If you’ve been looking at ways to cut out waste, you may well have come across the shampoo bar. It’s the miraculous solution to all of those plastic containers in your bathroom that doesn’t involve washing your hair with soap. These bars – also called solid shampoo – come wrapped in paper and are just like hard soap, but designed with intelligent ingredients so they’re good for your hair too.
…although I’ve now heard from three people that they tried shampoo bars and they were absolutely awful. The comments ranged from ‘making me look like I lived on the streets’ to ‘there were bits in my hair, and it smelled awful’. They may, in fact, have been better off washing their hair with soap.
So do shampoo bars actually work?
The answer is yes.
One issue is that there’s a lot of posts out there telling you that your hair needs to ‘get used’ to a new type of shampoo. I’m not saying that wouldn’t help, but who here realistically will go two weeks with hair that doesn’t look, feel, or smell clean? And to add to that, one of these horror stories came from someone who gave it a go for a good five weeks. That is far too long without clean hair. But because we’re being told our hair needs time to get used to it, we start wondering if actually we’re not doing it right, or if we’re just not brave enough to see it through. Cue eco-guilt.
When was the last time you bought a new brand of shampoo? Did you have to wait a few weeks before the new shampoo kicked in? I don’t think so. At most I’ve had one dud wash with a new bottle (although I always have the sneaking suspicion that’s because I’m not doing it properly) and then we’re back on track. And so it should be with solid shampoo.
And it can be: you just need to pick the right one. These are the only two brands I’ve personally tried (or have had a friend try) with success:
Don’t touch any of the other ones. Seriously. (Although if you do use another brand and it works, let me know and I’ll add it to the list – after I’ve tried it.)
Great! Let’s buy a shampoo bar
I do love Lush. It’s pretty much the only high street store I shop in: they have a great ethos running right through their ingredients sourcing, workers’ rights policies and corporate activism, and they were doing plastic-free far before it was trendy. The bars are a bit pricey, at £7.50 each, but they win hands down on effectiveness, smell and convenience.
If you shop through Farmdrop, you trying a shampoo bar is as simple as adding the Coconutty Soapnut bar to your next order. Go on.
My one tip if you’re heading out to buy your first shampoo bar is this: get one without any chunks. Some of the Lush ones (like the Montalbano lemony one) smell amazing but are made up of rather large bits, which mean the shampoo breaks down from bar to unusable crumbs faster.
Once your shampoo bar is in the bathroom, keep it as dry as possible (think: tin with drainage holes, or covered soap dish) to ensure it lasts as long as possible: that thing costs 14p per gram.
If you’re interested in the science behind shampoo (ie. why you possibly shouldn’t just use soap), I found this article fascinating. Who knew there was so much science in this stuff?