Shampoo Bars – Everything you need to know

Shampoo bars have been around for many years but have come out into the mainstream following the demand to reduce plastic. They are cheaper than bottles and are an eco-friendly alternative in terms of plastic as well as to the environement and your health. But what are shampoo bars really? Are they as good as shampoo? Can anyone use them? What tips and tricks are available to get the best results? Let’s take a look!

What are shampoo bars made of?

Shampoo bars are a solid form of a shampoo. It does not contain any water and is thus a more concentrated form. Shampoo bars also avoid the typical chemical nasties such as sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate.

There are 3 types of shampoo bars

  • Cold-pressed Bars: These bars are more typical of natural homemade bars. The process of saponification is used where fixed oils (like coconut) with an alkali (such as lye) are mixed to produce a soapy composition. Don’t worry, the ly is converted during the saponification process so there will not be left in the bar. It should be noted that these bars are rich in oils and should be used with a clarifying rinse such as apple cider vinegar. Without the rinse, your hair can feel waxy. An important factor in the success of your experience.
  • Glycerin Based Bars: Glycerin based soaps are a lot softer and more natural on the hair so are good for people with really sensitive scalps and dry hair. They are also good for dry, itchy scalps and for those that suffer from scalp psoriasis as the glycerin is a natural humectant, that is, it attracts water. This will hydrate the skin and hair. Just be wary of the ingredients, many brands use palm oil as the main ingredient. Opt for brands that are free of palm oil.
  • Solid Surfactant – These are pretty much commercial shampoos in a bar form. They contain surfactants that are the main ingredients in regular shampoos and thus clean (or stip) the hair like regular shampoo. These bars can be very drying and should be used with a conditioner. People with sensitive scalps should be wary of these types as they can be quite harsh. Lush’s range of bars fall in this category and while they are doing wonders for plastic waste, they are not necessarily natural. I personally had a bad experience with them and would not choose them as my first option.

Pros of shampoo bars

  • Free of harsh chemicals that dry and damage hair
  • Plastic and waste-free
  • Easier on the pocket
  • Great for sensitive scalps that react to commercial shampoo
  • Great for travelling and outdoors
  • Last long

Cons of shampoo bars

  • It takes time to find the best one for your hair
  • Some people report waxy residues but this may be due to no apple cider vinegar rinse, poor washing, water quality (soft or hard water makes a difference) or quality of the actual bar.
  • Bars stay wet however many people say they cut theirs into smaller cubes or shave off pieces from dry cubes when they are about to wash to avoid this issue.
  • Some hair textures respond better than others.
  • There is an adjustment period

The adjustment phase

When we use regular shampoos, they strip our hair and scalp of natural oils. Our scalp then produces more oils to compensate. That’s why the more you wash your hair, the more you need to wash your hair.

Shampoo bars, not including the surfactant variations) don’t strip the hair of natural oils on the scalp and hair. For this reason, when you transition to shampoo bars, your hair will go through an adjustment period where it will be a little oiler or even a little dryer than usual.

Shampoo bar brands recommend using shampoo bars for at least a month before giving your final verdict. It really is a matter of one day it just works like it never has before. Give your hair and scalp a chance to adjust to the new, gentler way of cleansing. Many people report that their hair undergoes a major transition to feeling better than it ever has before. Give it time.

HINT: Use an apple cider vinegar rinse to clarify and soften hair after washes. You can add essential oils for different scalp and hair needs. For example, rosemary is a great stimulating essential oil and also helps to clarify. Lavender and tea tree are fantastic at aiding dandruff. The options are endless!

Shampoo bars in the UK

There are so many different shampoo bars out there, it is quite difficult to decide which one to buy. Like I mentioned above, it’s about finding the best one for you. Give each one adequate time to really show what effect they have on your hair before deciding yes or no. You can also decide which bars are for you according to your specific hair and scalp needs. The brands listed below are vegan, palm oil-free and sulphate free.

Friendly Soap

These soaps are natural, palm oil-free and vegan. They come in 2 scents, lavender and tea tree and lavender and geranium.

The pH of these soaps is between 8 and 9 so for those that suffer from psoriasis or dandruff, it may not serve you so well.

Christopher Robin Shampoo Bar with Aloe

This bar is higher in the price range but is guaranteed quality. What I appreciate most about this bar is that it is more pH balanced and safer for people with sensitive scalps.

It is also made by a professional haircare brand. This means they are hair focused and aiming for great-looking hair. I am truly excited to try this shampoo bar! It is also 100% vegan and palm oil-free.

Foamie Shampoo Bars

Another vegan, cruelty-free and palm oil-free offering. It is a really affordable product sold at Boots across the UK.

What’s really cool about these guys is that they are set on a string so that you can hang them up to dry. A common complaint about shampoo bars is that they melt in soap dishes. A great way to solve the problem!

Try them out!

Shampoo bars are a great way to reduce plastic waste and save money on hair care. They are natural and many people report that their hair does great on them. They work for men and women, are great for travelling and outdoor events and one bar can last the worth or 2 to 3 regular bottles.

While there is the transition period, practice patience and keep trying at least for a month or two before making your final verdict. If there are any other brands that are vegan, cruelty-free and palm oil-free, let us on know. Good luck!