Solid shampoo bars are a gentler alternative to regular liquid shampoos that are often full of synthetic fragrances, preservatives, and other substances of chemical origin. Rather, these bars are commonly made from natural ingredients and don’t contain harsh sulfates that can cause premature color fading. What they do contain are plant oils and herbal extracts that work to nourish your hair and scalp.
While researching this topic, I went looking for solid shampoos that met the following criteria: they contain no harmful chemicals, they’re color-safe, and the producer doesn’t use any plastic packaging. I left out products with aggressive marketing campaigns, as well as those that had received many positive reviews over only a very short amount of time. I also gave preference to products made in the USA.
I chose to avoid products that come in boxes or wrapping made from disposable plastic because customers looking for eco-friendly products usually wish to reduce their plastic waste and can be disappointed upon receiving them. This list, therefore, doesn’t include such products or companies, as it is generally only for marketing purposes that they describe themselves as environmentally friendly. Of course, in some situations, it’s the delivery company that chooses to use plastic packaging. In these cases, you can instead choose to purchase the shampoo bar directly from the manufacturer’s website.
If you are looking for both a more sustainable and a healthier way to shampoo your colored locks, a shampoo bar is definitely a great choice. You may need some time to transition from liquid to solid shampoos, as the process can take a little longer with bars. Just be aware of that and have some patience when you first decide to go plastic-free.
Color-safe and Eco-friendly Shampoo Bars
1. The World’s First Zero-waste Shampoo: Ethique Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
This company is truly committed to eliminating the use of plastic bottles and reducing plastic trash in the oceans. Their solid shampoos and conditioners are super concentrated, are biodegradable, and come in compostable packaging. They use a sustainable production process for their bars, which don’t contain any palm oil or chemicals. The bars are also vegan and cruelty-free.
The shampoo itself has a mild scent that doesn’t stay in the hair for long. It can be applied by rubbing the bar directly onto your hair, or by creating a foam with your hands and then applying it. For best effect, you should use more shampoo on your scalp and the roots of your hair, and apply conditioner to the ends.
Ethique’s shampoo creates a rich lather due to its sodium coco sulfate content—a detergent that, although produced from coconut oil, cannot be considered completely natural. However, it is less irritable than harsher sulfates and is also lower down the ingredients list than the milder and more prevalent sodium cocoyl glycinate detergent that it’s combined with.
As a result of this combination, Ethique’s shampoo bars have optimal washing power and produce a rich lather without stripping your natural protective oils or your hair color. Every shampoo will shorten the life of your hair color to a certain extent, but this one has less of a negative effect on color than liquid shampoos containing sulfates. You can read more about their selection of surfactants by taking a look at their website.
According to Ethique, their shampoos last a long time despite their small size, and their compact shape actually makes them very convenient to carry in a travel bag. The company also produces biodegradable shampoo holders made of bamboo and sugarcane. With these, your bars will not dissolve and fall apart, and it’s even possible to put both shampoo and conditioner in the same holder if you turn them sideways.
2. Aspen Kay Naturals Solid Shampoo Bar
This solid shampoo is made in Florida and comes with an impressive list of organic ingredients. It uses a very mild cleanser obtained from coconut oil—sodium cocoyl isethionate—so it’s not aggressive to colored hair and won’t strip the natural protective oils from your scalp and hair. The refreshing citrus scent is suitable for both sexes, although the manufacturer recommends that you can simply rinse well after shampooing if you don’t want the scent to stay in your hair. They also mention that their shampoo bar works well with hard water.
This product used to be delivered in a metal box that could then be used for traveling, but this is unfortunately no longer the case. Currently, Aspen Kay Naturals uses a plastic wrapper for deliveries via Amazon. You can however buy a travel box separately directly on their website, and the company has stated that this is a temporary situation while they prepare to go truly plastic-free during the delivery phase.
3. HiBAR Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
HiBAR shampoo bars are available in five different versions: Fragrance-Free, Moisturize (both for dry or damaged hair), Maintain (for normal or oily hair), Volumize (for thin, lifeless, or curly hair), and Soothe (for itchy, flaky scalps). All of these formulas are described as safe for colored hair and free from sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicones.
HiBAR shampoos and conditioners have an unusual design that is supposed to make them easier to use. However, some users have had trouble holding the bars in their wet hands. Another downside is that, although the shampoo and conditioner come in separate boxes, you may have trouble differentiating the two once unpacked.
The bars are packed in compostable cardboard, which shows that the manufacturer is committed to reducing the use of plastic. However, due to the non-compact shape of their products, ultimately more packaging material is needed.
Like all solid shampoos, these bars should be kept away from water between uses. The company does not have an original transport box for sale, and they instead simply recommend that you wrap the bars in a towel during travel to keep them safe and dry.
4. Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Set by Clever Yoga
This certainly is an eco-friendly product in every way. Clever Yoga wrap the bars in paper and ships them in a biodegradable cardboard box. They also claim that their products do not contain palm oil. As you probably know, excessive industrial production of palm oil in certain parts of the world is currently doing a lot of harm to many plants and animals. Since this product is also cruelty-free and biodegradable, you can be relaxed and not feel guilty while using it.
Both bars have a mild and neutral scent, so they can be used equally well by women and men. According to the manufacturer’s description, one shampoo bar lasts for about 60 washes. It’s quite compact and very convenient for traveling—you can also use it as a body wash.
5. Love Beauty and Planet Blooming Color Shampoo Bar
The best thing about this color-safe shampoo bar is that it cleanses well without drying out your hair. It leaves your locks shiny and manageable, and without any of the residues that are unfortunately an unwanted side effect of many shampoo bars. It’s also very good at creating a nice creamy lather after rubbing it across your hair.
The bar is heart-shaped and smells like roses, making it very giftable. But such a shape can make it less compact and more of a hassle to take with you on the road, as finding a container to fit it can be difficult.
Another possible downside is that the scent is rather overpowering, especially before you use the bar. The scent doesn’t stay in your hair for a long time, but your bathroom and your travel bag may keep on smelling like roses!
6. Naples Soap Company Solid Shampoo Bar
These coconut oil and cocoa butter-based moisturizing shampoo bars are advertised to last for 50 to 75 washes. They create a rich lather that makes application easier and come in several unisex versions that have either a citrusy smell or are scent-free. They are made in the USA, are convenient for travel, and do not contain any ingredients that would dry out your hair or fade its color. The shampoos have a multicolored surface, while the conditioner has consistent color, so you will be able to easily distinguish them.
All their shampoos and conditioners are wrapped in paper but are shipped in a plastic box (although this can be reused for other purposes). To ensure that you avoid excess plastic packaging, you can however place your order directly on the company’s website. Then, the bar will be sent to you in biodegradable cardboard without the plastic container. If you are looking for a zero-waste shampoo, then this may be a good choice for you.