A complete guide on how to use and store shampoo bars

When deciding to start using a shampoo or conditioner bar, you might be confused as to how to actually use it at first – but it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think.

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If you’re looking to reduce your plastic waste or go zero waste at all, then one of the swaps you can make is to switch to using shampoo and conditioner bars instead of bottles. Using solid shower bars is also a lot more cost efficient as they are highly concentrated and don’t contain water in the product – compared to you average shampoo bottle that’s 80% water!

What to know when switching to shampoo bars

Single use plastics are taking over the planet

Over the years, we’ve all become blind to just how much plastic products we buy and throw away every year because it’s such a versatile material – it’s incorporated into almost everything we own, from furniture, clothing, and electronics.

Annually the world produces around 400 million tonnes of plastic waste, and only 9% of it is recycled. Shampoo and conditioner bottles add to this total, especially when it’s likely that you use a whole bottle every month and then throw out the old bottle when you get a new one.

Shampoo bars cut out buying water

When buying bottles of shampoo, you’re actually mainly paying for the water and the chemicals to preserve it. Shampoo bottles are full of around 80% water, and conditioner bottles are around 95% water.

The emissions to transport shampoo bottle is also a lot higher as there is a lot of wasted space in the containers (due to the shape of the bottles) and since the bottles are larger less can be transported in one container – which can mean that multiple containers might need to be shipped in order to meet stock estimates.

By buying shampoo bars, you’re not paying for the water in the products, and they’re also considerably smaller in size (most bars are the size of your palm compared to the length of your forearm for bottles) which means that higher quantities of the product can be shipped at one time.

Bars last much longer and save money

Considering you use and store them well (we’ll get to that soon), your average shampoo bar can last as long as 2-3 350ml sized bottles, and conditioner bars can last between 3-5 bottles.

Due to the bars lasting much longer, you actually save money due to only having to buy a bar every 2-3 months compared to once a month. They also take up far less space in your bathroom, which means it’s more aesthetically pleasing and creates less clutter.

How to use shampoo bars

Okay so let’s get to the main reason why you’re here – how do you use shampoo bars? It’s actually a lot more simpler than you’d think because it’s basically the same as using liquid shampoo.

  1. Make sure your hair is nice and wet before you start
  2. Wet your shampoo bar – this will help the bar to start dissolve, but you want to make sure you don’t hold it under the water for more than a few seconds.
  3. Swipe the bar from the roots to the tips of your hair a couple of times
  4. Put the bar somewhere dry before you move on – either an in-shower container or a flannel outside the shower works, but don’t just leave it in your shower!
  5. Rub the shampoo into your hair to lather up
  6. Rinse and then do conditioner!

Conditioner bars are relatively the same process – swipe the bar across your hair, give it a good massage, leave for a few minutes to soak in and then rinse!

How to store shampoo bars

Storing your shampoo and conditioner bars sensibly is the best way to make sure they last for as long as they’re intended to.

One of the main things to remember is you don’t want to leave your bars in the bottom of your shower or a pool of water. Ever. This will make your bars dissolve so much quicker – and if you share your shower with multiple people, your bar will be half gone by the time you take your next shower!

You can get loads of different ways to store your bars in your shower. You can get trays or racks so they can dry out and breathe in between washes, or Ethique do their own in-shower containers which keep the bars dry and covered in between uses.

You could also make your own tray out of a square/rectangle tin or container and rubber bands or hair ties (crisscross them across the open container) which the bars can sit on – which is great for travelling too!

Another way to store your shampoo and conditioner bars is to keep them on a flannel outside your shower. This method stops them from getting wet after being used, and is also really helpful when you live with other people. Just put the flannel on your windowsill or dresser when you’re done so they can dry out.

If you’re looking for more sustainable swap guides, you should check out my post on why you should get a safety razor too!

What to do with shampoo bars scraps

Once your shampoo or conditioner bar has reached the end of its life – you’ll know as it gets so thin that you can easily snap it, don’t throw it away as you can still use it!

One thing you can do with the small pieces is store them in a soap saver pouch. This is basically just a little drawstring pouch that you store your soap ends in, and then use it in the shower as an exfoliate and body wash! You could also make your own from cotton fabric if you wanted to. I wouldn’t recommend using the pouch to wash your hair with, as the friction from the bag can damage your hair.

Another thing you could do is make a soap ball. This where you get two pieces of shampoo bar (or other kinds of bars) and squish them together in the palm of your hand until you form a ball. You can also do this when you have an old piece of shampoo and a new bar of the same kind – just wet them both in shower, squish them together, and they should merge together into one bar.

Shampoo brands to look out for

If you’re new to shampoo bars and looking for different brands to try, here are a few of my recommendations! Some brands work differently for each person, so don’t be put off if the first brand doesn’t work well for you and your hair.

Lush

Lush is a brand that you’ve most likely heard of, and is also available in many countries too. They do loads of different shampoo bars which are great for different hair kinds. My favourite is the Seanik shampoo bar as it has seaweed and sea salt in it which adds volume to your hair.

Ethique

My personal favourite brand – Ethique has an amazing range of shampoo and conditioner bars and all come completely plastic free. Each of their products are clearly labelled as to what kind of hair they’re best for – from oily or dry hair to fine and curly hair. You can also get mini bars which are great for trying out the brand for a fraction of the price, as well as having trial packs of multiple minis for specific hair types.

My favourites are the St Clements shampoo bar as my hair can be a little oily sometimes, as well as their Wonderbar conditioner bar, which makes my hair feel really soft after washing.

Faith in Nature

Another really accessible brand is Faith in Nature. They’re completely vegan and cruelty free, as well as their bars being plastic free (they also sell bottled shampoos and refills too). Most of their shampoo bars are suitable for all hair types, but there is also a few that work for dry hair too – like their Coconut and Shea Butter shampoo bar.

My favourite of theirs is the Dragon Fruit shampoo bar, as it just smells so so good, as well as lathering up really well too!

EarthKind

One brand I’m quite new to is EarthKind – they have a handful of bars for different hair types, as well as coloured hair too. All of their bars are vegan, cruelty free, as well as being plastic free. They also make conditioner bars, as well as having metal travel tins for storage!

I use the Citrus Leaf shampoo bar, which is good if you have oily hair.

Foamie

Foamie is another shampoo bar brand that’s been around for a while now. Their range of shampoo bars include ones for dry, damaged, oily, anti-dandruff, and a silver shampoo bar for blonde hair. They’re vegan, cruelty free, and plastic free – including their hanging cord which is made from cotton! These are great little bars if you have somewhere to hang them in your bathroom if you share with others, and they even sell little travel sized bars which are good for trying out the brand too.

I hope this guide helped you out with learning how to use a shampoo bar, or even convinced you to get one yourself! What’s your favourite brand of shampoo bars?

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