Low Waste, Sustainable Living

The Shampoo Bar: Does It Really Work?

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One of the first sustainable swaps that any beginner hears about is the shampoo bar. Ditch your typical plastic pump bottles in favor for a bar of soap to decrease your plastic waste! It’s true, your plastic waste definitely goes down a ton, but does it actually work? As someone with thick, coarse, wavy hair, I was definitely apprehensive to make the leap. I had a ton of questions: Which shampoo bar is the best? How do I use it? What about conditioner? Do they last as long as shampoo bottles?

If you’re reading this, you probably have the same exact questions. So here I am to answer them.

My Favorite Shampoo Bars

Chagrin Valley Summer Sunshine Bar

This bar was the first I ever tried. It’s not my favorite out of this list, but it definitely has more pros than cons. Let’s discuss what I liked:

  • All natural ingredients
  • Smells amazing
  • Lasted almost 4 months (!!)

Chagrin Valley’s bars smell SO GOOD and all of their ingredients are organic and natural. Also a huge bonus: this bar lasted me almost 4 months. That’s crazy, especially given the fact that a large pump bottle of Pantene would last me only half that time. Plus, the full sized bar costs less than $10.

Now for the cons:

  • Left a film on my hair for a few weeks

Alright that’s only one con, so that’s pretty good right? However, this was a little bit frustrating as it made my hair feel dirtier after using it. While the film was not visible, nor made my hair look greasy, it seemed a little strange. Fortunately as my hair adjusted to using all natural ingredients, the film disappeared after a few weeks. If you’re new to natural shampoo, this is something to look out for.

Love, Beauty, and Planet Coconut Shampoo/Conditioner Bar

Love, Beauty, and Planet’s shampoo bar stood out to me for a number of reasons:

  • Available at Target
  • Claims to include benefits of conditioner
  • I’ve used their liquid shampoo in the past

The fact that this bar is available at Target makes it a very convenient purchase. Additionally, I love the brand because it brings natural beauty to common folk like me lol. While the Chagrin Valley shampoo bar is not explicitly labelled a “shampoo/conditioner bar” like this one, their website said the abundance of natural oils compensated. So when I was eventually on the hunt for my second bar, Love, Beauty, and Planet’s callout for conditioner benefits drew me in.

But of course, everything has its cons:

  • Doesn’t actually condition :/

Again, only one con! Shampoo bars going strong. But alas, this bar does not condition as it claims. But who can blame them, does a 2-in-1 ever actually work? I had been washing my hair with just the bar until my hairdresser told me I should incorporate a leave-in conditioner into my routine. I splurged and went for a customized formula from Prose which I love.

Trader Joes Shampoo Bar

I am IMPRESSED. I’m not really sure why I’m so surprised because Trader Joe’s never fails, but I had never tried a body care item from them until now. This is by far my favorite out of the group. Here are the pros:

  • Very large
  • Super soft and lathers very easily
  • Smells and feels amazing

This bar is the largest of the group, so I’m intrigued to see how long it lasts. It’s also softer than the other two bars so it lathers super easily. The tea tree oil + peppermint combo might be my favorite scent out of the three as well. It smells so refreshing while I’m using it and has a slight cooling effect when I use it. And in true Trader Joe’s fashion, the bar is super cheap and definitely the biggest bang for your buck out of the group. I have no cons for this bar, 10/10 recommend.

How to Use A Shampoo Bar

Here is how I like to get the most out of a shampoo bar for healthy hair:

  1. Wet my hair thoroughly
  2. Rub the shampoo bar directly into my scalp
  3. Massage into scalp and rinse
  4. (Twice a month) Spray homemade apple cider vinegar rinse directly into scalp and leave in for 5 minutes
  5. Rinse ACV rinse out thoroughly
  6. Spray leave-in conditioner all over after shower

Wait, what the heck is an apple cider vinegar rinse?? Yup, that was my first thought too when I read about them. Because you’re cutting out typical conditioner that makes your hair shiny, an ACV rinse can help restore the shine you lose with a bar. I combine 1 Tablespoon per 8 oz. of water in a spray bottle and use it twice a month to keep my hair shiny. It also has anti-microbial properties and can help with dandruff! And no, the smell doesn’t linger.


So there you have it. Yes, the shampoo bar works. There are so many more out there that I haven’t tried yet, so if none of these work for you, have no fear. All that’s left to perfect your low waste bathroom is switch over to bar soap and you’re good to go. Gone are the days of endless empty bottles and say hello to your new and improved sustainable hair care routine 🙂

Check out my post on easy college swaps for more simple sustainable tips!

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