Style

“Does My Hair Look Flat?” A Shampoo Bar Challenge

The Best Shampoo Bars

Shampoo bars. With their minimal packaging, they’re better for the environment than traditional plastic bottles. They’re convenient for travel (TSA approved, no chance of unfortunate spills or explosions). Plus, since a standard bar lasts for around 80 washes, they’re a much better value than liquid shampoo. But how well do they actually work? By popular demand, I tried five bars in search of the answer…

Truth time: I went into this experiment with a lot of skepticism. Like any unfamiliar territory, I was a bit intimidated. As one who relies on daily exercise as a pillar of personal sanity, I wash my hair almost every day, so I need something effective but gentle. I’d heard tales of shampoo bars contributing to tangles or creating a waxy build-up. Thus, I eyed the bars for a number of days before finally taking the plunge:

Shampoo Bars

1. J.R. Liggett’s Old-Fashioned Shampoo Bar
I was attracted to this bar for both its price (under $10) and the avalanche of positive reviews. The scent was subtle and pleasant, but beyond that, it wasn’t my favorite of the bunch. It lathered nicely, but on my hair, it felt rubbery and sticky, and was hard to fully rinse out. Once dry, my hair didn’t feel as moisturized as with some of the other contenders. Also — and I don’t know how this happened — as I was using it, some of the soap found its way into my mouth, and good lord was that terrible.
Rating: Three out of five stars

2. Daughter of the Land Hair & Body Shampoo, Moon Flower
This certified organic, fair trade bar doubles as a shampoo AND body wash, which does wonders for simplifying your shower. I’d heard many good things about the brand (a friend swears by their body oil) so I was excited to try it. And it did not disappoint! The scent was lovely but not overpowering and left my hair feeling pleasantly clean, albeit with a touch of that waxy, hard-to-comb-through feeling as I was rinsing it out. Bonus: The cardboard packaging is display-worthy and happens to match my pink-and-black-tiled bathroom. 
Rating: Four out of five stars.

3. Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar
This vegan bar, the fanciest (AKA priciest, at $22) of the bunch, lathers nicely and feels moisturizing, even as you’re using it. It still leaves hair with that “squeaky clean” feeling typical of shampoo bars, but my hair dried nicely and felt soft after I styled it. It’s also suitable for use on the body, making this excellent for travel. I detracted one star since the price is a bit of a deterrent, but based on performance alone, I would definitely recommend this!
Rating: Four out of five stars.

4. Love Beauty and Planet 2-in-1 Bar, Coconut and Mimosa Flower
Long before I opened the box, this bar was like, “HELLO, DO YOU LIKE MY SCENT? PLEASE INHALE MY SCENT. WONDERING WHAT THAT SMELL IS? IT’S ME!” So for anyone sensitive to smells, take note: this will make your bathroom smell like a synthetic botanical garden. The bar itself is heart-shaped, which is cute, but not nearly enough to redeem it. It left my hair feeling drier than the others, which solidified its home in last place.
Rating: Two-and-a-half out of five stars.

5. Ethique Eco-Friendly Shampoo Bar, Heali Kiwi
This New Zealand based line offers a variety of scents and ingredients for different hair types. (They even make a kids’ version.) This kiwi version is for “touchy scalps” and has little grainy oatmeal bits in it. I loved it immediately. It foamed easily in my hair, but rinsed completely clean, with none of the waxy rubbery feeling that accompanied every other bar. My hair was soft and shiny and stayed that way — even when I skipped my wash on the second day. This was easily my favorite of the bunch, and what I plan to use in the coming weeks.
Rating: A constellation of so many stars. Or, five out of five stars.

If you are looking to try shampoo bars, keep in mind that much like the switch to natural deodorant, your body needs a moment to adjust. I recommend giving yourself at least a week or two of regular use to decide if you like it. Do you need conditioner with a shampoo bar? Answers vary. Many bars suggest the optional use of conditioner as a follow-up. For my long hair, I still require my regular conditioner, though only on the ends.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by my experience and am officially a convert. As it turns out, so is my boyfriend, who decided to try the bounty of bars that kept appearing in the shower.

After using all the bars in tandem, I asked for his thoughts. “I really like shampoo bars!” he tells me, “Even more than liquid shampoo. It feels cleaner.” But did any bar stand out? “They’re all basically the same, with slightly different scents.” And there you have it! If you have short hair and are not at all particular, all of these bars are pretty great.

Have you tried shampoo bars? Do you have any recommendations? We’d love to hear.

P.S. 6 surprising secrets of a hairstylist and the $18 hair tool I swear by.

Note: If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We recommend only products we genuinely like. Thank you so much.

  1. Jess says...

    After reading this article, I bought a shampoo bar from Lush and used it for the first time this morning. It’s GREAT. Where do we find conditioner bars?

    • Sahara says...

      You can also find them at Lush! I like the Jungle one.

  2. Lush honey shea is perfection!
    Haven’t found a conditioner bar that’s great though.

  3. Camille says...

    Great post! Any recommendations to switch to toothpaste in a jar?

  4. Miriam Kendall says...

    Yes! Love this article and love shampoo bars. My absolute favorite is Lush brand’s Jason and the Argan Oil. My hair is very dry and it is super moisturizing. I also like that if you go to a Lush store to purchase it, there is zero packaging whatsoever. And like Caroline, I also converted my husband to shampoo bars. Win win!

  5. Katie says...

    Thank you so much for this post! A few weeks ago I was actually going to email to suggest doing a post on this topic. I’m really in climate change panic mode and trying to cut back whenever I can. I tried the Lush ones and didn’t love them (I color my hair–speaking of things that don’t help the environment–and I don’t think the Lush bars were a great match for that). But I am going to dive back in and try to find something else!

  6. Kelley says...

    I’ve been using shampoo bars for a couple of years and love them. I really like J.R. Liggetts, but only the original or herbal formula. Many others, including the argan oil one that Caroline tried, have extra oils in them that leave more of residue. I would like to try Ethique, especially since it’s a detergent-based bar rather than soap, but my only option is to order it from Amazon and they will probably ship it in a plastic envelope, which is a deal breaker for me. But when I order from JR Liggett’s I know it will come without the plastic.

  7. Jamie says...

    I’ve been using shampoo bars for about 2 years. I love Unwrapped Life, a Canadian company. Also got my Dad onto it, he couldn’t find a traditional shampoo that didn’t irritate his scalp. But the bar works for him. And me too!

  8. Bethany says...

    I’ve tried a few different bars including Ethique and my favorite so far is HiBAR. I like to wash about twice a week and I feel like this bar is the best my hair has felt between washes. It feels clean and light, not dry or flat. I also like the shape of it because it fits in my palm and has an angled top that just seems less awkward to rub on my head. Thanks for doing posts on reducing waste!

    • Mindy says...

      I am loving my HiBar shampoo and conditioner too! I was using a fancy Shu Uemura set before but was noticing a lot of hair loss that I attributed to stress. Within a couple of weeks of switching, the hair loss seemed to improve dramatically. Totally was not expecting that but have been hooked ever since.

      The Ethique review is intriguing though! I may need to try that one next.

    • Kelly says...

      Also a HiBAR convert! I was shocked at how much softer my hair was after switching.

  9. Sara M says...

    Does anyone have any insight into the sustainability of refillable/bulk shampoo vs. shampoo bar (same goes for dishsoap, etc.), particularly if one does not have easy local access to anything besides a Lush? I would have to buy all these bars online, so I’m wondering if my local zero waste store is actually more eco-friendly…

    • Charissa says...

      One thing that’s made me feel good about buying shampoo bars online is that you can sort by location on Etsy!

  10. Ileana says...

    Trying to reduce waste where I can, and this post is the nudge I needed to give shampoo bars a shot. Thank you!

  11. Sarah says...

    I’ve been using shampoo bars for just over a year, and love love love them! Bars by Lush are super sudsy and luxurious. But, recently I picked up an under $10 option from Whole Foods. No suds, but still leaves my hair feeling clean and fresh. No complaints from my hair stylist either.

    I have not had a great experience with bar conditioner, however. Recommendations? Would love to zero waste my shower!

    Thanks for sharing your experience Caroline!

