By Christa Adams
In the wake of sustainable living, everything is going solid — toothpaste, laundry strips, and even your shampoo. So, what’s the problem with liquid? Whether it’s for the sake of ditching plastic or saying no to harsh chemicals, the main advantage of solid shampoo and conditioner bars is clear: they clean your hair without the nonsense. So, what are the pros and cons of solid shampoo and conditioner bars? Here’s everything you need to know.
Pro: They gently clean your hair
Shampoo bars do their job by removing dirt, old product, and debris from your hair and scalp. Quality shampoo bars leave hair feeling lightweight, clean, and voluminous. A great benefit when first switching to a shampoo bar is its ability to wash away residue left from regular shampoo and silicone conditioners, helping aid in that lightweight and full-of-volume feeling.
Regular shampoos and conditioners contain chemicals that cause build-up on the scalp, resulting in dandruff or an itchy scalp at the minimum. The gentle ingredients in solid shampoo wash your hair without removing your essential, natural oils.
Pro: The ingredients are better
The ingredients in solid shampoo bars are much kinder and more natural than regular shampoos. Shampoo bars do not contain harsh surfactants like sulfates (SLS) and chemicals like parabens, triclosan, or polyethylene glycol. These are known to be carcinogenic, cause dryness, disrupt the body’s natural systems (particularly hormonal imbalances), and cause irritation.
On the other hand, shampoo bars use natural oils like coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, and essential oils to moisturize, clean, protect, and freshen hair. Harsh chemicals can damage the hair by stripping away naturally moisturizing oils, but shampoo bars generally do not do this.
Con: Not all shampoo bars are equal
While some shampoo bars are 100% natural, others may use synthetic ingredients like fragrance or sodium coco sulfate (SCS), a surfactant that makes foam to cleanse the skin and hair. Some popular shampoo bars, like the ones from Lush or EcoRoots, use SCS so it’s worth noting that these may cause irritation. We recommend checking out brands like Seek Bamboo and Public Goods for completely natural shampoo and conditioner bars. Other ingredients to potentially watch out for in solid shampoo and conditioner are alcohols like butylene glycol and cetyl alcohol.
Pro: They last longer
Being in a solid and concentrated form, shampoo bars help ensure that you use just enough product to clean your hair. Typical shampoo bars can last for around 85 washes, amounting to roughly two or three bottles of liquid shampoo. No more going overboard with product and rinsing suds out of your hair for 10 minutes straight!
So, one of the best pros of shampoo bars for your bank account is how long they last! You can use less per wash. Plus, since most shampoos have water as the first ingredient — and you already use water while showering — it’s easy to see how you can get more bounce to the ounce. Overall, shampoo bars are similar to bottled ones but with fewer preservatives as the water comes directly from your shower and within the shampoo itself.
Pro: They are better for the environment
This is likely the main pull people feel when they are switching to shampoo bars and conditioners. Free of harmful chemicals, solid shampoo and conditioner bars are much better for the planet than the alternative. On top of that, almost all shampoo bars come in plastic-free packaging or no packaging at all for the most sustainable option. In the US, about 550 million shampoo bottles go to landfills every year. There, they’ll each slowly degrade, taking around 450 years to decompose while releasing greenhouse gasses like methane and ethylene in the process.
Shampoo bars drastically reduce plastic bottle waste, and that’s one of the best reasons to use solid shampoo.
Pro: They look better in the bathroom
While it’s not all about aesthetics, these round bars sure do look fantastic in the bathroom, especially when resting on a bamboo or ceramic holder. These bars help create a minimalist, sustainable living aesthetic in your shower area or bathroom by eliminating the clutter caused by cheap plastic bottles. And we all know our home spaces influence the way we think and feel, so keeping your bathroom sustainable is fantastic for more reasons than just vibes.
Pro: They are great for travel
No more worrying about TSA confiscating your oversized liquids at the airport! Since they are not a liquid or a gel, shampoo bars and conditioners pose no issues when traveling. Stick them in your toiletry bag or a tin container and easily take them traveling. No mess, no stress.
Con: You need to keep them away from water after being used
To avoid the product sticking to your bathtub or soap rack, you should keep your solid shampoos and conditioner bars out of the water’s way. Grab it from the shelf when you need it, keep it out of the showerhead’s path, or use a tin container to keep water out. This is a small con that is easily remedied! Just follow these tips to avoid wasting product.
Pro: They can be very affordable
Because solid shampoo can last for around 85 washes, they are very economical. One bar can last two or three months with prices around $5 to $15 per bar. You could wash your hair for as little as $1.60 a month! Double that if you use shampoo and conditioner.
Pro: You may not need conditioner
Because solid shampoo uses several nourishing oils already, you might even be able to skip out of conditioner completely. Talk about economical! Plus, natural shampoo bars do not strip away natural oils from your hair, so you will not need the typical conditioners that people use to replace the natural oils stripped by detergent-based shampoos. Historically, lotions weren't introduced until we started using soaps that dried out our skin. It’s the same concept for shampoo and conditioner!
While switching to a more sustainable and plastic-free bathroom routine, consider doing the same to your laundry room. Eco-friendly laundry strips from SaltyLama use no plastic or harmful detergents meaning you’ll get keep clothes that are great for sensitive skin and environmentalists alike!