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It might come as a shock to some younger folks, but shampoo didn’t always come in as a liquid formula. Back in the midcentury, shampoo bars were the norm, and now they’re coming back into style — and they have some surprising benefits to boot. Don’t worry if you have common hair issues like dandruff, dryness, hair loss, or an expensive color job you want to keep intact — there are shampoo bars for all these hair types and more.
What is a shampoo bar?
Shampoo bars are exactly what they sound like — a bar of shampoo. A shampoo bar looks similar to a typical bar of body soap, but it is often made without the use of soap, making it ideal for users with sensitive skin. Shampoo bars are typically healthier for your hair than detergent-based liquid shampoos because they’re made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, silicone, and synthetic fragrances. This means shinier, more manageable hair, and less damaging and stripping, which can happen with chemical-based products.
Why choose a shampoo bar over liquid?
In addition to the benefits we listed above, bar shampoo is much more eco-friendly than liquid shampoo. Shampoo bars are typically packaged in recyclable boxes and are biodegradable. Liquid shampoo is typically housed in plastic containers, which can be recycled, but takes more energy and resources to create and they don’t break down nearly as quickly as paper. There is less air needed for a box of shampoo than a bottle and it’s lighter, which leads to more efficient shipping. Plus, bar shampoo is convenient because of its long-lasting nature (one bar can equal between one and three bottles of liquid shampoo). It’s also a great option for travel since it’s solid and not liquid.
When making the switch to bar shampoo, it can take some time for you and your hair to adjust to the new product. Bar shampoo is made with less water than liquid shampoo and often doesn’t lather as much as traditional shampoo, but don’t worry, your hair is still getting clean. It’s a good idea to invest in a holder for your bar since keeping it dry between washes will help extend its lifespan.
If you’re thinking of trying out a bar shampoo, check out some of our recommendations below.
1. J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Shampoo Bar
In terms of price, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than this three-pack of shampoo bars from J.R. Liggett’s. Each bar has a distinct leading ingredient, with options including virgin coconut and argan oil, tea tree and hemp oil, and jojoba and peppermint. The sulfate-free shampoo bars use antioxidants and vitamins to help nourish follicles, cleansing the scalp and leaving hair feeling manageable. A great option for users with sensitive skin as well as permed, color-treated, and naturally curly hair, the bars rejuvenate dull and lifeless hair and leave it so soft that you may be able to toss your conditioner for good.
2. Ethique Solid Shampoo Bar
BEST FOR FRIZZY HAIR
Ethique makes shampoo and conditioner bars that focus on getting and keeping your hair and the environment clean. It’s best for dry to frizzy hair, utilizing Samoan Coconut and Cocoa Butter to nourish and rejuvenate a dry mop. Using organic virgin coconut oil, hair receives an intense amount of hydration without being weighed down by heavy chemicals. The pH-balanced shampoo is made without the use of soap, which means sensitive skin users won’t be irritated.
3. Ethique Shampoo and Shaving Bar
DOUBLES AS SHAVING CREAM
We love a product that can pull double duty, which is why we are big fans of the Ethique Shampoo and Shaving Bar. Like all Ethique products, the bar is made without any plastic packaging and is 100% compostable. The pH-balanced bar is made without the use of palm tree oil or soap and is safe for hair that has been dyed. Equivalent to three bottles of shampoo, the vegan bar combines kaolin clay, cocoa butter, glycerin with orange, lime, and mint oils for a refreshing scent that users will love on their hair and face.
4. Rice Water Shampoo and Conditioner by Mimosu
PROMOTES HAIR GROWTH
For a bar that promotes hair growth, we like the two-in-one product from Mimosu. Using argan oil to protect the hair, olive oil to moisturize, coconut for a gentle cleansing effect, and rice water to promote growth, the Mimosu bar is ideal for users who want thicker, more hydrated hair. Much like Ethique, Mimosu bars replace three full-sized bottles of liquid shampoo for a product that will last.
5. Kitsch Dandruff Clarifying 2 in 1 Shampoo and Shave Bar
BEST FOR DANDRUFF
Banish dry, itchy scalps and white flakes of dandruff with the clarifying shampoo bar from Kitsch. Safe for color-treated hair, Kitsch uses tea tree oil and mint, plus pure essential oils to balance the hair’s pH. The soap-free shampoo, which can also be used as shaving cream, is made without parabens and sulfates, so it won’t dry out your already dry hair. Instead, hair is nourished and moisturized, making it easier to brush and manage. For those who are sensitive to scents, the bar is made without any added fragrances.
