By Nandita Ravi
Earlier this year, cosmetic giant Lush released a video that detailed the benefits of using a shampoo bar. The result? Not only did the video go viral, but the brand also sold about 12,000 bars of shampoo in just two days! The appeal of shampoo bars, it seems, is not just the fact that they are all organic and keeps the hair healthy, but it also encourages you to do your bit for the environment — thanks to plastic-free packaging (bye bye bottles that clog up the landfills!). Closer home, Indian beauty brands are cashing in on the trend, and introducing new lines of shampoo bars every few months, the most recent being, Goli Soda, a store that sells eco-friendly merchandise in Chennai, retailing bars made of brahmi, avocado oil, jojoba and almond oil and Delhi-based Soapworks’ coconut oil shampoo bars.
According to Harini Sivakumar who owns Soapworks, an organic, handmade soap brand (established in 2015) that also makes shampoo bars; the trend is not entirely new. “Solid soap shampoos were commonly used before liquid shampoos became popular. We have evolved from using simple ingredients like shikakai, besan (gram flour), alma, soapnut etc for our skin and hair. People have become more conscious about what they use not just for themselves but the planet too, which is perhaps why shampoo bars are gaining popularity,” says the 30-year-old.
Lather, rinse, repeat
If you’re wondering what a shampoo bar is — it is exactly what it sounds like — a solid bar of shampoo that doesn’t come in a plastic container, lasts longer than an average bottle of shampoo and are highly concentrated, with impressive lathering ability that makes them long-lasting. While the process for making a shampoo bar is the same as making soap and the ingredients seem similar, a well-formulated shampoo bar is not your typical soap bar. “Shampoo bars contain carefully selected ingredients that aim to provide a moisturised scalp and well-conditioned, shiny hair. The proportions of the base oils and butters, and the way in which we use infused oils, botanicals and essential oils in a shampoo bar recipe is different,” says Pritesh Asher of Juicy Chemistry (offers natural skin and haircare products), that caught on to the trend of shampoo bars quite early, having launched a range over a year ago.
Back to nature
Natural ingredients are another obvious appeal to shampoo bars, and different ingredients are used for different hair types. While Soapworks uses everything from apple cider vinegar to curry leaves and even beer, Juicy Chemistry offers bars made of fenugreek, hibiscus, onion, black tea and even yoghurt. “Natural shampoo bars are meticulously developed to naturally clean and condition your scalp and leave hair soft, shiny, clean, and most of all healthy,” says Harini. Nashon of Goli Soda adds, “One of the key things is that the grey water (waste water post-washing of hair) is also recyclable for gardening and is non-toxic and all-organic.”
Apart from the zero wastage, natural products and eco-friendly benefits that these bars boast of, the fact is that they last longer than your average bottle of shampoo, which, most makers claim has been the selling point of these bars — a single bar can last for about 45 to 60 days, even on daily usage. “With the water removed, a concentrated shampoo bar can do the job of 1-2 bottles of commercial liquid shampoo,” says Pritesh.