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We Try It!: Chagrin Valley (All-Natural, Vegan, Organic, Sulfate-Free) Soap

Chagrin Valley Soap is a small, family-owned company based in Ohio. Their shampoo bars and other soaps are free of sulfates and utilize natural, usually organically-grown ingredients, including chamomile, mango butter, rosemary oil, and shea butter.

Before Chagrin Valley Soap, I had been experimenting with castile soap for my hair and body. I don’t have any particularly strong conviction for wanting to go sulfate-free, other than that I have always had dry, itchy, sensitive skin and wondered if I might have an allergy to something in commercial soaps. Sure enough, when I made the switch to castile, my skin changed overnight. The patches of dry skin on my arms, face, and legs vanished, and the red inflammation I experienced after every shower stopped. However, while the castile soap performed well on my skin, and adequately in my hair after the requisite week or two adjustment period, I found it failed to provide the moisture I needed, even when I added an apple cider vinegar rinse at the end.

Enter Chagrin Valley Soap. I have tried several of their shampoo bar soaps, but I thought I would discuss a few of my favorite shampoo bars here.

Almost all the soaps are vegan with organic ingredients, and those that aren’t don’t pretend otherwise; Chagrin Valley Soap also sells several scent-free options. These soaps are safe on color-treated hair, though I would avoid soaps that feature citrus, lemon, chamomile, or rosemary oil as main ingredients as these can, after many uses, strip color or lighten hair. If these ingredients are listed near the end of the ingredients list, however, the soap contains too little to pose any problems.

 

Several bars of white natural soap
Chagrin Valley Soap

BUTTER BAR

Though they call this a conditioner, it’s also listed as a shampoo. I can’t say enough about this coconut milk-based, vegan shampoo: it’s my go-to and favorite, by far the most luxurious, moisturizing bar they have. The pH is also balanced enough that I do an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse just once every two or three shampoos.

PRICE: $7.50 full bar/$2.60 sample bar

*Ingredients: saponified oils of unrefined cocoa butter, unrefined shea butter, safflower, babassu, coconut, mango butter, castor bean, organic coconut milk, filtered rain water, and rosemary oil extract.

 

 

Several bars of natural orange soap
Chagin Valley Soap

CHAMOMILE & CITRUS BAR*

This gentle vegan soap is best for those with oily, itchy scalps. We bought this for my husband, whose skin is the polar opposite of my own. The citrus cuts the oil without drying the scalp, the chamomile soothes the itchiness and, after many uses, gently lightens hair. The soap also contains soapnuts, known to possess antifungal, antibacterial properties and to prevent hair loss. This made my husband’s hair SUPER shiny and soft!

PRICE: $7.15 full bar/$2.60 sample bar

*Ingredients: saponified oils of sunflower and olive infused with organic chamomile, organic yarrow, and organic calendula, coconut, castor bean, jojoba, babassu, chamomile tea with soapnuts, aloe, essential oils of pink grapefruit, bergamot, litsea, lime, lemon, sweet orange, and rosemary oil extract.

 

 

Several bars of natural white soap
Chagrin Valley Soap

COCONUT MILK BAR*

I compared this to the Butter Bar. It’s a little less balanced pH-wise, so users may prefer to rinse with ACV every other shampooing. Also vegan, it leaves hair gloriously shiny, soothes itchiness, and makes the scalp feel queenly. This bar is a great, slightly less-moisturizing alternative to the Butter Bar.

PRICE: $7.10 full/$2.60 sample

*Ingredients: saponified oils of sweet almond, coconut, sunflower, rice bran, castor bean, jojoba, organic palm, canola, organic coconut milk, and water.

 

 

Several bars of natural soap piled atop one another beside a mug of beer and a honey spoon dripping honey.
Chagrin Valley Soap

EXTRA HONEY BEER BAR*

They don’t add any scents to this soap, so the smell is slightly beerish, but rinses out completely. This bar is best for normal hair. The honey conditions and seals the hair, making it shiny and soft, soft, soft. The beer adds nutrients and helps to cleanse the hair– mine always felt squeaky clean. I recommend using an ACV rinse with this bar after every wash. I preferred to alternate this with the Butter Bar every third wash.

