For an affordable green beauty swap that’s kind to hair and the environment, try a solid shampoo. From how to use one to how it compares to liquid shampoo, here’s your complete guide
If you’re looking for a sustainable swap for your liquid shampoo, shampoo bars could be the way to go.
Over the last two years, formulas have come on leaps and bounds – long gone are the days when they would leave behind a waxy, greasy residue or become a gooey or crumbly mess after just a couple of uses.
Today’s offering delivers results that are both kind to hair and the environment, giving traditional shampoos a run for their money. From how to use one to 12 of the best shampoo bars for all hair types, here’s what you need to know.
What is a shampoo bar?
A shampoo bar is a solid shampoo that looks and works like soap but is a lot less drying. It’s long-lasting, travel-friendly, and thanks to its packaging, provides an easy and effective way to go plastic-free.
Is a shampoo bar better than liquid shampoo?
Each has its place. However, if you’re conscious of your plastic use, shampoo bars are the better choice in our experience.
Not only do they last longer, but they also tend to come in eco-friendlier, recyclable packaging such as paper and card. And, because they’re more compact and lightweight, less space is required to transport them, reducing their carbon footprint even further. Plus, if you often struggle with suitcase space when you go on holiday (raises hand), their smaller size is a traveller’s dream.
How do you use a shampoo bar?
Some brands recommend wetting the bar and rubbing it into hair from scalp to ends before lathering and rinsing it off with warm water. Others recommend just focusing on the scalp, which is a great option for those who have greasy roots but dry ends. Some advise lathering it in your hands first (our preferred method).
We’ll be honest with you, it feels a little strange to begin with. However, if you’re open to a little trial and error to find the way that best suits your hair type, it’s worth it.
Why does my hair feel greasy after using a shampoo bar?
This is a common concern and often means that you haven’t washed it out properly. To keep build-up to a minimum, use a little to start off with and see how you get on. Next, try rinsing hair for 30 seconds longer than you usually would to remove every last scrap.
Some people also experience a transitional period while their hair adjusts. If you’ve tended to use liquid shampoos with stronger cleansing agents before, it could take a couple of weeks for your hair to rebalance and readjust. An apple cider vinegar hair rinse has been touted by many to help.
Are shampoo bars better for your hair?
It depends on the formulation. However, broadly speaking, shampoo bars tend to include gentler ingredients (many are SLS-free for example) and can therefore be less stripping – which makes them a great fit for dry, coloured and damaged hair types.
Like with all beauty products, application is key. Those with textured or curly hair types may prefer lathering the shampoo bar between their hands and massaging it through their lengths rather than rubbing the soap directly on them in order to avoid tangles. If you have fine hair, it could also be worth starting with a small amount and slowly building it up so that roots aren’t left flat.
Do I need a conditioner with a shampoo bar?
Yes, particularly if you have long hair. It does come down to personal preference, though. While some find that they may not want to use a conditioner in the initial stages while their hair gets used to the change in formula, a shampoo bar is not a replacement for a moisturising treatment that targets the effects of over-styling and heat and sun damage.
To prevent hair from feeling weighed down, avoid roots and apply conditioner just to the mid-lengths and ends.
How long does a shampoo bar last?
Expect a shampoo bar to last around two months, or up to 80 to 100 washes, provided that you store it in a tin or soapbox and keep it dry in between washes to stop it from crumbling. Not much is usually needed to achieve a creamy lather and so a little goes a long way.
Do Boots sell shampoo bars?
12 OF THE BEST SHAMPOO BARS
Best shampoo bar for dull hair
Try: Eco Warrior Deeply Nourishing Shampoo Bar with Orange & Ginger Essential Oils (£4.50)
• Size: 100g
SLS-free and made with 89.5% naturally derived ingredients (including sustainable palm oil), this vegan shampoo bar provides a conditioning cleanse that cares for the environment. Pink clay and orange and ginger essential oils help reinvigorate the scalp and lacklustre lengths to leave hair feeling fuller, more hydrated and more manageable.
Best shampoo bar for curly hair
Try: Faith in Nature Coconut & Shea Butter Shampoo Bar (£3.86)
• Size: 85g
This vegan shampoo bar containing nourishing coconut oil and shea butter smells delicious and leaves hair squeaky clean and soft. Packaged in a cardboard wrapper that is compostable and recyclable, it also keeps waste to a minimum.
Best shampoo bar for a sensitive scalp
Try: Garnier Ultimate Blends Delicate Oat Softening Shampoo Bar for Sensitive Scalp & Fragile Hair (£7.99)
• Size: 71g
Oat milk and rice cream serve up an SOS vegan treatment for a delicate scalp and dry hair. With a creamy formula that lathers well, it leaves strands soft and supple.
Best shampoo bar for volume
Try: Ethique Sweet & Spicy Solid Shampoo (£8.66)
• Size: 110g
• 100% palm free
Consider roots revitalised thanks to this shampoo bar’s uplifting mix of orange, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Cocoa butter and coconut oil provide a conditioning twist, making this ideal for hair types that veer towards the dry side.
Best shampoo bar for a dry and itchy scalp
Try: Faith In Nature Lavender & Geranium Shampoo Bar (£3.86)
• Size: 85g
Harnessing the scalp-calming benefits of its Lavender & Geranium liquid shampoo (£3.86) in bar form, this vegan shampoo bar soothes and de-stresses in one fell swoop.
Another high performer in this category is Ethique Heali Kiwi Solid Shampoo (£8.66). With coconut, neem, Karanja oils and oatmeal, it helps soothe itchiness to wash scalp woes away.
Best shampoo bar for dry hair
Try: Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera for Normal Hair (£7.99)
• Size: 60g
This moisturising vegan shampoo bar is the perfect match for the frequent hair washers among us. Non-stripping, it leaves lengths soft and subtly scented thanks to a combo of aloe vera and coconut oil.
Best shampoo bar for beards
Try: L’Oréal Men Expert Barber Club Solid Shampoo and Wash Bar for Hair, Face & Beard and Body (£6.99)
• Size: 80g
Covering body, beard and beyond, this multi-tasking shampoo bar enriched with cedarwood essential oil is the ultimate saver on shelf space. Its packaging is also 100% recyclable!
Best shampoo bar for very dry hair
Try: Ethique Frizz Wrangler Solid Shampoo (£8.66)
• Size: 110g
• 100% palm free
Quench super-dry hair with this vegan shampoo bar’s conditioning cocktail of Samoan coconut oil and cocoa butter. Palm oil-free (as with all of the bars from the brand) and formulated to provide a frizz-free finish, it leaves lengths silky smooth.
Best shampoo bar for a colour refresh
Try: Bleach London Rosé Shampoo Bar (£4.67)
• Size: 50g
If you’re looking to add a pastel rosé tint to blonde hair, or you’re wanting to perk up the pink hues put in during a salon visit, this clever vegan solid shampoo is for you. Designed to deposit a pale blush pigment to build or enhance your tones, it subtly colours as it cleanses.