Hair-Care Tips

These Ocean-Inspired Hair Bars Finally Convinced Me to Ditch My Plastic Shampoo and Conditioner, And I’m Never Looking Back

Photo: Parrotfish
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May not come as a shock by now, but many shampoos, conditioners, and body washes that come in plastic bottles end up somewhere far-flung in a dump not smelling very nice anymore once we’re through with them. In fact, an estimated 552 million shampoo bottles end up in U.S. landfills every year—if you're more of a visual person, that's approximately 1,164 football fields' worth of plastic. Yikes. 

As much as I’d like to think I’m a mindful consumer and lead a considerably eco-friendly lifestyle—always vying for the more sustainable option and EWG-verified product on the shelf—I've been slow to jump on the shampoo bar train. These solid hair washes skip out on the plastic completely, promising all the benefits of traditional shampoo and conditioner, without the waste. But I've been skeptical: Would they really wash and moisturize my hair as well as the bottled stuff? Are they as easy to distribute or as tangibly satisfying as lathering a more sudsy substance into my locks? If you're lathering up with Parrotfish, then the answer is yes.

Parrotfish is the adorable, efficacious new collection of plastic-free shower products that are better for the planet and your body. Founded by Katie Pearson Fucci, a National Geographic designer who's seen the havoc bathroom plastic is wreaking on our oceans firsthand, Parrotfish is here to clean up your act, one shower at a time. “Daily, I would see gut-wrenching photos of sea creatures' habitats littered with plastic, and they would be trapped in bags, soda rings, or netting,” she explains. “I also made infographics detailing plastic pollution by the numbers. This made me want to start living a more plastic-free lifestyle.”

Inspired by the parrotfish—a species of fish that helps clean saltwater and maintain reef health by munching on dead coral and algae—Parrotfish's line of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bars are all plastic-free, cruelty-free, and palm-oil free. The actual fish's vibrant coloring and importance to the ecosystem translates perfectly into the brand's color-happy, compostable packaging. It's also all made without any suspect parabens, unnatural dyes, or anything else that you wouldn't want in your hair or water once it washes down the drain. Most importantly, it got me to ditch my plastic bottles for good. Here's why.

Parrotfish is effective and Earth-friendly

Being a sucker for cute packaging and ocean-themed products, Parrotfish caught my attention. But I still had my doubts—would the bars be more time-consuming to work into a froth? Would the conditioner actually work its way through my thick strands and not leave me more knotted than before?

“I definitely understand the hesitation in transitioning to a shampoo bar, which is why I focused on making the switch as seamless as possible by creating a super sudsy shampoo bar created with the safe synthetic ingredient, sodium coco sulfate," Pearson Fucci says. Derived from coconuts over petroleum, she explains it's much more mild than traditional sulfates but still produces that rich, bubbly lather you want when you shampoo.

Taking her word for it, I chose to go with the nourishing and clarifying Argan Cleanse Shampoo ($15) and Argan Conditioner ($15)– great for normal to dry (and color-treated) hair. Argan oil prevents dryness, reduces frizziness, and boosts luster and shine. It also repairs bad breakage (which I have from wearing my hair in a ponytail all too often) while keeping your hair and scalp moisturized.

Parrotfish, Argan Shampoo + Conditioner Bundle — $24.00

Available together for $24 or individually for $15 each.

Since the gentler, more mild ingredients never strips the hair of its natural oils—as many mainstream shampoos tend to do—a little bit of the bar actually went a long way. Parrotfish really isn't like normal solid shampoos that you have to keep scrubbing to work into even the smallest of suds. Rub a bit against your tendrils and before you know it, you'll have a spa-worthy foam to wash and nourish your strands with ease.

The conditioner is even more impressive, as it detangled my hair with only one, thin layer, not multiple heavy coats like other conditioner bars tend to require. Created with natural butters, coconut oil, and jojoba oil, the mixture closely mirrors the scalp's natural oils while moisturizing thirsty strands. You’ll notice alluring and heady scents of argan well after you’ve towel-dried your hair. It smells amazing—and feels just as good, too. As I brushed my wet hair, all of the notions that the bars would be more time-consuming or challenging to use compared to bottles washed down the drain. Ditching plastic would be more of a breeze than I thought.

parrotfish shampoo
Photo: Britt Mattie

Solid shower goodies allow your conscious to rest easy, too. Pearson Fucci explains that hair and body bars require 5x less energy to produce compared to their plastic counterparts. Plus, consumers use 30 percent less water when washing with a solid product. “A marketing strategy for many large companies is to make their product not last long, so the repeat purchase cycle is shorter,” she says. “With liquid shampoo, not only would you drive to the store and buy the product more often—using more emissions and money—but you would also have triple the amount of waste. Most liquid shampoo is comprised of 80 percent water, so when you take out the water, you're not left with a lot of shampoo. On the flip side, one Parrotfish bar lasts as long as three 12-ounce liquid bottles.”

Overall, my transition from liquid to bar was literally and figuratively more smooth than I expected. Besides feeling good about finally joining the plastic-free shower movement, my hair has actually become noticeably healthier, softer, and less frizzy after just a few short weeks of use. The only thing fishy about these bars is the name—they're effective, simple to use, and most importantly, better for Mother Earth.

Make the switch to plastic-free with Parrotfish

Peppermint Shampoo + Conditioner Bar — $22.00

Give your roots a major reset with this minty pair. A little goes along way with both bars, clarifying your scalp and strands with just a few, fresh-smelling swipes. Individual bars are also available for $15 each.

Lavender Teak Soap — $10.00

Parrotfish makes skin goodies, too, so you can give your body some all-over TLC. The Lavender Teak soap is made with activated charcoal to suck all the dirt and grime out of your pores. There’s also nourishing calendula and relaxing lavender that soothe your senses while you wash.

Coffee Clementine Exfoliant Bar — $10.00

Coffee and clementine come together to wake up your skin, no alarm clock required. The coffee grounds slough away dead skin while smoothing texture and treating blemishes, while the clementine, orange, and lime essential oils give it (and your mood) some brightness.

Lemon Lychee Soap Bar — $10.00

Zesty and summery, the Lemon Lychee is another great soap to use when you want to rise and shine—literally. Its scent alone is invigorating, infused with tangy bergamot, turmeric, and litsea. But it’s its heavy load of antioxidants that brighten skin, stimulating cell growth for healthy, all-over glow.

Rosemary Apple Cider Soap — $10.00

Sweat and grease are no match for this clarifying soap enriched with rosemary and apple cider vinegar for a powerful cleanse. Don’t worry about stripping your skin, though—its burst of spinach extract makes it wondrous at balancing your skin’s pH and maintaining moisture.

Head to Toe Bundle — $38.00

Ready to revamp your shower routine? This bundle has got you covered. Each set includes a shampoo bar and conditioner bar (either argan or peppermint—you get to choose) as well as three surprise soaps. You won’t know what you’re going to get but it doesn’t really matter since it’s all great for you, and even better for the planet.

Total Care Bundle — $62.00

Or go all in with the Total Care bundle, which gives you the shampoo and conditioners of your liking, plus all five soaps. If you order the bundle, you’ll automatically receive 20 percent off any two accessories at check out, all of which come from sustainable brands. Need some ideas? A Cotton Shower Pouf ($13) will get you squeaky clean while this Soap Dish Drainer ($16) will keep your soap fresh, too.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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