For me, in the realm of suspicious things, a solid shampoo ranked right up there with men who wear thumb rings, and gray-hued, overcooked veggies (have you ever seen grey broccoli?).
So yeah…I eyed Lush’s Godiva Shampoo Bar ($10.95) with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Designed to clean and condition dry, processed hair, it suds up into a lather like a regular soap bar but also contains a whole slew of moisturizing oils, as well as shea butter and other botanicals like hibiscus, jasmine and gardenia.
As you can probably imagine, the directions make it sound pretty easy to use. Just wet your mane, run the bar across it a few times to get a good lather going, shampoo as usual, and rinse.
Sounds easy enough, right? But so do many 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner products, even the ones that leave my already dry, wavy, highlighted hair a tangled mess of crispy fried noodles…
That’s where the testing comes in.
The first time I brought the bar into the shower with me I said, “WOW!” Talk about serious bubbles. And the scent? Trademark Lush. A big, bold tour de force of jasmine flowers, one of my favorite floral scents.
It might be too heady for super sensitive noses, but even my picky schnoz thinks it’s tops.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao), Cetearyl Alcohol and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycerl Stearate; Peg – 100 Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Perfume, Hibiscus Extract (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Stearic Acid, Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetrimide, Camella Oil (Camella japonita), Organic Cold Pressed Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Organic Macadamia Nut Oil (Macadamia ternifolia), Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum officinale), Ylang Ylang Oil (Cananga odorata), Cypress Oil (Cupressus sempervirens), Palmarossa Oil (Cymbopogan martini), Jasmine Flowers (Jasminum officinale), Cupuacu Butter (Theobroma Grandiflorum), Cocamide DEA, Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides), Benzyl Alcohol, Geraniol, Limonene , Linalool
I dunno why, but I was really surprised that a solid shampoo would whip into such a frothy foam. Looking at this one, I just get a different vibe from it, almost like a loofah or a bath salt.
Then I checked the ingredient list, and wouldn’t ya know it? Right there at the top of the list, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or SLS).
A few interesting (at least to me) things about SLS, should you ever find yourself on Final Jeopardy! First, what is it?
Good question. SLS is an FDA-approved ingredient commonly found in personal care products like shampoos and even toothpaste.
It’s usually used as a surfactant — in a nutshell, it loosens bonds.
If you’ve ever used a bath/shower product that builds up into a sudsy lather, there’s a good chance it contained SLS.
Added to shampoo, SLS makes hair easier to clean by loosening the bonds that hold dirt and oil to your hair.
The ingredient came under some scrutiny in the late ’90s when an anonymous email circulated online claimed a link between a related compound, SLES, and cancer. SLES, or Sodium Laureth Sulfate, is like SLS’s more expensive, slightly unscrupulous cousin. Both compounds essentially do the same thing, but SLES is now much less commonly used (source: SNOPES).
Shortly after the email incident, several hair brands started rolling out SLS-free products, leading some to suggest that the whole thing was a marketing ploy designed to sell more shampoo (source: LEDA).
I guess the most important question is, “Should you avoid hair products containing SLS?” Well, that depends on whom you believe. Over the years, several reputable sources (including the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer) have said that SLS is noncarcinogenic, meaning that it doesn’t cause cancer. At most, they say, it could cause some skin irritation, but only under certain circumstances for a small number of users (source: How Stuff Works).
As a product junkie, I like to try a little bit of everything, which in this case includes the LUSH Godiva Shampoo Bar.
For the record, here’s what LUSH has to say about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
I have mixed feelings about this bar…
On one hand, I love the jasmine scent and the sort of novelty of the bar, which is pretty small and fits in the palm of my hand. And I like the idea of being able to take it on plane trips without having to use up precious space reserved for liquids in my carry-on Ziploc bags.
Plus, it works! — which I guess is the whole reason for its existence. After using it, my hair feels squeaky clean, tangle-free, and looks bouncy, shiny and bright.
But it’s also a little thirsty, so that’s a drawback. As a conditioner, I don’t think it’s robust enough for my dry hair, and I feel like following it up with a dedicated conditioner.
The addition of SLS — actually, with it listed as the first ingredient — does strike me as a little unusual for LUSH, but it is followed by a long list of bodacious, more easily recognizable botanicals.
AVAILABILITY: Available now at LUSH stores and lush-usa.com
MAKEUP AND BEAUTY BLOG RATING: B
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,