide, sodium chloride
    CONDITIONER INGREDIENTS: purified water, cetearyl alcohol, dicetyldimonium chloride, propylene glycol, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, ceteareth-20, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), potassium sorbate, panthenol, citric acid
    COST: $11-18 / 355 ml (12 oz )
    That’s the one I used for the longest, from way back when, back in the day when this was pretty much the only unscented hair stuff available in North America.
  • Curelle HYDRA shampoo and RICHE conditioner: see review: Curelle hair stuff and this old post here
    SHAMPOO INGREDIENTS: Purified water, decyl polyglucose, sodium coco oat amino acids, sucrose cocoate, hydrolysed oats, xanthan gum, panthenol, lonicera japonica, citric acid.
    CONDITIONER INGREDIENTS: Purified water, behentrimonium methosulphate (from colza oil), hydrolysed oats, cetearyl alcohol, lonicera japonica.
    COST: $15 / 500 ml


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