Does looking at all of the shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles cluttering up your shower caddy induce guilt about that growing island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean (not to mention the landfills)? Do you get annoyed trying to squeeze that last dribble of liquid shampoo out of the container? These are not great ways to start your morning — so maybe it’s time to switch to something a little old-school: Solid shampoo bars.
Shampoo bars aren’t a new concept. Before humans started to spend so much time on their hygiene (eek!), hair care hundreds of years ago involved massaging fragrant oils into one’s hair or using vegetable starch or wood ash to cleanse strands and absorb extra oil. Then, in the 19th century, soap bars containing palm fruit oil and coconut oil became popular for washing both bodies and hair. It wasn’t until the 1930s and 1940s, with the introduction of liquid cleaners and plastic products, that bottles and bottles of hair care products started taking over American bathrooms.
Fast-forward to today and we’re finally starting to realize that all of our “progress” is having some unfortunate consequences. According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, by 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish. Plus, 80 billion plastic bottles disposed of around the world each year are from shampoo and conditioner alone. Shampoo bars eliminate the wasteful packaging of liquid versions so we can help get the environmental impact under control.
Plus beyond being practically package-free, shampoo bars use natural ingredients to cleanse and moisturize your hair — and each bar generally lasts as long as two or three bottles of liquid shampoo. We’ve rounded up some of best shampoo bars for all types of hair and scalp needs. Check out the choices below and start a hair care routine that’s as good for your head as it is for the planet.
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1. Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar
Chock full of kiwifruit oil, coconut oil, neem oil, oatmeal and karanja oil, Ethique’s Heali Kiwi shampoo bar is specifically designed for those with sensitive or itchy scalps. Plus, Ethique offers solid shampoo options for other hair types and needs: Damage Control, Frizz Wrangler, Oaty Delicious for kids, Sweet & Spicy to add volume, St. Clements for oily hair, and more. Each bar uses biodegradable ingredients and compostable packaging and is pH balanced and 100% soap-free. The company is on a journey to convert people to plastic-free beauty and save the planet from 50 million bottles by 2025 — and they’re on track to do so! (Each bar is equivalent to three bottles of liquid shampoo.) Plus, Ethique donates 20% of its profits to charities fighting to protect the planet.
2. Aspen Kay Naturals Solid Shampoo Bar
Aspen Kay Naturals’ shampoo bars are specially formulated with organic argan oil, hibiscus, nettle and horsetail to strengthen and nourish your hair. These hair-loving herbs are hailed for helping to repair damaged hair and stimulate hair growth as well as soothe the scalp — without stripping either of their protective oils. Scented using only 100% pure essential oils like rosemary-peppermint and lemongrass-sweet orange, Aspen Kay’s shampoo bars are 100% soap-, silicone-, paraben-, and sulfate-free. Each 3-ounce bar is equal to 18 ounces of liquid shampoo.
3. The Yellow Bird Peppermint Shampoo Bar Soap
Great for sensitive scalps, this peppermint shampoo bar from The Yellow Bird is a great natural alternative to liquid psoriasis or dandruff shampoos. Ingredients like kaolin clay and sea salt help remove unwanted build-up, while vitamin E-rich argan and jojoba oils hydrate and protect hair from frizz. Lightly scented with fresh peppermint essential oil, the bar is free of detergents, sulfates, parabens and silicone. The eco-friendly, vegan bar can also be used as a soap for body and face, and comes in a recyclable box. In addition to peppermint, The Yellow Bird shampoo bar comes in a grapefruit, rosemary and lavender scents.
4. J.R. LIGGETT’S All-Natural Shampoo Bar
Made with natural oils like coconut, jojoba and olive, J.R. LIGGETT’S Bar Shampoos give hair a gentle-yet-thorough clean, and effectively remove the built-up sebum that can clog and damage hair follicles. Available in blends like Jojoba & Peppermint and Tea Tree & Hemp Oil, each blend is rich in vitamins and fatty acids that nourish the scalp with the nutrients hair needs for stronger, healthier growth and a healthy, hydrated shine. A great option for those with allergies or sensitivities, J.R. LIGGETT’s vegan formulas are sulfate- and palm oil-free and each bar is hand-cut in Cornish, New Hampshire. When the bar is allowed to air-dry between uses, each 3.5-ounce bar is approximately equal to a 24-ounce bottle of liquid shampoo.