  12. Amanda says...

    My 17 year old daughter seems to be using a good heaping Tablespoon full of shampoo and conditioner every shower, and honestly the shower will quickly become home to five or six partially empty bottles. I think these bars sound like a great alternative! I have have thin, fine, curly Caucasian hair and she has thick Asian hair and plenty of it! I guess we need our own type of bar.

  13. Alice says...

    I have fine, wavy hair with a natural frizz –

    Aleppo soap followed by a leave in conditioner is amazing, and it’s great for my objectionable skin. I find it lathers most easily under water, or if I run a piece in my hands first then into my hair.

  14. Kate says...

    I use goat’s milk soap from my farmer’s market. Most soap makers use their soaps for more than just body washing, so just ask them what they recommend (my soap maker also uses their soaps to make homemade laundry soap). The biggest key to success with shampoo bars is soft water. When I lived in SoCal one wash with bar soap left a ton of residue in my hair (as well as on the glass shower doors). Now that I’m in Virginia, I have no problems whatsoever.

    • moreteaplease says...

      The hard/soft water thing is key! I live in a very hard water area of So CA, and I’ve had to stop using bar soap on my body because of it. Very frustrating!

  15. Katie says...

    I love Lush’s Jumping Juniper shampoo bar! I have thin, fine hair and it works great for me

    • Alana says...

      I have thick hair that gets oily quickly, and I love the Jumping Juniper bar too! I tried switching to a different shampoo bar that was locally made, but it made my hair feel pretty gross, so I’m going back to Lush.

    • Kaitlin says...

      On another note, Lush’s massage bars and lotion bars are AMAZING for dry skin (I have fair, freckled, Irish skin that’s prone to burning and drying out). The massage bars are a little meltier, so I like those better, but both are awesome–for anyone looking for another, greener product swap.

  16. Mary says...

    I’ve tried several different Ethique bars — multiple varieties of shampoo and, and their conditioner — and while I love the way it works, I found it absolutely disintegrates in the shower. I even got their special storage case, and it still lasted me barely any time at all. This is the shampoos – the conditioner bar lasts much longer. At $16 each, it’s just not really worth it, I’m afraid.

    Curious to see what other bars are out there, though, since I’m determined to reduce plastic use. A zero-waste sustainable soap company just opened a storefront near me, so I’m thinking I’ll switch to refillable bottles I can take there!

    • Kristin says...

      I’ve used Lush’s shampoo bars for a while and was similarly frustrated with the disintegrating! What’s worked for me is using a VERY sharp knife to break the bar into 6-8 pieces, and use only 1 piece at a time in the shower (storing the others in a reusable container in a cabinet). That way, I get a nice fresh (mini) shampoo bar every month or so.

    • NJ says...

      I’ve had this problem, and I think it’s just because the bars kinda disintegrate in the steam and constantly wet environment that is the shower. So I have my shampoo bar, conditioner bar, and face cleansing soap bar live in on a small plastic tray on a shelf on the other side of the bathroom. I take them in with me when I go to shower, then out again, and they’re back to lasting forever. I hope this works for you!

  17. Mina says...

    Sammmmeee! Was so sceptical and feel very precious about shampoo and hair but I now prefer shampoo bars to liquid shampoo. My hair just feels so much nicer and has way more volume!

    • Sarah says...

      Would you mind sharing what kind of shampoo bars you use? Do you use any conditioner with them?

  18. this post could NOT have come at a better time- thank you Caroline! I have been contemplating the shampoo bar for months, and being almost out of my current shampoo have had the Ethique Kiwi bar sitting in my shopping cart for days. Officially purchasing!

  19. Sarah says...

    Tried the most moisturizing Lush shampoo bar and still found it too drying for my coarse dry hair. I’m back to buying Costco brand shampoo in bulk, which is actually fantastic. I tell myself that bulk products at least use less plastic and less shipping. I also tried a Lush moisturizing shower bar and definitely noticed the waxey residue. I’m hoping that as the demand for naked products gets bigger the quality will improve but for now I’m not sold.

  20. Beth says...

    Maybe someone has already mentioned this brand, but I started using the No Tox Life shampoo and conditioner pucks a couple of months ago and I really like them. I have colored, shoulder length hair. They have a light, fresh scent. However the pucks are small and only last a month if I’m careful for 7.75 each. I may try something a bit larger next time. It’s a great company though and I’ve started using their dish soap block and I really love it!

  21. Kyra says...

    I find the wax of shampoo bars leaves a lingering residue in my hair. I’ve since switched to Plaine Products. Definitely on the pricier side, but makes my soul happy. https://www.plaineproducts.com/

  22. Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for giving our clever little bars a whirl! So happy to read that you have enjoyed our shampoo bar. It looks like the lovely Tiffany has bet me to it and has hit the nail on the head. Some of the other bars you have tried are intact, soap. Our shampoos are 100% soap free and again, as mentioned by Tiffany, they are pH balanced. We have a short video on Youtube if you were interested to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCfNprsW8Zk&t=35s . Not to say that soap is bad, it’s a great ingredient. Just not great for the hair, especially over al long period of time.

    Thanks again for giving our shampoo a try! It means a lot and is truly appreciated.

    Have a lovely week.
    Jen

  23. Kim says...

    Haven’t tried these but zerowastestore.com has a ton of shampoo and conditioner bars.

  24. Jen says...

    So…can I bring it back to the basics…how does one actually use a shampoo bar?? Do you build up a lather in your hands and then apply or do you actually just rub it on your hair. I’m a beauty novice – so I need all the help and directions I can get!

    • Melissa says...

      ditto! how do we do it???

    • Stephanie says...

      I use HiBar and have found that it’s best to lather in my hands rather than try to rub it directly on my head (it tends to tangle my hair)

    • Laurel says...

      I got one from Lush and they told me to wet my hair, swirl the bar around my head once, then put it down and get to the usual washing motions. My hair was bob length and Lush shampoo bars are fairly sudsy, so ymmv.

    • Annalissa says...

      I’ve been using LUSH bars for years and they’re so great! I have somewhat fine/ tangle-prone hair so I always lather up in my hands and apply instead of rubbing the whole bar on my head.
      It definitely took me a minute to find my sweet spot with the brand, but the price point is comfy (~$11/bar), they’re super easy to travel with/take to the gym, and they have a variety that I’ll switch between depending on the season/ how sweaty I’m getting, haha.

  25. mira says...

    I have used Lush shampoo bars for the past four years, and I absolutely love them. I have used all of them and never disliked any (some just didn’t work for my hair type as well), but my absolute favorite is Seanik, which has a gorgeous, light smell, and makes my thin hair feel voluminous and thick and happy! I also use Lush solid conditioners, my favorites being the solid Big and American Cream bars. All of their solid/naked products are fairly affordable, with a shampoo bar usually costing around $12. Shampoo bars scare some peeps because they’re used a little bit differently, but they are so much better in my opinion, and I can’t see myself ever going back! I highly recommend trying them out (with an open mind!) if you haven’t yet!

    p.s. ALL of the naked range from Lush is incredible, and I am slowly letting the naked cleansers and moisturizers take up my bathroom cabinet space… :)

    • Ellen says...

      Couldn’t agree with you more! I love the lush bars, but you need to make sure you have a place to drain/dry them because they have a short lifespan if they get all wet and mushy!

  26. E says...

    What’s the best way to store a shampoo bar in between washes? I hate using bar soap as they always seem to get gummy, slimy, etc in the shower.

    • Melissa says...

      yassss! and how to I keep all my various soaps separate and labeled so I don’t mix them up??

    • Meg says...

      As an ardent bar soap lover, I have STRONG feelings about soap dishes that just don’t work and make soap soup! Basic principle, your soap or shampoo should touch as little surface area as possible. Most often I sit mine directly on my good ‘ole wire shower organizer/caddy hanging from the shower head.

      Otherwise, I recommend these soap savers (I even put these in decorative – read: ineffective – soap dishes): https://www.muji.us/store/stainless-steel-soap-dish4547315820795.html or https://www.amazon.com/Spectrum-Soap-Saver-Color-Clear/dp/B006SFJC3M

      My favorite way to travel with bar soap is in simple cloth bags; sold by Osmia Organics or the one that comes with JR Liggett’s bars. Benefits are that it lets the bar breathe, easy to clean/rinse, and essentially becomes whatever size your soap is so it will take up less space in your luggage as you use your soap. (You won’t be carrying a large plastic bottle with 3 drops of product in it.)
      Lush sells little tins which are nice, but if your bar isn’t fully dry going in, it will stick/become mushy soap mess, and be a bitch trying to get back out of the tin. (But have recommended adding a piece of parchment or wax paper to the bottom for easy removal.

