If you are looking to ditch conventional beauty products, hair care products should be among the first clean beauty products you switch over to, as they are generally full of ingredients that are not safe for you or the environment.
As consumers, our actions impact the planet for better or worse. Our daily choices can help or harm the environment in so many ways. One small but important step you can implement right now and without too much time or expense is to switch out your conventional shampoo and conditioners for plastic-free, sulfate-free zero waste shampoo and conditioner bars.
While most of us want our hair to be shiny, soft to the touch, and untangled, we often overlook the connection between the ingredients in these products, the health of our hair, and the well-being of our planet.
The major problem with conventional shampoos and conditioners is that they contain a lot of harmful ingredients that are bad for us, such as preservatives, surfactants, synthetic fragrances, and emulsifiers. Plus, they contribute to a lot of plastic waste that harms our environment.
If you are looking to get away from all this, solid eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner bars are the non-toxic answer.
Benefits of Switching to Zero-Waste Shampoo And Conditioner Bars
There are plenty of reasons why people love their solid shampoo and conditioner soaps. Here are just a few.
- The majority of shampoo and conditioner bars do not require traditional packaging and so they do not generate waste and are a more sustainable option. They are considered a zero-waste product because you can use up the entire bar without throwing anything out. If it does come with packaging, it is either recyclable or biodegradable.
- Solid shampoo and conditioner bars are travel-friendly. No more hassles with bulky bottles that won’t fit snugly into your travel bag or any ruined items because of spills. With a solid bar, it’s easy to pack and dries out for no residue or spillage. This also means they are great for the gym!
- There are usually no harmful or questionable ingredients This is better for your hair and scalp, better for the environment, and better for your overall health. No more dry hair or stripping your hair of its natural oils.
SIDEBAR: Do check the full ingredient list to make sure there are no ingredients in the formulation that you are trying to avoid. While most of the solid bars I looked at were clean, you still want to do your due diligence.
- If you make your own shampoo and conditioner bars at home, you can adjust the ingredients to fit your preferences. This gives you full control over the aroma, the essential oils used, and the ingredients used for making it lather up. You know exactly what goes into your bar, so you know exactly what goes into your hair.
- They are non-toxic, cruelty-free, extension-safe, vegan-friendly, and can last for many, many washes. Plus, they double as a soap bar when you don’t have access to regular body soap or shaving cream.
Is It Worth Switching: Do They Work?
Anyone can easily integrate an eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner bar into their clean, beauty routine, but the question is, do the bars work? If you have the patience to deal with the transition period from liquid to bar and can get a grapple on the learning curve of how much lather you need, then the answer is yes.
Yes, shampoo and conditioner bars definitely work but you need to find the right one for you and you need to stick with it for more than a week or two.
Can They Replace Traditional Shampoos And Conditioners?
Yes, they can.
A high-quality, all-natural shampoo or condition bar can completely replace your traditional liquid shampoo and conditioner options. Soap bars offer the same cleansing benefits but cut out harmful ingredients and cut down on plastic use.
Just keep in mind that not all shampoo and conditioner bars are made equal, so research the ingredients before buying.
Common Issues With Shampoo And Condition Bars That Pop Up
When making the transition from traditional, commercial-grade liquid shampoos and conditioners to solid, natural shampoo and conditioner bars, there are going to be some issues that pop up.
- Dealing With Hard Water. The transition from liquid soap to a solid bar is made more difficult if you live in a home that has hard water. Hard water is simply water that has a high mineral content, most notably calcium and magnesium. When showering or bathing with hard water, the soap you use will react to the minerals in the water, resulting in a soap film and insoluble deposits on the hair. To get around this, you can purchase an inexpensive shower head filter to remove the excess minerals from the water or you can use distilled water to rinse your hair. Another way to deal with this is to rinse your hair with lemon juice, vinegar, or a weak acid rinse. Here is a great guide to understanding how hard water impacts your hair.
