Shampoo bars are the eco-friendly, solid alternative to liquid shampoo. A shampoo bar does the same job as the liquid shampoo, with the added bonus that, because it’s concentrated, it lasts much, much longer. 

In this post we will talk about:

Each link takes you to the section for a shorter read.

Let’s begin.

Shampoo bars, as mentioned, are solid bars made from surfactants, similar to what you’d find in your liquid shampoo.

They look like soap, but unlike soap, which is made from a process called saponification, that turns oil/fat into a cleanser, they are pH balanced for the hair and easier to wash away with water. With that said, let’s get into what makes shampoo bars so eco-friendly compared to liquid shampoo.

Shampoo bars are eco friendly because:

  1. They contain little to no water 
  2. They use little to no packaging 
  3. Packaging is usually paper so it’s easily degradable 
  4. They are lightweight and easy to ship
  5. They are great for travel, whether to the gym or on holiday abroad
  6. They last longer than liquid shampoos because you waste less whilst using
  7. The formula is more concentrated so you use less of it for effective cleaning
  8. Depending on the size, you could get up to 100 washes from a single bar!
  9. They have multiple uses, so it can double up as a shower bar, hand wash etc

Types of Shampoo Bars

There are various types of shampoo bars because our hair types and hair needs vary. Whilst the main reason to use a shampoo bar is to cleanse, sometimes, the cleaning ingredients in the bar can be too harsh. Yes, many shampoo bars on the market contain sulfate ingredients which can be extremely drying for curly hair types. 

Some examples of shampoo Bars currently on the market are:

Clarifying Shampoo Bar 

This will be your no frills, deep cleansing bar. It may leave your hair feeling a little dry as the aim is to wash away as much oil, debris and buildup as possible. Unfortunately, it cleans everything, including the natural oils. 

This shampoo bar is good for deep cleaning once per month or, if you wash your hair regularly with another type of shampoo bar, a few times per year. If you use a lot of hair products, this type of bar can be used every 2 weeks to help prevent buildup. 

This shampoo bar should be followed up with a conditioning treatment to help rebalance the moisture in the hair. Find out more about conditioning after clarifying your hair in this post.

Conditioning Shampoo Bar 

This shampoo bar will give a light cleaning effect. Its main aim is to clean but also replace the oils it’s washing out. The synergy works like this, whilst some micelles are carrying away dirt and oil, oils from the bar are being deposited onto the hair.  

The conditioner bar mimics co-washing, but, as it’s more concentrated, it may have more cleansing action than a standard co-wash. 

When you use this bar, you won’t need to use a wash out conditioner to compliment the shampoo action, after rinsing it out, you can go straight to your leave-in or styling products. 

This type of shampoo bar is perfect for daily, bi-weekly and/or weekly washing especially for curly hair. . 

shampoo bars holpura blog body

Shine Shampoo Bar

A Shine bar is similar to a conditioner bar, but, it will be more conditioning than cleansing. The bar will have a number of conditioning ingredients and may contain silicones that help provide a sheen to the hair. 

Soap Shampoo Bar

There are a number of bars on the market labeled as shampoo bars but they use soap as their base for cleaning. I shared this post a while back about the difference between a shampoo bar and a soap bar, including the damage that can occur when using soap based bars for shampooing your hair due to the vast difference in the pH of the soap and the pH of the hair and scalp. 

Used as a one off, these bars are fine for cleaning. However, if used regularly, over time the hair will become frizzy, dry and unmanageable. 

If the ingredient list of your shampoo bar includes items such as sodium cocoate, sodium olivate, sodium castorate, then it is a soap based bar. 

These bars are not recommended for washing your hair long term.

How to Use a Shampoo Bar

The Shampoo Bar is pretty easy to use. Just wet your hair thoroughly, then rub the bar along your scalp. It will form a lather from which you can distribute throughout your hair. 

Rinse the lather out as you would your normal shampoo, then follow up with your conditioner or styling product. You can do a second wash if your hair is greasy or if like me, you use a lot of oil-based products. 

How to Store your Shampoo Bar

When you’ve finished using the bar, rinse it off to remove hair or residue, then leave it to dry where excess water can drain away or evaporate so it’s nice and firm, ready for your next use. 

You can store it in a soap dish, a mesh bag that you hang in the shower away from water, or, you could let it dry then pop it back in its packaging, stored away from water. 

The one thing you shouldn’t do is leave it in the shower where water can reach it, as it will disintegrate. 

Cleansing is incredibly important for your scalp and the general health of your hair, so whatever type of shampoo bar you choose, always remember to choose what’s best for your hair and lifestyle. 

Shampoo Bars won’t replace liquid shampoo anytime soon, however, as we move through the space of sustainability, it is my hope that we embrace these alternative ways that help us help our planet. 

It is on us to work together and make small steps towards a more healthy planet. 

Until next time 

Be Great x.

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