      Hope this helps! Soap soup is the worst!!

    • Cynthia says...

      You can buy a storage box from lush or get a soap dish with drainage slots so it doesn’t turn to mush. I use a locally made soap for my face, and I put it on a soap dish with drainage holes.

    • Alix says...

      Have you ever seen those magnetic soap holders? They come with a small magnetic disk (about the size of a nickel) that you push into the soft soap until it’s slightly embedded. The magnet then sticks to a mounted arm so the soap is suspended and can dry out fully. This one is out of stock, but looks really nice and there are many others out there: https://www.waldentheory.com/product-page/soap-holder

    • Mindy says...

      I use HiBar now and the shape seems to be conducive to drying out easily. I just have them sitting upright on a little dish out of the way of the water, and so far no issues. The Lush bars, on the other hand, are a total mess.

  27. DN in NYC says...

    I have curly/wavy hair and only use conditioner, and I love HiBAR’s moisturize conditioner https://www.hellohibar.com/ It doesn’t weigh down my hair, though I do feel like I still need to use a creme rinse every couple of weeks. This one bar consistently makes my hair happy, and I haven’t felt as if I need to switch out my conditioner every couple of days like I used to. I buy this at my Brooklyn, NYC co-op.

  28. Lee says...

    I recently ordered a pack of shampoo and conditioner bars from Basin. I haven’t used the shampoo bar yet (still using up a plastic bottle I have), but I love the conditioner bar. I use it only on the ends, comb out my hair in the shower (it’s wavy), and then do a quick rinse. It works really well!

    It also didn’t come in loads of unnecessary packaging and I didn’t feel too bad about shipping since I ordered a pack that should last for a long time!

  29. Susie says...

    Ethique “pinkalicious” shampoo smells so good, like vanilla and grapefruit! I use a container also from Ethique so the bar won’t get mushy, but found I don’t need to keep the lid on. I also use their conditioner and “In Your Face” face wash bars. For travel I got a soap case, and it takes up less space than all those little bottles.

  30. Eloise says...

    Anyone know if they are safe for dyed hair?

    • Therese Komar says...

      Yes! I actually use Lush shampoo bars on my highlighted hair and they are great.

  31. Joaquina says...

    So many eco-conscious CoJ readers, I love it!

    Not to hijack the shampoo bar thread but for anyone interested in
    no longer using plastic-bottled deodorant, check out “meow meow tweet” deodorant stick. The packaging is biodegradeable, aluminum-free, and free of baking powder. I order from Target (I know, not ideal) and pick it up there to avoid shipping. It’s pretty effective even during hot southern CA summers :)

    • Lauren says...

      I’m curious about what’s not ideal about Target – if it’s about the environment, plus sides might be that big stores are more environmentally friendly because they’re more efficient with heating (easier to heat one big space than many smaller ones), and they might keep people from driving as much to multiple stores, and they make fewer stops for delivery trucks. Also most products come to the store in cardboard boxes and other packing and shipping materials (even ‘waste free’ merchandise) and bigger stores means more bulk shipments and less wasteful packaging. but then maybe you meant something else 😂

  32. txilibrin says...

    I used to use them, but with curly hair the options are limited and my dandruff came back HARD.
    I’m still in the search for the perfect one.
    Husband is a NO cause the price… :(

  33. loulou says...

    Thanks for this write-up! I love seeing ideas like this make into the mainer stream :) Another trick that helps w/ shampoo bars is to use a clarifying apple cider vinegar rinse afterwards- I’m not sure what is going on but it removes the waxy tangly feeling you describe, and adds a glossy smooth untangled feeling. I first heard of this method to help with kiddo’s fine hair that can get tangled easily. I wonder if it is helping remove residue?

    About once a week, make 1/3, 2/3 Apple Cider Vinegar to water rinse to pour over your hair. I’ll put a tablespoon or 2 of ACV into a tin cup or mason jar, add a drop of essential oil like lavender or tea tree or one of each, and then fill it in w/ warm shower water when I’m ready to condition after using the shampoo bar. Pour it over your head let it sit a couple of minutes then rinse- hair feels great afterwards!

    • Rachel Elizabeth says...

      Yes! Apple Cider Vinegar rinses (with a few drops of essential oils like Rosemary, Tea Tree, and Lemongrass) make all the difference for me too!

    • Barbara says...

      Thanks for the tip/info! Will try this.

    • sierra says...

      i do this exact same thing and can vouch for how soft and luxurious my hair feels afterward!

    • Amanda says...

      This is also a must if you have hard water. I can only use hard-water shampoos where I live, and also use an apple cider rinse.

  34. J says...

    Cup of Jo, I love y’all and have been a faithful reader for years! But I find the continued Amazon product linking pretty difficult to stomach. This is especially true for this post! As you point out, shampoo bars are particularly appealing for those of us trying to shop more ethically and more green-y–but Amazon has a terrifying, massive environmental footprint (not to mention the human cost for blue-collar employees)!

  35. Meg.F says...

    Yesss Ethique is amazing! I have thin and fairly limp hair and omg their Sweet & Spicy volumising shampoo bar was a life changer. So glad to see them shining brightly here too x

  36. Emily says...

    Anyone in NYC know where I can buy some of these bars in person to avoid just subbing plastic bottles for plastic packaging and shipping? Thanks!!

    • Meg says...

      LUSH (not featured in this article but highly recommended shampoo bars)! Wholefoods (JR Liggetts)! And Credo Clean Beauty (in Soho)!

    • Caitlin says...

      Not sure whether they stock these items in particular, but there are two Package Free Shops in NYC where you can pick up shampoo bars and other sustainability staples!

      packagefreeshop.com/

  37. Meghan says...

    Many comments have already mentioned LUSH shampoo bars – I’ve been using them for probably 8 years! Love them and there are so many depending on your hair. I also find it can depend on your water. My mom loves the cinnamon one from LUSH – and I LOVE it – when I use it at her house, which has softer water. It isn’t great at my house with harder water. Something to keep in mind, as with all shampoos.

  38. Cortney says...

    Love this post! Can you do a follow-up and investigate conditioner bars/solid conditioner next?

  39. sarah says...

    Thanks for the roundup! I used Hibar (the one for normal hair) for a few months. In the beginning, my hair looked insanely good–I was convinced I had converted to bar shampoo forever. Then, over time, my hair had a lot of buildup and looked greasy and flat. So, back to the bottle I went. I’ve been really curious about Ethique, and after your excellent review I’m definitely going to try it!

    • Sarah Petit says...

      ohh I’ve been using HiBar for a few weeks and I’ve been really loving it, but now I’m curious to see if I end up with the same greasy build up. Maybe I’ll just try using a clarifying shampoo every once in a while.
      So glad to see this shampoo bar round up though!

  40. Marie says...

    We switched to bar soap for all hand washing and bathing this year, and I have been considering trying a shampoo bar. Thanks for the recommendations! I hope I can find some of these at my local store, because if I have to order them online it will offset some of the environmental benefit. Once I find something I like, I don’t mind ordering in bulk.

  41. alexis says...

    I use the bar shampoos and conditioners from the zero waste store (which also reuses minimal packaging when shipping to cut down on waste) and am a huge fan. My hair is thick and long and can get greasy at the roots but with my shampoo bars I can wash my hair every other day and they smell amazing.

    • Joaquina says...

      In San Diego, we’re fortunate to have two zero waste shops! So I refill all of my household cleaning items, including shampoo, there. Hoping this catches on to more cities!

  42. Hilary says...

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been eyeing shampoo bars, so I’m following the comments. I do have to laugh at the claims for lasting longer than a bottle of shampoo- I’m on Lush’s site now and it says their bars last 80 washes, the equivalent of 3 bottles of shampoo. Y’all. I wash my hair every day (fine, oily), and I think I buy one bottle of shampoo a year. Maybe every 9 months. I’m sure the thick-haired folks use more, but are people buying a new bottle every month? I think I’ve been slow to change over to bar shampoo because of all the plastic I use in my life, shampoo seems like probably the lowest priority in my household. I do hope all of our baby steps are adding up to some big changes, though!

