Shampoo and Conditioner Bars: Low-waste Life Alternatives

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It’s becoming more and more evident that we have reached a point of no return regarding the amount of discarded plastic entering our environment, 50% of the 380 million tons produced a year are single-use plastics, entering our world with a purpose that lasts seconds, and then entering the ocean forevermore and killing 1 million sea creatures every year (plasticoceans.org).   

Cutting out plastic from our lives needs to be done in a thoughtful way, however. In the past, extreme actions taken by leadership with the intent of cutting back on plastic waste have only changed the problem. For example, in 2016, California put in place a plastic bag ban, getting rid of the free carryout bags provided by stores. While this cut 40 million pounds of these plastic bags, it led to an increase in trash-bag purchasing by 12 million pounds and due to stores providing paper bags instead, an increase in carbon emissions (usatoday.com). 

Finding a replacement for plastic is not always easy, but there are plenty of opportunities out there, where plastic is not actually a necessity. Take, for example, washing your hair. It might be hard to imagine washing it with anything other than liquid shampoo, because that is mainstream. In reality, there are easy ways to get ahold of bar shampoo, and save yourself from all the plastic. 

According to the national census, the population of the United States is 328.2 million people, and the hair product industry is huge – only 3% of Americans do not use hair products. We know that according to a poll conducted by Lookfantastic, 49% of American women wash their hair every day and according to a poll by the Dollar Shave Club, 60% of men wash their hair everyday (Elizabeth 2017; Leftley 2019). This adds up to quite a few washes, and eventually, quite a few bottles, considering that a 300 mL bottle of product lasts about a month, according to Dae Hair (daehair.zendesk.com). 

If you compare this to bar soap, a puck-sized bar generally lasts 70-80 washes, triple that of a bottle (bobvila.com). In addition to the mere fact that they last longer, they are also travel friendly and often free of chemicals like sodium lauryl sulphate and ammonium lauryl sulphate, which most liquid shampoos contain (stylecaster). These are necessarily bad for your head, but if you want something natural, bar soaps have everything you need.

Below we have compiled a list of places to shop for shampoo and conditioner bars. We hope you’ll try them out and love them – and of course, tell us what you think!

 

1.   Basin

Basin products are made in the United States, under strict care to be chemical free and without ingredients like parabens, alcohol, and mineral oils. They are also, animal cruelty free! They have a large selection of shampoo and conditioner bars which you can mix and match, or they have sets if you’d like to try out a few recommended for your hair type. If you aren’t located in the U.S., they ship internationally!

2.   Lush

Over the past 16 years, Lush has saved 124 million plastic bottles from ever being produced. They have 19 different dry shampoo and conditioner options to choose from so you are bound to find something you like! Their unique designs and fun colours will brighten your bath time and leave your hair and conscience feeling marvellous. Again, for those of you outside the U.S. Lush has gone international, so this might be a reasonable option for you if you’re trying to ship inexpensively. 

3.   Ecoroots

Ecoroots dry shampoo and conditioners last are plastic free, cruelty free, vegan, Sodium laureth sulfate free, and palm oil free. They have a selection of bars that will meet a different variety of needs, depending on what lifestyle you live, what your hair needs, and what scents you enjoy. Their shampoos pair with their conditioners so if you’re a purist, like me, this will make you happy. If you’re ordering online, have no fear, they use recyclable materials only. This is only available for shipment in the U.S.

4.   HiBAR

These bars were inspired by the seashore and the need to keep plastic off our seashores! HiBAR shampoo and conditioners do not contain soaps, sulfates, phthalates, silicones, or parabens. They have a tool to help you choose the bar that’s right for your hair, but if you aren’t ready to commit yourself to a full-sized bar, they offer the option of buying a less expensive sampler set, with three different types of shampoo. If you are ordering online, their packaging and shipping materials are entirely plastic free. These bars will also ship internationally if you need. 

 

5.Unwrapped Life

Unwapped Life’s bars are vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably packaged. If you are shopping for a child or a baby, they also have shampoos made specially for these age groups. For adults, there are a variety of 5 types – hydrator, fixer, detoxifier, stimulator, and balancer – with corresponding conditioners. This company has diverted 4.5 million plastic bottles from being produced and thrown away – you could help them reach their goal of keeping 20 million bottles out of the ocean by 2025! Unwapped Life can also be shipped internationally.

 

6.   Aspen Kay

Aspen Kay’s bars are made only a few at a time and entirely by hand using the cold process method. Each bar has certified organic and sustainable ingredients and does not contain sulphate, silicone, paraben, synthetic fragrances, and dyes. Do I even have to mention they are made cruelty-free. Their collection includes shampoos and conditioners with the option to choose between charcoal-y, minty, coconutty, and citrusy. You can also purchase these with a travel tin! Aspen Kay only ships within the U.S.

7.   Emerson

Emerson are also cold processed soaps made by hand, one small batch at a time. They are all free from artificial products, fragrances, micas, dioxide, sulphates, preservatives, and detergents. Emerson only carries two scented shampoos, one with argon and the other with mint, so you won’t have to wonder if you would rather have had mango. These are shipped using USPS so you’d have to be in the U.S. to place an order.

 

 

8. Beauty and the Bees, Tasmania

Beauty and the Bees has been around for three decades so you can easily find the positive reviews for their eco-friendly, and plastic free shampoo and conditioning bars. Another thing we love about them is that they are locally sourced. They have been using only natural products and keeping out palm oils and animal cruelty since 1993. These bars are definitely on our list. This is an Australian based company so they ship there, while you can also ship them to the U.S. and Canada.

 

Sources:

Aubrey, Allison. “When It Comes To Shampoo, Less Is More.” NPR, NPR, 19 Mar. 2009, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102062969. 

Burton, Natasha. “The Pros and Cons of Washing Your Hair With Bar Shampoo.” StyleCaster, StyleCaster, 21 May 2020, stylecaster.com/feature/should-you-be-using-bar-shampoo-425516/#slide-1. 

Cherney, Kristeen. “Should You Avoid Shampoos with Sulfates?” Healthline, 3 July 2013, www.healthline.com/health/sulfate-in-shampoo. 

Elizabeth, De. “This Is the State Where Women Wash Their Hair the Least.” Allure, Allure, 4 Aug. 2017, www.allure.com/story/how-often-women-wash-hair-by-state. 

Explore Census Data, data.census.gov/cedsci/profile?q=United+States&g=0100000US. 

“How Long Will My Products Last?” Dae Hair, daehair.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360041623234-How-long-will-my-products-last-. 

Leftley, Nick. “7 Percent of Men Only Wash Their Hair Every Two Weeks…Or Less.” Dollar Shave Club Original Content, 30 Nov. 2018, www.dollarshaveclub.com/content/story/7-percent-men-wash-hair-every-two-weeks-less. 

Parker, Laura. “Fast Facts about Plastic Pollution.” Science, National Geographic, 4 May 2021, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution. 

“Topic: Hair Care Product and Shampoo Market in the U.S.” Statista, www.statista.com/topics/4552/hair-care-product-market-in-the-us/#topicHeader__wrapper. 

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