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A Beginners Guide to Shampoo Bars

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Just in time for Christmas present buying season, Victoria Lyon’s guide breaks down the different shampoo bars you can find on the high street and online. Shampoo bars make great presents, helping family and friends make a sustainable swap without costing the earth.

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Shampoo bars could make great stocking fillers

Shampoo bars are quickly becoming a popular plastic-free alternative to bottled shampoo. Plastic shampoo bottles are a common household item; however they contribute to the plastic waste problem that we currently have. According to The Guardian, millions of tons of plastic are sent to the landfill every year and a large amount of this waste ends up in the oceans. It’s even been predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. In this guide I’ll go over 4 popular (and unknown) shampoo bar companies and hopefully help to make your transition from plastic bottles to bars smoother!

1. Lush

Lush do a wide variety of shampoo bars that all serve different purposes depending on hair types and desired effects (also tins to store them in!). Popular bars include ‘Avocado’ for co-washing hair, ‘Jason and the Argon oil’ for help with dry hair, and ‘Seanik’ for volume. The bars average £8 each and the tins to store them £2.50; the ’Avocado Co-wash’ is slightly more expensive at £13 each however you receive more product than in the other shampoo bars.

The bars that I’ve listed are all 4/5 stars, however don’t let this stop you from trying out the other shampoo bars that Lush have to offer!

2. Ethique

Ethique are a zero-waste, New Zealand based brand that offer shampoo bars as well as other plastic free beauty items. They offer multiple kinds of bars for hair types including ‘Pinkalicious™’ which caters for normal hair, ‘St. Clements’ for oily hair, ‘Tip-to-Tot for multi-purpose washing, and ‘Fizz Wrangler’ for dry and or frizzy hair (as well as many more!). The bars on the website are $15 which is about £11.59.

The bars are slightly more expensive than Lush bars however they have a generally higher rating with an average of 4.5/5 stars.

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Help start someone’s plastic free bathroom journey

3. Friendly Soap

Friendly soap offer a relatively small number of items on their website however the items they offer are fantastic! They have two shampoo bars (‘Lavender & Tea Tree’ and ‘Lavender & Germanium’) that boast to be free from parabens, SLS, palm oil, plastic and animal testing. Not only that, the bars are by far the cheapest on the list at £2.75 each.  However, the bars come with a warning that they may not be suitable for colour treated hair, chemically treated hair, or showers that use hard water; this is due to these elements affecting the soaps chemicals which could cause damage to the hair or change the performance of the soap.

Despite that, Friendly soap bars are on average rated at 4.5/5 stars – which is great value!

4. The Yellow Bird

The Yellow Bird are a natural skincare company which claims that all of their products are free from parabens, gluten, and animal cruelty as well as being handmade and all natural. They offer 2 shampoo bars (‘Grapefruit Rosemary Lavender’ and ‘Peppermint’) which are formulated to suit sensitive scalps and curly hair (although anyone can use them). On the website the bars are $10 each which is approximately £7.73. The company also boasts that the bar can be multi-purpose (can be used for hair, body, face and shaving) and therefore a perfect travel product.

The Yellow Bird bars are also both rated 4.5/5 stars.

Shampoo bars may seem slightly more expensive than plastic bottled shampoo, yet they last a heck of a lot longer so they’re worth the investment. Shampoo bars could make a great gift to somebody who isn’t sure where to start their sustainability journey.

About the author: Victoria Lyon is a first-year philosophy student at the University of York who is passionate about creating a sustainable lifestyle.

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