- Storing Your Solid Bar. The main thing with storing your solid shampoo bar is to not place it in a wet environment where it can’t dry out. Doing this will turn it to mush and you won’t get very many washes out of it. Instead, let it dry out by storing it in a cool place with airflow. Ideally, placing it in a mesh bag or soap holder with a perforated bottom is a good idea.
SIDEBAR: placing your bar in the sun will not affect the performance but it may change the natural color or cause the fragrance to fade.
- Dealing With Residue And Buildup. When you first switch from liquid shampoo to a natural bar, you’re going to experience a transition phase where your hair is going to be greasy, dull, and feel waxy. You may also experience more residue and buildup being left on your hair as your hair learns how to rebalance its natural oil production.
How to deal with this?
- Use a mix bristle brush to help pull any excess oils and previous residue from liquid soaps off your scalp. While it will deposit them into your hair, you can simply rinse them out.
- Rinse your hair out in sections to make sure that you are getting all of the soap out. This works really well for those who have hard water or super thick hair.
- Only use the lathered portion on your roots. This will help prevent your hair from holding onto the soap.
- Consider using an apple cider vinegar rinse to address residual buildup. This buildup comes from the residual silicones from liquid shampoo and conditioners. It also helps restore your natural sheen and reduces frizz and tangles.
How To Find a Zero Waste Shampoo And Conditioner Bar That Works Great For You?
With so many shampoo and conditioner bar choices out there, it’s hard to know which type of bar will work best for you. This is especially true if you keep coming across brands that have bars for all types of hair textures. To help you narrow down a bar that’s going to nourish and revitalize your hair, here are the types to look out for.
- Cold-pressed will be chock-full of natural oils which can help condition your hair and they will be free from sodium lauryl sulfate, but they can cause a buildup. This tends to require a weak acid rinse.
- Glycerin-based will be gentle on the hair and pH balanced but they will not lather as well and may not be as clarifying as other types.
- Solid surfactant-based will lather extremely well and have a higher pH level but may be too clarifying for some types of hair.
What to Do if Your Shampoo Bar is Not Working For You?
Experiment! The thing with solid shampoo and conditioner bars is there isn’t a perfect one out there and you can only find one that works by using trial and error. The best thing you can do if your bar isn’t working for you is to look at the ingredient list and make sure that
A. Doesn’t contain any SLS surfactants unless you are using it in conjunction with a conditioner.
B. Doesn’t contain any palm-derived glycerin or sulfates.
C. Doesn’t contain sodium hydroxide as this has a pH level that may be too unfriendly (read strong) for some hair types.
Tips for Using Your New Solid Shampoo And Conditioner Bars
- Always dry brush your hair first
- Get your hair completely soaked. The wetter you can get it, the better
- Try different application techniques:
a. Use the bar directly on your hair in sections from scalp to tip
b. Lather it in your hands if you have long or thick hair
- Rinse, rinse, rinse, and rinse some more
- If you have oily hair, skip the scalp area when using a conditioning bar
- Leave conditioner bars in for at least 2 minutes
- Consider lightly using a comb to rinse out conditioner bars
- Towel dry and do not blow dry right away
- Use an apple cider vinegar rinse if the transition period is giving you trouble
Here Are Some of The Best Solid Shampoo And Conditioner Bars to Try
If you really want to make the switch to a cleaner, zero-waste hair care routine that’s good for you and the planet, but aren’t sure where to start, then check out our top brands below. These clean beauty hair products help cut down on plastic waste and are the smart, eco-friendly way to clean, rejuvenate and nourish your hair and scalp.
Each & Every Worry-Free Shampoo Bar – This 100% plant-based solid shampoo bar is gentle on the hair and scalp with a fantastic lather. It is suitable for all hair types, is gluten-free, cruelty-free, and vegan-friendly. Contains no sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicones, or synthetic dyes or fragrance. It uses lavender oil for its natural scent and comes in a recyclable carton.
