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12 best shampoo bars that really work

Minimise your carbon footprint and maximise your good hair days with an eco-friendly shampoo bar.

By Louise Baty | Last updated Feb 3, 2022

woman washing hair in shower with shampoo

If you’ve already switched to reusable cotton makeup remover pads and reusable sanitary pads, you may be wondering if there are any other ethical choices you can make when it comes to your daily routine.

Well, how about ditching that collection of plastic shampoo bottles clogging up your shower for starters?

The good news is that it’s easy to make a positive change to the planet and to your haircare routine by switching to an eco-friendly shampoo bar. 

These clever little bars look just like soap but they’re formulated to clean your locks rather than your skin. Shampoo bars use less packaging than your usual bottle of liquid shampoo, reducing your plastic waste.

A decent solid shampoo bar may also be better for your hair than regular bottled shampoo, as most are free from harsh sodium lauryl sulphates (SLS), meaning they won't strip your hair of natural oils - unlike many liquid shampoos.

Increasingly, ethically-minded Mumsnetters (with fabulous hair) are making the change to shampoo bars, confirmed by the many threads discussing this subject on our Style and Beauty forum. 

We’ve rounded up the best shampoo bars - used, loved and recommended by Mumsnetters.

1. Best overall shampoo bar: Ethique Beauty Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar

The Ethique Beauty Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar

Price: £12.99 for 110g | Buy now from Amazon

“Best I've found is Ethique. I find Ethique leaves my hair feeling much better, and [the bars are] less crumbly as well. I really like how my hair looks and feels since I switched - it seems to be much silkier.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user OooPourUsACupLove)

“Ethique shampoo bars are great - and they do a conditioner one too. Both smell delicious.” (Rated by Mumsnet user RedPandaFluff)

Available in a wide range of scents and formulas, you should find an Ethique Beauty Shampoo Bar to suit your hair type. Ethique Beauty Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar, which contains grapefruit and vanilla, is designed for normal hair while the Coconut Frizz Wrangler is ideal for smoothing frizzy locks. The Ethique Oaty Delicious for Little Ones is the best shampoo bar for kids that we’ve found.

All Ethique shampoo bars are plastic-free, soap-free, pH-balanced, vegan, cruelty-free, fair-trade and sustainable. They’re also free from nasties including parabens, petroleum by-products, palm oil, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde donors and other chemical ingredients. And if you have coloured hair, don’t fret - all Ethique bars are safe for you to use. 

At more than four times the price of the best budget shampoo bar on our recommendations list, this shampoo bar isn’t a cheap option by any stretch. However, as one bar is equivalent to three bottles of liquid shampoo, it will last you a while. Reviewers who’ve tried other shampoo bar brands say that Ethique knocks the socks off the competition and that your ‘transition’ phase won’t last so long either.

2. Best budget shampoo bar: Friendly Soap Shampoo Bar, Lavender and Tea Tree

Friendly Soap Shampoo Bar

Price: £5.17 for 95g | Buy now from Amazon

“The Friendly Soap Company. Very good shampoo [and] amazing conditioner.” (Vetted by Munsnet user Disfordarkchocolate)

This long-lasting shampoo bar contains coconut oil, castor oil and olive oil for a gentle lather that cleans and nourishes your hair and scalp. Each soap also contains a combination of essential oils such as the squeaky-clean scented Lavender and Tea Tree blend or the subtly fragranced Lavender and Geranium option. 

Friendly Soap is a low-carbon West Yorkshire company staffed by people in the UK on a living wage. This shampoo bar is 100% biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free, and also free of parabens, SLS phthalates, triclosan and palm oil. 

Although Friendly Soap shampoo bars are suited to all hair types, Mumsnetters praise them for being particularly good at adding oomph to thin, lank locks. But it’s worth thinking about the transition phase - when your follicles are adjusting to a natural shampoo without detergents and can overproduce sebum making your roots appear greasy. Some reviewers say that this transition phase can last longer with this shampoo bar than with more expensive options such as the Ethique Beauty Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar.