    For those that refill their shampoo bottles locally, where can I find something like that? I’m in a major city, but I don’t even know how to Google that!

    • AC says...

      Litterless has a directory. My Co-Op is listed, but it doesn’t specifically say they have bulk bath and body products — which it does. So maybe check that list and then inquire directly to the stores. https://www.litterless.com/wheretoshop

    • jane says...

      Small, independent health food stores/food co-ops almost have bulk refills for bodycare and household products. Google “local health food store food co-op” and anything that’s not a major chain should have a refill center.

    • Kim says...

      Health food stores sometimes carry bulk products like that.

    • liz says...

      Generally speaking, I do think I go through about a bottle of shampoo a month

    • Hilary says...

      Hi Hilary…from another eco-conscious, only-one-L Hilary! Look for “zero waste” shops :)

      We are in Denver, so for any local Denver peeps who are wondering, there are zero waste markets in at the Stanley Marketplace in Stapleton, Edgewater Market, and a sublime little shop called Joyfill on Tennyson Street. Simply bring a container of some kind (any ol’ jar or empty shampoo bottle will do) and they will weigh it, then you fill up and voila. We now buy shampoo, conditioner, Dr. Bronners, lotion, baby wash, hand soap, dish soap and laundry detergent in this way.

      Is it more work than grabbing something at Target? YES. Is it worth it to cut all that plastic out of your life? A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

      Happy shopping!

    • Hilary says...

      I can’t reply to y’all individually, but thank you so much for the Literless and other recs! I found a zero waste store right in my neighborhood that I had never heard of! Can’t wait to check it out.

    • txilibrin says...

      lush bars last 2 months for me and it is nit 80 washes at all. i stopped using them, they keep lasting less than when they launched…

    • Amanda says...

      I go through a bottle of shampoo and conditioner about every 2 months and I don’t even wash daily. I just have a TON of hair and it takes a lot of product to get it all clean.

  43. Meredith says...

    What a great post, Caroline! Thanks for promoting the less-waste alternatives, it goes well noticed :) I have been using shampoo bars for years and really happy with Ethique and some Lush bars. But I have struggled to find a decent conditioner! Shampoo alone leaves my hair too dry and breaking, although I only wash twice per week. Fancy writing a part II on conditioners to follow the shampoo bars? Thanks for considering!

  44. Sarah Dawn says...

    I use the Midnight Forest Shampoo Bar by Flora & Fungi. Linked Below.

    She uses ethically forged ingredients, and the smells are amazing. It leaves my hair soft and smooth with no build up. I don’t use a conditioner with it, just hit my hair with some Argan Oil afterward.

    I got mine in early December and it is still going strong mid/late February! For the $8 price tag it’s hard to beat.

    I will definately be be buying it again!

  45. Eli says...

    I like Ethique, but the absurd amount of plastic that my bar came wrapped in (I had to buy it online -_-) defeated the purpose of why I got it in the first place.

    • Chaz says...

      I love this post! Thank you! I went on a massive hunt a couple years ago to try to find a good shampoo bar and it was a long, slow process (I ordered one-at-a-time). My favorite so far has been the one from HumanKind (Which I think I learned about on this blog!), in lemongrass. In case anyone is curious about other good ones :)

  46. Amy says...

    Caroline, I have had the SAME THING happen with (multiple) J.R. Liggett’s bars. Terrible if you get some in your mouth, and worse if you get some in your eyes. I’ve thought a lot about it, and I find myself wondering if we’re all frequently getting shampoo/conditioner/soap in our mouths, but not realizing it because they’re usually formulated so that we can’t taste them. Thanks for doing this test!

  47. Jo says...

    I switched to shampoo bars almost one year ago (trying to minimize unnecessary packaging), and have never looked back. Some months ago I did a workshop to learn how to do my own shampoo bar at home and that’s all I use. I have thick curly southern European hair, and after washing I always turn my head downwards, rinse with some cold water and spray the whole hair with a homemade mixture of water (1/3) and apple cider vinegar (2/3) which I leave in. I comb the hair and any tangles just disappear by magic. It took a while to get used to the smell but it’s worth trying because the result is much better than any conditioner I have ever tried!
    I get constant compliments on how nice my hair looks now, and I always laugh it and think of how little work, money, packaging and effort it takes now (I guess this is applicable for other aspects in life! Sometimes the simpler the better!)

  48. Csill says...

    My husband and I have been using the pure shampoo bar from Beekman 1802 and have been very happy with it. We haven’t tried another since this first bar has lasted us forever (easily 2+ months).

    Don’t get a gunky feeling. But I still use a clarifying shampoo (in a bottle :( ) about once a week to help get out build up from dry shampoo.

    https://beekman1802.com/products/pure-shampoo-bar

  49. Scout says...

    This one! Changing to a natural shampoo changed my hair chemistry some, I think (I also moved to the south, so…. could be that). But, now I only wash my hair 1-2 times a week. It stays clean longer, still feels soft, and my scalp and hair feel better. I used to have an itchy scalp, and I don’t anymore. If I use normal shampoo now, my hair feels so heavy and dirty, weighed down without chemicals.
    It does have the squeaky feeling when rinsing, and is very tangly when wet (I don’t use conditioner), but after that, it’s just like normal.

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/239165092/acv-shampoo-bar-nopoo-apple-cider?ref=yr_purchases

  50. Chistine says...

    I’m also a fan of Lush’s shampoo bars. My favorite is the Godiva one. It makes my hair really silky and I don’t need to condition. It also has a subtle sent which is a huge win in my book. I hate really overpowering scents

  51. siets says...

    Oh,

    I love these. Just something to hold in mind. If you are travelling to countries were they are strict of importing flora and fauna (border patrol Australia/New Zealand), plant based product might be confiscated (taken).

    I remember visiting Lush in Auckland, and some items were out if stock because of this. But maybe someone else has actual experience with it.

  52. Surprised y’all didn’t review any lush bars- I have been using the Honey I washed my hair bar for a few months now and really love it. And the trichomania bar lathers great and leaves my head smelling like a giant coconut (in a good way.)

    Are any of the bars reviewed palm oil free?

    • Katie says...

      I’m pretty sure all of the LUSH bars use sulfates, which are not great for bodies or the planet, so maybe that’s why they chose not to review any of them?

  53. Sasha L says...

    I’ve been using nothing but Ethique shampoo and conditioner bars for about a year and a half and I LOVE them. My hair stylist agrees that my hair is super healthy.

  54. Anna says...

    Love this round-up! One question – while I understand how shampoo bars are travel/TSA friendly since they are not liquid, how do you pack them for travel? I can’t imagine I’d have time to fully dry mine out before it’s time to pack up and leave the hotel each trip. Any ideas of travel cases or hacks?

    • Danielle says...

      I love that these can be opened one handed and they don’t rust like the Lush containers. If you put a little sliver of sponge on the bottom it absorbs excess moisture and helps keep it from sticking.

  55. Janice says...

    Best. Natural. Deodorant. Ever. Even prevents perspiration naturally! I have tried many natural deodorants and even some DIY ones but nothing tops this. Best scent is Lumberjack and Jill and love the sustainable packaging.
    https://www.shmoopys.com

  56. Johanna says...

    Not in a million years would I touch my hella curly hair with a shampoo bar. Alas, it’s a straight haired world (sigh). But it’s a great idea and I wish I could try it!

    • Nadya says...

      Love a shampoo bar but as you say it’s hard to find a good one! I live in Europe and the only brand I’m familiar with here is Lush which are fine but non of their bars seem to get that balance of moisturizing but without creating build up over time. They smell lush though! I’d be tempted to order the Ethique one but not sure how environmentally friendly you can be ordering shampoo bars from the other side of the world?

    • Jules says...

      I have curly hair and have used a couple bars from Lush which worked pretty well actually. I wouldn’t knock it til you tried it.

    • liz says...

      I have curly hair and have had success with a few different types of shampoo bars! They’re not all created equal but definitely worth trying some if you’re interested in ditching the plastic bottles!

    • Ali says...

      I’m also super curly and another curly friend recommended Lush’s Honey I Washed My Hair bar, and it’s great. I only use it every other day or so, though.

  57. Mary says...

    I also switched to shampoo bars to do my part to offset the masses of people who do not recycle their shampoo bottles. I am using a Lush bar and I really like it! I too was skeptical, but it lasts months, is easy to travel with and doubles for shaving. For anyone interested, try Lush! They have a number of options.

