Zero Waste Shampoo Bars for Epic Summer Hair

organic shampoo bars

We all hope for that genie in a shampoo bottle to free us from our hair woes. Gorgeous hair is everyone’s goal, and we’ve tried out numerous shampoo brands in that quest. And whatever be the brand, most of us have only poured out shampoo from a bottle all our lives. What’s the story of this shampoo bottle? Is it the ideal solution for clean and healthy hair? (Spoiler: NO.) Let’s take a look at what solid shampoo bars are, and why they can be a great zero waste alternative. There are plastic-free shampoo alternatives, but when it comes to packaging, zero waste shampoo bars are as close to perfect as you can get.


What Is A Shampoo Bar?

zero waste shampoo bars

A shampoo bar is basically shampoo in solid form. So, yes, even Garnier can make solid shampoo, and while it would be zero waste, it certainly would not be toxin-free or ethical. What we will be discussing in this post are organic shampoo bars that are ethically produced. This will do the same extent of healthy cleaning that a regular shampoo can do, but with some benefits as well as drawbacks (which we’ll get to in a bit). Shampoo bars are formulated to eliminate dirt and product build-up, are suitable for all hair types, and generally the well made ones will be just as effective as a comparable liquid shampoo. Shampoo bars have quite a history, too, if you’re interested!

The process for making shampoo bars is the same as that for soap bars. The ingredients are different (and shampoo bars are often formulated to stand up to hard water). Cleansing agents used in shampoo bars in place of surfactants are baking soda, apple cider vinegar or/and tea tree oil. Various essential oils are included for their antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Natural oils are also included, such as coconut oil, jojoba oil or avocado oil, for their moisturizing action. They may also have aloe vera or Shea butter to help moisturize hair. 

Bars are also formulated for different types of hair and different requirements, just like your regular shampoo brands do. 

Are shampoo bars better for your hair? Not necessarily; they’re about as good or bad for your hair as comparable liquid shampoos. Besides, a lot of advertisers, including those pushing shampoo bars, claim miraculous results from using their product. But we know that advertisers tend to exaggerate, and that there is no single product that works perfectly for everyone. There is a lot of trial and error involved, especially when it comes to finding a suitable product for your hair. For instance, what causes frequent hair greasiness in one person may be different to what causes it in another person, and even diet can never be discarded from the equation. All of this is to say that solid shampoo bars may be zero waste and awesome, but if they don’t work well for you, don’t feel bad about it. There are other ethical and zero waste shampoos that are just as gentle on the environment (and your scalp). But do give the shampoo bar a try; it may well turn out to be your miraculous hair solution, after all!



Enter Zero Waste Shampoo Bars

Can shampoo bars cause hair loss

Shampoo bars have been used pretty extensively in the past around the world, but they were replaced with liquid shampoo, plastic bottles, microbeads, etc, as technology improved. Now, here we are – at a juncture where we ought to revert back to age-old (and therefore eco-friendly) practices for the benefit of not just the environment, but our health as well. Shampoo bars that are organic, cruelty-free, handmade and with minimum to no packaging are the ideal option to switch to. Further below in this post is a list of shampoo bar brands you can try out. 

Why did I mention handmade bars? Many brands sell handmade shampoo bars that are very good (especially on Etsy; check them out). It’s a great indication of the extreme care taken while making the shampoo bar, and speaks to the dedication of the brand owners (plus, they are likely small businesses that we should support!). Plus, if you’re so inclined, you can also make your own shampoo bar at home. There are three main types of shampoo bar:

cold-processed shampoo bars 

These have loads of natural plant-based oils to help condition your hair, and are typically free of sulfates and parabens. These are the bars you’ll find at your local farmer’s market.

glycerin-based shampoo bars

These are more gentle and have a better pH balance, but don’t lather much at all (since they contain fewer cleansing agents). 

solid surfactant shampoo bars

These shampoo bar lather up well and cleanse very well, and have a good pH balance. But they contain surfactants known as sulphates (SLS and SLES are two types of commonly used sulphates that can dry your hair out with prolonged use). A good solution is to look for bars with gentle surfactants such as glucoside.