3. Best shampoo bar for sensitive skin: Simply Soaps Hemp Hair and Body Shampoo Bar

Simply Soaps Shampoo Bar

Price: £3.25 for 110g | Buy now from Big Green Smile

“My DH has a sensitive scalp and has been using a hemp shampoo soap bar by a small company called Simply Soaps for several years. We buy it online and totally recommend it. We all use it now. Lasts ages. Recently they've made it palm oil-free and it's in a compostable wrapper.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user mrsdiddlydoo)

Did you know the healing properties of hemp oil are particularly suited to soothing damaged hair and skin? This 100% natural and organic shampoo bar contains nutrient-rich essential fatty acids along with cleansing tea tree oil and may chang essential oils for reducing grease.

As a company, Simply Soaps ticks all the eco-friendly boxes you’d hope for including  sustainable and 100% natural ingredients which support organic and local agriculture, compostable packaging and solar energy to make the products.

As this hemp hair and body shampoo is a handy all-in-one product suitable for all skin and hair types, you’ll only need one bar instead of a multitude of plastic bottles. Bathroom declutter gone in an instant.

4. Best shampoo bar for brunette hair: Funky Soap Fairtrade Coffee Shampoo Bar

Funky Soap Fairtrade Coffee Shampoo Bar

Price: From £5.20 for 120g | Buy now from Amazon

“Funky Soap here for shampoo and conditioner.”  (Recommended by Mumsnet user OakleyStreetisnotinChelsea)

If you’re looking for a shampoo soap bar to boost your natural brunette tones or nurture your lowlights or balayage, call off the search! Funky Soap offers many different blends of shampoo bar including colour-enhancing shampoo for different shades.

The Fairtrade Coffee Shampoo Bar from Funky Soap is ideal for brunettes. Containing coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and cocoa butter for moisture, fresh fairtrade Puro coffee will add oomph, depth and shine to your brunette locks. However, it does contain palm oil, although it’s labelled as ‘sustainable palm oil’ if that makes a difference to you. 

While most Funky Soap shampoo bars, including The Fairtrade Coffee Shampoo Bar, are suitable for vegans, some of the bars in their range contain milk or honey and so are clearly labelled as vegetarian. Mumsnetters also particularly rate the Sea Kelp and Rhassoul Clay Shampoo Bar for leaving hair soft, clean, bouncy, oil-free and smelling lovely. It’s great value as you get a large, chunky bar for your money.

5. Best shampoo bar for fine hair: Aussie Koality Volume Mate! Vegan Shampoo Bar

Aussie Koality Volume Mate! Shampoo Bar

Price: £9.99 for 85g | Buy now from Boots

This dinky koala-shaped shampoo bar from haircare brand, Aussie, doesn’t just look adorable. Reviewers say that the koala shape makes it easier to grip in the bath or shower too. 

Containing 98% natural ingredients and packaged in a recyclable cardboard box, the Aussie Koality Shampoo Bar should last as long as two bottles of liquid shampoo. 

Aussie is a trusted haircare name - Mumsnetters love the shine and volume enhancing formulations. Independent reviewers praise Aussie shampoo bars for leaving fine hair soft, shiny and full of volume and bounce, and for performing as well as traditional Aussie liquid shampoos. 

However, one drawback is that this shampoo bar is more expensive than most other shampoo bars in our round-up. And while the ribbon hook is handy for storing the bar in the shower, it produces extra waste once you’ve finished your bar - unless you use it to tie up that freshly-washed hair of yours, of course. 

6. Best shampoo bar for curly hair: Little Soap Company Eco Warrior Deeply Nourishing Shampoo Bar

Little Soap Company Eco Warrior Deeply Nourishing Shampoo Bar

Price: £4.50 | Buy now from Boots

“I have used Little Soap Company. My hair is in great condition and the shampoo bar is fab.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user il0vew1ne)

Little Soap Company declares their nourishing shampoo bar from the Eco Warrior range to be ‘curly girl method’-friendly. So whether you’re looking to define your ringlets or boost your bounce, this shampoo bar from Little Soap Company won’t disappoint. It also works for other hair types so it’s worth a try even if you have poker straight locks.

At 100g - bigger than many shampoo bars on the market - it’s great value for money. It’s also cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, as are all products from this ethical British brand. Little Soap Company produces bar versions of other bathroom essentials including body wash, shaving foam and facial wash. 

