It can be difficult to find quality eco-friendly alternatives to personal care products, but thankfully, there are many shampoo options that are both effective and good for the environment. The best biodegradable shampoos are made from eco-friendly ingredients and come in bar form with paper packaging.
A biodegradable product is one that can, under the right conditions, be broken down in a natural environment, but that term can be misleading, as some materials that are labeled as biodegradable can still take years to break down. Additionally, products in the U.S. don’t need to be proven to be biodegradable before going to market with this label.
If what you’re essentially after is a shampoo that’s more eco-friendly shampoo, look for ones that are free from ingredients like parabens and synthetic fragrances, which may cause skin irritations and other potential issues. Shampoos labeled as vegan and palm oil-free (or made from sustainably sourced palm oil) are also more eco-friendly, as animal products increase carbon footprints and non-sustainably sourced palm oil is a cause of rainforest destruction.
Shampoos that come in bar form typically don’t use plastic packaging, making them a more eco-friendly option than liquid shampoos in plastic bottles. Most shampoo bars are also concentrated, which helps save on packaging, water, and energy needed for shipping. Bar shampoos usually come in paper packaging, which decomposes more quickly and is easier to recycle than plastic packaging. While some non-recycled paper packaging can require more energy to make than plastic, it does not cause the same threats to marine wildlife.
Now that you've learned a bit about how to navigate eco-friendly hair care, check out four of the best shampoo bars that you can buy on Amazon.
1. A Shampoo Bar With Over 6,000 Fans On Amazon
Started by a student in her kitchen, Ethique makes eco-friendly shampoo that's 100% plastic-free. The packaging is compostable, and the shampoo bar itself is vegan, paraben-free, and contains no palm oil. This bar may seem small, but thanks to its concentrated formula, it's equivalent to three bottles of liquid shampoo. This formula is made for standard-to-dry hair, but Ethique makes a wide range of shampoo bars, including one for frizz-control and a gentle one for kids. To extend the life of your bar, you may want to consider purchasing the brand’s bamboo and sugarcane storage container.
One fan raved: “I have highlighted, a bit frizzy, fine, almost straight but wavy puffy hair and this stuff didn’t dry it out, didn’t weigh it down, didn’t leave my roots oily (THANK THE SHAMPOO GODS) nor did I have to use a ton of it! It lathers so well that it’s like using a quality shampoo. I now have a ton of their other products in my cart waiting to be purchased for the fam!”
2. A 3-Pack of Shampoo Bars Made From Simple Ingredients
This popular shampoo bar set boasts over 2,000 five-star ratings on Amazon and features three all-natural scents: coconut and argan oil, jojoba and peppermint, and tea tree and hemp oil. The base of this shampoo bar is made from olive oil, castor oil, and coconut oil, and essential oils add a distinct and fresh scent. These vegan-friendly shampoo bars are made in New England, come wrapped in paper, and have a concentrated formula that makes each bar equal to about 24 ounces of liquid shampoo.
One fan raved: “At first I was disappointed by how small these bars were, but these three bars lasted me 8 months no joke! (I have short to medium length hair). I am absolutely happy with how long these have lasted! The other thing that put me off at first is the way my hair feels directly after rinsing this shampoo out of my hair, but as soon as I dry my hair off it feels fluffy and light. I imagine I'm used to all the other strange additives that get thrown into typical shampoo to make your hair feel glossy and smooth when you rinse it out, but my hair feels and behaves just the same way after it dries with this shampoo as any other that I've tried [...] Also, I just use the shampoo bar now and no conditioner - again, my hair is just the same with this routine as it was with the traditional bottles of shampoo/conditioner routine! I'm so happy I ditched the expensive bottles of shampoo and conditioner!”
3. This All-In-One Shower Bar
This 100% vegan shampoo bar is a versatile shower essential that can be used to clean both your hair and body. It’s paraben-free and palm oil-free and made in the USA. This bar has a coconut and argan scent, and it comes wrapped in recyclable paper packaging. Acure’s all-in-one shower bar has an overall 4.3-star rating on Amazon and over 5,000 reviews, so if this is your first foray into shower bars, you can feel confident knowing it’s earned the support of many fans.
One fan raved: “I have super fine, greasy hair which would get itchy with sulfate containing shampoos. I tried a natural shampoo bar, two other highly rated natural bottled shampoos, and then I tried this one. Perfect! It's not specific to greasy, thin hair, but my hair looks so healthy (shiny and super soft)! And being worried that it wouldn't have enough degreasing power, I was so happy to see it lasted all day. I still have been using it everyday because of my greasy scalp (same with every shampoo I've tried) but it is gentle enough to use daily. I've noticed it also gives volume to my hair which is always a bonus for fine hair. I love it and think I've finally found my ideal shampoo. If your hair/scalp is anything like mine and you're looking for something natural, definitely try this one! Plus it's cheaper than the other shampoos I've tried too!”
4. A 2-In-1 Shampoo And Conditioner Bar
This two-in-one shampoo and conditioner bar is designed to help clean, strengthen, and add volume to finer hair. It comes in a box made from 100% recycled materials, and the bar is vegan-friendly and paraben-free. This concentrated multipurpose formula is made with organic coconut oil and has a fresh mimosa flower and coconut water scent. It’s also backed by over 2,800 five-star ratings on Amazon.
One fan raved: “I have a problem with conditioner where even the tiniest bit is too much for my hair, but if I don’t use it at all my ends get super dry. When I use this bar it is the perfect amount of everything. It makes my hair feel great. I also really like it because it reminds me each time I use it that I’m not using a one time plastic use and the box it comes in is recyclable.