Are shampoo bars and hair soap a more sustainable approach to haircare?


As shampoo manufacturers come under pressure to reduce plastic waste, solid hair care products are set to witness a boom. Photo: Christin Klose/dpa

Haircare manufacturers are notorious, along with much of the beauty industry, for their plastic waste, and every year countless shampoo containers are transported across continents only to end up on landfills after they are used up.

But a wave of sustainability is finally poised to sweep the industry. Solid haircare products are becoming an increasingly common sight in chemists and boutique shops.

The benefit is that they typically come without plastic packaging and are more environmentally friendly to produce and ship than their liquid counterparts as they contain no water and take up little space.

What’s the difference between hair soap and shampoo bars? And how do you use them properly?

The majority of sustainable shampoo bar and hair soap makers pride themselves on the fact that their products contain no preservatives and need little to no plastic packaging.

This rosemary mint bar of soap is meant only for your hair, and because of they way it's produced, it means far less plastic waste. Photo: Timm Schamberger/dpaThis rosemary mint bar of soap is meant only for your hair, and because of they way it's produced, it means far less plastic waste. Photo: Timm Schamberger/dpa

Hair soaps can usually be recognised by the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) list, where you will find ingredients such as sodium hydroxide, sodium palmate, sodium cocoate or sodium olivate.

Solid shampoos often contain cocoa butter or shea butter. Water is simply extracted during production – unlike hair soap, no boiling process is required for solid shampoos.

Another important aspect: hair soap and shampoo bars differ in their pH value, and how acidic or basic the solution is can have an impact on how your hair feels after rinsing.

While shampoo bars usually have a neutral value, hair soaps are more basic with a pH value between 8.5 and 9.5.

Applying hair soap, therefore, leads to the opening of the hair structure, which consequently becomes more prone to limescale from the water.

If you find this is a problem, experts recommend rinsing with a mixture of some household vinegar and water. This way you prevent a greasy film from forming on your hair after using hair soap. – dpa

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beauty , haircare , sustainability


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