I am endlessly fascinated by shampoo bars. The idea of having a solid, plastic-free solution that's easy to travel with is intriguing. But, as someone with chronically dry 4C hair, I've always been afraid to try them, worried that they wouldn't work for my textured hair. So when I found out Briogeo—a Black-founded brand—was launching its own hydrating shampoo bar, I was over the moon.
"We want to prove to people that these bars can work," says Nancy Twine, Briogeo's founder and CEO. "Hopefully when people try our formulas they'll become a believer and they'll start to transition."
What makes the Briogeo Aloe + Oat Milk Ultra Soothing 3-in-1 Cleansing Bar ($25) especially exciting is that it's more than just a shampoo bar. "You can use it as a shampoo, you can use it as a body wash and a face wash," says Twine. "It is an amazing shampoo. It is so hydrating. It has this luxurious foam. It's so silky, it's like milky and gentle. And then on the body too, like I find that I don't even have to sometimes use lotion or even use less lotion because it's so hydrating in the same thing from my face. But it literally is like an A++ product for all three of those areas."
I tested the bar on both my hair and skin and instantly fell in love. Because I use hair oils and heat-protectants with silicones, I did a triple-lather, which Twine does herself if she feels like she has a lot of build-up on her scalp. "So I'll shampoo it with the bar, I'll rinse it out and I'll do that two more times, and by that third lather I feel like the build-up is all out," she says. The bar creates a gorgeous foam, using gentle ingredients to help pull away product buildup, natural oils, sweat, and grime off of your skin and hair.
"All of our surfactants are either coconut-derived or plant-derived. So we're not using any sort of SLS, DEA, or harsh industrial-strength surfactants in the formula. So it's really gentle but it's obviously a very concentrated product because of the fact that there is no water in the formula."
This waterless formula also makes it more sustainable than traditional liquid cleaners. The most prominent ingredient in many beauty products is water, which makes them far heavier to ship and results in higher fuel emissions for transport. This three-in-one bar "weighs less than a bottle of shampoo plus a bottle of body wash plus a bottle of face wash," says Twine. "So it's more eco-friendly transport as well." Plus, it's wrapped in a super-thin plastic wrap and then a paper box, meaning it uses much less plastic than traditional cleansers.
This also makes it easier to travel. "Like a lot of people, I've started traveling again and I always buy these cute little makeup bags and then they get ruined because stuff spills, and those little bottles run out so quickly," says Twine. "I love the fact that I could take the solid bar,—which is not gonna leak—I could put it in my travel bag and literally when I travel I've got my body wash, I've got my shampoo, and I have my face wash in this one product. Whether it's traveling, going to the gym, whatever, it's a very jus efficient beauty product."
Beyond being convenient and efficient, this bar has a damn-good formulation. It's loaded with soothing aloe vera, anti-inflammatory green tea extracts, protective meadowfoam seed oil, and nourishing vitamins E and B5. I found that it left my super-dry hair and skin feeling clean yet nourished. (Note that this bar is extremely hydrating, meaning it may not be a fit for those with fine and-or oily hair.) It's part of Briogeo's Aloe + Oat collection, which focuses on providing gentle yet effective solutions so everyone—including those with skin conditions and-or sensitivities—can use them. The ingredients in this collection are hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, gynecologist-tested, ophthalmologist-tested, et cetera.
"The premise behind Aloe + Oat stemmed from a lot of my personal struggles with skin sensitivities," says Twine, who has eczema. "Fragrance-free and no essential oils was really important for me because I would have bouts of eczema and certain ingredients could actually trigger even more inflammation and flare-up."
So far, the Briogeo Aloe + Oat Cleansing Bar is the brand's only solid product. "We would love to do a solid conditioner and that is my hope and dream for how we expand solids," says Twine. So for now, you'll need to pair it with a liquid conditioner. "If you have skin sensitivities, I would recommend the Aloe + Oat Conditioner. But if you do have more flexibility, because the other products in our line do have a light fragrance," you can play around. "If you have curly hair, for example, you may wanna use our Curl Charisma Conditioner ($39 to $124). If you have frizzy hair, you may wanna use our Farewell Frizz Conditioner ($28 to $69). If you have a lot of damage and breakage because maybe you use a lot of heat or you've color-treated your hair, you can use the Don't Despair, Repair Mask ($39 to $124) after. You can really customize based on your specific needs and concerns."
The Briogeo Aloe + Oat Milk Ultra Soothing 3-in-1 Cleansing Bar is ridiculously good. If you (like me) have been weary of trying a shampoo bar, this is the one to try. Especially since it's also such a great face and body bar. I think you're gonna love it.
"This is definitely gonna compete with your liquid shampoos in the bottle," says Twine. "We're doing something really unique and I'm excited for what's ahead with like more hair-care solids."
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