We believe that the ecological transition can genuinely take place across all countries, cultures, and ages. Particularly, if the switch to sustainable products is made more accessible, without too many compromises or additional burdens. Zero Waste Shampoo and conditioner bars are inspiring examples of how simple it can be to opt for environmentally-friendly hair and scalp care.
Our primary goal at Puratium is to raise awareness on the harm our consumption habits do to our planet, but most importantly, how we can do better moving forward:
- Refuse what you do not need, such as goods wrapped in single-use packaging.
- Reduce your trash; by switching to washable containers, for example.
- Reuse what you have in the house: transform, repair, repurpose, recycle whenever feasible.
- Regulate: choose highly-performing and low-waste products. Zero Waste might be trickier at first; however, making a few swaps in each area of the house is an accomplishment.
Zero Waste Shampoo: Our Review
As usual, during our reviews, we indicate the origin of each brand so that you can opt for a shipping option closer to home.
This article mainly focuses on shampoo bars. However, we investigated in another post, in detail, how to take care of your hair in a sustainable manner.
Feel free to have a look here; our DIY serum recipe is included!
Nevertheless, in terms of shampoo bars, these are our favorite options (we use a shampoo and conditioner combo bar). And, we find it easier to use with a soap saver.
However, we understand some of you might prefer a liquid version that ticks all the low waste criteria of a bar. We have, therefore, listed a brand offering refillable shampoo bottles.
Furthermore, if you are vegan, we also have an article on vegan shampoo.
Let’s take a look now at our favorite brands’ Zero Waste Shampoo.
Eco Roots - USA
Due to the price you pay for this handmade shampoo bar, this is one of our favorite options. Only 10 USD for a bar that will allow you to wash your hair about 50 times!
Eco Roots’ shampoo bars are made with entirely plastic-free ingredients, handmade with Plant Extracts & Natural Essential Oils. They will leave your hair soft, clean, and nourished without damaging your natural oils or hair color.
Moreover, they are suitable for all hair types (both men and women) and are coconut oil and cocoa butter based.
Like any other Eco Roots’ products, all their shampoo and conditioner bars are packaged and shipped using zero plastic, and only recyclable or up-cyclable materials (cardboard boxes or envelopes, cornstarch peanuts to protect the product, etc.).
They donate part of their benefits to Ocean Conservancy, as protecting the planet from plastic damage was one of the first motivations that got them started in Colorado in early 2019.
Last but not least, we particularly like these Zero Waste shampoo bars for their stylish colors!
No worries though, they do not use any synthetic dye for their products, but instead dried flower powder for coloring.
Beauty Kubes - U.K.
We are huge fans of this brand for its wide range of plastic-free, palm-free, and sulfate-free shampoos.
They offer men targeted shampoos and have a diversified offer: sensitive skin, reasonable to dry hair, oily hair, and even a unisex shampoo.
On the design aspect, be aware that their products are handmade with the help of specialized equipment.
And their Cornwall manufacturing facility is powered by green energy, i.e., from solar and wind turbines.
We particularly like the use of mini cubes; each perfectly formed ‘Kube’ is enough for one round of hair wash. Concretely, when you buy one box, this should be the equivalent of a 300 ml bottle of conventional shampoo (27 in each box).
The way they wrap the Kubes is straightforward: “100% plastic-free, plant-based, home compostable film derived from the cellulose of wood pulp.”
Their Zero Waste shampoo bar is gentle with your hair and scalp and creates a luxurious lather that will leave your hair super soft and shiny.
Lastly, we find it super handy that you can first choose a sample-sized pack containing three plastic free Beauty Kubes shampoo before deciding on the bigger size.
Ethique - New Zealand
Why pay for water? Ethique’s soaps are highly concentrated. Even though their products are not necessarily organic labeled, they do commit to 100% natural ingredients, all being biodegradable.
Thus, no nasty ingredients in their Zero Waste Shampoo, such as parabens, palm oil, petroleum by-products, or synthetic fragrances.
They offer shampoos that will, for sure, fit your style and preferences, namely: oily hair, frizzy hair, curly hair, or if you have dandruff.
You can also opt for a combo Shampoo and Shaving bar.
Ethique’s name is well-chosen (French for Ethical) and ticks all the boxes of a Zero Waste and sustainable brands. Their story and engagements are genuinely inspiring.
Their packaging, shipping boxes, and padding do not contain any laminates and plastic (including their packing tape!). Thus, they are compostable and will disintegrate in a matter of months.
There are often some concerns regarding carton packaging and the impact of forests (see below section on what is sustainable packaging). Rest assured, Ethique’s packages are ethically sourced, i.e., made in N.Z. from PEFC-certified paper stock from sustainably sourced forestry.
Last but not least, this Zero Waste Brand donates 20% of their profits to conservation, animal welfare, and environmental groups. Transparency, nature protection, and efficient products: this is Ethique, ethically taking care of your hair and scalp.
Plaine - USA
Did you know that the shampoo bottles thrown out every year in the U.S. could fill the equivalent of 1,164 football fields?
Plaine was created by two sisters (Lindsey and Alison Delaplaine), who had a dream to make it easier for everyone to use a little less plastic in their lives.
They have been committed to offering sustainable packaging thanks to the use of aluminum bottles.
Aluminum can be recycled several times without any loss of quality. Moreover, recycling aluminum is beneficial as it helps conserve energy and other natural resources.
Thus, it requires around 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than to produce the primary metal in the first place.
Plaine will, therefore, use these aluminum bottles over and over again, thanks to an easy clean and sterilization between each use. They work with an efficient refillable program that is detailed here.
Lastly, their palm oil-free, chemical-free products are not only tested by the two sisters but also their entire circle of friends and family!
And, they run all ingredients through the Environmental Working Group database to ensure that they are safe and non-toxic.
