Hair Care

Solid shampoo Bars – Zero Waste Plastic & Cruelty Free

Solid shampoo bar


Solid shampoo bars are shampoo in solid form that can be used directly on wet hair without requiring water for lather. Unlike traditional bottled shampoos that are in liquid form, solid shampoo bars look like a bar of soap or bath bomb.

The concept of shampoo bars has been around for decades, but they have seen a major resurgence in popularity in recent years. Traditional shampoo bars date back to the early 1900s when soap bars were used for both body washing and hair washing. The first commercial solid shampoo bar was introduced in the 1970s by Lush Cosmetics.

In the last 5-10 years, solid shampoo bars have exploded in popularity due to the rising demand for sustainable and zero-waste products. More consumers are looking to reduce their plastic usage from single-use shampoo bottles. The popularity of low-waste living and environmentally conscious lifestyles has made shampoo bars an appealing option. Major retailers like Target and Walmart have started stocking shampoo bars as they go mainstream.

Benefits of Solid Shampoo Bars

Solid shampoo bars have become increasingly popular in recent years for several key reasons:

  • Environmentally friendly with less plastic waste – Traditional bottled shampoos generate a significant amount of plastic waste and often contain chemicals that are harsh on the environment. Solid shampoo bars eliminate the plastic bottles entirely and are often made from more natural, eco-friendly ingredients. Using shampoo bars reduces single-use plastic consumption.

  • Portable for travel – Shampoo bars are lightweight, compact, and easy to pack in a bag or suitcase without worrying about leaks or spills. This makes them ideal for travel, camping, the gym, or other on-the-go situations where bringing bottled shampoo is cumbersome. Their small size takes up little room.

  • Last longer than bottled shampoo – A single shampoo bar can last for months, much longer than a standard bottled shampoo. This saves money over time and reduces waste. Their concentrated formula provides more washes per ounce than bottled shampoo.

  • Can be cheaper in the long run – While the upfront cost of a shampoo bar may be more than a bottle of drugstore shampoo, they end up being cheaper in the long run. When accounting for the number of washes, reduced plastic waste, and not having to constantly buy new bottles, solid shampoo bars are an affordable option. The cost per wash is very low.

How to Use Solid Shampoo Bars

Using a solid shampoo bar is a bit different than using traditional bottled shampoo. Here are some tips for getting the best results:

  • Wet your hair thoroughly before applying the shampoo bar. Your hair should be soaked completely to allow the bar to lather and clean effectively.

  • Rub the bar directly onto your wet scalp, massaging it in. Apply the bar all over your scalp and hair, gently scrubbing to work up a good lather. The friction helps activate the ingredients in the bar.

  • Rinse your hair thoroughly after shampooing to remove all traces of soap. You may need to rinse longer than with bottled shampoo since there are no added detergents to help wash away cleanly. Rinse until the water runs clear.

  • Make sure to store your shampoo bar in a dry place between uses. A soap dish or tin works well. Allowing the bar to sit in water will cause it to become soggy and dissolve more quickly. Keeping it dry will extend its lifespan.

The key is to really massage the shampoo bar into your scalp and hair while wet. Rinsing thoroughly after will ensure you don’t have any residue left behind. Storing properly will help the bar last longer. Follow these simple steps and you’ll get great results with your solid shampoo!

Ingredients in Solid Shampoo Bars

Solid shampoo bars are made from natural ingredients that cleanse and condition hair. Here are some of the key ingredients:


Surfactants are cleansing agents that help remove dirt, oil, and buildup from the hair and scalp. Common surfactants used in shampoo bars include:

  • Sodium cocoyl isethionate – This gentle surfactant is derived from coconut oil and is one of the most common ingredients in shampoo bars. It produces a rich lather to clean hair.

  • Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate – This mild amino acid-based surfactant helps strengthen and moisturize hair.

  • Sodium methyl cocoyl taurate – This surfactant is made from coconut oil and taurine. It creates a creamy and bubbly lather.

Conditioning Oils and Butters

Shampoo bars also contain conditioning oils and butters to nourish hair and leave it feeling soft. Some examples include:

  • Coconut oil – Penetrates hair to moisturize, reduce protein loss, and improve shine.

