The #1 Way to Ditch Plastic in the Bathroom

The #1 Way to Ditch Plastic in the Bathroom
7 Minute Read.

About a year ago, I made the switch from the liquid shampoo I’d been using all my life to a shampoo bar. And let me tell you, it’s literally one of the easiest eco swaps I’ve ever made. For me, the main benefit here is the packaging. You see, by switching from a shampoo that comes in a plastic bottle to one that comes in a paper wrapper, I’ve eliminated countless plastic bottles from going to the trash or recycling.

 

So what exactly are shampoo bars?

It’s shampoo. Plain and simple. But instead of coming in liquid form and packaged in a single-use plastic bottle, it comes in a solid bar, just like your soap. Usually, it’s wrapped in paper or cardboard, but if you’re lucky, you can find it in a local store completely package-free!

 

Did you know the average American goes through 198 bottles of shampoo in their life?

 

Think about that for a sec. That number could be ZERO if you switched to a shampoo bar. It’s really that simple. And aside from the benefit of less packaging, there’s also a slew of other reasons why shampoo bars kick liquid shampoo to the curb:

 

1) More $$$ in your wallet.

Did you know that liquid shampoo is actually about 80% water and 20% shampoo? That’s right, you’re paying a big fat premium for 1/5 of what you actually thought you were buying.

Shampoo bars, on the other hand, are like buying a mammoth bottle of concentrated shampoo. For every 1 shampoo bar, you’re avoiding 2-3 bottles of that liquid junk, saving you trips to the store and keeping your money where it should be—in your wallet.

 

2) It’ll be your new gym (& travel) buddy.

Since shampoo bars are so compact, they’re perfect for washing your hair after that sweaty spin class or when you’re traveling and don’t wanna worry about TSA liquid restrictions. Plus, there’s no risk of it leaking all over your bag since there’s nothing to spill!

An image of a marbled shampoo bar in a metal travel case

 

3) Better for you. Better for the planet.

Most shampoo bars are made by small batch businesses that believe in integrity and quality. They carefully select ingredients that clean your hair without stripping it of its natural oils (which is exactly what liquid shampoos do). And they often choose sustainably sourced ingredients that don’t pollute or harm the planet or its wildlife. With that said, I want you to know what to look for when buying your first shampoo bar, as there are a few ingredients you may want to avoid.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask the dirty questions.

 

1. Is it made with SLS?

SLS (a.k.a. sodium laurel sulfate) is a skin irritant and an additive that’s not so good for the fishies when it washes down your drain. Most liquid shampoos contain SLS because it’s what gives it the suds you’re so used to seeing. But many shampoo bars are intentionally made without SLS because of its harmful effects on your skin and on marine life. The thing about SLS is that it actually has no effect on the cleaning power of your shampoo, so it’s not even a necessary ingredient . . . at all!

 

2. Does it have Palm Oil?

Palm Oil itself is not a bad thing, but the harvesting of most palm oil involves the mass destruction of rain forests, ecosystems and wildlife (including my spirit animal: the orangutan). Some companies choose to use sustainably harvested palm oil, in which case it’s free of what I mentioned above. But to be honest, I’ve heard mixed things about sustainably harvested palm-oil, and with so much B.S. on the internet these days, it’s hard to know what’s the real truth. Because of this, I try to avoid palm oil even if its sustainably harvested. You just never know.

Another thing to keep in mind is: palm oil can be labelled under many different names depending on which industry its used in. Here’s a list of names commonly used for palm oil, so you can keep an eye out when looking at the ingredients of your shampoo bar.

So now that you have the facts and know the benefits, you can use up that bottle of shampoo in your shower till every last drop of watered-down goop is gone. Then, try switching to one of these babies!

