top of page

This blogpost may contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra costs to you. 

Copy of World Earth Day 2024 Badge (1).png
  • Writer's pictureValinda

How to use a Shampoo Bar (Video + Pictures)

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

Jump to


Discover a sustainable and waste-free solution for cleansing your hair with the revolutionary shampoo bar. Embracing this eco-friendly alternative may seem unfamiliar at first, as it diverges from the conventional liquid shampoo experience. Fear not, for I have crafted a comprehensive step-by-step guide to demystify the process of using a shampoo bar. Dive into a new realm of hair care that not only cleanses but also contributes to a greener, more environmentally conscious lifestyle. Elevate your hair care routine with this simple yet impactful change that benefits both you and the planet.


How to use a Shampoo Bar

Wet your shampoo bar

Before washing, your shampoo bar needs to be softened up so you can create a nice lather. So our first step is to wet the shampoo bar. I do this right as I turn on the shower before I wet my hair so the bar has a minute to soften up.


Wet your hair

Don’t use a shampoo bar on dry hair. A shampoo bar doesn’t contain any water so you will need to mix it with water to make it work we are starting by wetting our hair.

How to use a shampoo bar - wet hair

Squeeze out the excess water

A shampoo bar is highly concentrated with ingredients. As we are mixing the shampoo with wet hair, we dilute this quite a bit. To prevent the dilution of these ingredients as much as possible, I squeeze as much water out of my hair as possible.

How to use a shampoo bar - squeeze excess

Rub your shampoo bar between your hand to create a lather

Your shampoo bar should be a little softer now and we can create a lather. Some prefer to use a shampoo bar directly on their hair. I have very fine hair that easily damages so I don’t do this. Instead, I rub the bar in my hand to create a nice lather.

How to use a shampoo bar - create lather

Apply the lather to your hair

How to use a shampoo bar - apply lather to hair
How to use a shampoo bar - apply lather to hair

Once I have made enough lather in my hands, I put it onto my hair. I have very long hair so I repeat these last 2 steps a couple of times until I feel I have enough shampoo in my hair.


Wash your hair

Massage the shampoo through your hair starting on your scalp and working your way toward the lengths. I have a very sensitive scalp and use my fingertips to gently massage the shampoo through.

How to use a shampoo bar - wash hair

Rinse your hair


Once I feel I have washed your hair sufficiently, it is time to rinse it out. Thoroughly rinse my hair so there is no shampoo left in my hair.

How to use a shampoo bar - rinse hair

Optional: Follow up with a conditioner for extra nourishment.


Store your shampoo bar in a dry place

A shampoo bar will disintegrate fast if it remains wet for a long time. I use the lid of an old plastic container (the container itself broke a while ago) that is stored high up in my shower where it can dry after use.


Ingredients to look for in a shampoo bar

Natural oils/butters

Make sure your shampoo bar contains lots of ingredients your hair loves, or you will just have a brick of surfactants. Coconut oil, cocoa butter, and argan oil are all great for your hair. I love broccoli seed oil and babassu oil for my hair.

Clays

Clays are added to shampoo bars because they absorb oils naturally. So if you have oily hair, look for a shampoo bar with ghassoul clay or kaolin clay.

shampoo bar - How to use a Shampoo Bar

Proteins

Proteins are the building blocks of your hair. Make sure your shampoo bar has some wheat protein or rice protein to strengthen your hair.


Vitamins

You have probably heard of Pantene pro-V. The pro V part stands for pro-vitamin b5. This is an amazing hair care ingredient. Its full name is Panthenol.

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

This ingredient may sound scary but this is an eco-friendly surfactant that cleans gently and is suitable for sensitive skin. It is derived from coconut oil and is completely biodegradable making it great for shampoo bars.

soap - How to use a Shampoo Bar

Ingredients to avoid in a shampoo bar


Sodium Hydroxide

The first shampoo bar I ever tried was a traditional soap bar made with oils and ley (Sodium Hydroxide). Ley is used for the saponification of oils. This did not work for me and now I know this is not suitable for hair as it is very aggressive.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

You often hear you should avoid all sulfates when it comes to shampoo bars. However, not all sulfates are the same. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is one of the sulfates you should avoid. This is a rather aggressive detergent that strips your hair and scalp of all its natural oils. It indeed cleans your hair but also dries your scalp, could cause dandruff and hair loss and cause skin irritation.


