As someone with a multi-step skin and hair routine, I often feel uncomfortable at the amount of waste involved. I try to cut down as much as possible – opting for eco-friendly brands and choosing glass over plastic when I can – but it’s not always that easy. Hair is a particularly tricky area to be sustainable, as so many products are in plastic bottles that need replacing regularly.

That’s why I was keen to try shampoo bars. These replace your normal liquid shampoo, and look just like a bar of soap. They do away with a whole lot of plastic packaging – plus, they take up a tiny amount of space in your shower.

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Shampoo bars are slowly but surely growing in popularity – Lush has sold 38 million naked shampoo bars globally since 2007, which the company says has eliminated over 90 million plastic bottles. Previously more of an underground product, bars are now hitting the mainstream, with big brands like Garnier bringing out their own.

So, how do shampoo bars actually work, and can they give your hair the same shine with less of an environmental footprint?

How do shampoo bars work?

Solid shampoo bar

According to Anabel Kingsley, brand president and consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley, there’s “not a great deal” of difference between solid and liquid shampoos. “The job of a shampoo is to cleanse the scalp, and both will do so effectively,” she says.

“The type of product would not necessarily impact its effectiveness, it would be dependent on its ingredients,” she explains. “A well formulated liquid shampoo is going to be better than a terribly formulated shampoo bar, and vice versa.”

So, what do you need to know?

If you’re thinking of making the switch from liquid to solid, it’s worth doing a bit of research. “You should definitely consider the ingredients and whether they are suitable for your hair type and texture,” says Kingsley.

“For example, someone with fine or oily hair would want to avoid a bar with oils, whereas someone with coiled curls or very dry hair would want to avoid a bar that was drying.”

For fine hair, Kingsley recommends looking out for shampoos with thickening proteins – like cellulose or keratin – and for coarse, curly hair, she says: “Go for formulas containing moisturising agents, like cocoa butter.”

Why should you make the switch to shampoo bars?

Variety of natural eco friendly colorful solid shampoo bars,

The environmental arguments for swapping out plastic bottles for sustainable bars are pretty compelling. 13 billion plastic bottles (including drinks and toiletries) are used every year in the UK, with only 57% recycled. “The rest pollute our oceans or lead to a rise in CO2 emissions when incinerated or dumped in landfills,” suggests Joy Parkinson, managing director of beauty brand Faith In Nature.

She calls shampoo bars – particularly ones with recyclable packaging – “a more sustainable way of reducing waste in our beauty care regime”.

All this, and it’s ideal for travelling, Parkinson says – meaning no more unwanted shampoo explosions in our carry-on, next time we’re actually able to jet off somewhere.

How to use a shampoo bar

I was initially sceptical of how well a shampoo bar would work. I’ve got quite a lot of hair and always end up using a fair amount of product to make sure it’s all clean – not to mention I’ve been washing it a whole lot less in lockdown, so when I do finally get around to using shampoo, my hair is definitely in need of a good clean.

I tried the Nuddy Daily Shine Treatment Shampoo Bar in Mint, Lime and Grapefruit, which has a delightfully tropical scent. I was surprised at how well it lathered – I was expecting something similar to a bar of soap, but rubbing this bar in between your hands gets you a lot more product.

Other than lathering, it’s exactly like washing my hair with liquid shampoo, and I’m pleased with the shine it gave my locks.

Prudence Wade after using a shampoo bar
Prudence Wade’s hair after using the Nuddy shampoo bar (Prudence Wade/PA)

However, I have found my hair getting greasier more quickly than normal, but I’m chalking this up to over-enthusiastic lathering. It’s quite hard to know how much of the product you’re actually using with a bar, but I imagine this is something I’ll get used to over time.

In the longer term, it will be interesting to see how well it protects the colour in my hair, and I’m curious how many washes I’ll be able to get out of one bar. For now, I’m delighted with the results, and think it’s an easy way to cut down on plastic in my beauty routine. Maybe it’s time I started looking into solid conditioner, too?

Keen to try it yourself? Here are 8 of the best shampoo bars on the market

1. Nuddy Daily Shine Treatment Shampoo Bar in Mint, Lime and Grapefruit, £8.95

(Nuddy/PA)
(Nuddy/PA)

2. Bleach London Rosé Shampoo Bar, £9

Rose shampoo
(Bleach London/PA)

3. Kind2 The Two In One, £12.50

(Kind2/PA)
(Kind2/PA)

4. Faith In Nature Dragon Fruit Shampoo Bar

Faith in nature shampoo bar
(Faith In Nature/PA)

Sale
Faith In Nature Natural Dragon Fruit Shampoo Bar, Revitalising, Vegan and Cruelty Free, No SLS or...
  • Shampoo bar is suitable for anyone wanting to be as kind to the planet as they are to their hair. This fruity & exotic shampoo bar will help you to leave your hair looking and feeling revitalised
  • Entire range of shampoo bars are natural, vegan, SLS and paraben free so no matter what you are looking for you can be confident that your are using the that nature has to offer
  • Faith in Nature products are made using the highest quality, naturally derived, cruelty-free ingredients, with 100 percent natural fragrance - and they work beautifully

Last update on 2021-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera for Normal Hair

Garnier plastic free shampoo bar
(Garnier/PA)

Sale
Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera for Normal Hair, 60 g
  • Hydrating Shampoo Bar for healthy looking hair, Zero plastic waste, 100 Percent recyclable cardboard (FSC Certified)
  • For Normal hair, Highly nourishing shampoo, easy to lather and fast rinse formula
  • Wet your hair and lather from roots to tips, Keep massaging into your hair and scalp, Rinse thoroughly

Last update on 2021-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Foamie Coconut Shampoo Bar

Foamie shampoo bar
(Foamie/PA)

FOAMIE Shampoo Bar, Coconut for Normal Hair, Plastic-Free, pH-Balanced, Soap-Free, No Sulphates or...
  • NO NASTIES: Plastic-Free, Vegan, Cruelty-Free, 0% Soap, 0% Parabens, 0% Silicones, 0% Microplastics
  • PH-BALANCED TO YOUR HAIR AND SCALP: Specially formulated 5.5 pH Value, ensuring optimal cleansing without damaging your hair and suitable for everyday use with all hair types. No transition period!
  • FOR NORMAL HAIR: Carefully formulated to add shine to normal hair types.

Last update on 2021-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. Lush Honey I Washed My Hair Shampoo Bar, £8

Lush shampoo bar
(Lush/PA)

8. Solo Nine Shampoo & Body Bar, £7.50, No Secrets

Solo shampoo bar
(No Secrets/PA)

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