Easy Swap: Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

May 8, 2019 | Reducing Waste, Sustainable Swaps

Swapping plastic bottle shampoo and conditioner for solid bars is an easy swap I made as one of our First Family Footprint Steps. I resisted making this change initially and maybe you have too. In this post I discuss what held me back, what I use now and how I have found it. The short version is I’ve been using them for several months and I haven’t looked back!

My concerns about Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

Initially I didn’t even know such a thing existed and hadn’t thought to look into it. When I did come across a shampoo bar, I thought about trying it but wondered about the need for a conditioner bar too. Perhaps there is an all-in-one product but I’ve never really been convinced by any ‘conditioning shampoo’ I’ve tried, so I dismissed it.

I think too, we have become so accustomed to seeing products marketed, if not made, for different hair types and needs, it is easy to dismiss one simple product that doesn’t make claims to ‘reduce frizziness, add volume, increase shine…’ I believe I was guilty of that.

Ethique Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

Ethique Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Image from ethiqueworld.com

So I popped it to the back of my mind until one day it happened to come up in conversation with a friend who has an interest in using sustainable products. She told me that conditioner bars were, in fact, available, that she uses shampoo and conditioner bars from a New Zealand brand called Ethique*, and she finds them great.

That evening I got online and bought my own. I also bought the bamboo and cornstarch (compostable) container for storing them in the shower.

The bars are made of natural ingredients with few preservatives, they are plastic free and not tested on animals. And there are options for different hair types. They have a sampler pack if you want to try some different options to see what suits your hair.

The In-Shower Container fits the two bars perfectly and helps the bars last longer by allowing drainage and a lid to keep the water off when not in used.

The results

Easy to use

The bars are really easy to use. I wet my hair, take the shampoo bar and run it across my head once or twice, return it to the container and lather up the shampoo with my hands. After rinsing, I repeat with the conditioner bar leaving it on my hair for a while longer. The conditioner bar is harder and less soluble than the shampoo bar so I use more strokes on my head to transfer enough product. Despite that, the conditioner bar lasts longer than the shampoo bar.

Works well

My hair feels great and is still as shiny and healthy as it was using an ‘organic’ supermarket brand. I am very satisfied with the effectiveness of the product. I also like the smell.

Similar cost to supermarket brand

At the time of writing, it has been three months since I started using my bars daily. I am nearing the end of my first shampoo bar but I’d say I’m only halfway through my first conditioner bar. The bars cost me about $25 each. The product they replaced cost about $6 for 725mL which would last perhaps a month, so the shampoo costs a little more than the supermarket product I was using and the conditioner much less.

Using No Shampoo

The ultimate in sustainable haircare would be using no product on it at all. This is the approach my husband has taken for many years now. It has served his short hair well. I have read many accounts of people who have successfully adapted to using no shampoo or conditioner. My understanding is that it takes a little while for the oil glands to adapt to producing less.

I have never been brave enough to try it. My hair is very fine and completely straight and I like how it looks and feels when it is washed. For now I feel that I have found a product which lets me wash my hair daily and which also sits well with me from an environmental perspective.

What about you? Have you tried the no shampoo method? What about solid bars? What have you tried?

*I have no affiliation with the Ethique brand.

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