Ditch the bottles for good with one of these eco-friendly alternatives that are good for the planet, your wallet and your hair
Lasting longer than a standard bottle of shampoo, reducing plastic waste and no annoying spillages...swapping to a solid shampoo bar seems like a no-brainer really.
But, if you haven’t yet embraced the haircare alternative, we understand; formulas haven’t always been so great and there hasn’t always been the extensive variety available that there is today.
Thankfully, technology has advanced, formulas have been tweaked and now, there’s a different option for every type of hair. So, whether you have fine, dry, coloured or curly hair, there’s a shampoo bar to meet your needs.
There are some simple tips to remember though when you make the switch. While some shampoo bars will recommend applying the bar directly to your hair, we found lathering up the suds in our hands first, then working through the hair and onto the scalp was the most effective. Remember to follow up with a conditioner (bar or liquid) if you like that silky feeling.
If you want your solid shampoo to last, it’s best to keep it out of the direct flow of the shower and let the bar dry out between uses. Many brands sell trays or reusable containers if you want to keep your collection neat and tidy.
When switching to a shampoo bar, it’s worth noting that different formulas will suit different people’s hair needs, so if you don’t find one that works for you straight away, don’t give up.
Some people also report experiencing a transition period but it’s worth persevering. A quick search online will bring up lots of tips to help with this and any issues you have with using shampoo bars in a hard water area. So do keep trying until you find the one for you.
On that note, we’ve tested the below shampoo bars during numerous hair washes, looking at how they lather, apply, rinse out, the finished results and how long they last.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
KinKind nourish me! shampoo bar, 50g
Handcrafted on the south coast of England, these shampoo bars from family run business, KinKind, are small but mighty. All their shampoo and conditioner bars are vegan, cruelty free and don’t contain any silicones or parabens. Each 50g bar promises to last up to 50 washes, so a little goes a long way and we loved how quickly the bars lathered up and found the suds were easy to wash out.
There are six different shampoo bars in the range, including a shine bar for those with coloured hair, a fragrance-free option and a soothing lavender and rosemary infused combo ideal for all hair types. And apart from the citrusy “Cleanse me!” bar, the rest are also sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) – the chemical agent that essentially helps soaps to froth – free.
We especially liked the delicious scent of their best-selling “Nourish me!” bar, which is a hydrating formula enriched with coconut oil ideal for normal, dry or grey hair. It really invoked memories of sunny holidays which we loved.
Buy now £5.40, Kinkind.co.uk
Eco Warrior deeply nourishing shampoo bar, 100g
This shampoo bar from the Little Soap Company is great value for money. If you don’t know the cruelty free and vegan friendly British brand already, they have bar versions of almost every bathroom staple you can think of: shower gel, facial wash, scrubs, medicated body wash and even shaving foam.
Coming in at 100g, the nourishing shampoo bar is almost double the size of others we tried and has a solid, weighty feel to it. Conveniently it’s also available at a number of big name retailers, with the Eco Warrior brand having launched as a Sainsbury’s “future brand” at the end of 2019.
Featuring pink clay to cleanse and moisturise, the formula feels smooth and gentle once lathered up. It has a subtle scent from the orange and ginger essential oils and left hair feeling clean and shiny. Eco Warrior also proudly states that their ingredients are “curly girl method” friendly. Definitely, one we’d pop in our basket next time we’re browsing the aisles.
Buy now £3, Sainsburys.co.uk
No Secrets solo nine shampoo and body bar, 50g
This unassuming shampoo and body bar is a real must have if you haven’t yet tried a solid shampoo. We were really impressed at how quickly it produced a luxurious lather that was as easy to apply to hair as a squeeze of liquid shampoo would be. Free of parabens, phthalates and sulphates, all of the British brand’s products are vegan friendly and focus on natural ingredients.
Before you even open the cardboard box packaging, you can smell the spa-like scent of essential oils in the products. We particularly loved the energizing “Solo Nine” bar, with its hit of bergamot, lime, grapefruit, lemon and orange, but all of the bars in the range boast delicious sounding ingredients. Another bonus was how well the circular bar kept its shape: even as it got thinner and thinner over multiple uses, it never snapped or crumbled apart.
