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colourful selection of handmade shampoo bars

10 of the best shampoo bars of 2022

15 Nov 2021 • 2 min read

Shampoo bars are making their way into the mainstream, with more of us ditching the plastic bottles in favour of these handy cleansers.

Are shampoo bars really that beneficial? Are they the future of hair-washing – and do they work as well as regular shampoo?

Let’s find out.

What is a shampoo bar?

A shampoo bar is a compact bar of compressed shampoo. They look like a bar of soap – but unlike regular soap, they’re packed with ingredients which nourish the hair and scalp rather than drying them out.

Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, clarifying fruit oils like orange oil, and herbal extracts such as lavender work together to gently cleanse hair and scalp without stripping the natural oils from your lengths.

Conditioner bars are also available, which have all the nourishing properties of bottled conditioner in a bar. Shampoo bars sometimes include a built-in conditioner, further streamlining your grooming routine.

Did you know that liquid shampoo wasn’t even invented until the 1920’s? Yes – it turns out that our hair- washing ‘normal’ is only around a century old.1

How to use a shampoo bar

It might feel a little strange to break the hair-washing habit of a lifetime but trust us – it couldn’t be simpler.

Step 1

With wet hands, rub the shampoo bar between your palms for a few moments until it begins to lather.

Step 2

Massage the suds into your scalp and hair. If your shampoo bar doesn’t contain a foaming agent (like sodium laurel sulphate), it may not create much of a lather. Don’t worry, it’s still doing an excellent job of cleaning your hair and scalp.

You could also gently massage the shampoo bar into your scalp area.

We don’t recommend rubbing the lengths of your hair with the bar, as this can create friction and lead to damage and split ends.

Step 3

Rinse thoroughly. Follow with conditioner – unless you’ve chosen one of the shampoo and conditioner bars. In which case – you’re good to go!

How well do shampoo bars work?

A natural shampoo bar is just as good as bottled shampoo, and as a result more people are making the switch. Here are 10 benefits of shampoo bars:

10 benefits of using a shampoo bar

Why use a solid shampoo bar instead of bottled shampoo? Here are our top 10 reasons.

  1. They’re kind to the environment

Brits throw away around 520 million plastic shampoo bottles every year.2 Many of these won’t be recycled, meaning tons of plastic are being added to landfills every year just to keep our hair clean.

Shampoo bars come with plastic-free, minimalist packaging – usually recyclable cardboard – which makes shampoo bars a choice.

  1. They save water

It takes a lot of water to produce one bottle of shampoo. Think about it – shampoo itself is made up mostly of water and water is also used in the production of plastic). So, by switching to bars, you’re helping save water.

  1. Fewer synthetic chemicals

Organic shampoo bars are developed using only natural ingredients and don’t usually contain synthetic chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and aluminium salts.3

This is great news for anyone trying to reduce the use of potentially harmful ingredients in their personal care.

  1. Last longer

One small bar is equivalent to three regular sized bottles of shampoo. This means you don’t have to stock up on shampoo as frequently.

  1. You save money

Having to buy less shampoo obviously leads to big savings! With one bar lasting up to 80 washes, you might only need to buy one or two bars each year (depending on how often you wash your hair).

  1. You can travel with them

During your next trip, plan to pack a shampoo bar. They’re light, spill-proof, and you don’t need to worry about hand luggage liquid restrictions.

  1. They save space

Your bathroom shelf is probably home to a fair amount of clutter. Unlike bulky bottles, a shampoo bar take up next to no room on your shelf or shower organiser.

  1. A little goes a long way

You don’t have to worry about being wasteful with shampoo bars – as you just use the lather to wash your hair, it’s hard to use too much the way we do with liquid shampoo.

  1. They smell amazing

Shampoo bars contain concentrated plant butters, essential oils and herbal extracts which unsurprisingly smell wonderful – unlike the chemical scent of some liquid shampoos.

  1. They won’t spill

We’ve all experienced a bottle of shampoo with a loose cap which tips and spills over our bathtub/ cabinet/ overnight bag. No chance of that with a shampoo bar!

Are shampoo bars as effective?

Yes – shampoo bars work well to cleanse the hair and scalp. Once you’ve seen the results of shampoo bars for yourself, you may never go back to the liquid version.

Some shampoo bars don’t have the same bubbly lather as liquid shampoo, which is why some people find it hard to adjust.

This is down to the absence of sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) in many shampoo bars – a surfactant which removes grease and dirt.4

SLS is considered safe to use, but some people find it irritates sensitive skin and prefer to avoid it.

How should you look after your shampoo bar?

We recommend investing in a shampoo bar tin or another in-shower container to protect your shampoo bar, ensure it stays dry between uses and lasts longer.

Choose a plastic-free waterproof container, such as this one by Ethique which is made from bamboo and corn starch.

Ethique Pink Bamboo In-Shower Container

Last updated: 6 April 2021


Manisha Taggar


Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019

BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science

Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.

After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

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