Lathering easily into a smooth, gentle lather, this shampoo bar contains cleansing and moisturising pink clay and has a fresh orange and ginger scent thanks to the essential oils. Little Soap Company also promises a zero transition phase so you can swap straight from liquid shampoo to this shampoo bar without having to faff with cider vinegar rinses.

One downside? It contains palm oil, albeit from a ‘sustainable source,’ which may or may not be a deal-breaker for you.

7. Best shampoo for greasy hair: grüum Hår Zero Plastic Nourishing Shampoo Bar

grüum Hår Zero Plastic Nourishing Shampoo Bar

Price: £8 for 50g | Buy now from Lookfantastic

“I have very greasy hair that always looked greasy at the end of the day. I have recently started using grüum bar shampoo and it is great. Hair doesn’t look greasy at the end of the day. Only taken 40-odd years to find something!” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Zebee)

Totally free from plastic and chemical nasties and made in England, the grüum Hår Zero Plastic Nourishing Shampoo Bar will give you up to 60 hair washes. With its gentle coconut extract scent, this 100% natural shampoo bar thoroughly cleanses to reduce oiliness at the roots so it’s great for fine, lank hair prone to greasiness. 

However, it’s moisturising too and won’t strip your hair of its natural oils as so many liquid shampoo formulations tend to do. At only 50g, it’s smaller than some shampoo bars but Mumsnetters praise it for lasting ages and for being gentle enough for kids too. The brand also offers a Zero Plastic Nourishing Conditioner Bar.

This confirmed grüum convert enthused on our forums: “Shampoo bar has lasted me a couple of months with sometimes daily use. I’m still on my first bar of conditioner. Wouldn’t ever go back to bottles of shampoo and conditioner.” 

8. Best shampoo bar for afro hair: J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo, Jojoba and Peppermint

J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo

Price: £9.99 for 99g | Buy now from Amazon

The family behind J.R. Liggett says that most people don’t realise that their usual cosmetics are full of chemicals. In contrast, they describe their brand as “people-friendly, animal-friendly and earth-friendly.”

The Liggett family has been producing organic, chemical-free products on their farm in Cornish, New England for the last 40 years. They used a traditional fashioned formula discovered in an old cookbook to make this vegan-friendly shampoo bar. 

The J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo Bar contains refreshing jojoba and peppermint oils along with olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil and fresh New Hampshire spring water. Gentle on both hair and skin, this SLS-free shampoo bar is ideal for all hair types but is particularly suited to afro hair thanks to its nurturing, non-drying properties. 

Reviewers say this reasonably-priced shampoo bar lathers well and cleans quickly and effectively without stripping hair of its natural moisture. It’s quite expensive but you get a substantial sized bar for the price.

9. Best shampoo bar for damaged hair: Garnier Ultimate Blends Honey Shampoo Bar

Garnier Ultimate Blends Honey Shampoo Bar

Price: £3.99 for 60g | Buy now from Amazon

“I've got a Garnier Ultimate Blends one that lathers well.” (Rated by Mumsnet user ufucoffee)

Reasonably priced and from a brand name most people will recognise, this Delicate Oat Softening Shampoo Bar from Garnier is suited to damaged hair thanks to the nurturing formula. Contained in a recyclable cardboard box, it’s billed as creating zero plastic waste and 94% plant-based.

Reviewers praise this tear-shaped shampoo bar for being easy to hold and for creating a quick, foamy lather while also being easy to rinse out. It’s also rated for offering as effective a wash as Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat softening liquid shampoo.

It’s a relatively small bar but the brand promises that it will last up to two months (depending on how you use it, of course). If this is the case, it’s great value for money.  

10. Best shampoo bar for dry hair: Faith in Nature Coconut and Shea Butter Shampoo Bar

Faith in Nature Shampoo Bar

Price: £4.49 for 85g | Buy now from Amazon

“I've tried a few. The best so far is the Faith in Nature Coconut and Shea Butter one.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user seaweedhead)

Packed full of moisturising, soothing ingredients such as coconut and shea butter, this 100% natural shampoo bar is plastic-free and also free from chemicals including parabens and SLS. 

