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Why solid shampoo and conditioner bars are better for the hair and for the environment?

Updated: Sep 17, 2020


Mass-market shampoos and conditioners contain harsh chemicals and are packaged in plastic bottles that could take up to 400 years to break down, unless recycled. But not everybody is willing to go the extra mile to rinse empty shampoo bottles before putting them in the recycling bin. 91% of all plastic waste ever produced isn’t recycled. Therefore, we can only guess how many will get recycled from 610 million plastic shampoo bottles produced annually.


The solution to the global plastic waste problem is to use less plastic packaging altogether. In the case of haircare, solid formulation is the best alternative. Solid shampoo and conditioner bars are usually packaged in biodegradable paper boxes instead of plastic bottles. And they significantly reduce carbon footprint in comparison to liquid shampoos that contain 80% of water. Moreover, a single bar could last up to 100 washes, outlasting 2-3 bottles of traditional shampoo.


What are solid shampoo and conditioner bars?

Solid shampoos and conditioners are super concentrated bars of natural ingredients that become activated when mixed with water. They nourish and moisturize the hair and the scalp and are able to get the hair back to its original, shiny, voluminous state by clearing away residue left from the chemicals found in traditional hair cleansers. Most formulas are plant based and don’t contain harsh ingredients such as parabens, SLS, preservatives, silicones, phthalates, GMO, synthetics, fragrances, or artificial dyes.


Benefits of solid shampoo and conditioner bars:

- Made from organic or natural ingredients

- Don’t contain harsh chemicals

- Low carbon footprint due to compact size and light weight

- No plastic waste – usually packaged in biodegradable paper

- Each bar could last 70-100 washes, which is equivalent to 2-3 liquid shampoo bottles

- Cost effective in the long run

- Many solid shampoos are pH balanced and work also as conditioners

- Travel-friendly (small, lightweight, and leak-proof)


Switching to solid shampoos and conditioners:

There might be a short transition period when switching to solid haircare products. Chemical shampoos make the hair feel great by coating them in silicone and stripping off all the natural oils, so when starting to use natural solid shampoos it might feel strange at first.


To help you choose the best solid shampoo, I put together a list of haircare brands that specialize in solid formulations. These brands were exclusively chosen because they use only natural ingredients, sustainable production, and no plastic in any of their products.

USA


Hi BAR

Established: 2017 Minnesota, USA

Brand Range: solid shampoos, solid conditioners

Shampoo/Conditioner 3 Types: Maintain, Moisturize, Volumize

Price: US$ 13.95 (CA$17, €13, £11) Weight: 82 g

Shipping: local US$ 3, international US$13

Claims: Cruelty Free. NO sulfates, parabens, silicone, phthalates

Packaging: recycled and compostable paper box, plant-based inks

Giving back: donates to local charities



Meow Meow Tweet

Established: 2009, USA

Brand Range: skincare, bodycare, haircare,

Shampoo 2 Types: Rosemary Avocado, Lavender Coconut Milk

Price: US$ 12 (CA$16, €11, £9)

Weight: 113g

Conditioner 1 Type: Lavender Hemp

Price: US$ 16 (CA$21, €15, £12)

Weight: 70g

Shipping: USA and Canada only. USA Free shipping over $45. Canada flat $25 or less.

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty-free. NO: sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, SLS, palm oil

Packaging: biodegratable paper box

Giving Back: supports 20+ organizations including EarthJustice, The Ocean Cleanup, etc.


by Humankind

Established: 2019, USA

Brand Range: deodorant, body wash, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash

Shampoo 4 Types: Peppermint, Lemongrass, Citrus-Lavender, Unscented

Conditioner 2 Types: Grapefruit, Unscented

Price: $15 (CA$ 20, €13.80, £11.50)

Weight Shampoo: 113g

Weight Conditioner: 51g

Shipping: only USA - free shipping

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty-free. NO: Parabens, SLS, SLES, preservatives, silicones, phthalates, GMO, synthetics, artificial fragrances or dyes, water. Contains RSPO certified palm oil.

Packaging: soap tray, recycled biodegradable paper box

Giving Back: $1 of every first purchase goes towards cleaning our oceans.

Donates to The Ocean Cleanup.



