You've probably spent your entire life believing bar soap is only for hands and bodies, right? Well, what if I told you shampoos also came in solid form? Yep, the sudsy hair wash has exploded onto the market with new brands and formulas jumping on the bar trend. And it's not just the novel texture that's cool—bar soaps are travel-friendly and more sustainable to produce, thanks to their minimal packaging and formulations.
Bars work just as well as traditional shampoos—maybe even better. While every shampoo bar is different, they tend to be made without harsh ingredients, sulfates, microbeads, and detergents that are typically found in liquid formulas, says Bex Gold, founder of The Department of Brands. Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist Bradley Leake agrees: Some shampoos are filled with preservatives and chemicals that can strip hair of its natural oils, which keep hair moisturized and protected against damage. However, bars often add essential oils and other natural ingredients, adds Leake.
Plus, you get more bang for your buck since bar shampoos typically last longer than their liquid counterparts. "When I was developing Ethique, a bar beauty brand, I discovered that up to 75% of shampoo and 90% of conditioner can be water," says Brianne West, founder and formulator of Ethique. Removing the water from our formulas made them super concentrated, so one bar lasts as long as three bottles of liquid shampoo, she adds.
What's more, a bar format also eliminates the need for a plastic bottle. A lot of waste comes from the creation of the packaging, not just the product, notes West. This brings us to our next point: Shampoo bars are way more eco-friendly. For example, Bar None is made with 100% compostable or recyclable packaging, points out Gold. Each bar is wrapped in a vegan plant-based wax lining and packaged in cardboard. The smaller size of shampoo bars—compared to bottles—are lighter to mail, take up less shelf space, and often last longer, all of which contribute to a lower carbon footprint.
If you're used to a lathering liquid, it might take a beat to get used to a shampoo bar. But, the good news is that they're pretty easy to use: simply rub the bar between your palms or directly on your wet hair and a water-activated layer will form, says Leake. Massage the suds into your scalp and roots and rinse when you've reached your desired lather.
Not only are they easy to use, but they also take up hardly any space in your shower, fit nicely into a toiletry kit for the gym, and are TSA-approved for travel. And like traditional shampoos, bars have different formulas for different hair types, textures, and concerns. Ready to try one for yourself? Keep scrolling for a guide to the best shampoo bar for your hair needs.
Ethique Tone It Down Purple Solid Shampoo
Calling all blondes: you don't need to give up your beloved purple shampoo to switch to an eco-friendly formula. This solid shampoo from Ethique is designed for blondes and gray hair, since it gently cleanses (sans sulfates), while eliminating brass and frizz, thanks to the purple tones and babassu and jasmine oils.
One reviewer wrote: "I love this product for my older hair. It really has helped with the brassy look that comes a few weeks after hair coloring. I love traveling with the products because the are don't explode all over your luggage. It lasts me about 3 months which is very economical. Its eco friendly packaging is the major bonus."
Brite Organix Bar None Hydrating Shampoo Bar
CREDIT: URBAN OUTFITTERS
Great for dry strands, this bar is jam-packed with hydrators such as castor seed oil, glycerin, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. The formula also gently removes dirt and excess oils, while providing nourishment to the hair and scalp, says Gold. The end result is fuller, softer hair. While good for anyone with dry hair, reviewers with wavy to curly hair types have especially loved the nourishment that this bar delivers, according to the Urban Outfitters site.
"I have wavy/loosely curled hair and have tried so hard to find a good shampoo bar that doesn't dry my hair out but also doesn't leave it greasy, and had no success until now. This is THE ONE. I love this bar and will be buying it over and over," said a shopper.
Love Beauty and Planet Muru Muru Shampoo Bar
What's not in this shampoo bar is almost as important as what is inside. The vegan and cruelty-free brand does not use parabens, silicones, dyes, phthalates, or sulfates in its products. The mumu muru butter and rose formula in this bar was made to maintain vibrancy and shine for color-treated hair—although tons of Amazon reviewers say it works perfect for uncolored tresses, too. Also nice? It's one of the more affordable options, lathers like your fave liquid shampoo, and the packaging is made from 100% previously-recycled cartons and is fully recyclable, as well.
"My first time using this brand and also using a shampoo bar and I’m very impressed by both," reported a customer. "My color is brighter and more vibrant, my hair is softer, and I have the added benefit of knowing I didn’t add more plastic to the world. You don’t even need a lot on your hands either so I think this bar should last a bit. Def buying this brand again!"
Peach Strengthening Shampoo Bar
Curling iron addicts or those who have damaged hair due to chemical treatments, such as relaxers or dyes, are going to want to look for a strengthening formula. A strengthening formula, like this one, can improve elasticity—the amount your hair can stretch before breaking—as well as smooth the cuticle and prevent split ends. One Peach shampoo bar is the equivalent of a 16 ounce bottle of liquid shampoo. Bonus: It smells like juicy honeydew melon, for those who aren't huge floral fragrance fans.
