If you’ve tossed your thousandth empty shampoo bottle in the recycling bin and said to yourself, “there’s got to be a better way,” well, there is: shampoo bars. These solid forms of shampoo might look simple when it comes to packaging, but they have a myriad of benefits over traditional shampoos—and they're a lot better for the planet.
Why make the switch to shampoo bars?
According to Erinn Courtney, StyleSeat Hairstylist, shampoo bars are gentle cleansers made of conditioners, butters, and oils that lather just as much as liquid shampoo, but without the questionable chemicals. “Shampoo bars are great for hair that needs an extra boost of moisture, or just great for overall soft and silky hair.”
Courtney also stresses the importance of finding a shampoo bar that is well-formulated. “Keep an eye out for surfactants, which help to cleanse your hair of oil, dirt, and grime. Shampoo bars are made without the toxic chemicals that some liquid shampoos contain, which can cause harm to the environment and wildlife. They are also typically made with organic ingredients and don’t contain artificial fragrance or sulfates, which can cause dryness and breakage to your hair.”
Shampoo bars vs. traditional shampoos
Aside from the ingredients, there’s also the difference in how shampoo bars work. “There is no water in shampoo bars, so you have to really rub the bar in your hands or hair to create a lather, whereas liquid shampoos can easily lather,” explains Dr. Rochelle Hunter Mosley, StyleSeat Trichologist. “The lather on shampoos is a marketing component. It is believed by the consumer that the more the lather the cleaner the hair—not true!”
Plus, the less water needed, the better for the environment. Courtney says there is another advantage to the bars not requiring as much water as their bottle counterparts, and the reason boils down to efficacy: “Not only do shampoo bars save water due to the formula requiring fewer amounts of water when compared to liquid shampoo, but less water means more effective ingredients. The ingredients come in a higher concentration, meaning your hair will receive greater benefits.”
Board-Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Visha Skincare, Dr. Purvisha Patel, praises the environmental benefits of switching over from bottles. “Bars are a good, eco-friendly way to use this type of beauty product, as there is no plastic waste,” she says, adding, “They are a great alternative with space for travel as they can be packed in a carry-on and are small in size.”
There are also some downsides, according to Patel. One, being that bars will dissolve faster than cleansers in a bottle, which may waste some product over time. Another reason pertains to hair length. “It may not be a good fit for those with longer hair, as it may be more tedious of a process to suds up and wash everything.”
If you’re ready to make the switch, find out the best shampoo bars according to our experts, including ones specific to your hair type, below.
The best shampoo bars, hands down
Dr. Patel recommends this shampoo bar, which is formulated with cold-pressed mango butter and can help bring hydration to dry hair without feeling heavy. It lasts up to 80 hair washes and works great for all hair types, even color-treated hair.
“Not only does this all-natural shampoo bar nourish your scalp, but it also helps eliminate single-use plastic from your hair care routine,” says Courtney. “It is great for those with sensitive skin and works to nourish your hair and regulate hair’s natural oils.”
If it’s moisture you seek, look no further than Bar None’s shampoo bar. Your hair will be clean of dirt and oil and hydrated, without leaving any filmy residue that some other shampoo bars leave behind. This is thanks to its star natural ingredients, coconut and shea butter, both mega moisturizers.
Best shampoo bars for curly hair
This aloe and almond oil-infused shampoo bar is a dream for curly hair types, as it helps prevent breakage while boosting moisture.
Curly hair can also tend to feel dry, so if that’s your hair type, you gotta keep Courtney’s Lush pick in mind. She says this bar hydrates hair without stripping away too much of your scalp’s natural oils. “It will soften your hair, leaving it with a weightless bounce,” she says. “The honey, beeswax, and citrus work to moisturize and protect your hair.”
Best shampoo bars for textured/natural hair
If you’re super into crystals, you’ll love this plant-based beauty brand that is all about good vibes and crystal healing. This cute, pink shampoo bar is sulfate-free, and cleanses the hair without stripping it of its natural oils, necessary for folks with natural hair.
This shampoo bar is made especially for curly, textured hair as it contains shea butter, lavender, and jojoba oils, which will bring tons of moisture and shine.
Best shampoo bars for fine hair
One of the downsides of having fine hair is that it tends to get flat and limp, which is why you never want to use a shampoo that’s too heavy or stripping. This oat milk and rice-infused shampoo promises to cleanse and soften hair while being gentle.
Another rec from Dr. Patel, Hibar makes a variety of shampoo bars depending on your hair’s needs. If you have fine hair, what you probably need is volume. Get ready for some lift and bounce with this shampoo and conditioner set. (P.S. If you have color-treated hair, this bar is safe for it.)
Best shampoo bars for oily hair
Oily hair types will fall in love with this shampoo bar as it works to balance the natural oils in your hair and scalp while also being gentle. This vegan formula (formulated with jojoba, coconut, and castor oil) helps remove built-up sebum in your scalp so your hair will feel cleaner and lighter for a lot longer. Each bar is equivalent to 24 oz. of regular (liquid) shampoo, and it smells like a peppermint stick.
“Made with coconut, argan, and castor oils, plus cupuaçu butter, this shampoo bar works to keep your scalp balanced and helps clean your hair from any excess dirt, oil, and product buildup,” says Courtney. Free of sulfates, this formula leaves your hair silky and brushable.
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