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Do Shampoo Bars Work?

July 14, 2021 5 min read

Do Shampoo Bars Work?

“Do shampoo bars work?”

We get this question a lot at The Earthling Co., and we can hardly blame people for asking. After all, shampoo bars do sound a little too good to be true — they cut down on plastic waste, make ideal travel companions and are generally more affordable than liquid shampoo. On top of all that, solid shampoo bars are often made with natural ingredients that are good for your hair and the planet.

But like any hair care product on the market, not all shampoo bars are created equal. As these trendy bars continue to go mainstream, more and more companies are capitalizing on the trend by developing their own shampoo bar formulas — and let’s just say not all of them are winners.

So, do shampoo bars work? The short answer is yes, but only if you choose the right shampoo bar for your hair. Scroll on to get the full bar breakdown.

Shop Our Plastic-Free  Shampoo Bars


Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

What Are Shampoo Bars?

When you purchase liquid shampoo, the liquid is made up of about 80-90% water. So when you are using a shampoo bar, it is a highly concentrated and compact version of shampoo. First popularized during the 1940s, these solid cleansers have made a huge comeback lately as brands become more aware of packaging waste. But unlike shampoo bars from yesteryear, modern shampoo bars are formulated with natural ingredients that wash away buildup without stripping your hair’s natural oils. The end result is a sudsy puck that is kinder to both your strands and the environment. Plus, switching to eco-friendly shampoo bars means you won’t have to deal with recycling empty bottles of shampoo. It’s a win for you and the planet!

Do All Shampoo Bars Work the Same?

No, shampoo bars do not all work the same. Like traditional shampoo, there are shampoo bars for dry hair, thin hair, color-treated hair, oily hair, fine hair, curly hair — the list goes on and on.

Regardless of your hair type, choosing a pH-balanced shampoo bar is essential to getting healthy, luscious locks. Using a shampoo bar with a high pH can throw your hair and scalp pH out of sync, which research shows can result in a flaky scalp and dry, frizzy strands.

Some shampoo bars on the market have a pH range as high as 9. (For reference, the pH of hair is normally between 4.5 and 5.) However, studies show that shampoos with a lower pH — like our shampoo bars, which have a pH level of 4 to 5.5 — can go a long way in preserving the softness and shine of hair.

What Else Should I Look for in a Shampoo Bar?


an assortment of soap bars lined up by color

If you’re worried about the pH of your hair and scalp, we suggest nixing sulfates from your shampoo. One of the reasons why sulfates are so drying is because they contain detergents, which strip your hair’s oils and leave behind an alkaline residue.

Instead, look for a sulfate-free shampoo bar with hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, which has a fairly neutral pH (around 6 or 7), and apricot oil, which helps promote a healthy mane and scalp. Choosing a high-quality product with a neutral pH is especially vital if you have hard water. If your shampoo isn’t pH balanced, you may have a hard time getting it to lather properly because of the minerals in your water.

For great hair, we also recommend avoiding sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), preservatives, artificial fragrances and silicones. At best, these ingredients do nothing for hair health, and at worst, they can cause severe damage to your scalp and hair. Look for nourishing ingredients, like plant oils (argan, jojoba, etc.), aloe, hemp and essential oils, to prevent breakage, frizz and tangles while keeping your hair looking beautiful.

How Do You Use Shampoo Bars?

Don’t worry — figuring out how to use a shampoo bar is fairly simple. While there are several ways to use a shampoo bar, one of the easiest ways is to rub it between wet hands, create a lather and scrub like you normally would with liquid shampoo. It may take a bit of practice to get used to using these unique hair products, but we promise it won’t take long to get the hang of it. And once you do, you won’t want to switch back to plastic bottles!

For best results, we recommend following up with one of our hydrating conditioner bars. Packed with highly-concentrated ingredients that promote silky-smooth strands, our conditioner bars have a pH of 5 to 5.5 to match your hair’s natural pH level.

Shop Our Conditioner Bars

Our conditioner bars pair perfectly with shampoo bars. They come in a variety of formulas to meet the needs of different hair types. Our products are highly concentrated and contain nourishing ingredients that give your hair moisture and shine without any harmful ingredients. They’re even gentle enough to use on curly and color-treated hair.

Are Solid Hair Products Safe for Curly Hair?

Yes! Because our solid shampoos and conditioners are made using only natural ingredients and are free of SLS, parabens, preservatives, silicones and fillers, they are safe for all hair types – including curly. In fact, our bars are Curly Girl Method-friendly. They’re even safe for color-treated hair.

Got Any Tips for Beginners?

a woman shampooing her hair

Yes! Here are a few tips to help you get the most of your shampoo bar:

  • Don’t expect tons of lather. You don’t need tons of suds to get your hair clean. In fact, all the lather that regular shampoo creates has little to do with cleaning. It’s just the SLS, which isn’t good for your hair. If your hair is super sudsy when using SLS-free shampoo bars, you’re probably using too much. A little bit goes a long way!
  • Keep your shampoo bar on a soap lift — like our wooden soap dish — to extend the lifespan of your bar.
  • Let your bar dry in-between washes by taking it out of the shower. This will help prevent it from turning into a mushy mess.
  • When your shampoo bar gets small, use our Sisal Soap Saver Bag to use up every last bit of your bar.
  • There is a transition period when switching to solid hair care products. Don’t give up on your shampoo and conditioner bars if they don’t make your hair feel amazing after the first use. It’s normal for your hair to feel a bit waxy or even greasy after the first wash or two. Stick with it for a week or so to give your hair a chance to adjust to the new products. 

So, Do Shampoo Bars Work?

In general, yes, shampoo bars definitely work. However, keep in mind that it may take some time to find a shampoo bar that meets the unique needs of your hair.

If you want to skip the trial and error part of finding the perfect shampoo bar, we encourage you to try one of our shampoo bars. Manufactured with the best plant-based ingredients and scented with natural oils, our pH-balanced shampoo bars work wonders on all hair types. (If you don’t believe us, check out our reviews!)

Additionally, your purchase helps the environment by reducing plastic waste. Not only are the bars themselves plastic-free, but we also ship plastic-free! We also carbon offset your package, so you can be kinder to both your hair and the planet.

What can we say? We like to set the (shampoo) bar high. Give one a try today and let us know what you think!