One reviewer shared: "As a woman in perimenopause I was worried about my hair thinning and breaking but since using this my hair seems so much healthier and thicker. My daughter even commented on how good it was looking during one of our Facetime calls. It stays cleaner longer and smells so nice. I use the conditioner bar as well and will definitely be buying these two again!"
Odacité 552M Soap-Free Shampoo Bar
French skincare brand Odacité has branched into haircare with its soap-free shampoo bar. That might sound like an oxymoron, but it really just means this sulfate-free bar offers gentle cleansing without stripping your strands of their natural, hydrating oils. Argan oil is the key ingredient in this formula and leaves hair silky soft and easy to comb through post-shower. (Psst... Hilary Duff is also a fan of this bar.)
"This is the only shampoo bar that I will repurchase. Other shampoo bars I've tried either strip my hair or dry out my scalp or leave a residue. This is so moisturizing and rinses clean. I don't even need a conditioner. It lathers up really well so it's easy to use. The bar doesn't melt easily so I imagine it lasting quite a while. My husband started using it as well and wants to use it when he travels for work. I will be stocking up on this!" raved a shopper.
J.R. Liggett's Old Fashioned Bar Shampoo, Moisturizing Formula
Similarly to how you shop for a regular shampoo, those with curly and coily textures should look for mild, sulfate-free formulas that will add moisture to your hair. This bar has a blend of coconut, aloe vera, almond oil, and mango butter to nourish curls while cleansing the scalp from buildup due to dead skin and products.
"I have wavy hair and have tried every curly shampoo out there," shared a customer. "This stuff is amazing. I need very little conditioner and though it doesn’t feel conditioned after washing, I have found I can actually go without conditioner. I have also been able to go 2-3 days without washing and zero frizz. Really very happy with this purchase."
HiBar Volumize Solid Shampoo Bar
Limp strands need a lift? Volumizing formulas will be your hair's best friend. They're formulated to give body and bounce without weighing down fine or thin strands. African dates and vitamin B5 are the stars of this formula by adding definition and fullness to the hair. And if your mornings need an energy jolt, the citrusy scent will fill your bathroom with a feel-good scent to start the day.
One reviewer wrote: "This shampoo bar is fantastic. Better than any other volumizing shampoo I’ve ever used, and the price is so reasonable. Great scent that’s not overbearing, leaves no residue, and the shape makes it easy to hold. So glad I found this!"
The Right to Shower Joy Shampoo Bar & Bar Soap
The brand Right to Shower helps bring mobile showers to people living on the streets, and also prides itself on offering products that are vegan, cruelty-free, and made without sulfate, phthalate, and paraben. Handmade in small batches in the USA, this shampoo bar contains sustainably-resourced palm oil to moisturize and repair your strands—and everything else, since it can be used on your entire body. Plus, it's packaged in 100% recycled paper, so you can feel extra good about your purchase.
"Love the eco-friendly nature of this product," said a shopper. "Minimal packaging, great cause that gives back. The soap bar is HUGE! Such a great soap bar for the price. It does leave that 'waxy' feeling after using which I don't mind but if you don't like it be aware. Perfect for just hair or all over body. I recommend it to anyone looking to be a little more 'green' in the bathroom."
Spring & Vine Tea Tree & Mint Scalp Soothing Shampoo Bar
If you think of shampoos as being for the scalp and conditioners for the health of your hair, it's easy to see why you may need different formulas for each spot. This tea tree and mint version is great for soothing irritated, sensitive scalps, zapping dandruff, and is even ideal for skin conditions like psoriasis. The shampoo bars are also made with 95% less plastic and 90% less water than bottled shampoo.
"I have been trying various shampoo bars over the past few years and this is my favorite. I have curly, dry hair and this gives me a little bit of everything I want. It lathers great, it smells nice without being too strong, it lasts for months, it moisturizes my hair, and it does soothe my scalp," reported a customer.
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Bentonite Clay Shampoo Bar
Naturally textured, chemically damaged, or overly heat-styled hair could benefit from the moisturizing powers of shea butter and castor oil in this shampoo. The bar has a little bit of everything: reparative omegas, moisturizing ingredients, strengthening capabilities, and a hint of peppermint to stimulate the scalp.
One fan wrote: "Liquid shampoo tends to make my hair matte. This shampoo bar is creamy and I can actually detangle while I shampoo. Its non stripping and makes my hair feel conditioned after washing. It's a keeper for me. I have 4a/4b color treated hair."