Even the most forgiving hair has a once or twice a week wash regime, while those with finer locks may have to shampoo daily. We use a lot of hair care products in a lifetime, with a glut of packaging and an ingredient list that could eventually prove more damaging than we’d ever thought to consider. Many of us are looking for ways to live a life free from needless plastic waste and unnecessary chemicals. So here’s one minor wash routine adaptation worth thinking about.
A single solid shampoo bar can last as long as three large bottles of liquid shampoo — or three to four months — even with daily washing. In terms of just its transport footprint, that’s one truck-full of solid shampoo to do the same job as fifteen truckloads of bottled, so the environmental impact is obvious. Then there’s the insidious chemical component of many of our conventional hair cleansers, which some conscious brands are seeking to address — through the reduction or removal of said synthetic additives. A shampoo bar provides an apt addition to compact travel bags, lathers well and leaves hair feeling clean. Here are some covetable discoveries from the offering.
Lush pioneered the solid shampoo bar and has continued to innovate in the field of hair care, with a selection of shampoos designed for multifarious hair types. They are biodegradable and almost entirely natural, with the exception of sulphates which act to trap and remove built-up residue. There is controversy surrounding the use of this much-hypothesised ingredient, partly because of a tendency for it to be problematic for some sensitive skins. As yet, however, its cleansing ability hasn’t been matched, and trialled alternatives present other problems — such as the inclusion of palm oil. The ‘New’ bar contains stimulating cinnamon, clove and peppermint. The seaweed, lemon and salt-based ‘Seanik’ left fine hair refreshed and lifted. All Lush products are entirely cruelty-free.
British-made Friendly Soap offers a budget-conscious foray into the world of solid shampoos, with its natural castor oil bar. It’s free from parabens, palm oil and sulphates, and uses only natural lavender and tea tree oil for fragrance. The bar lathers well, despite the omittance of sulphates, and leaves hair feeling nourished. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that castor oil can take some getting used to and a very thorough post-wash rinse is needed. Friendly Soap doesn’t use plastics in its packaging and all products are cruelty-free.
The Natural Soap Co produces a small range of natural solid shampoos, made from a combination of selected oils and essential fragrances — with no chemical additives. The aromatic Nettle & Rosemary bar uses castor, coconut, almond and avocado oils, to nourish both hair and scalp. There’s also a Chamomile & Marigold bar — with a zing of grapefruit and lemon essential oils — and a Tropical Coconut shampoo: a deep cleansing treatment for tired hair. The caveat is that it also contains palm oil.
A find for those prone to allergic and sensitive skin, the Goat’s Milk & Neem bar from the Little Goat is a cleansing treatment for both the hair and scalp, that’s gentle enough for use on delicate skin. The addition of raw goats milk and ayurvedic neem — from an old-world tree species — is said to have a calming effect on a range of skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis of the scalp. The soap has a silky lather that rinses to reveal clean, soft, hair. Again, the use of palm oil as an ingredient is noteworthy for those trying to avoid it.
Bain & Savon hand-make 100% natural solid shampoo in the UK, using a combination of shea butter and other natural ingredients that benefit a variety of hair types. The coconut milk bar is a deep-nourishing option for overworked hair and the ‘Sunny Orange’ imparts a zesty fragrance and lightness. Bain & Savon package their bars in glassine paper which is both 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable — from sustainably managed forests.
Made from a combination of shea butter, coconut milk and Vitamin E, Alphy & Bec’s bar is an option for those in need of a conditioning hair cleanser. Where some rich conditioning bars may linger on, long after a wash, the addition of essential bergamot and patchouli lends even the oiliest hair a lighter post-shampoo feel. It smells delicious and may help to relieve the discomfort of itchy or irritated scalps. Alphy & Becs use eco-friendly paper packaging and steer away from parabens and palm oil, but the bars do contain sulphates — to aid cleansing and strip any residue.