It’s not only Vegan Society Approved but also approved by discerning Mumsnetters who rate it for being cruelty-free and for not leaving a greasy residue on your hair, as some bar shampoos can do during the transition stage. 

Some reviewers say that it’s soft and gentle enough to also double up as a cleansing body wash - which means even less clutter in your shower cubicle!

11. Best shampoo bar for hard water: Beauty Kubes Shampoo Bar

Beauty Kubes shampoo bar

Price: £9.50 for 120g | Buy now from Natural Collection

“Beauty Kubes, especially if you are in a hard water area. Many of the others are only suitable for softer water. I tried many, many shampoo bars.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Cakeonthefloor)

Some shampoo bars perform better in soft water as they lather and rinse more effectively, leaving less residue. So if you’re in a hard water area, it can be a challenge to get the best out of your shampoo bar. 

Thankfully, Beauty Kubes laugh in the face of hard water and lather up a storm too. Each box contains 27 little shampoo cubes measuring 1.5cm x 1.5cm x 1.5cm - equivalent to a 250/300ml bottle of shampoo. They’re the best travel shampoo bar we’ve found - just pop one or two tiny cubes in your hand luggage and you’re off.

Suitable for those with normal to dry hair, Beauty Kubes produce a lovely lather, even in hard water, leaving your hair soft and smelling of rose extract and coconut milk. Meadowfoam seed oil boosts hair follicles and promotes hair growth and moisture while palmarosa oil reduces grease at the roots.

Free from plastic, palm oil, parabens, SLS, phthalates, triclosan and sulphates, they’re cruelty-free and vegan-friendly - the ideal ethical hair care choice. 

12. Best shampoo bar for eczema: The Little Goat Soap Company Shampoo Bar

The Little Goat Soap Company Shampoo Bar

Price: £5.30 for 100g | Buy now from Amazon

“I like The Little Goat Soap Company. Shampoo bars are lovely.”  (Rated by Mumsnet user Azerothi)

“Second this. I really like them. My sister also uses their products and says they are great for her eczema.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Sapphire387)

Designed to soothe eczema and psoriasis, this gentle shampoo bar is also ideal for those who suffer with an itchy scalp. The Little Goat Soap Company produces this handmade all-natural shampoo bar in Oxfordshire using raw milk from their own goats. This, of course, means that unlike many of the shampoo bars in our round-up, it’s not suitable for vegans.

However it’s free from artificial colourings and fragrances as well as nasties including parabens, petrochemicals, SLS and phthalates. Reviewers say that it gives a thorough clean without drying delicate skin or hair. It easily lathers, leaving the hair with body, bounce and shine. However some say that it left a residue, leaving their hair a little waxy during the transition period.

What are the benefits of using a shampoo bar?

In addition to the obvious environmental perks such as a big reduction in plastic waste, switching to a shampoo bar has plenty of personal benefits too. Shampoo bars are suitable for all hair types and lengths, and most are sulphate-free, meaning they won't strip your hair of natural oils like shampoos with SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) do.

Can shampoo bars damage hair?

Most people find using shampoo bars improves the health of their hair and scalp, stimulating faster growth, reducing dandruff, and making their hair more shiny and less frizzy. They also help to re-balance your hair's production of natural oils, meaning that after the initial transition period, you’ll be able to wash your hair less often (hooray). Plus, switching to solid shampoo is good for your wallet too, since one bar can last you as long as three bottles of liquid shampoo.

Can you use a shampoo bar everyday?

You can wash your hair with a shampoo bar every day if your hair type and life style requires it but you may find that your hair needs to be washed less frequently than that. 

How do I wash my hair with a shampoo bar?

Washing with solid shampoo is slightly different from using traditional liquid shampoos. You may find that your new shampoo bar doesn't lather up in the same way, but this is normal. 

As long as you spread it all through your hair and rinse it well, it will do its job. Solid shampoo is also more concentrated, so you’ll find that you need less product per wash.