Parabens

Parabens are preservatives to prevent our shampoo from spoiling. A preservative in our haircare products is needed because it comes in contact with water and bacteria thrive in water. Parabens should be avoided as they can cause DNA damage, affect our hormones, and may even be involved in breast cancer development.

bathroom products - How to use a Shampoo Bar

Phthalates

Phthalates have many uses but in shampoos, they are often used as gelling agents. It ensures that the fragrance in the shampoo sticks around longer and helps balance out the formula of the shampoo. However, phthalates are known to disrupt our endocrine system. This alone should be enough reason to avoid it.

Dimethicone

Dimethicone is a silicone that is often added to shampoos to help with the spreadability of the shampoo. It also makes your hair soft and shiny. This is because dimethicone coats your hair so it appears healthy. This comes with a big downside, it is very hard to remove and can build up in your hair. Once it has coated your hair, nutrients can no longer penetrate the hair shaft weakening your hair in the long run.

How to use a shampoo bar

Palm oil

The palm oil industry has contributed to an estimated 5% of tropical deforestation in tropical areas. If you can't avoid palm oil in a product, ask the producer if the palm oil used is RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).


Fragrance/parfum

In my opinion, fragrance in a skin or hair care product is useless as I want to nourish my skin/hair not make it smell nice.


Benefits of a Shampoo Bar

Most of us wash our hair a couple times a week. When my hair was really long I washed it only once a week (the last 2 days of the week my hair was always a little greasy but with a french braid nobody noticed), now that it is shorter I wash it twice a week. When you think about the number of plastic bottles each person uses per month to wash their hair (and body) and the amount of chemicals that are washed down the drain, it is shocking. Especially when you wash your hair daily. So, it is time to consider a less wasteful option, a shampoo bar. Below are 15 reasons why shampoo bars are a great alternative to your regular shampoo bottle.


Don't feel like reading? Watch it instead!


Plastic-free

The shampoo bars are not packed in a plastic bottle or any other type of plastic packaging. This is awesome as this means a shampoo bar is completely plastic-free. A plastic (shampoo) bottle has a half-life of about 58 years. Meaning that after 58 years only half of the plastic is left. Over the next 58, this will be halved again meaning 75% is left. This means that after almost 800 years 95% of the plastic is broken down. But plastic doesn’t break down in organic compounds as decaying plant material would. It breaks down into microplastics that will continue to be smaller and smaller where they pollute our environment when they end up in our soils and groundwater. This polluted groundwater is used to make our drinking water but as the microplastics continue to be smaller they can no longer be filtered out and will eventually enter our bodies.

Why to Use Shampoo Bars

Packaging

The packing of a shampoo bar is not plastic but a metal tin, cardboard, or no packaging at all. The former can easily be reused so the next time you need a shampoo bar you can just bring the tin with you and save yourself a package and some waste. The latter is easily recycled or composted if you have the possibilities. In both cases, there is no plastic package polluting our environment when you have run out of your shampoo bar.


Multipurpose

A shampoo bar is nothing more than a cleansing bar. Meaning you don’t have to limit yourself to using it only for your hair. You can also use it for your body. Most shampoo bars have such gentle ingredients that you could even use them on your kids (if you have any). But you don’t even have to limit the use of the shower. During our last camping trip, I forget to bring a dishwashing soap. As I didn’t want to buy a bottle of dishwashing detergent, I choose to use my shampoo bar to clean my dishes.