Is the Shampoo Bar Right for You?

shampoo bars recipe

In a bid to avoid harmful surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate (which are present in commercial shampoos), shampoo bars are formulated to be gentle and low lather (less or no surfactant), with a high concentration of saponified oils, all of which are a big move away from the behavior of detergent-based shampoos. 

On the flip side, though, the high amounts of saponified oils can cause waxy build-up in your hair – and you may need to rinse your hair regularly with apple cider vinegar to get rid of that (the acidic nature of the ACV helps counter the alkalinity of the waxy build-up by removing the coating and allowing your hair to breathe.)

Hair with waves and curls and texture may not be happy with shampoo bars, and can get tangled up pretty easily. I have thick, curly hair, and I usually rub the bar between my hands to gather some lather (heh!) and then apply that to my hair. This helps minimise tangling, but my hair is pretty short, so I’m not sure this will work with long hair.

However, the benefits of organic shampoo bars far outweigh the costs:

They’re long lasting and convenient. 

Why else have shampoo bars been popular among the camping and hiking crowds for ages! You use the bar, wait for it to dry, and then it’s just an easy-to-carry and store toiletry item. No spillage at all. It’s TSA-approved as a solid! Also, each bar, depending on the size and your usage, can last you a pretty long time (longer than liquid shampoos, which, let’s admit, we use pretty liberally most of the time). 

They’re better for the environment. 

They’re zero waste, in the sense that they have no plastic packaging (and no micro plastics in the ingredients), and are biodegradable thanks to the use of safer ingredients. Many shampoo bars can be used as soap as well, so you will be saving money!

Organic, natural shampoo bars are gentle yet effective.

Brands such as Lush, Ethique and others use organic ingredients, and are free from harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and sodium hydroxide. Most shampoo bar brands eschew artificial fragrances that can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. They also do not use sulphates (although some shampoo bars have sodium coco sulphate). Sodium hydroxide, an extremely strong alkali that is used to make soap along with oils and fats, is an ingredient that many bar shampoos do not include. 

Well made shampoo bars can be gentle on hair while still being effective. This means you can use them on kids as well, without worrying about triggering allergies or irritating their skin. Plus, they’re very easy to use.


25 Zero Waste Shampoo Bars To Try Out

So, if you’re looking for a zero waste shampoo alternatives, solid bar shampoos are a good option to try.  And you can choose various lovely smelling options (created with natural sources) with nourishing ingredients that will freshen your hair and soothe your mood. All while knowing that this shampoo bar can be used until it disappears, and you will not have to throw anything out into the environment. 

With all that out of the way, here are 25 of the top organic shampoo bar brands. Check out what they have on offer, and start your zero waste hair care journey.



A Wild Soap Bar / Vegan & Cruelty-free



Apple Valley

apple valley shampoo bar


Auromere / Vegan & Cruelty-free



Bar None / Vegan & Cruelty-free

bar none vegan shampoo bar


Basin / Vegan & Cruelty-free



Bestowed Essentials



Booda Organics / Vegan & Cruelty-free



BRÖÖ Craft Beer Bar Shampoo / Vegan & Cruelty-free






Chagrin Valley

chagrin valley


Christophe Robin

christophe robin soap


Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Bar Soap / Vegan & Cruelty-free



Ethique Shampoo Bar



Friendly Soap

friendly shampoo





JR Liggett’s / Vegan & Cruelty-free



Love Beauty And Planet / Vegan & Cruelty-free

love beauty and planet


Lush Shampoo Bars / Vegetarian & Cruelty-free

Lush shampoo bar


Meow Meow Tweet / Vegan & Cruelty-free

meow meow tweet bar soap


OBIA Naturals/ Vegan & Cruelty-free



Purple Prairie Botanicals/ Vegan & Cruelty-free



Royalty Soaps

Shea Moisture / Vegan & Cruelty-free

shea moisture


Simply Soaps / Vegan & Cruelty-free

simply soap


Très Spa / Vegan & Cruelty-free



Buy on Etsy!



I hope this post has been useful. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

NOTE: All brand photographs belong to the respective brands/businesses.


Read More About the Zero Waste Bathroom

Zero Waste Toilet Paper

The Zero Waste Period

Grandma’s Beauty Secrets

Switching to Cruelty-free Personal Care Products


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organic shampoo brands for a zero waste wash


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