Buy now £7.50, Nosecretsbeauty.com
Garnier Ultimate Blends sensitive oat shampoo bar, 60g
Generally big brands have been pretty slow at embracing shampoo bars, so it was great to see beauty and haircare giant Garnier launch its range of solid shampoos late last year. There are four bars in the range: a coconut and aloe vera combo for hydration, a honey and beeswax blend for damaged hair, a revitalising ginger option for weak or dull hair, and our favourite – an oat softening bar for sensitive scalps and fragile hair.
Lathering up easily, the shampoo bar containing sustainably sourced oat milk and rice cream has quite a rich feel to it – almost like a conditioner – but it isn’t heavy. Hair was left feeling soft and lightweight, while the scalp felt soothed. The teardrop shape of the bar is designed to be easy to grip and we can confirm that, unlike others we tested, it didn’t fly off across the bathroom. All of the range is also silicone free, and each bar is designed to last up to two months.
Buy now £3.96, Superdrug.com
Lore Originals the bar, 50g
The brainchild of the international hairdressing team behind Taylor Taylor London, Lore is a firm favourite among beauty editors. Having won awards from magazines such as Vogue, “the bar” is housed in recyclable packaging with a design guaranteed to look chic in your bathroom. Happily, it also delivers results and leaves hair smelling like you’ve just stepped out of the salon.
We really loved its luxurious scent. The small circular bar lathers up lightly but a little goes a long way and it was simple to rinse out. Containing almond, avocado and prickly pear seed oils, as well as green tea extract, it’s packed with natural ingredients rich in magnesium, vitamin E and omega fatty acids. The bar is designed to promote a healthy scalp and nourish hair, while also protecting colour. It might be the priciest option in our round-up, but it’s definitely a luxury buy that’ll leave you feeling truly pampered.
Buy now £15, Loreoriginals.com
Ethique mintasy solid shampoo, 110g
New Zealand zero-waste beauty brand Ethique have been producing solid versions of bathroom and beauty products for a little while now, and there was much excitement when the brand launched in the UK a couple of years ago. Their “Pinkalicious” shampoo bar is a major hit with fans, as is the puntastic “Mintasy”, which was actually their very first solid shampoo.
Vegan friendly, cruelty free and with no plastics in their products and packaging, Ethique uses sustainable Fairtrade ingredients to make their bars. Mintasy, as the name suggests has a fresh minty scent from the peppermint oil in it. Cocoa butter and Fairtrade Samoan coconut oil help cleanse and moisturise strands. The sturdiness of the bar means it’s great at holding its shape and lasts well. It also lathered up easily and left hair feeling lightweight and soft. It’s one we could see ourselves going back to again and again.
Buy now £12.99, Hollandandbarrett.com
Shine shampoo bar, 75g
Developed by hairdresser Jonathan Harries – who owns Shine salon in Brighton and has more than 30 years’ experience in the business – the Shine shampoo bar is the result of his aim to provide customers with a way to reduce their plastic consumption without sacrificing professional results.
Formulated of 99 per cent natural ingredients, the round charcoal grey bar, which also comes with a handy travel tin, contains quinoa to help prolong hair colour. If you’re not a fan of heavily scented or sweet-smelling bathroom products then this is a good choice – the shampoo bar has a light spicy ginger and lemon scent, which doesn’t leave hair heavily fragranced afterwards. It also lathers easily and a little goes a long way. Plus this little bar can last up to four times longer than a standard bottle of liquid shampoo.
Buy now £9.50, Shineshampoobars.co.uk
Love Beauty and Planet blooming colour shampoo bar, 90g
If you like your beauty products to look cute, then Love Beauty and Planet have got you covered. Its heart-shaped shampoo bars come in cutesy floral cardboard boxes and ooze a sweet, floral fragrance. Paraben and silicone free, it lather’s gently into a creamy foam that’s a dream to use. Our favourite was the “Blooming Colour”, packed with hydrating murumuru butter to make hair glossy and infused with delicious Bulgarian rose petals.
Buy now £5, Sainsburys.co.uk
Christophe Robin hydrating shampoo bar with aloe vera, 110ml
If you suffer with dry hair and trying to pack moisture into your strands, then look no further. Parisian haircare favourite, Christophe Robin have got you covered with their shampoo bar containing a hydrating trio of aloe vera, castor oil and glycerine. Its lather is minimal but it’s simple to use and rinses out easily. We liked how the product doesn’t weigh down hair and left locks feeling nourished and soft. It also has a decadent scent that oozes luxury. You may not be able to visit Paris for a trip to the famed salon, but you can certainly bring it to your bathroom with this bar.