Compact for travel

A shampoo bar is great to use at home, however, it is even more convenient to use when you are traveling. Its compact size will fit right into your bag with toiletries. It takes up hardly any space and because there is no water in your shampoo bar, it is so much lighter compared to a shampoo bottle, your bag will be much lighter. The best part? There is no risk of exploding a shampoo bottle. We all have experienced it once or twice after a flight that we open our bag and there is shampoo everywhere… As a shampoo bar is not in a bottle and does not contain water, there is no risk of an explosion of your shampoo bar.

Why to Use Shampoo Bars

Long-lasting

A shampoo bar lasts much longer compared to a shampoo bottle. Where it took me about a month to finish a bottle of shampoo, a shampoo bar lasts for months. Using liquid shampoo you can see with each use the amount of shampoo in the bottle degreasing. As most of us have rather long hair and we need a considerable amount of shampoo to completely lather up our hair. When you use a shampoo bar you will only notice it becoming smaller after using one for a couple of weeks. Even then you will notice that you used anything and it will last you for a couple of months more before you completely used up your bar.


Use it to the fullest

Don’t you just hate it when you are almost out of liquid shampoo and you see the very last part of your shampoo just sitting in the bottle but you can’t get it out? This will not be a problem when you are using a shampoo bar as there is no package limiting you from reaching the very last of your shampoo bar. A shampoo bar is completely naked, without a packing, so you will use it completely until you have used it to the fullest and there is simply no shampoo bar left. This way you get the most out of your products for the money you spend on them.

Save Money

I know a shampoo bar is not cheaper compared to a bottle of shampoo however, as I just mentioned a shampoo bar lasts you so much longer. The average shampoo bar costs about 10 dollars/euro. It differs a bit per brand but this is a good average. A shampoo bottle will set you back about 6 dollars/euro. Again some fancy brands will set you back tens of dollars but there are also ones available that cost less than a dollar/euro so 6 dollars/euro is a good average.

If a shampoo bar lasts you about 3 months the costs for 3 months will be 10 while the costs for shampoo bottles are 6x3=18 dollar/euro. Which is almost double the cost of a shampoo bar. So even though a shampoo bar per piece is more expensive because it lasts so much longer, it will be cheaper in the long run.

Why to Use Shampoo Bars

No water

Did you that a regular shampoo bottle contains only about 10-15% active ingredients? The remaining 80-85% is water. Meaning each shampoo bottle you see in your local drugstore, lots of water has been transported. This contributes to an enormous amount of fossil fuels which are needed to transport all these bottles from the manufacturer (which could be anywhere in the world) to a distribution center and then to your local drugstore. A shampoo bar does not contain water meaning a lot less weight is transported. Not only that, you can transport so many more shampoo bars compared to liquid shampoo bottles in a truck. As a shampoo bar is so much more compact compared to a shampoo bottle.


Concentrated ingredientes

Don’t let the small size of a shampoo bar fool you. The compact size is mainly a result of not adding water to the shampoo, it doesn’t mean there are no functional ingredients. In fact, the ingredients in shampoo bars are much more concentrated compared to liquid shampoo. The cleansing and nourishing ingredients are not diluted with water meaning they will be used to their full potential.


Gentle cleaning

Shampoo bottles often contain sulfates because of their strong cleansing properties (sodium laureate sulfate (SLS) is a well-known example of this). These are required as shampoo is diluted with lots of water. A big downside of this is that they strip your hair and scalp for all their natural oils that keep your hair healthy. Regular shampoo bottles also often contain silicone that forms a layer on your have to make it smooth. This is needed as the previously mentioned sulfates just stripped your hair.

A shampoo bar uses much gentler ingredients like Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (the noodle-like things you usually see in a shampoo bar). This is a very gentle cleansing agent just like another ingredient that is often used; Cocamidopropyl Betaine. The latter is often used in baby shampoo because it is so gentle.

Why to Use Shampoo Bars

Natural ingredients

Next to very gently cleansing agents, a shampoo bar often has a lot more nursing agents like natural oils and butters. Because is shampoo bar is lots of powders, natural butter is often used to bring all the ingredients together so you can mold them into a bar form. This is not just for the convenience of bar making, they choose a specific natural butter that also benefits your hair. Cocoa butter or shea butter are often used but more fancy brands may opt to go for mango butter or capuchu butter. Instead of perfume, shampoo bars often are either not scented at all, or essential oils are used to give the bars a natural scent.


