What’s the deal with solid shampoo bars?

Solid shampoo is here to save you money – and the planet. But when it comes to properly washing hair and giving you soft, shiny strands do they do the job? Beauty editor Kelsey Ferencak explains how they work and the eight bars you need to try. 

By now it’s likely you’ve seen shampoo bars popping up everywhere. From the grocery aisles to the pharmacy and even your favourite online beauty store. But are they just another beauty gimmick, or can they really give you as decent a wash as your favourite OG shampoo?

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First things first, what is a shampoo bar?

Literally a bar of shampoo, just like soap – it’s solid instead of liquid. But it also means the formulations are likely to be more potent and powerful. According to Brianne West, founder of Ethique, up to 75% of regular shampoo and 95% of conditioner can be made up of water. A bar cuts out all the crap and lasts way longer than it’s fluid counterparts.

RELATED: HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU REALLY BE WASHING YOUR HAIR?

Why choose a bar?

Not only are solid formulations packed with only the ingredients you need, they’re better for the planet, too. Ethique for example, have prevented the manufacture and disposal of more than 10 million plastic containers worldwide since 2012 with the goal of 500 million by the end of 2030. Pretty impressive.

How do I use solid shampoo?

At first, I was skeptical and a tad worried that taking what looks and feels like a bar of soap to my hair would leave me with a knotty, tangled mess and crispy-dried strands. But thankfully that’s not the case. It is important to avoid tugging hair and tangles though, so be sure to properly wet and lather the bar in your hands before applying to the roots in gentle circular motions. Then, use your fingers to wash as normal. Finish with a bar conditioner (yes, they also exist) or your regular conditioner.

How do I find a formula for my hair type?

Most bar shampoos are made up of hydrating and rich oils and butter like coconut and shea, so they’re guaranteed to leave your hair feeling soft and nourished. From there, you can look to key ingredients like essential oils that target scalp issues like dandruff, colour-safe formulas for dyed hair or even gentle options for the whole family.

Try:

The Shampoo Bar, $19 at Seed & Sprout
Coconut, argan oil and shea butter hydrate and smooth, while peppermint, lime and pink grapefruit stimulate the scalp and help to reduce dandruff.

Shampoo Bar, $21.99 at Honua Bars
Provitamin B5, hydrolysed oats and cacao butter work to wrangle and soften unruly, dry locks.

Ethique Pinkalicious Shampoo, $24.95 at Nourished Life
Equivalent to three bottles of liquid shampoo, pH balanced and safe for colour treated strands.

Hydrating Shampoo, $12 at Bar None
Coconut, castor and olive oils leave locks fuller and softer.

Angel Hair Shampoo Bar, $15.95 at Lush
Ideal for those who need a gentle wash. Aquafaba for shine, rose water to soothe and ylang ylang oil stimulates hair growth.

Shampoo With A Purpose The O.G Shampoo, $15 at Flora & Fauna
Saves six bottles from ending up in landfill, this bar is suitable for all hair types.

Freshwater Farm Rosewater Cleansing Shampoo Bar, $12.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Mixes an essential oil blend with rosewater and rich oils for strands that are soft and smell good.

Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar, $28.39 at Adore Beauty
Even luxury hair players are getting in on the solid formulations, this all-natural bar uses aloe vera to hydrate as it cleanses.

All products featured in this article are selected by our editors, who don’t play favourites. If you buy something, we may get a cut of the sale.