15 Reasons Why to Use Shampoo Bars
Updated: Nov 25
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, there are lots of benefits of a shampoo bar. It is more eco-friendly, more gentle for you and the environment, and lasts you for ages. However, if a shampoo bar is still not for you, as you prefer liquid shampoo, chose a brand that gives you the option to refill the bottles. This saves you lots of plastic packaging. DIYing shampoo is obviously also an option if that is for you.