 

Ethique Shampoo Bars

An image of Ethique Heali Kiwi Shampoo Bars

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty free
  • Palm oil free
  • SLS free
  • Certified B-Corp
  • Price range: $14-16 bucks
  • Available on Amazon

J.R. Liggett’s Shampoo Bars

An image of 3 J.R. Liggett's Shampoo Bars in Tea Tree, Jojoba and Peppermint, and Coconut and Argan Oil

  • Vegan
  • Palm oil free
  • SLS free
  • Non-GMO
  • No synthetic fragrances
  • Price range: $5-7 bucks (depending on where you buy it)
  • Made in New Hampshire, USA
  • Available on Amazon, Whole Foods and many natural/health food stores

Dulse & Rugosa Shampoo Bars

Image of 3 Dulse & Rugosa Seaweed Shampoo Bars

  • Vegan
  • Palm oil free
  • SLS free
  • Cruelty Free
  • Price range: $12-15 bucks depending on which bar you get
  • Hand Made from seaweed in Maine, USA
  • Packaged in 100% recycled tissue paper
  • Available directly through their site. Get 20% off your order using code MAMAECO

Natural Violet Shampoo Bars

An image of unique, hand-crafted shampoo bars.

  • Zero-waste
  • Vegan
  • Palm oil free
  • SLS free
  • Price range: about $5 bucks depending on the bar you choose
  • Made in Virginia, USA
  • Available on Etsy

I also wanted to include a few other shampoo bars that are crowd favorites. Some of these have SLS while others have sustainably harvested palm oil. Considering the other amazing qualities of these bars and the people who make them, those ingredients may or may not be a deal breaker for you. So you can decide which aligns most with your values.

Sappo Hill: cruelty-free, organic, non GMO, SLS-free, plant-based castile shampoo bars; every bar is hand cut in a near zero waste facility in Oregon, USA; uses sustainably harvested palm oil. About $4 bucks a pop.

Apple Valley Natural Soap: organic, small batch, family business in Minnesota, USA. SLS-free; uses sustainably harvested palm oil. $6-7 bucks a pop.

Lush: vegan, cruelty-free, hand made, Palm oil free, ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients. Contains SLS. Package-free when purchased at one of their retail stores. $12 bucks a pop.

 

Image of several different types of shampoo bars on a wooden surface

 


And what about conditioner?

I almost forgot to tell you the best thing about switching to shampoo bars: you only have to condition your hair every 3-4 weeks! I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out for a sec . . .

Remember how I mentioned that shampoo bars don’t strip your hair of its natural oils? Well, the reason you usually have to condition you hair is because the liquid shampoo strips it of all the good stuff. But since shampoo bars don’t do that, you only need to condition your hair every couple of weeks. Craaazzyyyyy I know! But I’ve been washing my hair like this for a year and I ain’t ever going back!

There are conditioner bars that you can buy, but there’s also a really affordable DIY way to do it, which is exactly what I do.

Every 3-4 weeks, I use a homemade apple cider vinegar conditioner after shampooing my hair. You see, some people get a buildup of ‘film’ on their hair after a few weeks of washing with a shampoo bar. It’s kinda hard to explain, but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when it happens. This is your cue to do the apple cider vinegar.

Now, I know this is a totally different way of washing your hair, but once you do it a few times, you’ll see its just as normal as any other way of doing it. And there will be a lot less plastic coming out of your bathroom.

P.S. If you’re looking for more ways to reduce your waste in the bathroom, check out my top 5 bathroom swaps.

 

Image of several different types of shampoo bars

 

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If you have any questions about using a shampoo bar, drop me a comment below. I’d love to help you find something that works for you.

 



6 thoughts on “The #1 Way to Ditch Plastic in the Bathroom”

    • Hey lisa, I just checked out their website and their soaps look awesome! I saw that they also had a shaving soap. Have you tried that one out?

  • I love this easy swap! It makes it so much easier to travel, especially as a uni student as I’m always running around, not quite sure where I’ll land! Having a tin with my soap bar, shampoo bar and shaving soap is an actual life saver! Thank you so much for sharing xx

  • I’m having a lot of trouble with shampoo bars but want to maintain the switch – I’ve been using one for about a month and my hair has lost all its volume/shine and just looks pretty limp, dead, and kind of dirty. Can I get any tips? I’m really trying to stick it out, but it’s hard!

    • Hey Martha,

      Have you tried doing the apple cider vinegar conditioner? It really helps to reinstate that volume and shine and cuts the film that tends to build up after using a shampoo bar for a while. Every 3-4 weeks, I use a homemade apple cider vinegar conditioner after shampooing my hair. Here’s how you do it.

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