It’s no secret that the United States has a plastic problem. According to a 2020 Science Advances study, the United States contributed up to 2.25 million metric tons of plastics into the environment in 2016 alone. And with those numbers slated to rise due to the pandemic — think masks, gloves, and takeout materials — it’s crucial that we do what we can to minimize the waste. While the undertaking may seem daunting at first, eco-conscious alternatives are cropping up everywhere, each designed to reimagine ubiquitous, everyday products to create something a bit more sustainable.
Enter shampoo bars, a solid alternative to bottled shampoo (in more ways than one!).
They may look like simple bar soaps, but don’t be fooled: these ethically packaged offerings come crafted for all hair types, and feature formulas developed to rival the results of your tried-and-true shampoo. Concentrated formulas (read: no water content, a simple ingredient that comprises the majority of most bottled shampoos) translate to a longer-lasting cleanser, saving both money and plastic, with one bar replacing up to three 8-ounce shampoo bottles. If you need further incentive, the bulk of solid shampoo comes in recycled or recyclable packaging, is comprised of less, more natural, cruelty-free ingredients, and is a breeze to get past TSA when traveling (plus, no change of leakage). It may take your mane a beat to adjust to a more chemical-free routine, but stay the course — the lifestyle change is worth the wait. Simply lather up in your hands or apply directly to your scalp, massage, rinse, and watch that plastic and water waste circle the drain.
Here, seven shampoo bars designed to keep your hair — and your beauty routine — clean.
If you love a vintage moment made modern, look to KMS — it launched its first solid shampoo in the 1970s, sans plastic packaging. The forward-thinking move served as a precursor to the brand’s Moistrepair Solid Shampoo, the brand’s current bar, which relies on a blend of lactic and malic acid and aloe vera to repair and nourish damaged hair. A helpful tip from KMS: Don’t forget to air dry your bar after each use.
A favorite of mall devotees across the nation, Lush is a longtime leader of the “naked” product camp. Lush’s line of 11 shampoo bars have something of a cult following — and for good reason. Seanik’s ultra-concentrated formula replaces up to three 8.5-ounce bottles of liquid shampoo, all while using beach-bound ingredients (seaweed, sea salt, and lemon) to for soft, voluminous, and shiny lengths. A bonus? The sweet floral scent lingers.
Switching to a shampoo bar is already an ethical move, but a bar that’s multi-purpose makes your shower almost saintly. For those who favor the simplicity of a two-in-one, Christophe Robin’s solid shampoo doubles as bar soap for your body. A menu of 100% natural ingredients includes aloe, natural glycerin, and castor oil conspires to gently cleanse and hydrate, freeing your hair from its reliance on harsh chemicals.
Aesthetically speaking, Peach is the sweetest in bar shampoo. Peach offers its cute little triangular bars in formulas that strengthen, moisturize, and volumize, each made with natural fragrances and without parabens, phthalates, or silicones. Though small, Peach makes a big statement environmentally: Each bar lasts as long as two 8.5-ounce bottles of shampoo and comes in 100% recycled packaging.
Named for the number of shampoo bottles left to litter landfills and nature each year in the United States (552 million), Odacité 552M is ideal for all types of hair, from color-treated manes to full beards. Castor, coconut, and Argan oils moisturize, while a rich lather and citrus scent combine for a salon-like experience — and salon-quality results.
A favorite of beauty editors and reviewers alike, Superzero’s Shampoo Bar comes in six specialized formulas, so that you can choose the perfect product for you. A thoughtful blend of science-backed, soap-free cleansing agents and natural extracts and oils suds up for a deep clean that leaves hair lighter and brighter. And for those with global warming on the mind (so, everyone), Superzero claims that shampoo bars produce 90% less carbon emissions than shampoo bottles when it comes to production and transport.
Product buildup happens to the best of us, and can result in dull, heavy hair. Rather than contributing to the issue, Kitsch’s Clarifying Shampoo Bar helps to clean up hair minus the expected dry-out. A medley of tea tree and mint creating a sumptuous, spa-inspired experience while removing excess oil and a deep clean minus any moisture stripping additives.