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Shampoo bars – better than your regular bottle of hair wash?

November 27th 2017 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment


Eco and travel-friendly, solid shampoos offer a range of benefits, but how do they scrub up? We put them to the test

Bars of soap are on the comeback trail, but could your shampoo also benefit from transitioning from solution to solid too? Compact and convenient, this niche beauty category could be one to watch with environmental concerns increasingly playing on the public’s mind.

Plastic packaging-free, other common qualities include a more natural focus when it comes to their ingredient lists and greater longevity when compared to their liquid counterparts, (in fact, one claims to last 80-100 washes and do the job of three 250ml bottles). Furthermore, because of their smaller size, more can fit into the lorries that transport them to reduce your carbon footprint even further. Some can also be used on body and hair and they’re refreshingly affordable too, with most coming in at under £7.

Certain to appeal to natural beauty fans and the eco and space-conscious, does quality lose out to size and cost? I found out.

How do you use a shampoo bar?

With an open mind. The change in application takes a little getting used to. Some brands recommend rubbing the bar between your hands first while others advise applying it directly to the scalp instead. They lather surprisingly well (even those without SLS) but require thorough washing through to keep residue to a minimum.

Who is a shampoo bar for?

Having given them a try, I’d say they’re best for those who frequently wash their hair to eliminate daily grime rather than a build-up of grease. They also work well for those looking to subtract some kgs off their luggage if travelling. There are some clear pros and cons to them.


1. They’re lightweight - their compact size makes for a more travel-friendly alternative to bulky bottles.

2. They’re long-lasting - and they hold their shape well (no crumbly Dove soap situations happening here).

3. They’re more eco-friendly – wrapped in paper or card, they help reduce the industry’s problem with over-packaging.


1. They can leave your hair feeling greasy – if not used correctly. Application is key and only a little is needed. If too much is used, your hair will feel pretty waxy when dry.

2. They can take a while to wash out – linked to the above, this all boils down to application. Use a little at first and then build up to more if your hair needs it.

3. They don’t address specific hair needs – or types. The level of choice is pretty minimal at this point in time. If you’re looking for a product that addresses a wider variety of concerns, bottles still have the upper hand in this regard.

The verdict?

Although providing some impressive benefits from packaging and practicality perspectives, I’d find it hard to swap my bottle for a bar when it comes to performance. Applying a little seems to be the secret to keeping post-wash residue to a minimum but I found it tricky to find the right balance – too little and my thick and long (and greasy) hair didn’t feel clean, too much and my hair felt weighed down and waxy. While the additional grit was useful for keeping my hair in an updo, leaving it loose was an option that was off the table entirely.

However, if you’re looking for a long-lasting option that addresses frequent cleansing of daily grime, they could have a place in your regime (they’re more for day 2, less for day 3 or 4). Just make sure to use only a little and if you’re using a SLS-free variation, be wary that it could take a couple of weeks for your hair to adapt to the formula.

If you’re interested in giving one a try, here are three that are setting the bar. Fingers crossed more will follow to provide a greater variety for a range of different hair types and lengths.

Friendly Soap Lavender and Geranium Shampoo Bar, £2.62


SLS-free, one bar claims to offer the equivalent cleansing life of three bottles of conventional shampoo. Made with castor oil and scented with lavender and geranium essential oils, it can be used on both body and hair for occasions when time and space are sparse.

Buy now

Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar, £6.50


Formulated with volume in mind, this bright blue hair soap contains seaweed to soften, lemon oil to cleanse and fine sea salt for texture. Out of its 11-ingredient composition, four are synthetics (foaming SLS and perfume coming in at numbers 1 and 3 in its list’s pecking order) and it claims to offer 80-100 washes per bar (depending on your hair type and length).

Buy now

Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera, £17.50


The most expensive bar in the bunch, this vegan and silicone and SLS-free option has been created to suit both hair and body. Formulated with aloe vera, natural glycerin and castor oil, it offers gentle cleansing for particularly dry hair types.

Buy now

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