Obia Naturals Neem Tea Tree Shampoo Bar – This invigorating shampoo bar is excellent for dry scalps and great for all hair textures. It is optimized with a pH balance of 4.4-5.5 and is both vegan and cruelty-free. It uses neem, tea tree, and rosemary as its essential oils for fragrance, as well as, phthalate-free parfum. Comes in a recyclable carton.
Tree Naturals Bamboo & Lemongrass Shampoo Bar – This nourishing bar from Tree Naturals uses Fair Trade cocoa butter, marula, and castor oils for a rich lather. Works well for all hair types, lasts up to 80-washes, and uses ginseng, lemongrass, ylang ylang, and geranium essential oils for an uplifting scent. Comes shipped and wrapped in paper, so that all packaging can be recycled.
Shampoo Bars by Soap & Salve – This family-owned shampoo lineup is certified organic, sustainably produced, ethically traded, and cruelty-free. Shipped in eco-friendly packaging with materials that can be reused. Their best seller, Ayurvedic Herb contains lemon, rosemary, basil, lavender, cypress, and juniper essential oils. Is great for hair that needs volume.
Shampoo Bar Soaps by The Yellow Bird – This family-owned skincare company has 4 shampoo bars that are paraben, sulfate, and synthetic fragrance free. Non-GMO and no animal testing is done. Their best seller, Grapefruit Rosemary Lavender contains grapefruit, lavender, & rosemary essential oils & is good for dry, oily, curly, & thin hair. Cardboard packaging slip is recyclable.
Jr. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Shampoo Bars – These bars are free from detergents, animal products, preservatives, artificial colorants, sodium lauryl sulfate, and are made from 100% natural edible vegetable oils. Works well on permed, colored, or naturally curly hair. Comes in herbal, jojoba peppermint, moisturizing, tea tree and hemp oil, virgin coconut and argan oil, as well as, original. 100% ecologically friendly.
hiBar Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – HiBar has maintenance bars, moisturize bars, and volumize bars, so all types of hair are covered, including colored or treated hair. Almost all entirely plant-based with only trace amounts of honey used. Gluten-free, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free. Bars use lime, orange, lemon, grapefruit peel oil and ginger root oils. Bars are pH balanced.
Meow Meow Tweet Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – The Meow Meow bars are certified cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan, free from palm oil, and their cocoa butter, shea butter, coffee, and coconut oil are all free trade. 3 bars to choose from, rosemary avocado, lavender coconut milk, and lavender hemp. Shipped in paper boxes which can be recycled. Bars are pH balanced.
Eco Roots Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – All bars are vegan, palm-oil free, travel-friendly, and come with plastic-free packaging. Bars are packaged & shipped in recyclable materials that can be reduced and reused. Tons of scent options such as moroccan oil, forest mist, summer breeze, citrus fresh, honeydew, cocolime colada, and fresh mint. pH balanced & good for all hair types.
Spring & Vine Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – These bars are PETA-certified cruelty-free, vegan, and are free from mineral oils, synthetic fragrances, PEGS, silicones, dyes, phthalates, parabens, and sulfates. Four types of bars are available in grapefruit and rosemary, moisturizing oatmeal, tea tree and mint, and lavender and orange blossom. Shipped in cardboard and the bar is housed in a small plastic holder, both of which are recyclable. All hair types can use them.
Ethique Solid Shampoo Bars – The bars from Ethique are plastic-free, carbon neutral, palm oil free, cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. They also use direct trade partnerships with producers where possible. There are 12 shampoo bars and 7 conditioner bars to choose from, with the most popular being the Guardian conditioner and the Heali Kiwi shampoo. The Guardian is great for normal to dry hair and the Heali Kiwi is perfect for dry scalp and dandruff. All bars are pH balanced between 5.5-6.