    • Eliza says...

      I love my lush shampoo and my lush conditioner bar! I’ve converted my parents too….working on the husband. Thank you for posting about reducing the use of plastic in the bathroom.

    • Anja says...

      I like the Lushg ones as well (especially those without SLS).

    • JL says...

      Agree with this! Lush has some great shampoo bars!

    • And Lush makes a little tin for the bars. I use the Jason and the Arganauts…. I keep mine in my swimming bag. Compact and convenient and I love the scent, its kindness to my hair.

  58. Cory says...

    I’m actually really fond of the love beauty and planet one, but I got the murumuru butter and rose flavor that isn’t also conditioner. I haven’t yet found a conditioner bar I like. I’ve been using it for about six weeks and I would definitely buy it again (in like 3 months if it ever runs out I guess).

    • Sasha L says...

      I really like Ethique conditioner bars

    • Steph says...

      I dont use conditioner bars, however I found a great substitute. I mix half apple vinegar half water in a spray bottle. DO NOT rinse as soon as your hair are dry to smell goes. It has done wonders for my hair. And so much more natural that anything else.

  59. Laurie says...

    Can anyone comment on how any of these bars effect color-treated hair? The description for one bar I read about (can’t remember the brand) claimed it “might” maintain color… :/. Curious to know if anyone has any personal experience.

    • Jenjen says...

      They do strip colour more quickly in my experience, although I only colour at home which doesn’t last as long as salon colour anyway

    • Lindsay says...

      I just bought Ethique and they say “color safe” on the box.

  60. Jody Winter says...

    Hi from New Zealand! I have been using Ethique on my long, thick and frizzy hair for almost a year and it’s never been healthier or easier to manage. Love that they’re a local brand too.

    • Sasha L says...

      Same!! My hair is wavy and can frizz, and Ethique leaves it super smooth.

    • Le bis says...

      Hi Jody. I have a similar hair type to you (thick and frizzy). Do you mind telling me which Ethique bar you use? I noticed from that there are several different kinds depending on you hair type. Many thanks!

    • Jody Winter says...

      Hi Le Bis… I use ‘St Clements’ which is for oily hair, but only because I’m almost 49 and hormones are making my hair oiler these days! Last year I was using Heali Kiwi which I feel is a nice, gentle basic to start with. I always use a conditioner bar. These days, it’s ‘Too Delicious’ which is hydrating. I live in Auckland, NZ which is very humid and I also straighten my hair. It’s the best it has ever been!

  61. Andrea says...

    Soo happy to see COJ promoting this eco-conscious lifestyle choice! I finally ordered HiBAR shampoo and conditioner bars yesterday after months of procrastinating – why? – and reading great reviews about their company. I am so eager to try. If they don’t work for me, I’m glad to have this resource and would totally try Ethique. Touchy scalp girl here too.

    • Sam says...

      I loooove my hibar shampoo and conditioner bars!

    • AC says...

      Loving my HiBar products as well. So glad to have a conditioner bar as an option finally!

  62. Kaela Bergquist says...

    I used the Ethique for three weeks in China and the results towards the end were not great. I loved the bar at first but it built up in my hair over time.

  63. Amy says...

    How great is the Ethique one!? I have tried others but the Heali Kiwi is my absolute favourite. One bar lasts me maybe 6 months of almost everyday washing, and my long wavy hair can even manage without conditioner when using it so I’m an absolute convert. I’ve been using it for a few years and am never going back! Plus the company has some pretty good environmental/ sustainability policies so I feel good about using it too.

  64. Yes! I was also quite surprised by how good shampoo bars are. I’ve had good luck with Lush Solid shampoo for my short fine hair BUT no joy finding a decent solid conditioner- they just don’t seem to do the trick (but maybe that is more down to my 20 years of highlights/bleaching!?) Hoping someone might recommend a decent solid conditioner to try :)

    • Jo says...

      Apple cider vinegar! Just spray a mix 1/3 water, 2/3 apple cider vinegar. It’s magic. Totally worth the smell (you don’t rinse after applying the spray, it works like a leave in conditioner, but after the hair dries you can’t feel the smell anymore!).
      Good luck!

    • SMH says...

      Apple cider vinegar definitely left a lingering smell in my hair when I was using it as a rinse, so it may depend on your hair? But I switched to citric acid instead (I think it’s what makes Sour Patch Kids sour?) and it has exactly the same effect without any smell. Got rid of the weird bar soap build-up I developed and definitely made my hair shinier.

    • Alex says...

      SMH, I’m curious to hear more about this citric acid trick!

  65. Elizabeth R says...

    Lush has great shampoo bars!

  66. Helen says...

    I would highly recommend the HiBAR shampoo and conditioner. I have long, straight, asian hair and I found most of the shampoo bars I tried made my hair super waxy/greasy feeling. (I second Alex’s comment on byHumankind shampoo bar – horrible for my hair.) The HiBAR lathers up wonderfully and leaves my hair light and bouncy. I do use the conditioner bar on the ends of my hair as it can get dry without any conditioner. I am lazy and don’t get haircuts for six months (or more) at a time and usually by now I have split ends; however, after switching to the HiBAR shampoo and conditioner, I’ve noticed no split ends.

  67. I use a mix of Shikakai and Aritha (2:1) in warm water to wash my hair. I always oil my hair before washing, and the mix washes out the oil nicely. Aritha is soap nut, so it foams up a little.

  68. This is so fascinating! Thanks so much for testing these and narrowing it down!

  69. Jill says...

    Easily the funniest thing I’ve read on this blog so far: “If you have short hair and are not at all particular….” It’s just so descriptive. Thanks for sharing!

  70. Hali says...

    I remember when everyone was like “eww” about bar soap and but am so happy to see it’s coming back in such a big way!! My mom began making soap in Kauai as a hobby and now has a thriving business from it. Her Sea Salt Soap is so ridiculously lovely, I’ve converted even my most skeptical friends to use it because it doesn’t create a gunky puddle or require a soap dish. Really, everyone should give the humble bar another try. With a good soap dish or super salty formula, they’re they best.

    Relatedly, I recently switched our dish soap to a bar (made for washing dishes) and am LOVING IT. My hands are loving it, my dishes feel cleaner… We switched to brushes instead of sponges too and the whole washing experience is nicer now.

    • Eliza says...

      Can you please share the bar you use for washing dishes? I would love to make that switch! Thanks!

    • Lauren says...

      Eliza, Hali may use something different but Savon de Marseille is the most common bar soap for washing dishes. It’s made from olive oil and lasts forever.

  71. Elliott P. says...

    I tried HiBAR (orange/volume) for a bit. My hair has a colour rinse and the the bar caused the colour to wash out twice a fast.
    Has anyone had success with bar shampoo and colored hair?

  72. Emily says...

    I would love to hear if anyone has found a good conditioner bar. I have hair that is prone to snarls so haven’t been able to skip conditioner. My OCD makes me think it would bother me to have a bar shampoo and a pump conditioner (but I should probably just get over that). Ha!

    • Ella says...

      Yes – Ethique wonderbar is fab! I find that the bar conditioners I’ve tried don’t have that instant slippery detangling effect that you get with liquid conditioner, I just use a comb to help ease out the tangles if needed (I have super long, fine hair that knots easily). I love it though, leaves my hair so soft!

    • Sasha L says...

      I love Ethique conditioner bars. I have naturally snarly long hair and they work great for me.

    • Kim says...

      I feel ya. Also thinking we should embrace it :)

    • Jenjen says...

      I use bar conditioner but it’s one that you melt down with hot water and so it comes out like a regular conditioner (reuse an old bottle). I feel it rinses out more easily so I’m using less water as well as fewer chemicals #winwin

    • Sarah says...

      Ethique makes conditioner bars as well as shampoo bars. I use both :)

  73. Amanda says...

    That’s it, I’m gonna try the ethique bar. I’ve been thinking about it for ages but kept chickening out. I tried bulk shampoo from my co op which worked for awhile but the only formula they carry is a bit drying.

    What conditioner did you use? I’m super curious because my hair is dry and i need conditioner, but I imagine any super heavy conditioners wouldn’t work with the bar.

    • Sasha L says...