PRICE: $7.35 full bar/$2.60 sample bar

*Ingredients: saponified oils of rice bran, organic palm, coconut, castor bean, cocoa butter, jojoba, avocado butter, and mango butter, beer, raw honey, organic aloe vera, and rosemary extract.

 

The service at Chagrin Valley Soaps is excellent. If you contact them with a question, they respond within a matter of hours. The shipping is relatively inexpensive and fast. These shampoo bars last and last and last – I will probably have my current full-size shampoo bar for nine months to a year. I store my soap bar away from the shower head and up high, to reduce its exposure to heat. This trick stretches the life of the shampoo bars.

 

A NOTE ON THE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR RINSE:

An ACV rinse balances hair pH, nourishes hair, and removes product/oil build-up. DO NOT rinse your hair with undiluted apple cider vinegar, especially if it’s color-treated. I have red, color-treated hair–and red dye takes any opportunity to fade. An ACV rinse, however, brings out the redness and preserves the color. I use a very gentle ACV solution and only once a week. Consult the chart below for a guide on how much ACV to use and when.

DIRECTIONS: After washing hair, pour the ACV solution into hair. Do not rinse out the solution. Towel dry and style as usual. While your hair will have a slight vinegar smell at first, it will vanish completely as the hair dries

FOR COLOR-TREATED HAIR (dry/sensitive):

  • Mix 1 part ACV to 8 parts water. Use once a week.

FOR COLOR-TREATED HAIR (normal/oily):

  • Mix 1 part ACV to 8 parts water. Twice a week.

FOR UNTREATED HAIR (dry/sensitive):

  • Mix 1 to 3 parts ACV to 8 parts water. Use once a week.

FOR UNTREATED HAIR (normal/oily):

  • Mix 1 to 3 parts ACV to 8 parts water. Use twice a week or after every shampooing.

 

By Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller is a twenty-something blogger, cook, freelance writer and editor living in Seattle, Washington. She’s a feminist trying ever-so-hard to embrace her spaces, conventional or not. She looks forward to numerous bad hair days, burnt cremes, a soapbox or two, and maybe (just maybe) a yellow polka-dot bikini in the years ahead.

9 replies on “We Try It!: Chagrin Valley (All-Natural, Vegan, Organic, Sulfate-Free) Soap”

I have been trying out different things for at least 9 months now trying to balance the oil production on my skin (especially my face) and hair/scalp. I tried Dr. Bronner’s Castile liquid, but it made my hair feel like straw – even with an ACV rinse. It irritated The Cooch and didn’t do anything for my oily skin. I switched to Kirk’s castile bar, which did nothing for my face, but was great for my skin, and ok for my hair. The only problem is that one bar would last me only a few days to a week at most. I’ve heard great reviews of Chagrin Valley, but have been hesitant to spend the money if they didn’t last. Thanks to your post, I’m going to order them!

My experience with castile was very similar, which is what made Chagrin Valley such an epic discovery for me.

Just remember that your hair may feel a little different after a wash (though probably not as straw-like as castile can make it), but the good stuff comes once your hair dries. :)

Yay! Chagrin Valley soaps are my very favorite and ended a long battle with itchy skin. What I love most is that the ingredients are all things you recognize. Coconut (my fave fave) ingredients are: saponified oils of sweet almond, coconut, sunflower, rice bran, castor bean, jojoba, organic palm, canola; organic coconut milk; and water. They are pricey, but worth it if you can afford it. I’m unemployed right now, but I can’t wait to get back to using them.

I’m inclined to try it myself this winter. I don’t have easy access to the same ingredients these people do, though, which is what has stopped me before. I don’t think I can get ahold of all those ingredients without paying more than $7/bar.

Of course, I’d have a HUGE batch of soap, but way more than I could possibly use.

For a large family, though, it seems really feasible!

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