6. Tasmanian Clarifying Shampoo Bar
The benefits of apple cider vinegar are quickly becoming better understood in the Western beauty world, which means more natural products are popping up. That includes the Tasmanian Clarifying Shampoo bar. Featuring the natural antibacterial and antifungal properties of apple cider vinegar, the bar helps to cleanse the hair without stripping it dry. Not only does the bar help to combat dandruff, but it also promotes hair growth by unclogging follicles that have become encrusted from oils and products.
7. The Yellow Bird Peppermint Shampoo Bar Soap
GOOD FOR PSORIASIS
If you have an extremely sensitive scalp, opt for this peppermint shampoo bar from The Yellow Bird. Free from sulfates, silicone, and parabens, the shampoo offers a natural alternative for those who suffer from dry skin and are often battling dandruff and psoriasis. An all-in-one shower product that can be used as shampoo, soap, and shaving cream (travelers — this is the bar for you), kaolin clay and sea salt are also included to help remove buildup. Vitamin E, argan, and jojoba oil leave hair looking shiny and hydrated while protecting against frizz.
8. Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water Shampoo + Conditioner Bar
SHAMPOO AND CONDITION IN ONE
For those with fine hair who don’t want to weigh down their mane with too many products, we recommend Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water Shampoo + Conditioner Bar. The gentle formula is a great two-in-one option that means less time washing and rinsing hair. The lightweight formula, which includes organic coconut water and plant-based detanglers, is ideal for all hair types, including thinning hair. Free from parabens, phthalates, dyes, and heavy silicones that can weigh down hair, each bar is packaged in a box made from recycled materials and can be recycled when finished.
9. HiBAR Moisturize Shampoo
BEST FOR DRY HAIR
There are many things that can lead to dry hair, including frequent dying, hot styling products, and a penchant for heavy hair products. Throw in environmental factors and your hair likely needs a drink. Try the moisturizing shampoo from HiBAR, which is soap-free and uses coconut oil and rice protein to add hydration back into the hair. Essential oils add an invigorating, gentle citrus scent into a shampoo that is gentle on curls and free from sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.
10. Spring & Vine Grapefruit & Rosemary Volumizing Shampoo Bar
FOR FINE HAIR
Does your hair look tired all the time? Give it some lift with the Spring & Vine shampoo bar. The volumizing formula features shea butter and essential oils to help rejuvenate hair and leave it with a gentle grapefruit and rosemary scent that is made without the use of synthetic fragrances. Free from ingredients that could threaten to weigh hair down, including parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oils, and dyes, the concentrated formula used on a Spring & Vine bar helps it last as long as a full-sized bottle of shampoo.
11. FOAMIE Solid Shampoo Bar Hibisikiss
FOR DAMAGED HAIR
Repair your hair with a shampoo bar that has seen it all. The Foamie Solid Shampoo Bar in Hibisikiss is made without soap, silicone, mineral oils, parabens and lillal. It’s pH optimized to gently cleanse hair and help restore its natural shine. Tired and damaged hair is strengthened and revitalized using the bar’s stinging nettle plant and Hibiscus extract ingredients. We also like that Foamie designs its bars with a built-in rope, making it easy to hang the shampoo to dry between washes.
12. Shampoo Bar by ODACITÉ
Soap requires the use of alkaline additives and fats, which can aggravate people with sensitive skin. Shampoo bars like ones made by ODACITÉ are free from soap, which makes them ideal for users with skin issues. Product buildup, dirt, and excess oil are removed and argan oil helps to leave hair looking and feeling clean and soft. Castor oil is also included in each ODACITÉ bar, which helps to restore shine and silkiness to hair that is dyed and over-treated. The cruelty-free bar is made without the use of sulfates, phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals, mineral oil, silicone or talc.
13. Hydrating Shampoo Bar by CHRISTOPHE ROBIN
FOR CLEANING THE HAIR AND BODY
Clean your hair and your body at the same time with the Hydrating Shampoo Bar by Christophe Robin. Safe for all hair types, this bar is made with soothing aloe vera, natural glycerin, and castor oil to help hair and skin look and feel hydrated. Free from any synthetic agents, Christophe Robin recommends users give themselves up to five washes to allow their hair to adjust to a shampoo made with minimal water, after which they will begin seeing the benefits of this natural, cruelty-free bar. A great option for travel and home use, the same bar can be used as a shampoo and body wash.
14. Lush Jumping Juniper Shampoo Bar
FOR OILY AND DULL HAIR
Lush has several shampoo bars to choose from, including their vibrant Jumping Juniper scent. A great option for users with oily and dull hair, juniper berry oil helps to clarify scalps that are suffering from oily buildup, which can cause lifeless and dull hair. Lemon and lime add shine and a fresh scent, while lavender and rosemary ensure the scalp feels calm and clean. One bar of Lush shampoo (the company also makes conditioner bars) can replace up to three bottles of liquid shampoo.