      Try the Ethique sampler from Amazon. It has different shampoos (they are all lovely!) and conditioners. I love them all.

    • Becca says...

      I use the green ethique conditioner with the orange shampoo and both are great (I have a tonne of fine hair that tangles easily, wash daily), I’ve been using them about six months and we also use the bar body washes =)

  74. Lauren says...

    I love the HiBar shampoo bar but the conditioner is the real standout. I’ve never had a bar conditioner that works as good as liquid but HiBar figured it out

    • Kate says...

      How do you travel with it? My experience of hand soap bars leaves me thinking it will be sticky and slimy and leave residue everywhere!

  75. Kim says...

    There are many bars made in the US. Go to a farmers market, or even your grocery store. I know my local Whole Foods has some from a local vendor. Instead of ordering from amazon to get the bar from NZ or France.

  76. Kenzie says...

    I love Ethique bars! Game changer for my fine, type 2a/b hair (medium length, a couple inches longer than shoulder length). I use Heali Kiwi shampoo with Wonderbar conditioner (conditioner just on the ends). The combo helps give my hair body while fighting static in dry winters

  77. Elliesee says...

    My first shampoo bar was a disaster, but Liliblanc on Etsy is local for me and is great for my long hair. I get lots of suds and it rinses completely and easily. I store it in their little fabric pouch. I’ll try to have my girls use it eventually.

  78. Caroline says...

    What a great round up! Thank you! I’ve been working to cut back on plastic and this is the motivation I need to upgrade my family’s shampoo options.

  79. Y says...

    Caroline, do you know how it would affect the color on my hair? I have bleached highlights and brown died roots to hide the gray!

  80. Kamina says...

    Just want to add an other encouragement, that if bar shampoo doesn’t work for anybody for whatever reason, there may be a bulk store near you that allows you to bring your own shampoo containers to refill. Bar shampoo is awesome but if it’s not for you, it’s not the only option for going plastic-free. I alternate between using a bar shampoo and refilling my shampoo bottles at a local store that sells it by volume from a big dispenser.

  81. Sami says...

    JR Liggett’s is the BEST. I’ve been using them for like 6 years. For the residue, it just took time for my hair to adjust. Now I find it soft and I don’t use conditioner (just some jojoba as a leave in). Would highly highly recommend trying it for a while!

  82. Kate says...

    PRO TIP: To store bars in the shower, press a bottle cap into one side of the bar. This sits it up enough off the shelf so it stays off the wet surface and can dry out between uses! The cap won’t rust, and I suppose you could use a small plastic cap if you’re worried about that.

    Gotta plug my favorite local shampoo bar. I’ve been using it for years and absolutely love it! All of their products contain bee wax from honey bees they raise. Also, it’s $6 and one bar lasts so freaking long.

    https://propolisskincare.com/shop-our-store?olsPage=t%2Fhair-care

    • Jenjen says...

      Love that tip!

  83. Sara says...

    Converted to Ethique a few months ago! I love it! Amazon even has a cute little holder to keep it from getting soggy.

  84. Liz says...

    I get one from Lush and it’s wonderful. I didn’t have as much luck with conditioner bars but for shampoo that one was my winner. Thanks for doing this!

    • Jules says...

      Agreed! I use their honey I washed my hair bar and it’s great. The conditioner bars all were pretty awful on my hair, though. I hope they work on some new formulas!

  85. Alix says...

    I’d highly recommend Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve’s shampoo bars. I personally use the Tea Tree one for oily scalps and with some patience, can now go 3-4 days without washing my long, fine hair. This is also a body soap so it’s the only product we keep in our shower–no conditioner required! They are a family-run business based in Ohio and offer a ton of different shampoo bars for different needs. They also offer sample sizes and have really helpful FAQs on their website for anyone looking to make the switch. One tip that I’ve found particularly useful: when traveling to places with hard water (easy to Google), I do a quick rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar after washing to detangle and remove any waxy residue. It does the trick and I promise it doesn’t smell like vinegar after it dries.

    • Alix says...

      One other recommendation that I learned from Emma Allen at Everyday Oil, which the only other product I use post-shower: if you use hair styling products that include silicones (these go by many different names on ingredient labels), you may experience that waxy build-up over time where it feels like your shampoo is no longer “working” or getting your hair clean. The reason for this is that natural sulfate-free shampoos like many of the bars mentioned here are not able to remove silicone build-up as effectively since those slippery silicones require powerful detergents to wash out. Another great reason why less is more and how your hair can adjust over time if you use less product! Here’s a link to the Everyday Oil blog post on the topic: https://everydayoil.com/blogs/news/natural-shampoo

    • Rachel Elizabeth says...

      Yes! I also really like Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve, especially their Henna Shampoo bar!

    • Kate says...

      Chagrin Valley is the best. I try to buy their 1 lb. cut ends semi-annual sale bags, which lasts me for over a year. Every flavor I’ve used I’ve loved, but I’ll shout out the egg, honey, beer, and the coffee flavors. :-)

  86. Amanda W. says...

    Yay for this review! I have oily, fine hair and have been using Lush’s shampoo and conditioner bars for years. The New bar lathers really well, and cleans my hair without stripping too much. I’ve had the conditioner bar for well over a year now (can’t find the name on the site, sadly), and it detangles my hair without weighing it down. As for storage, I keep them both on my shower rack so they can drain and dry completely; definitely don’t leave them in a storage case.

  87. Tovah says...

    Are there any curly girls out there who have found a bar that’s sulfate-free shampoo or cleansing conditioner? (I’m 2C/3A, low porosity, high density) Love the idea of ditching plastic packaging!

    • Lorraine says...

      I’m so surprised you didn’t try Lush, who I feel like invented the shampoo bar. They have Senegal kinds for different needs, and a solid conditioner, too.

    • Asma says...

      Hopefully there’s a bad out there somewhere for us!!

    • Candace says...

      Both my partner and I have curly hair and were very pleasantly surprised by HiBar Maintain solid shampoo and solid conditioner bars. Our hair was super soft after we used them and our curls were similar to after we used our crazy expensive “custom” Prose shampoo & conditioner. We bought them for travel through Grove Collaborative, but I just checked out their website and they have 3 versions: Maintain, Moisturize, & Volumize. I might try their volumize next time since it has some ingredients to help define curls.

    • I have 3b curls, low porosity, I have been using Silver Stone Apothecary’s shampoo and conditioner bars for over a year. The shampoo bar is super mild and gives a creamy lather and the conditioner is very hydrating and contains vegetable derived keratin which gives my curls nice structure. I’ll link to it

  88. Capucine says...

    I did this! I tried many, including three of these! I found a couple favorites and barred for a year! And my verdict is: yes for short hair, no for long.

    I have long hair, and bar shampoo dried it out completely – my hair became straw, for the first time in my life. I’m cutting it off progressively since no deep conditioning seems to help. It’s harsh stuff those bars (chemists! why? what is the ingredient doing that?).

    After the straw effect, I bought a liquid shampoo in a spun-metal container with a plastic pump top off Amazon that I refill with bulk liquid shampoo at my grocery store. I don’t know that the bulk stuff is anything great for shampoo, but I DO know bar shampoo isn’t there yet for me.

    I am dedicated to reducing my plastic use, and I am sharing this opinion to pressure clever inventors to keep at it because ulitimately a product needs to keep converts permanently. It can work a little differently or less well, but not a lot less well – like my brother had an electric Fiat that could only go 50 miles per charge and then he got the Tesla that goes 200 miles, and now there’s something really permanent happening there! I want Tesla shampoo to happen, please.

    • Hildy says...

      I have long hair and LOVE LOVE LOVE my shampoo bar, more so than regular shampoo. Did you use it just on your roots (instead of on your whole head)? I flip my head over and just do the hair closest to my head (the part that gets oily if I don’t wash for a few days) and it works like a dream.

    • Rae says...

      Ha! Yes Capucine, we need the Tesla of bar shampoo! Or the bulk shampoo options of the bulk candy options in my market. So many rice syrup sweetened gummies and yogurt covered pretzels. One type of shampoo & conditioner.

    • Jodi says...

      I refill my own bottle at my local food co-op, too, Capucine. I’ve been doing this for years & highly recommend it as another solid & less expensive option than shampoo bars. I also buy conditioner, lotion, dish soap, olive oil, peanut butter, and loads of other things in bulk using all my own containers. If you guys have a local store with bulk options, go for it!

