On my sustainability journey, one of the first “eco swaps” I made was switching from commercial bottled shampoo to shampoo bars. If you think about it, you’re mainly paying for water, a plastic bottle, and synthetic detergents with conventional shampoo. I want to avoid packaging wherever possible, and I’ve also moved to more natural products in my toiletry and beauty routines. Many brands are also now focusing on ingredients that are good for the environment as well as you. Shampoo bars have less packaging, they take up less space, and look more minimalist (if this is important to you). After making this switch around 2 ½ years ago, I’ve tested a fair few options. Here is my comprehensive review of shampoo bars!
More to Read!
For more on minimalism see: Minimalism – Helpful or Detrimental to Sustainable Living?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links
My Hair Type and Washing Routine:
I have thick brown hair that is sort of dyed sort of not (hello 2020). My hair is combination oily and dry, and is slightly wavy. I’ve used some of the products listed below on colour treated hair, but I can’t comment on the bars’ performances for other hair types. I know that, for example, people with curly or natural hair often find shampoo bars that work for hair types like mine, don’t work for them.
On average, my shampoo bars last around 2 months and that is washing my 3 times a week. I lather the bar and massage it primarily on my scalp, and I use a conditioner bar for the end of my hair. Since switching to shampoo bars, my scalp has been less itchy, and I no longer have dandruff. My hair perhaps isn’t as soft and shiny as with conventional shampoo, but I’m willing to give up the gloss for my health and for the planet.
In case you’re interested, here are a few links to other shampoo bar reviews for different hair types:
This post focuses on international and UK brands. For Canadian brands, check out The Eco Hub.ca 10 Natural Canadian Shampoo Bars that Work
For recommendations for curly/natural hair see: seriously.natural.org
Tips for ingredients to look for:
- Tea tree oil and citrus oils are good for itchy scalp and dandruff.
- Clays are good for clarifying and for oily hair.
- I’ve heard that castile soap works well with natural hair (for example, like afros).
- Oils like coconut and castor are moisturising ingredients.
Not all shampoo bars are equal. Some use concentrated detergents like SLS, some use soap, and others use nourishing natural ingredients like shea butter. You’ll need to find a shampoo bar that suits your hair type, and also your water type.
On to the Reviews:
For fun, I’ve ranked each bar out of 5, because why not?!
Earth Kind – Citrus Fresh 5/5
I like that Earth Kind is a sustainable company. The citrus scent smells a bit like a spa, and the bar is creamy and lasts a long time; it also lathers well and leaves my hair feeling fresh. I can’t quite put my finger on what this smells like, possibly men’s aftershave or deodorant, or maybe generic body wash smell from hotels? In any case, it smells nice, and I’m on to my second bar. You can get it at Holland & Barrett in the UK.
I mentioned this bar in my previous post: Organic and Natural Toiletries from Independent Brands
Faith in Nature
Shea Butter and Coconut – 4/5
I really like these bars! They are a bit more solid and take a while to lather, but this bar seems the most natural to me in terms of scent and ingredients. The scent is a pleasant mild coconut, but you can’t smell it on your hair afterwards. I would classify this as family friendly, everyday use.
Dragon Fruit – ?/5
It smells nice! Haven’t actually used it yet.
Faith in Nature bars are available at Holland & Barrett and on Amazon
Soap Nut Shampoo Bar – 0/5
Had no lather, and left my hair tacky and greasy, even with an apple cider vinegar rinse. It was completely unusable as shampoo!
Little Soap Company Eco Warrior Orange and Ginger Shampoo Bar – 5/5
This British made soap is vegan, cruelty free, and created using sustainable palm oil. I think this might be one of the best shampoo bars out there. It lathered well, smells nice, and made my hair soft and tangle free. My hair feels like I washed it with conventional shampoo when I use this bar! It is also one of the most affordable options on the market. I got it for £4.00 on Amazon, and it is also available at Boots.
Lush Shampoo Bars
Smells like cinnamon… maybe too much like cinnamon? It has cinnamon oil and also a peppermint and nettle infusion to sooth your scalp. Lucy really liked this bar and said she would repurchase.
Jumping Juniper 5/5
My go-to Lush scent. It’s fresh smelling and great for everyday washing. It’s best for hair like mine that isn’t curly and not dry/damaged. It has juniper berries to balance sebum production, and rosemary oil to cleanse the scalp. This is the purple bar featured in the photo above.
Smells a bit like candy. I didn’t find my hair felt particularly clean from using this bar, and I never like when they have bits of dried flowers or whatever in the bar because it gets stuck in my hair. This bar has a lot of plant fats in it from coconut to moisturise damaged hair.
This was a limited edition. It was nice for dry, dark coloured hair, but the coffee beans kind of hurt my scalp when rubbed on my head to lather (brown bar in photo above).
I like to use the Honey based shampoo bar in winter when my hair is drier. It is very moisturising and smells delicious. Lucy also enjoys this bar (cream bar in photo above).
Lucy has tried:
Lemon scented and intended to keep your hair shiny, with rosemary oil to sooth your scalp. Lucy enjoyed this one, but it was too volumising for her fine, short brown hair (yellow bar featured in photo above).
Angel Hair 2/5
Rose scented with aquafaba for shine. This is meant to be a gentle shampoo bar. Lucy found it forgettable.
FlyWay Hair 3/5
This one is for fine hair and it is supposed to prevent fly aways. It stained the grout of the bathtub and was a bit too harsh for Lucy.
This bar has argan oil and glycerine it it for soft shiny hair. It is apparently good for fine hair. Lucy used this bar for about 8 months straight, but found it caused build up with continued use (red bar featured in photo above).
So there you have it, all the mainstream shampoo bars we’ve tried since we switched from bottle to bar! Are you a bar user? If so, what’s your go-to product?