  • Shea butter – Softens and smooths hair while providing moisture.

  • Argan oil – Repairs damage and protects hair from UV rays and heat styling.

  • Jojoba oil – Mimics natural oils in the scalp and hair to moisturize.

Essential Oils and Extracts

Essential oils and herbal extracts are added to shampoo bars for fragrance and hair benefits:

  • Tea tree oil – Has cleansing, antimicrobial, and soothing properties for the scalp.

  • Peppermint oil – Stimulates the scalp to promote hair growth.

  • Lavender oil – Calms the scalp and can help with dandruff and itching.

  • Rosemary oil – Improves circulation in the scalp to encourage hair growth.

Considerations When Switching to Solid Shampoo Bars

Switching from liquid shampoo to a solid shampoo bar can take some adjustment. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • May Cause a Hair Adjustment Period – When first switching to solid shampoo bars, many people notice their hair feels different at first. Some experience their hair feeling drier or waxier. This is simply an adjustment period as your scalp and hair get used to the new cleanser. It typically lasts 1-2 weeks. Stick with it and soon your hair will feel clean, soft and healthy again.

  • Results Depend on Your Hair Type – How well solid shampoo bars work for you depends on your hair type. They tend to work best for normal to oily hair types. Those with very dry or damaged hair may find they are too clarifying and stripping. You may need to alternate use with a more moisturizing shampoo.

  • May Need to Use a Conditioner as Well – While many solid shampoos contain oils and butters to help condition hair, you may still need to use an additional conditioner, especially if you have dry hair. The solid ingredients make it difficult for shampoo bars to effectively condition. Using a separate conditioner helps ensure your hair stays balanced and hydrated.

The adjustment period requires some patience, but once over, most people find solid shampoo bars leave their hair feeling clean, soft and healthy. Pay attention to your hair’s needs, and tweak your routine as needed based on your hair type. Overall, solid shampoo is an effective, eco-friendly alternative to bottled liquid shampoos.

DIY Solid Shampoo Bar Recipes

Making your own solid shampoo bars at home is easy, fun, and customizable to your hair’s needs. Here are some recipes to get you started:

Basic Shampoo Bar

This simple recipe only requires a few ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • 10-15 drops essential oil for fragrance (optional)

Melt the soap in a double boiler or microwave. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and oil until fully combined. Add essential oil if desired. Pour into molds and allow to fully harden before removing from molds.

Customizable Shampoo Bars

Tailor your shampoo bar to your hair type by adding different ingredients:

  • For dry hair, add more oil like jojoba, argan, or coconut oil
  • For oily hair, add clay like kaolin or bentonite
  • For dandruff, add tea tree essential oil
  • For curl definition, add avocado or olive oil


  • Use silicone molds or upcycled containers for easy removal of bars
  • Allow bars to cure for at least 48 hours before use
  • Store in a dry place to prevent melting
  • Grate down and re-melt old bars to reuse ingredients

Making your own shampoo bars is an easy way to control the ingredients and create a custom formula for your hair’s unique needs. Experiment with different oils, clays, and essential oils.

Buying Guide

When shopping for solid shampoo bars, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

Reputable Brands

Stick to buying solid shampoo bars from reputable, ethical brands that use high-quality ingredients. Some top brands known for their effective solid shampoos include:

  • Ethique
  • HiBar
  • J.R. Liggett’s
  • Meow Meow Tweet
  • Oregon Soap Company

Ingredients to Look For

Check the ingredients list and aim for bars with natural, moisturizing ingredients like:

  • Plant oils and butters: coconut, olive, shea, cocoa butter
  • Natural surfactants: sodium cocoyl isethionate
  • Essential oils: lavender, peppermint, tea tree
  • Botanical extracts: aloe vera, chamomile, calendula

Avoid bars with harsh sulfates, parabens, silicones, artificial fragrances, and dyes.


Store solid shampoo bars in a dry place away from excess moisture to preserve the shelf life. Many can last up to a year with proper storage. Keeping the bar in an air-tight container between uses can help extend its lifespan.


How long does a solid shampoo bar last compared to bottled shampoo?

