For an affordable, more sustainable beauty swap, try a solid shampoo. From how to use one to how to store it, here’s our complete guide

If you’re looking for a more sustainable swap for your liquid shampoo, shampoo bars could be the way to go.

In recent years, formulas have come on in 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 kind to hair and tend to be more eco-conscious, giving shampoo in traditional plastic bottles a run for their money. From how to use one to 12 of the best solid shampoo bars for all hair types, here’s what you need to know.

What is a shampoo bar & how is it different from soap?

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 tends to have plastic-free packaging, making it a more eco-conscious choice.

Are shampoo bars more sustainable?

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your plastic waste, these solid shampoos can be a good choice in our experience.

Not only can they last longer (most claim to last the equivalent of around two 200ml to 250ml bottles of shampoo, depending on your hair length and habits), but they usually come in more eco-conscious, recyclable packaging, such as paper or card.

And, because they’re more compact and lightweight, less space is required to transport them, reducing their carbon footprint even further. Side note: 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?

Our preferred method is to lather up the soap between our hands first and then apply to our hair, before rinsing it off with warm water, but some brands recommend wetting the bar and rubbing it directly into hair from scalp to ends.

Others recommend just focusing on the scalp, which can be a handy option for those who have greasy roots but dry ends.

It’s really up to you how you use your shampoo bar and, 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, you’ll soon find the best way to wash your hair using a solid shampoo that suits your scalp needs and hair type.

Why does my hair feel greasy after using a shampoo bar?

This is a common concern and often means you haven’t washed it out properly. To keep build-up to a minimum, use a little to start off with, building it up gradually and see how you get on. Also, try rinsing hair for 30 seconds longer than you usually would to remove every last trace.

Some people also experience a transitional period, while their hair adjusts. If you’ve used liquid shampoos with stronger cleansing agents before, it could take a couple of weeks for your hair to reacclimatise. 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 and how you use one (particularly when it comes to washing it out properly).

Like with liquid shampoo, application is key. If you have fine hair, it could be worth starting with a small amount and slowly building it up, so that roots aren’t left flat. Those with textured or curly hair types may prefer lathering the solid shampoo between their hands and massaging it through their lengths rather than rubbing it directly on them in order to avoid tangles.

Do I need a conditioner with a shampoo bar?

Yes, particularly if you have long hair. It comes down to personal preference, though. Some may not want to use a conditioner while their hair gets used to a solid shampoo, but in the long term it isn’t 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 it to last somewhere between 20 and 50 washes, depending on your hair length, how often you wash your hair and how you store it. Not much is usually needed to achieve a creamy lather and so a little goes a long way.

How do you store (& dry) a shampoo bar?

To make your bar last as long as possible, try storing it in a tin or soap box and keep it dry in between washes to stop it from crumbling. Some now even come with a handy rope built in to allow you to hang it dry after use. Genius!

12 of the best shampoo bars available at Boots

Whether you want to nourish damaged hair or help boost volume, here are 12 of our top solid shampoo bar picks to help kick off your cleanse.

Explore these other great options, too.

Best for damaged hair

Try: Pantene Pro-V Nourish & Volume Shampoo Bar

• Size: 70g

• Built-in rope to hang dry

Boots customers agree – this shampoo bar smells amazing. A treat for strands and senses, it’s brimming with hair-friendly nutrients to help care and cleanse lengths that are feeling the effects of too much heat and styling.

Best for oily hair

Try: Ethique St Clements Solid Shampoo

• Size: 110g

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

Give greasy roots the boot with this clarifying shampoo bar. Perfect if you work out regularly, this bar helps balance oil control with lightweight moisture thanks to its blend of zesty lime and orange oils and moisture-attracting humectants (ingredients that attract water to skin).

Best for dandruff

Try: Head & Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Bar with Citrus

• Size: 70g

• Built-in rope to hang dry

Prone to a flaky scalp on occasion? This uniquely shaped shampoo bar could be for you. Designed to give your scalp a gentle massage while you sud up, the bar’s aloe barbadensis leaf juice and citrus-infused formula helps provide a deep cleanse.   

Best for curly hair

Try: Faith in Nature Coconut & Shea Butter Shampoo Bar

• Size: 85g

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

This conditioning shampoo bar contains nourishing coconut oil and shea butter, so smells delicious, and leaves curls feeling clean and soft. Perfect for helping keep dryness-prone ends hydrated.

Best for a sensitive scalp

Try: Garnier Ultimate Blends Delicate Oat Softening Shampoo Bar

• Size: 71g

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

Oat milk and rice cream serve up a welcome treat for delicate scalps and dry hair. With a luxe formula that lathers silkily, this bar leaves strands feeling soft and supple.

Best for volume

Try: Ethique Sweet & Spicy Shampoo Bar to Add Volume

• Size: 110g

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

Consider roots revitalised thanks to this bar’s uplifting mix of sweet orange oil, cinnamon and Epsom salts. Cocoa butter and coconut oil provide the conditioning twist that frazzled ends will love.

Best for dry hair

Try: Herbal Essences Nourish Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera

• Size: 70g

• Built-in rope to hang dry

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

This moisturising shampoo bar is the perfect match for the frequent hair washers among us. The formula includes aloe vera and a blend of botanicals, identified and endorsed by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, to help leave lengths feeling soft and subtly scented.

Best for very dry hair

Try: Aussie Nourishing Hug Shampoo Bar

• Size: 70g

• Built-in rope to hang dry

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

Give super-dry hair a caring cleanse with this softening shampoo bar, containing the brand’s signature Australian macadamia nut oil. As conditioning as it is cute to look at, it leaves lengths feeling clean and silky for a top koala-ty (sorry, we couldn’t resist) finish. 

Best for fine hair

Try: John Frieda Volumising Shampoo Bar

• Size: 75g

• Vegan

Fight flat roots from the first step of your haircare routine with this shampoo bar that gently cleanses as it helps volumise. It leaves hair feeling soft and noticeably bouncier.

Best for an itchy scalp

Try: Ethique Heali Kiwi Solid Shampoo for Touchy Scalps

• Size: 110g

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

Featuring neem and karanja oils and oatmeal, this calming shampoo bar helps reduce itchiness and wash scalp woes away. A treat from root to tip for a happier head of hair. 

Best for a colour refresh

Try: Bleach London Rosé Shampoo Bar

• Size: 50g

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

If you’re looking to add a pastel rose tint to bleached or light blonde hair, this clever solid shampoo is for you. Designed to deposit a pale blush pigment to build or enhance your tones, it subtly colours as it cleanses.

Best for beards

Try: L’Oréal Paris Men Expert Barber Club Solid Shampoo & Wash

• Size: 80g

• Can be used from head to toe

Covering body, beard and beyond, this versatile shampoo bar, enriched with cedarwood essential oil, is the ultimate saver on shelf space. We love a multitasker that delivers.