Fat and The Moon

Established: 2013 California, USA

Brand Range: cosmetics, skincare, bodycare, haircare (30+ products)

Shampoo/Conditioner 1 Type: Buoyantly Bathe

Price: US$ 24 (CA$32, €22, £18.50)

Weight: 60g

Shipping: local $2.75, free on orders above $75. International $14

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty-free. NO: aluminum, synthetics, GMO, toxic chemicals, parabens

Packaging: metal tin, paper box

Giving Back: supports variety of causes, including donating a percentage of sales to Amazon Front Lines



Daughter Of The Land

Established: 2016 Seattle, USA Brand Range: face and body oils, bath soaks, balms, shampoos, CBD range Shampoo 2 Types: Morning Glory, Moon Flower Price: US$ 19 (CA$25, €17.50, £14.50) Weight: 90g Shipping: only local US$ 3 

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty Free, Certified Organic. NO: Parabens, SLS, palm oil, sulfate, fragrance, GMO.

Packaging: biodegradable paper box





CANADA


Nana + Livy

Established: 2017 - Vancouver, CANADA

Brand Range: face oils, bath salts, bath tea, body soaps, shampoos, wash block

Shampoo 2 Scents: Rosemary, Charcoal

Price: CA$ 12 (US$9, €8, £7)

Weight: 100g

Shipping: only USA and Canada $15 - free on orders above $50

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty Free. NO: palm oil, preservatives, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, chemicals, synthetic fragrance

Packaging: recyclable and biodegradable paper box

Giving Back: donates soap bars to local charities



Unwrapped Life

Established: 2016, CANADA

Brand Range: shampoos, conditioners, baby+kids shampoos + conditioners, vegan soap, reusable facial rounds, stainless steel straws, accessories

Shampoo/Conditioner Types: Four Collections "Wildcrafted", "Wanderlust", "Womb", "Wildling", offering over 12 varieties for all hair types, from baby, tots, teens to adults.

Price Shampoo: CA$ 15.50 - $25.00 (US$12+, €11+, £9+)

Price Conditioner: CA$ 15.50 - $19.50 (US$12+, €11+, £9+)

Weight: approximately 50-75 washes

Shipping: local CA$ 14.50 - free on orders above $75. International CA$10.50-13.80

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty-free. NO: palm oil, preservatives, parabens, SLS

Packaging: recycled and compostable paper box, metal tin



Bottle None

Established: 2019 BC, CANADA

Brand Range: solid shampoos, solid conditioners

Shampoo/Conditioner 7 Types: be Bright, be Clear, be Gentle, be Strong, be Tame, be Wild, be You.

Price: CA$ 18 (US$13.50, €12.50, £10.50)

Weight: Shampoo 50g, Conditioner 65g

Shipping: local CA$ 7.90, international CA$ 20. Free worldwide ship. on orders above $40

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty Free, pH Balanced. NO: Parabens, SLS, SCS, preservatives, silicones, phthalates, gluten, palm oil, GMO, synthetics, artificial fragrances or dyes, water.

Packaging: recyclable and biodegradable paper box. Soap trays are 3D printed from Canadian recycled plastic and single-use containers in which ingredients are supplied.

Giving Back: donated free bars to Mamas for Mamas for Karma Market

Working with a group in Johannesburg Africa, to establish a recycling program - make filament for 3D printer by recycling plastic waste.



UNITED KINGDOM


Beauty Kubes

Established: 2018, UK

Brand Range: face & body creams, solid shampoo, solid conditioner

Shampoo 2 Types: Normal-dry hair, Oily hair

Price Shampoo: £ 9.50 (US$12.50, CA$16, €11)

Conditioner 1 Type: Conditioning Hair Mask

Price Conditioner: £ 12 (US$15.50, CA$20.50, €14)

Weight: 116g (27 cubes)

Shipping: local £3.50 - free on orders above £25, International £12

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty Free, pH balanced. NO: parabens, silicones, dyes, sulphates, palm oil.

Packaging: biodegradable paper box

Awards: "Highly Commended" award in the ‘Sustainable Innovator 2019’ category at the Beauty Awards in association with ASOS.