Cruelty-free/vegan

A liquid shampoo is often tested on animals and even the individual ingredients used in the shampoo are often also tested on animals. Not only that, animal-derived ingredients are not uncommon the find in your liquid shampoo bottles like keratin or silk. Producers of shampoo bars often care more about the ingredients they use and the impact they have. Therefore, most shampoo bars are cruelty-free and vegan. However, there are shampoo bars that use beeswax instead of natural butter so pay attention to this if a vegan bar is important to you.


Fewer preservatives

Preservatives are needed in products that contain water because bacteria and other microorganisms need water to grow in. As a shampoo bar does not contain any water, there is less need for a high amount of preservatives. There will still be preservatives present as a shampoo bar is used in an environment with lots of water however, the type of preservative is different. As shampoo bar producers often care much more about the environment, often a preservative is chosen that is much gentler for both you and the environment. The latter is needed because when we use our shampoo, the shampoo runs down the drain which can affect our soil and groundwater.

bathroom products - How to use a Shampoo Bar

Lower carbon footprint ingredients

Not only the lightweight product that a shampoo bar lowers the carbon footprint of the product. Also, the ingredients chosen for in the shampoo bar have a much lower carbon footprint as they are often more natural. Natural ingredients are often less processed (which requires lots of fuels) meaning the end product is also less processed and has a lower carbon footprint compared to shampoo bottles.


Minimal bathroom

This may be a benefit that does not apply to all but a shampoo bar give a much cleaner and minimal look to your bathroom. This gives your bathroom a more tranquil look making your shower experience more serene.


FAQ about Shampoo Bars

How often should you use a shampoo bar?

A shampoo bar can be used just as frequently as a regular liquid shampoo. However, shampooing your hair less frequently will not only save you lots of water and energy, but it is also much better for your hair as the natural oils are stripped from your hair less frequently.


How long does it take for hair to adjust to the shampoo bar?

I never experience a transition period when switching to a shampoo bar. This can be different for you as it depends on your hair and the product you previously used. If you live in an area with hard water it may take a little longer before your hair is used to the new treatment.

bathroom - How to use a Shampoo Bar

Do I need to rinse with baking soda?

You often read about a pre-rinse with a baking soda and water mix. I don’t like to use baking soda direct on my skin as it has a rather pH of about 9 while our skin has a pH of about 5. I have very sensitive skin and this cause a rash on my skin because baking soda is too aggressive for me. So I don’t do this when shampooing my hair and my shampoo bar still works great for me.

I also don’t rinse with apple cider vinegar afterward. This is used to bring the ph of your scalp back down after a baking soda rinse. As I did not do this, the apple cider vinegar rinse is also not necessary.


What are the disadvantages of a shampoo bar?


More expensive

A shampoo bar is more expensive compared to a bottle of liquid shampoo. However, a shampoo bar will last you much longer compared to a bottle which means in the long run, it may be cheaper.


Takes some time to get used to

A shampoo bar works a little differently compared to liquid shampoo and it takes some getting used to before both you and your hair are comfortable with the new treatment. Don’t give up after 1 try and give your hair a couple of weeks to experiment and see if it likes the new treatment.


More about Shampoos

Comments


Do you use

Unpaper Towels?

Unpaper towels - zero waste etsy shop

Visit our shop with over 50 different prints of reusable kitchen towels. These not only look super cut but they are also very eco-friendly and save you money.

Valinda - Natural Parenting Blog - Eco-friendly mom - Cloth diaper - sustainable pregnancy

Meet Valinda

Hi there, I am the founder of the green and happy mom blog and green and happy shop. After battling severe depression, I am determined to make the world a little better and I want to take you along that journey with me. 

Free Ebook?

ebook side bar.png

Free Ebook?

ebook side bar.png
zws banner-1.png
bottom of page