A solid shampoo bar will typically last for 2-3 months with regular use. This is equivalent to about 2-3 bottles of liquid shampoo. The bar will last longer if you have shorter hair.

Do you need to do anything special when transitioning to solid shampoo bars?

It’s a good idea to do a clarifying wash before switching to remove any product buildup. After that, you can start using the shampoo bar like normal shampoo. Your hair may take 1-2 weeks to adjust as solid shampoos are much more concentrated than liquid shampoos.

How should you store solid shampoo bars?

Store them in a dry place out of direct sunlight and heat. A soap dish that allows the bar to dry between uses is ideal. Storing in the shower is not recommended as the steam and moisture can cause the bar to get mushy.

Do solid shampoo bars work for all hair types?

Yes, they can work for any hair type! Look for ones with ingredients suited for your hair needs, like oils for moisture if you have dry hair. Curly and coily hair may benefit from a more moisturizing bar.

What’s the difference between shampoo bars and regular soap bars?

Shampoo bars are formulated specifically for hair using gentle, non-stripping cleansers. They have a neutral pH level to not disturb your hair’s natural oils. Soap bars are too harsh and alkaline for regular use on hair.

Do shampoo bars leave a residue on your hair?

No, a properly formulated shampoo bar will rinse clean without leaving a residue as long as you rinse thoroughly. Make sure to fully saturate your hair when washing. Residue is a sign the bar contains too many oils/butters or isn’t rinsing clean.

Can shampoo bars be used on color-treated hair?

Yes, you can definitely use them on color-treated hair. Look for options without sulfates to help maintain your color. Avoid bars with lightening ingredients like lemon essential oil.

Are shampoo bars safe for kids?

Shampoo bars made with gentle, natural ingredients are great for kids’ sensitive scalps. Avoid bars with essential oils not suitable for children. Supervise young kids to ensure the bars do not get into eyes.

Comparison to Bottled Shampoos

Solid shampoo bars have some notable pros and cons compared to traditional bottled shampoos.

Pros of solid shampoo bars:

  • More environmentally friendly – no plastic bottles to throw away
  • Portable for travel – easy to pack and fly with
  • Economical – a bar can last a long time
  • Less product waste – use it all up with no residue or bottles to clean out

Cons of solid shampoo bars:

  • Can be messier to use – need to handle a wet bar directly
  • Harder to measure exact amount used per wash
  • Limited selection – not as many options as bottled shampoos
  • Can melt if left in hot environments

Solid shampoo bars tend to be better for:

  • People concerned about plastic waste and environmental impact
  • Those who travel frequently and want to minimize liquids in luggage
  • People with simple hair needs who want an affordable cleanser

Bottled shampoos may be preferable for:

  • People who need specialty hair products like color-safe or dandruff formulas
  • Those with a strong preference for certain brand name shampoos
  • People who dislike handling wet bars in the shower
  • Very hot and humid climates where bars may melt

The choice comes down to personal preference, hair type, environmental values, and convenience factors. Both forms have their merits and limitations.


Solid shampoo bars are an eco-friendly and convenient alternative to traditional bottled shampoos. They provide many benefits, including:

  • Reduced plastic waste – Solid bars eliminate disposable plastic bottles. This helps lower your environmental impact.

  • Portability – Shampoo bars are compact, lightweight and easy to take when traveling. No need to worry about liquids in your luggage.

  • Cost savings – A single bar can last for months, making them more economical than buying bottles repeatedly.

  • Customizable ingredients – DIY recipes allow you to select natural, organic and safe ingredients tailored to your hair needs.

  • Less chemicals – Most bars avoid the harsh detergents in many bottled shampoos. This can lead to healthier hair and scalp.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider as well:

  • Transition period – It may take a few weeks for your hair to get used to the new cleansing method and ingredients.

  • Formula limitations – Bars can’t contain as much water as bottled shampoos. The lack of water may make some formulas harder to achieve.

  • Finding the right bar – With trial and error, you’ll need to determine which bar works best for your hair type and needs.

Overall, solid shampoo bars provide an effective and sustainable alternative to traditional shampoos. The environmental benefits alone make them worth considering. Give them a try and see if they can be a good solution for your hair care routine.