Gold award winner at the Free From Skincare awards 2018



Friendly Soap

Established: 2008, UK Brand Range: soap bars, facial bars, shaving bar, detox bar, travel bar, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, bar kits. Shampoo/Conditioner 2 Types: Lavender & Tea Tree, Lavender & Geranium Shampoo Price: £ 2.75 (US$3.50, CA$5, €3)

Conditioner Price: £4.95 (US$6.50, CA$8.50, €6) Weight: 95 g Shipping: local £3.50, International £9.95 Claims: Cruelty free, Vegan. NO: Parabens, SLS, preservatives, foaming agents, sulphates, triclosan, phthalates

Packaging: biodegradable paper box

Awards: The Green Parent Natural Beauty Award 2019



Bain and Savon

Established: 2018 Cumbria, UK Brand Range: face & body oils, soaps, scrubs, deodorants, balms, saving soaps, solid shampoos, solid conditioners Shampoo 11 Types: Orange, Coconut Milk, Nettle & Marshmallow, Nettle & Seaweed, Babassu & Lime, Chamomile, Rosemary, Baubles, Hair & Body Bar, Cornflowers, Calendula

Price Shampoo: £ 6 (US$8, CA$10, €7) Conditioner 4 Types: Dry hair, Normal hair, Brittle & Heat Damaged Hair, Oily hair, Price Conditioner: £ 9.50 (US$12, CA$16, €11) Weight: 130g Shipping: local £ 9.50 - free on orders above £50, international £10.50-13 Claims: Vegan, Cruelty Free. NO: parabens, silicones, dyes, sulphates Packaging: recycled biodegradable paper box



EUROPE


Inuit

Established: 2016, SPAIN

Brand Range: face & body soaps, solid shampoos

Shampoo 7 Types: Strengthening, Repair, Volume, Curly Hair, Oily Hair, Anti-Dandruff, Extra Soft

Price: € 9.95-12.95 (US$11-14, CA$14-18, £8-11)

Weight: 90g

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty Free.

NO: parabens, SLS, silicones, sulphates, preservatives, vegetable oils. 100% organic cultivation - first cold pressing

Packaging: biodegradable paper box





Matarrania

Established: 2007, SPAIN

Brand Range: skincare, balms, body oils, soaps, shampoo, mother & baby range

Shampoo 3 Types: Vital – Dry hair, Balance – Oil hair, Neutral – mousse shampoo,

Price: €11.70 (US$13, CA$17, £10)

Weight: 120g

Shipping: EU €6

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty-free, pH balanced. Certificada por Organic Soil Association

NO: synthetic perfumes, dyes, silicones, anionic surfactants (lauryl and sodium laureth sulfates), foaming agents (PEG , Polyethylene, Polyethylene glycols), palm oil.

Packaging: biodegradable paper box



Mind the Trash

Established: 2017, PORTUGAL

Brand Range: dishwashing soap, reusable cotton pads, solid shampoos, solid conditioners, safety razor

Shampoo 7 Types: Dry hair, Oily hair, Blond hair, Colored hair (Easy Foam or With Conditioner), Normal hair (Easy Foam or With Conditioner)

Price Shampoo: € 9.45 (Easy Foam) (US$10, CA$13.50, £8)

Price Shampoo: 10,55 Euros (With Conditioner) (USD11.50, CA$15, £9)

Weight: 80-90g

Conditioner 2 Types: Oily/Normal hair, Dry/Damaged hair

Price Conditioner: €13.95 (US$15, CA$20, £12)

Weight: 70g

Shipping: Europe € 5.30 (depends on weight)

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty Free, pH balanced. NO: parabens, silicones, dyes, SLS

Packaging: recyclable and compostable paper box - FSC Certified, 5 Star GreenStar System Certification.

Giving Back: donates 1% of all sales on specific dates to the association " Plantar Uma Árvore" (Plant A Tree) planted 136 trees



Lamazuna

Established: 2010, FRANCE

Brand Range: skincare, bodycare, haircare,soaps, toothpastes, accessories, etc.

Shampoo 3 Types: Scots of Pine – Normal hair, Litsea Cubeba Oil – Oily hair, Orange – Dry hair

Shampoo 3 Types without essential oils: Chocolate - Normal hair, Wild Grasses – Oily hair, Coconut & Vanilla – Dry hair

Price: €9.90 (US$11, CA$14, £8)

Weight: 55g

Shipping: free locally. EU €12-22, worldwide €25+

Claims: Vegan, Cruelty-free. NO: Parabens, SLS, palm oil, sulfate, synthetics, GMO, parabens, toxic chemicals.

Packaging: biodegradable paper box

Certifications: COSMOS Certified, Cruelty Free & Vegan PETA certified, Slow Cosmetics award. Citified Organic

Giving back: donates 2% of online sales to reforestation. Waste collection initiatives



Druydès