Buy now £16, Lookfantastic.com
Solidu grandma said shampoo bar, 65g
Lithuanian brand Solidu, would certainly win for being the quirkiest shampoo bar we tried. Each of the geometrically shaped shampoo bars are housed in a compostable casing that is both plastic and paper free. It can also double up as a temporary container to store the product on your bathroom shelf.
We were intrigued by “Grandma Said” – a formula that combines nutrient rich tamanu oil and stinging nettle. According to Solidu, in Lithuania, stinging nettle decoctions have long been used to stimulate hair growth, improve shine and appearance of hair.
There’s lots to like about Solidu’s offerings, which have been made purposefully compact to reduce transport emissions, but their rich botanical scents won’t be for everyone. The bars really do pack a punch, although once used on the hair the fragrance isn’t so overpowering. If you’re looking for a shampoo bar that isn’t sweetly scented or pastel pink, then it’s definitely worth checking out this brand.
Buy now £11.95, Beyondliving.co.uk
Kind2 the hydrating one, 80g
Made from plant-based ingredients, natural colour and fragrances, Kind2 like to keep things simple. It doesn’t mean it’s not effective though, in fact their award-winning conditioner bar is one of the best we’ve ever tried. But, back to shampoos...
Kind2 have three on offer and the “Hydrating One” is our pick of the bunch. Paraben, SLS and SLES free, the 80g shampoo bar is pH balanced and is infused with hemp seed, shea and macadamia oils. It didn’t lather as much as some of the other bars we tried, so took a bit longer to apply but it did leave hair feeling soft and smooth afterwards.
Buy now £12.50, Kind2.me
Nuddy ultra volume shampoo bar, 100g
Nuddy has an aim to make soap bars cool again, and looking at their range of products, we’d say they’re well on their way. Their fun, cheeky branding is a millennial dream, while their shampoo bars boast rave reviews.
Coconut oil and argan oil are a dream combo already but in their popular ultra volume shampoo bar, there is the addition of the delicious scent of acai berry and peach. The result is hair that’s left feeling glossy and bouncy. It’s also particularly good if you have fine hair and are looking for a boost in volume.
We found it lathered well, worked through the hair easily and the bar kept its shape. Nuddy also has a subscription service where you can choose a delivery of your fave bars (with a handy 10 per cent off) to your doorstep every 30 or 60 days.
Buy now £8.95, Nuddy.co.uk
JR Ligget’s jojoba and peppermint shampoo bar, 99g
If soap bars make you think of a time gone by, then these hand cut soap bars are probably close to what you’re imagining. US zero-waste brand, JR Ligget’s, have been making soap bars for many years – a reference to a formula for the shampoo bar was reportedly found in an old New England cookbook. There are a number of shampoo bars in the range, all consisting of a 100 per cent vegetable oil formulation and free of detergents, but we liked the refreshing jojoba and peppermint version especially. It created a really good lather and was easy enough to rinse out. We also found the bars to be long lasting and left hair with a nice smoothness.
Buy now £9.99, Amazon.co.uk
Lush montalbano shampoo bar, 55g
Lush are a big name when it comes to solid bars and zero-waste products, with their range of naked products boasting a cult following. There are a few different shampoo bar options available from Lush, but our favourite was the zesty montalbano bar. It’s a vegan-friendly bar that contains Sicilian lemon oil to give hair shine, and rosemary oil to soothe the scalp. It also contains green olives, and strangely, popping candy.
The circular shape of the bar means it was easy to create a lather in the hands, but we did find that it broke down quicker than some of the other shampoo bars we tried. It also contains SLS which Lush have a good explainer about on their website, but we know that for some people that’s a big no-no.
Buy now £8, Lush.com
The verdict: Shampoo bars
Frankly we were blown away by the range of great shampoo bars currently on the market, so it was not easy to pick a favourite. Small family run business KinKind really impressed us with both their range of shampoo bars, and with their letterbox delivery service using minimal packaging, which is both effortless and eco-conscious.
For effectiveness as a product, No Secret was also a firm favourite and one we’d readily recommend to friends wanting to try out a solid shampoo for the first time. If you’re on a budget, then you can’t go wrong with Eco Warrior’s shampoo bar which is great value for money.