An eco-friendly alternative to liquid shampoo
Shampoo bars are a straightforward swap for anyone looking to make their self-care routine more sustainable. You can reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your life by choosing a bar instead of a plastic bottle of liquid shampoo. These bars are often package-free when you shop in person, or come wrapped in easily recyclable or compostable paper packaging.
Of course, not all hair types are the same, and neither are all shampoo bars, so Treehugger has put our first-hand experience and research chops to task to help you find the best bar for you. For some, the results may actually be better than with your current liquid cleanser. We reviewed every ingredient to make sure all our recommendations are vegan, never tested on animals, and paraben-free.
Bar soaps also tend to be associated with fewer planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions compared to liquid bottles of suds, because they weigh less due to a low water content. For the same reason, bar shampoos will also travel well in your own luggage. You won't have to worry about the TSA's liquid limits, or any wasteful spills.
Ahead, the best bar shampoos, whether your hair is dry, fine, oily, or curly.
Best Overall: Lush Cosmetics Montalbano Shampoo Bar
The Montalbano bar has become part of my daily morning routine, and can be used without conditioner. It’s great for regular-to-oily hair types, and the citrus scent is a perfect wake-me-up. The vegan formula includes rosemary and green olives for added shine.
Lush’s shampoo bars are beloved by many Treehugger staffers, but the best one for you depends on your hair type. One of Lush's bars can replace up to three 250 milliliter bottles of liquid shampoo. If you shop in person you can get it with zero packaging, or if you order online, Lush shampoo bars usually come packaged in a small paper bag.
Best for Dry Hair: Soap for Goodness Sake Babassu Coconut Milk Shampoo Bar
This bar from Soap For Goodness Sake doubles as a body soap, and gets top marks from the Environmental Working Group, which independently rates the safety of product ingredients. This shampoo uses babassu oil, which comes from a tropical palm tree, is moisturizing and contains antioxidants. It has a gentle coconut fragrance.
Soap For Goodness Sake offers two packaging options when shipping their bars: paper or compostable glassine.
Best for Fine Hair: Lush Cosmetics Flyway Hair Shampoo Bar
The Flyway bar is another Lush shampoo bar that gets rave reviews from the Treehugger team. One staffer reports that this bar makes her “super-fine hair super-soft.”
The Flyway shampoo bar has organic cocoa butter and calming chamomile oil that’s great for dry or sensitive scalps, while hand-harvested sea salt helps add volume and texture to hair. The sea salt also adds to a scent that’s fresh and beach-y, and lemon oil cuts greasy buildup.
Best for Itchy Scalps: Ethique Heali Kiwi Shampoo for Dandruff or Scalp Problems
Treehugger writer Katherine Martinko took a number of Ethique's products for a spin, and found its shampoo bars deliver effective cleaning in plastic-free packaging. If you suffer from an itchy or easily irritated scalp, then the Heali Kiwi shampoo bar may be right for you.
This bar is formulated with calming oatmeal, coconut oil, neem oil, and karanja oil to help soothe scalp issues as well as dandruff. As the name would suggest, it has a fruity fragrance. Ethique also donates a portion of its profits to environmental charities.
Best for Dandruff: Superzero Shampoo Bar for Flakes and Itchy Scalp
After a month of using Superzero's Shampoo bar for Flakes and Itchy Scalp, Treehugger's tester noticed fewer flakes, and overall thought this bar worked great. Key ingredients that fight dandruff in this shampoo include tea tree leaf oil, rosemary oil and extract from ziziphus joazeiro bark (an evergreen tree native to South America). The formula also includes avocado oil and shea butter to help sooth the scalp.
Superzero's products are shipped without any plastic, and come in a recycled paper box. As a member of 1% For The Planet, the company also donates to non-profits that work to fight plastic pollution and protect marine wildlife.
Best for Color-Treated Hair: Love Beauty And Planet Murumuru Butter and Rose Shampoo Bar
If you're looking for something that will be gentle on your color-treated hair, consider Love Beauty & Planet’s Murmuru Butter and Rose Shampoo Bar. Its cruelty-free, paraben-free, silicone-free, sulfate-free, and dye-free. Plus, it is full of beautiful ingredients like Bulgarian rose petals and Amazonian murmuru butter which will give your hair a glossy “I just went to the salon” feel.
Although some shampoo bars can be hard to find at your local supermarket, Love Beauty and Planet products are carried by many national drugstores and big-box retailers.
Best for Curly Hair: HiBar Volumize Shampoo & Conditioner Set
For those with curls, regular shampoo may lead to frizz, flattening or unwanted poofing. HiBAR’s Volumize Shampoo is designed to help curls hold their shape while minimizing frizz, and many reviewers agree. The featured ingredients include African dates and Vitamin B5. It’s free of sulfates, silicone and phthalates, and it’s safe for color-treated hair.
This product may also work for people with natural hair in search of a shampoo bar. Ariel Sahar, the low-waste YouTuber, did a full review of this product on her natural curls and was happy with the results.
Best Shampoo and Conditioner: Wildland Organics The Super Bar
This multitasker can be used as a shampoo, conditioner, body bar and for shaving. This shampoo bar is great for anyone who wants a minimalist approach to bathing, or to save space in a tiny bathroom. The majority of the all-natural ingredients are certified organic, and its scent is a blend of sage, bergamot, and palo santo. The Super Bar is packaged in post-consumer recycled paper.
Although Wildland Organics' products do not have a third-party organic certification yet, the company is in the process of applying for certification and holds all of its ingredients to an organic standard. Wildland Organics also donates 1 percent of all sales to protect wilderness areas in the United States.
Best for Kids: Unwrapped Life For Tangles Shampoo
This shampoo bar from Unwrapped Life is perfect for detangling thanks to marshmallow root. Essential oils including ylang ylang and pink grapefruit give it a bubblegum scent. It works into a lather easily. It’s free of any ingredients derived from palm oil or petroleum products. Unwrapped Life also offers a Kid’s Conditioner Bar in the same scent.