    • Diana says...

      I’ve been using the ethique shampoo bar and love it for my thin, dry, shoulder-length hair. My husband has thick hair, prone to dandruff, and also likes it! I also bought and love the ethique deodorant bar. And both come in compostable packaging!

    • Courtney says...

      Pause. Hildy- is this how we are supposed to shampoo our hair?????? Have I been doing it wrong the entire time???

  89. Carlene says...

    I love Chagrin Valley shampoo bars. They have a bunch of different formulas (they even have one for dogs), and you can buy samples!

  90. anonymous says...

    As far as Ethique goes, they sound wonderful but the fact that they are based in New Zealand and I am based in NYC gives me pause. I read on their website that they are carbon neutral, so they must be offsetting shipping emissions, but still… how much environmental sense would it make for someone in the US to buy a brand shipped from New Zealand? Shouldn’t we ideally be looking for something more locally sourced?
    That said, they do have US-based stockists so you don’t necessarily have to order an individual shipment to your home. But doesn’t shipping a pallet of shampoo bars by freighter to a stockist in the US make a big enough environmental impact that we should hold out for a locally made solution? It’s very tough to weigh all this…

    • Claire says...

      I completely understand where you are coming from but on top of their carbon offset, consider how much weight they are saving by not shipping plastic bottles full of water. 50-60g products equal 3-4 bottles. Most of the bottled products available to you in NYC have likely still travelled a decent distance and at a greater weight per use. NZ makers do some fantastic things with products and shipping, which is why their wine, for example, can often have a lower carbon footprint in NYC than Californian wines. It can be really counter intuitive but sometimes those working the furthest are often working hard to be the greenest and can come out on top over closer set-ups because they are being so mindful.

    • Anonymous says...

      So much yes to this – I had the same thought about Ethique bars and a CoJ audience that is I assume largely based in the northern hemisphere. Carbon offsets invest in solutions that will help to reduce carbon in the future (like planting trees) but in the meantime, the carbon from the shipping is going into the atmosphere here and now and we’re in a state of emergency with only about 10 years left to get it under control. So I’m not sure how to weigh it up, but yeah, my inclination would be to look for locally-made bars or locally-made shampoo dispensed in bulk at a local packaging-free grocery store (if you have access to one)

    • Kim says...

      Thank you for mentioning this.

    • Juliet says...

      Coming from New Zealand, i have this i mind with almost everything i buy -most of our consumer goods (books, electronics, clothes, homewares etc) are shipped from far and wide. So i make a conscious effort to only buy in-season, local produce and meat, which i consume much more of than things like beauty products, to offset my conscience and help a little bit. Now that i hear the great review for Ethique, i might just click on their ads on my facebook feed and reduce my carbon footprint even more :)

    • courtney says...

      This has me wondering about the feasibility of making your own shampoo – I’m sure it’s not too difficult. A few years back, I washed my hair exclusively with baking soda. (You can do so much with baking soda! I still LOVE washing my face with baking soda and honey). It got my hair literally squeaky clean, but was drying over time. I bet there’s an improved recipe of clean, accessible ingredients. Maybe CoJ could do a post on household products you can make at home!

    • Sasha says...

      I totally agree with your point! Most of my recycling/garbage is boxes and packaging from shipping! I still use regular shampoo, but buy gigantic bottles from Costco that last my family 2 years. Honestly, I think that the packaging and shipping from Amazon prob contributes more to global warming than one plastic bottle! Another thing I noticed is when I was younger, I used powder detergents that came in a cardboard box for laundry/dishwasher, but new they all seem to be liquid in plastic! Can someone review earth-friendly detergents (in non-plastic packaging)! Another suggestion to review is earth-friendly menstrual products! Are tampons (with cardboard applicators) better or worse for the environment than menstrual cups? Also, maybe an ob-gyn can weigh in on whether menstrual cups are truly sterile..

    • Hey Anonymous,

      I totally get your concern about carbon footprint, as you have mentioned, we are a carbon-neutral company and shortly, every purchase made will plant one tree (more on this new initiative soon will be on our website). All our online orders are currently shipped from NZ, via air in plastic-free shipping, but we offset this and are currently establishing warehouses in the USA & Europe so we can bulk sea freight to there and dramatically lower our carbon footprint that way. We ship to our retailers around the world via bulk sea-freight. 


      The biggest thing to note (as mentioned by Claire), is that our bars, due to their concentration and the fact that they are plastic-free, have just 8% the carbon footprint of a plastic bottle. Plastic is incredibly carbon-heavy to produce, so by skipping it, you save an enormous amount of water and carbon from ever being emitted.  So even shipping one bar from NZ via air, is better than buying the equivalent three bottles of liquid shampoo in your local store (UNLESS that liquid product is made within 200km of the stockist, including the plastic bottle (which is exceedingly unlikely.)
      
Whilst this is good, it can always be better! We are currently looking into manufacturing closer to some of our markets, as well as in NZ, but these things do take time to organise, so stay tuned. 


      And you’re totally right – there are awesome brands all over the world who are making plastic-free products but I guess it depends on what your jam is and if you’re looking for a plastic-free product and reduce your footprint, or something a little bit more than that (ie, we are a bcorp, living wage employers, palm oil-free, our ingredients are fairly traded, etc).

      
I hope I didn’t talk too much!
      Jen

  91. Erika says...

    I wanted to second the Ethique bar. I have mid-length, dry, curly hair so I was worried about moving away from my moisturizing, curl-specific, shampoo and conditioner. But the “Guardian” shampoo bar and “Frizz Wrangler” conditioner bar work wonders! I even love the little bamboo holder to keep them from getting soggy. It was very easy to make the switch!

    • Quinn says...

      Thanks for this! I have curly hair and was wondering if I should still give these a try. :)

  92. Stephanie says...

    potentially stupid question… how do you store the shampoo bar? I never keep bar soap in the shower because it always ends up sitting in a puddle and getting soft!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Not a stupid question at all! I keep mine in the corner of the shower, in a little ceramic soap dish with holes in the bottom, so any water drains out when it’s not in use.

    • Erika says...

      Ethique sells adorable little bamboo boxes to protect the bars and are exactly the right size for a shampoo and conditioner!

    • Kate says...

      I left this tip in a separate comment, but want to make sure you get it: press a bottlecap into one side of the soap. That will sit it up high enough that it stays out of the puddles!

    • I use bar soaps as body wash and if you keep them dryish on a soap dish between use, that will help them last way longer.

      With soap bars that I really want to last, I store them on the bathroom counter and take them into the shower to avoid them from getting too wet or soggy and they last way longer.

    • Tovah says...

      You can also do a tiny bit of work upfront by cutting your new bar into small, single-serving bits and just bringing one at a time into the shower!

  93. Rachel says...

    Love this! Shampoo bars to the rescue!
    For traditional shampoo bars that leave a little bit of residue behind, the best remedy I’ve found is rinsing with very diluted apple cider vinegar afterwards. It leaves your hair clean and shiny with no build up.
    My favorite is Lush New Hair shampoo bar. I’ve been using it for years and years. (And Lush even has a solid conditioner bar, too!)

    • Christina says...

      Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar is my favorite from Lush! I was shocked with how well it suds up after a few swipes. It was an easy switch from traditional shampoo. It does seem to leave my hair more squeaky clean after but I just use a traditional conditioner. Haven’t found a good package free alternative for conditioner yet. I switched to this originally just for travel (always looking to reduce the liquids in my carry on to fit everything in that TSA approved quart size bag), but liked it enough to make the switch in every day life. Highly recommend! The Lush ones can be bought with a small metal tin for storage. Very helpful to keep water from dissolving it in the shower.

  94. Kaitlyn says...

    Wondering if you used conditioner at all with them and if so, the same one each time? And if not, did your hair get tangley and hard to brush or comb? Love the idea of plastic free! Thanks for sharing!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      I used a tiny bit of conditioner, but only on the very ends (which tend to be dry no matter which shampoo I use). For the experiment’s sake, I used the same one every time. And yes, even without using any conditioner on the rest of it, it was still manageable to comb and style!

    • Amy Vos says...

      I use the Ethique Heali Kiwi one and only sometimes condition (I have very long, wavy hair). I quite like the Ethique The Guardian conditioner bar too- that plus a deep condition every now is plenty!

