5 Shampoo Bars for Lower-Waste Hair Care

Solid shampoo bars have become popular due to zero-waste bloggers. Plastic-free packaging and a minimalistic set of ingredients are obviously good for our planet, but do these shampoo bars actually work? We reviewed the highest-quality products according to online ratings. Keep reading to know all the pros and cons, and learn from helpful reviews!

What Is a Shampoo Bar?

Shampoo bars are natural conditioning shampoos in a solid bar form. They were actually used till the 1940s, when liquid bottled alternatives appeared, so the idea isn’t new. They’re extremely relevant today, when our planet’s health suffers because of our consumerism. In fact, beauty is one of the most polluting industries. Compact shampoo bars last up to 80 washes and eliminate the need for plastic bottles. They do exactly the same job as a normal shampoo does, but without harsh chemicals (silicones, parabens, sulfates) that popular drugstore shampoos contain. A natural set of ingredients will result in healthier, shinier locks. Of course, there’s no perfect option for every person, so be sure to check the pros and cons defined below.

Pros and Cons of Shampoo Bars

After testing a couple of solid shampoos during a one-month period, we defined the following pluses and minuses to consider as you choose your shampoo bar.

Pros
  • leaves hair really clean
  • lasts longer than normal shampoos (80+ washes)
  • helps to get back to the original hair state (texture, porosity, pH)
  • helps oily hair by reducing the number of washes necessary
  • the most eco-friendly option
  • compact and travel-friendly
  • contains all-natural ingredients
  • vegan and cruelty-free
  • for both men and women (just choose the scent you like)
Cons
  • waxy consistency may leave buildup if used improperly*
  • may produce frizziness for curly and very thick hair**
  • special solid shampoos for dandruff take longer to see results
  • mostly not designed for specific hair problems

*The problem of buildup can be solved! “To avoid this, many bar shampoo users rinse with apple cider vinegar to remove the coating and shine their hair,” says Kirsten Connor, formulator and creator at Flourish Body Care and expert in low-waste hair care.

**Different brands add special ingredients (like argan oil) to solve this problem.

5 Best Solid Shampoos We Recommend

We discovered a lot of big and smaller brands that produce quality and high-rated solid shampoos. Lush bar shampoos are probably the most popular among customers. They’re good, but we think their popularity is mostly built on strong marketing and the large number of Lush stores offline. We found even more affordable, nice-smelling, and hard-working options to consider.

#1: Ethique Solid Shampoo Bar – Best Natural Shampoo for Colored Hair

This brand is based in New Zealand and has a variety of shampoo bars to address different hair types and problems:

  • Damage Control;
  • Frizz Wrangler;
  • Healy Kiwi (for scalp problems);
  • Pinkalicious (for normal hair);
  • St.Clements (for dry hair);
  • Sweet & Spicy (for volume);
  • Tip to Toe (shampoo & shaving bar for men).

And if you want to go completely waste-free, they even have conditioner bars, and shampoos for dogs and children. All products come in cute minimalistic paper packages that are compostable, but while you’re ordering, we recommend asking Amazon to reduce the number of plastic that comes with shipping. Ethique bars are pH balanced, soap free and safe for colored hair. Ingredients are natural yet powerful. One bar replaces three normal bottles of shampoo, which saves you a lot of money!

Ethique Solid Shampoo Bar

Instagram / @ethiqueworld

#2: Whiff Shampoo Bar – Unscented and Made of Only 4 Ingredients

Whiff Botanicals is a small handmade brand based in the US. The company’s unscented shampoo bar is perfect for people who want their beauty products to be super simple and understandable yet nourishing and hardworking. So, it has only four ingredients:

  • Plus D-panthenol — a provitamin B5;
  • Coconut oil;
  • Cocoa butter;
  • Hemp seed oil with vitamins A, C, and E.

There’s also a sodium coco sulfate marked on the label. Brand advocates say it’s a safe foaming agent that leaves hair clean without a waxy or oily residue. It makes a lot of foam, but doesn’t penetrate your skin like other sulfates — it just washes away oil and dirt. This bar’s concentrated formula guarantees up to 80 washes. The paper packaging can be recycled, reused, and reduced, if you’re here to be as eco-friendly as possible.

#3: The Yellow Bird Solid Bar Shampoo Soap – Best for Dandruff and Sensitive Scalp Issues

Many reviewers say this product does exactly what it promises to, but you need to wait until your “transition period” passes. It’s individual for every head. Those who used organic and natural shampoos will have a minimal transition experience. Natural rinses (lemon, chamomile, apple cider vinegar, etc.) also help fix your hair routine.

Natural ingredients promise fantastic results:

  • Kaolin clay and sea salt remove buildup without stripping hair;
  • Argan and jojoba oils have hydrating and anti-frizz effects;
  • Organic sunflower, coconut, and olive oils nourish hair from scalp to ends.

This company doesn’t use synthetic fragrances — you’ll feel the delicious smell of grapefruit, lavender, and rosemary essential oils instead.

Also, this product is the most travel-friendly, if you don’t have a special tin for your bar shampoo. The Yellow Bird’s recyclable box is lightweight and convenient.

#4: J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo – All-In-One Unisex Product

J.R. Liggett’s shampoo bars are biodegradable and made according to an old-fashioned formula without harsh chemicals. The list of ingredients contains food-grade vegetable oils and vitamin E. Such an oily formula may require an extra rinse if your hair tends to feel greasy after certain products. All in all, it’s just a question of adjustment. Some users even notice that they don’t have to shampoo as frequently as they did before using J.R. Liggett’s bars.

Both men and women can use one bar for everything in the shower — as a shaving cream, a body wash, and even as a soup for washing your clothes while travelling. Needless to say, this product is cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and has all other attributes contemporary vegans appreciate.

J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo

Instagram / @j.r.liggett

#5: D.R.Harris Volumizing Shampoo Bar – Cute Aluminum Box for Storing Your Future Bars

If you’re ready to invest money in your waste-free lifestyle, you’ll probably want to buy a cute case for your solid shampoo. Lush makes nice-looking boxes for $12 to $20, but we found a great alternative hack. Just order your first bar packed in a tin and then reuse the tin over and over again! D.R.Harris ocean shampoo with Dead Sea salts is a great option if you have thin hair or simply love volume! It smells clean and weighs nothing, so you can travel easily with this one. Also, it’s ethically made in the UK. All colorings are from vegetable ingredients, so vivid blue color shouldn’t muddle you.

D.R.Harris Volumizing Shampoo Bar

Instagram / @chop_chop_nv

How to Use a Bar Shampoo?

It’s actually very easy! There are different techniques, but the basic one requires only a few steps:

  1. Rub your bar between hands or directly onto hair to create lather.
  2. Massage into your scalp and hair.
  3. Rinse several times to avoid residue.

Here’s a simple YouTube tutorial so you can visualize the whole experience:

We want this topic to be open for conversation, so please leave your comments and name your favorite shampoo bars under this post. We’ll surely keep discovering more in the world of eco-friendly hair care. Stay tuned!

Featured Image via Instagram