  1. Comb out your hair while it’s still dry. This will help make it easier to apply the shampoo evenly and minimise tangles.
  2. Wet your hair thoroughly and run the bar under water.
  3. You can either gently smooth the shampoo bar directly onto your hair (going from crown to tips and covering each section), or lather the bar in your hands first and then apply it to your hair.
  4. Spread the lather on your scalp from front to back, and onto the strands from top to bottom, using your fingers as a comb. You want to work with the natural direction of hair growth – so try not to use circular motion on the scalp, as this will cause unnecessary tangles.
  5. Rinse your hair thoroughly until there’s no more residue left. The rinsing may take up more time than the lathering.

Make your own apple cider vinegar rinse

If you're new to shampoo bars, or live in a hard water area, it's recommended you use an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse after the shampoo wash. The ACV helps restore your hair's pH balance, detangles, and adds softness and shine to your locks. It also works as a natural remedy for dandruff, as a plus. To make your own ACV rinse:

  1. Dilute one to two tablespoons into 250ml of water. You will need to experiment with the amount depending on hair length and thickness, but use less to begin with and work your way up to four tablespoons if needed.
  2. With your head tilted back, slowly pour the rinse over your scalp and allow it to run down the length of your hair. Be careful not to get any in your eyes.
  3. Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing with water (preferably cool water, as this helps to add shine).
  4. Use the ACV rinse once or twice a week. If you're washing your hair more often than that, you can just use cool water to seal the moisture in your hair after the shampoo wash.

If you're concerned your hair will smell like a chip shop, don't worry – the smell of the ACV doesn't linger after you rinse it out with water.

Do you need to use conditioner with a shampoo bar?

Shampoo bars generally don’t contain the chemicals you find in standard bottled shampoos. So you may find that your hair is less dry and brittle once you transition to a natural shampoo bar, which may result in you not needing a conditioner. That said, if you feel that your hair would benefit from conditioning, you can buy conditioner bars such as Ethique The Guardian Conditioner Bar.

How long does it take for hair to adjust to a shampoo bar? 

When you switch from using traditional liquid shampoos (and the chemicals they typically contain) to a natural shampoo bar, your hair may need some time to adjust and re-balance its natural production of oils. This may mean your scalp and hair might become more oily or dry, or that you see an increase in frizz and tangles. Don't panic – this is just temporary. 

The transition period can last from a week to several weeks depending on how damaged your hair is and how frequently you've used chemical products. The best thing you can do for your hair during this time is not over-wash it (so definitely don't shampoo it every day). Instead, allow the oils to penetrate your hair, and using a paddle brush, regularly give it a good brushing to spread the oils from the scalp all the way to the ends.

Try to be patient during the transition period because – as Mumsnetters who've been there say below – the payoff is well worth a few bad hair days.

How to store your shampoo bar

With the exception of the Aussie Koality Volume Mate! Shampoo Bar, which comes with its own ribbon loop so you can hang it on a hook in your bathroom, you’ll have to think about how to store your shampoo bar. 

Leaving your shampoo bar in a closed plastic soap dish in your bathroom or shower can lead to it dissolving or crumbling more quickly. But this Mumsnetter offers helpful advice: “To make them last longer, we use hessian-style bags to store ours in rather than a tin. We hang the bags up in the shower. It's made a big difference in how long the bars last. In the tubs they often end up being stored wet and they go a funny texture.”

What is the best shampoo bar?

The Ethique Beauty Pinkalicious Shampoo Bar is the best shampoo bar according to Mumsnetters and independent reviewers. There’s no transition stage with this shampoo bar so you can switch straight from liquid shampoo with minimal fuss and it will still leave your hair clean, shiny, soft and smelling gorgeous.

How we chose our recommendations

We understand that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from other people who have tried out shampoo bars for themselves. So we first headed to our Mumsnet Style and Beauty forums to find out which shampoo bars had been tried out and rated by Mumsnetters who know their stuff when it comes to haircare.

We also did some extensive research across the wider web, checking out recommendations from review sites, reading eco beauty blogs and watching eco beauty vlogger reviews to see which shampoo bars they loved. 

We then compared our long list of shampoo bars on the market, looking at cost, value for money, ingredients, eco-friendly features and company ethos, and also checking what consumer reviewers had to say too.

Having collated all that information, we finally picked the 12 shampoo bars that we thought would make the best and most ethical buys. 

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.