    • Kaitlyn says...

      Awesome, thanks to both of you for the info!

  95. Nicole says...

    I wish Lush’s shampoo bars made it into the challenge line-up. I’ve been using theirs for yeeeears and I can’t imagine that these bars would exist had it not been for Lush with their minimal to zero packaging paving the way for such a long time.

    • Audrey says...

      Yes to Lush!! The best quality and they have great initiatives around recycling and minimal-to-no packaging. Plus I feel a little weird ordering a “sustainable” replacement product from Amazon that will inevitably come in a ton of plastic and packaging.

    • Allison says...

      Lush products are great! I use their shampoo, conditioner and face wash bars and love them all!

    • MJ says...

      Nicole, it sounds as though you like the Lush shampoo bars? I love all their other products, but haven’t given tried the bar shampoo yet. I wish Caroline had them in the lineup too… but regardless, I guess it’s time for me to give it a shot!

    • Confused says...

      I used Lush for a good 8 months or so and loved it. Then suddenly my hair had developed those soft, tiny dandruffs. I freaked out and swapped to good ol’ sebamed. Why is that I am not sure and I haven’t gone back. I do wish to use bars and stop buying the plastic packaging of liquid shampoo but a bit traumatized with the whole snowy shoulder.

    • Caroline says...

      Which one would you recomend? Thank you!

    • Carol says...

      I was coming here to mention Lush shampoo bars, which I have been using for many years. Great quality, long lasting and they sell cute tins to keep them in for travel and the shower. Seanik is my fav!

    • Isabella says...

      Yes! I used the Lush Godiva shampoo bar for many deliciously fragrant years, until I became a Devacurl convert. I miss its honeyed jasmine lusciousness, and it did a terrific job of getting my hair clean without leaving it sticky or dry or otherwise weird. I imagine it would be fantastic for straight hair!

    • Amanda says...

      I used to love Lush bars, too. But then I realized the bars worked so well on my long hair because they use SLS and their SLS uses palm oil. So bummed they haven’t figured out a way to be palm oil free by now. They’ve claimed to be ‘working on it’ for a decade.

  96. Nicole says...

    Interesting. How do you use it? I have very long hair- do you lather in your hands then put on your head? Rub the bar right on the top of your head/scalp? Just curious. I’d like to give it a shot!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Each bar has slightly different instructions. Some say to lather up in your hands, while others say to apply directly to your hair. The Ethique bar instructs you to apply the bar to the length of your hair from top to ends, THEN to lather your hair up using your hands. In all cases, it was much easier than expected, though the Ethique was the best experience for my long hair.

  97. Erin says...

    I came very close to buying that Love and Planet bar at Target the other day, but have had so many shampoo disappointments that I decided against it. Glad I didn’t! Definitely want to try Ethique now!

  98. jane says...

    This is the rec I required – I can’t wait to give the Ethique bar a try, thanks!
    As for rec’s – I went through a plastic-free phase of washing my hair with aloe gel and rinsing with cider vinegar which was wonderful and left my floofy, wavy long hair silky and shiny. I love the idea of the bar.

  99. Lindsay E. says...

    I’ve been cycling between a few different bars from Lush for a couple of years now and have really liked all of them. I’m interested to add some of your picks to the mix!

  100. Joanna M says...

    Thanks for this review, Caroline! I’m definitely interested in trying shampoo bars to reduce plastic waste. And, as you pointed out, it would be so handy for travel :)

  101. denise says...

    This is fascinating, thanks for testing these. I’ve been a skeptic but I want to like this idea for ethical reasons and it helps to have someone review like this.

  102. Bec says...

    Love this! I also found the J.R.Ligett’s bar pretty drying. Then, I switched to a company called Plaine Products that does refillable (and recyclable) aluminum containers. You can mail back the empty container when you’re done. Closed loop system! :)

  103. Jessica says...

    Caroline, would you mind posting how you would describe your hair (texture, general greasiness/dryness, etc) for context and comparison?

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Sure thing! My hair is medium texture and naturally dries to a (frizzy) 2c wave, though I usually straighten it. My hair tends to the dry side, while my scalp becomes greasy 1-2 days after washing, depending on the climate and how active I’ve been. Hope that helps!

  104. maywwyn says...

    Thank you for the reviews. No plastic makes bar shampoos a winner. I didn’ t know they existed before reading your post.

  105. Anahera says...

    The waxy build up will disappear if you rinse your hair, after washing it with a shampoo bar, with natural apple vinegar. Just mix a bit of the vinegar with a litre of warm water and rinse your hair with it. Works like a charm for long hair. No conditioner needed. The added advantage is that it will keep your shower squeeky clean:)

  106. Sarah S says...

    Thanks for this review! I have been wanting to reduce plastic waste but I’m overall not a fan of the residue left by bar soap (maybe I’ve been using the wrong kind) and have been hesitant to try solid shampoo and conditioner. This has inspired me to give it a try.

  107. Maureen says...

    Unwrapped Life is a fantastic Canadian brand. Tried a few of their products and love them all. Lots of options based on your hair type.

  108. Sarah says...

    I tried brite shampoo AND conditioner bars and it was nice for travel! Haven’t made the jump to everyday. What I found annoying was that you had to apply the product then wait at least two minutes before rinsing. Waste of water because shaving my legs doesn’t take that long and what am I going to do? Get out of the shower for a few? The only other things is like any other soap, storing in a spot with little water so they don’t disappear. Can be tricky in travel showers!

  109. Rosie says...

    I love the idea of not having to balance a huge bottle of shampoo in the shower, but is there a way to keep them from getting that bar soap soggy, slimy texture that regular bar soaps get? I have previously banned bar soap in my house because I find it so icky.

    • Helene says...

      I have a wire rack-type holder in my shower and I’ve found the best solution is to cover the bar: I use half of my travel container. It protects from overhead while allowing to air-dry from below. Bonus: the bar becomes round-ish (from uneven drying, I guess?)!

  110. Jenna says...

    Great reviews!! I tried a shampoo bar but didn’t love it. I thought maybe my hair was too thick for it to work but, these reviews make me realize i should try some other brands! It is such a great way to reduce plastic!

  111. Lesley says...

    Thank you for this review! I was one of the people that asked for it!

  112. Lisa says...

    My hair tends to be quite dry. Did you feel like you need a conditioner bar after?

  113. Kristyn says...

    I love Ethique shampoo bars. I use the Sweet and Spicy one and it gives my very fine hair so much body and zero frizz. They also sell a little covered container to keep in your shower so that the bar lasts a long time. This container and the bar packaging are compostable.

  114. Elle says...

    Love this! I bought a shampoo at a farmer’s market that felt too waxy but definitely want to try a more scalp-friendly one. I also recently bought a very splurge-y LOTION bar (got the $12 tester version), which I’ve loved! Would appreciate any other ideas on lotion bars! https://shop.goop.com/shop/products/the-naked-stone?country=USA

    • Andrea says...

      I haven’t heard of lotion bars, but Lush, a company I love and am happy to see others shouting out in the comments for their shampoo bars, has a closed-loop recycling program, so when you’re finished using the containers their (incredibly luxurious) lotions and some other products come in, you can return them to a store (and get a free face mask!) and they will reuse them. It’s not a perfect solution, but better than plastic tubes. I’ll have to keep an eye for lotion bars – I’m sure that since goop is doing it, they’ll be everywhere soon. :)
      https://www.lushusa.com/stories/article_10-things-lush-packaging.html

  115. Alex says...

    I tried the byHumankind shampoo bar and it made my hair so greasy! I wanted to like it, but it just left this weird film. 1/5 stars for being plastic free, but also terrible.

  116. Love the blog and am convinced to finally try a shampoo bar. But, I have to ask, have y’all ever thought about not linking to Amazon? There are so many lovely small businesses to highlight, or maybe just take the opportunity to link readers directly to the company.

    • Tiffany says...

      The reason the first 3 didn’t work for you is because they are just soap with a “shampoo bar” label. Chemically speaking, those are no different than a hand and body soap with a very alkaline pH of above a 9! Your hair likes to be around a pH of 5.5 and will be damaged with long term use of a high pH soap. The Ethique bar is a true shampoo and pH balanced. My favorite is from Silver Stone Apothecary, which is also pH balanced and great for my long curly hair because it is gentle and conditioning.