Zero waste hair care – 6 reasons to love shampoo bars

Zero waste hair care – 6 reasons to love shampoo bars

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Starting out with Shampoo bars

I started using shampoo bars about 18 months ago, after reading about them online. There are quite a few companies producing them now, such as Lush Cosmetics and others. However, I started with a New Zealand shampoo bar maker Ethique as I want to support NZ product makers.

I bought this sample:

How to use shampoo bars

They are easy to use – you just lather the shampoo bar up with a bit of water, and then rub the lather on your hair! Or rub the bar directly on you hair, probably best if you have shorter hair that doesn’t tangle as much as mine does. Then wash out as usual, and repeat the shampooing. I also use a conditioner bar, as my hair is a bit frizzy – I rub that directly on my hair, leave it on for a short while, then wash out.

You can use a little bit of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar as a final rinse if you like. This makes you hair shiny and soft. Although, I found out that if you don’t rinse it out enough, when you walk outside in the rain to take the kids to school, you can end up smelling a bit like an English fish and chip shop! I’m not sure if anyone else could smell my vinegar hair, or they were just too polite to mention it.

One key trick for using shampoo bars – always leave them to dry out afterwards, don’t leave them sitting in water as they will go mushy. I put them to dry on a wooden soap dish I bought from a friend’s website, which you can see in the photo below. You can also see the plastic bowl we use for hand soap – I definitely don’t buy new things all the time, if I can make do with something we already have.

shampoo bars

Transitioning to shampoo bars

It can take a little while for some people to transition to using shampoo bars. Some people find that their hair is a bit ‘sticky’ or ‘gummy’ when they first use shampoo bars. It can take a few washes to get used to the different ingredients used in shampoo bars compared to liquid shampoo. Persevere though, and if you use a sample pack, use up one type of bar before moving on to another one, to give your hair time to get used to it.

One comment here – use up your current stock of shampoo and conditioner, rather than throwing it away! Even if it isn’t something you’d buy again, it’s best not to waste something that is already there in your bathroom.

My 6 reasons for switching to shampoo bars

1 – Reduces packaging waste

The shampoo bars and conditioner bars from Ethique come in cardboard packaging, which you can compost or put in your paper recycling. No plastic!

On Ethique’s website it says 80 billion bottles from shampoo & conditioner are used in around the world every year. So far, they have prevented 3 million bottles, jars and tubes from being made and disposed. That’s a huge impact in a few short years.

2 – Easy to store and the shower is tidier

When I’ve used the shampoo and conditioner bars, I leave them to dry out, then pop them in the bathroom cabinet. As they are small and usually square or rectangle, they don’t take up much space and stack easily.

There is much less clutter in the shower now, as I don’t keep the bars in there (as they get too soggy). You can see from the photo that I’m working my way through old shower gels, before I totally swap to soap! No point throwing it away, I’ll just use it up and not buy it again.

Tidy shower!

3 – They are usually made from natural ingredients

As Ethique say on their website:

Every Ethique bar is made with 100% naturally derived ingredients. This means that each delicious smelling, clean-scrubbing beauty bar is free from parabens, petroleum by-products, palm oil (and its derivatives), synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde donors and other ingredients we just don’t think you should put on your body.

Ethique website

4 – Easy to take along when travelling, camping, going swimming, to the gym

I think this is one of the biggest bonuses of shampoo bars, and maybe isn’t sung about enough! They are so easy to take around with you. As they are so compact, they can fit in a small waterproof box, and go in your bag when you are travelling or camping, or anywhere you are going to wash your hair after! I love taking them when me and the children go swimming, as I just pop them in a box, chuck it in the swimming bag, and they don’t leak shampoo over your stuff!

5 – Lasts longer than liquid soap

As they are a solid concentrated bar, they don’t have water like liquid shampoo has. Because you add the water yourself, you only use a little of the bar each time. With liquid shampoo, I often ended up using too much when I poured it out. This doesn’t really happen with a bar (unless you stand there lathering it up loads, which you probably won’t do!).

6 – Makes your hair feel great!

I have found that shampoo bars and conditioners have made my hair feel cleaner and softer than regular liquid shampoo.

But they cost more to buy initially….can I afford them?

Ethique have an interesting post on their website about the pricing of their shampoo and conditioner bars. The price upfront is more than the price of a single bottle of shampoo or conditioner (if you buy supermarket ones, not if you buy the salon products!).

But, as a bar of shampoo is equivalent to around 3 bottles of shampoo, overall the price is pretty good – I have saved money buying bars. I’ve had some bars last for 6 months, whereas I would have gone through around 4 or 5 bottles of shampoo in that time.

Are shampoo bars and soap bars hygienic?

Recently, lots of us have become used to buying liquid soap instead of bar soap. I think it is because liquid soap has been marketed as more hygienic and more convenient. So the same questions could come up about shampoo bars.

This article about whether bar soaps are hygienic is interesting. Sure, it is written by a company selling soap bars, so it is somewhat biased! But it made me think about this question, and also made me wash the bubbles off of soap or shampoo bars, before leaving them to dry properly.

Can I only buy them online?

Shampoo bars are becoming more mainstream, with Consumer NZ running a trial on them. You can buy Ethique at supermarkets, some pharmacies and other stockists.

Check out local soap makers at craft or farmers markets, as some are making shampoo bars too.

Give a sample pack of shampoo bars a try

I started out by trying a sample pack from Ethique, and working out which bars were the best ones for me. Here are links to the sample packs.

Ethique Eco-Friendly Hair Sampler, 5 Piece Variety Pack Beauty Bar Set (3 Shampoos + 2 Conditioners), Sustainable, Plastic Free, Soap Free, Vegan, Plant Based, 100% Compostable and Zero Waste, 5 bars

Give them a go, and see what you think – it’s an easy switch from a plastic packaged product. And you might find, like I did, that you prefer the way your hair feels now. Let me know how you get on!

Plastic free July is a great time to try something new!

Plastic Free July is a good time to give shampoo bars a go.

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