Earth Hero Shampoo Bars – There are 3 shampoo bars from Earth Hero, all of which use sustainable manufacturing, are handmade, cruelty-free, and are free from preservatives, sulfates, and parabens. The Hemp & Patchouli bar uses patchouli essential oil, the Aloe & Tea Tree bar uses tea tree essential oils, and the Apple Cider Vinegar & Citrus bar uses orange and lemon essential oils. Each bar comes packaged in a recyclable aluminum tin and all shipping packaging is plastic-free and compostable. Can be used by all hair types.
Kind2 High-Performing Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – All of the Kind2 bar formulas are vegan-friendly, free from plastic, soap, sulphates, silicones, and parabens. They have a hydration bar for normal, dry, curly, or colored hair, a sensitive bar for dry, flaky, or itchy scalps, and a restoration conditioner bar for normal, dry, or chemically treated hair. The hydration bar uses Rosalina essential oils, the sensitive bar uses chia seed, camellia, and macadamia oils, and the restoration bar uses argan, eucalyptus, and Rosalina oils. Bars are pH balanced.
Faith in Nature Shampoo Bars – The Faith in Nature handmade shampoo bars come in three options; Coconut & Shea Butter, Lavender & Geranium, and Dragon Fruit. All these bars are vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, 100% natural, plastic-free, and are shipped and packaged in recyclable material. They have a lower pH level than soap, making them perfect for hair. Free from parabens and SLS. The coconut & lavender can be used on any hair type, while the dragon fruit is good for damaged or colored hair.
Viori Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – The shampoo and conditioner bars from Viori are a bit different in that they are made with rice exclusively sourced from the Longsheng Mountains. The most popular bar, Hidden Waterfall, is best for dry to normal hair and contains a natural essential oil blend of mandarin, cedar, jasmine, sandalwood, amber, and dark musk. All bars from Viori are pH balanced, 100% vegan, plastic-free, ethically sourced, cruelty-free, and preservative-free.
BLK + GRN Rhassoul & Bentonite Clay Shampoo Bar – The Rhassoul & Bentonite Clay shampoo bar from BLK + GRN is a nourishing, multipurpose bar that can detoxify your skin while clarifying your hair without stripping away any of the natural oils. Uses Rhassoul clay which enhances volume and removes dandruff, bentonite clay which traps and removes dirt, and amal powder which promotes hair growth. Uses an essential oil blend for fragrance. Shipped and packaged in cardboard and minimal plastic.
Zero Waste Store – Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – The Zero Waste Store has tons of options when it comes to shampoo & conditioner bars. The most popular, Blossom shampoo and Sunshine conditioner are great for all hair types including colored. These bars are TSA-approved, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, palm oil free, plastic free packaging, greywater safe, and zero waste. Each bar is packaged in 100% compostable, biodegradable cardboard box with water-based ink.
Wildcrafted Collection by Unwrapped Life – The Wildcrafted collection are SCS-based, formulated from naturally-derived colorants and active ingredients like charcoal and turmeric. The entire bar collection is color-safe, vegan-friendly, plastic-free, and cruelty-free. All bars are scented with 100% pure essential oils and can be used with extensions. Packaged in either cardboard, kraft paper, or boxes/envelopes with paper tape.
Creed and Color Rose & Apple Shampoo Bars – The Creed and Color Rose & Apple shampoo bars are zero-waste, plastic-free, color-protecting, vegan-friendly, and moisturizing to all hair types. The Rose and Lavender bar uses rose petals, lavender essential oil, and rose geranium essential oil for fragrance, while the Apple Cider Vinegar uses orange essential oils.
LashebaSpa Solid Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – The bars from LashebaSpa come in a wide range of scents, including mango, avocado, nettle oil, aloe vera, argan oil, and coffee silk. All of these bars can be used on the hair and skin, as they are pH balanced, handmade, and made from organic oils and butters. Works on all types of hair and can be made to order without essential oils. 100% natural ingredients and plastic-free. Vegan-friendly, travel-friendly, and zero waste.
Have you used a solid shampoo or conditioner bar before? Share your thoughts and your favorite brand in the comments below.