We recommend this sustainable brand, as it not only cares about the packaging of the bottles itself, but also the whole shipping process.
Their partner, EcoEnclose, does not use any new materials in the manufacturing of their shipping cartons.
Lastly, please note that their shampoo’s main ingredient is Organic Aloe Vera, and not water, as it is the case for most conventional shampoo and conditioner products.
Did you know that Aloe contains 75 nutrients? That includes 8-essential amino acids as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, and E.
This partially explains the price: 30 USD. Other than that, it is a unique, nutrient shampoo made of vitamin-rich plants. All ingredients are blended and manufactured with care in Florida.
Hammonds Herbs - USA
We particularly like this shampoo bar for its P.H. balanced label: thus, their Zero Waste Shampoo bar has a P.H. of 5, which is crucial in the long run: any hair care product should test between a pH of 4.5 and 5.5.
Why? Hair has a pH of around 5. If you use a shampoo bar that has a pH way outside of this range, it could damage your hair after a while.
We also recommend their Nettle Mint Meadow shampoo bar for its subtle minty fragrance; additionally, their use of Certified Organic Essential Oils is systematic for their products.
Their shampoo bars are palm oil-free, sulfate-free, and guaranteed with natural ingredients only, to allow you to take care of your hair correctly.
They are biodegradable, grey water safe, and suitable for vegans.
Zero Waste Shampoo bars: instructions and tips
If you are unsure of how to use and store your shampoo and conditioner bars, here are a few precautions.
Bear in mind that if used correctly, one concentrated bar of 100% naturally-derived ingredients can last just as long as three bottles of liquid shampoo (or 5 of conditioners!):
- Make sure to let the bar dry out in between uses. Otherwise, it will not last long. Using a well-draining soap dish or a soap saver can help further in that regard.
- Create lather in your hands by gently rubbing the wet bar in between your fingers. Avoid applying the bar directly on your scalp. Shampoo bars are concentrated versions of liquid shampoos; they get ‘activated’ by becoming in contact with water. It will, therefore, be more natural to massage your hair and scalp.
- Rinse abundantly to avoid any film or residue.
- Use a conditioner if need be: apply similarly but only the ends of your hair. Leave for two or three minutes, then rinse.
DIY Eco-friendly Shampoo
In our experience, shampoo is similar to sunscreen in terms of precision and expertise needed. If you are just starting your eco-journey, we recommend that you first purchase products from trustworthy brands.
There are a lot of DIY shampoo recipes circulating on the Internet, and each of them seems more controversial than the other for different reasons:
- Risk of bacteria and mold to grow due to the lack of adequate preservatives.
- Imbalanced P.H. level which can cause more breaking and tangling.
- Effective cleansing of your hair without removing the beneficial lipids.
- Incorrect measurements that could leave you hear dirtier or oilier than before washing.
As such, we are not against DIY recipes when it comes to cosmetics and lotions. However, read extensively on the topic before giving it a try.
The multi-award-winning School of Natural Skincare International gives detailed, educating explanations on each of the controversial recipes they found online.
Zero Waste Conditioner
If you have long hair, or damaged hair, or both, you might want to add a Zero Waste Conditioner in your shower:
- The simple solution is to go for shampoo and conditioner bars. We are big fans of the Eco Roots 2 in 1 version: it will be of great help in case of over-processed, damaged hair. The bar is enriched with organic cocoa, shea, and mango butter that nourish your hair. The coconut milk will have a soothing effect on your scalp and has anti-frizz properties.
- You can also give it a go with a separate conditioner bar: Hammond Herbs Premium Bar smells like a springtime meadow and will not weigh your hair down. It is free of synthetic fragrances and is ethically sourced, locally made in Oregon, USA. It is straightforward to use and is suitable for all hair types, including colored hair.
Zero Waste Dry Shampoo
A last-minute invitation and lacking time to do your hair correctly? Try our DIY Dry Shampoo recipe. Easy and affordable, it will allow you to have a set without entering the shower. You only need two ingredients:
- Mix organic arrowroot powder with either cinnamon (light hair) or cocoa powder (brown hair).
- The ratio is three portions of arrowroot for one piece of cinnamon or cocoa powder.
- Store in a sealed container with a wide opening.
- Apply on your roots with a make-up brush.
Why Switch Away from Conventional Shampoos?
Did you know how problematic plastic packaging is, especially in the case of cosmetics?
Every year, it is estimated that 80 billion bottles of shampoo and conditioner alone are tossed.
Conventional liquid shampoo bottles come in plastic packaging, plastic that is rarely correctly recycled or adequately thrown away.
Thus, research shows that there is only about 10% of plastic being recycled each year worldwide.
This means that about 80 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic that harms marine life since they ingest microplastics.
If you would like to understand in more detail why single-use plastic is to be avoided at all costs, have a look here.
Unfortunately, it is well known that if we do no change our consumption habits soon, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.
Switching to ethically sourced shampoo and conditioner bars is a great start. Starting an eco-friendly, low waste journey is feasible.
Sustainable Packaging As A First Step
Bearing in mind the above number, and whether you are a liquid shampoo addict or not, opt for sustainable packaging. Namely:
- Biodegradable containers such as cardboard: if you are unsure whether to recycle or compost cardboards, there is a consensus that composting seems like a better option. Moreover, composting is even beneficial for the ground. While recycling cardboard requires a lot of water and chemicals(recycling plants are one of the biggest polluters of water) in the U.S, composting is positive in the sense that it breaks down into non-toxic, organic matter. However, this means that you need to cut more trees to be able to produce new cardboard. Therefore, make sure to opt for FSC-certified cardboard, i.e., sourced from forests managed sustainably.
- Packaging made of recycled material; bear in mind that recycling is not the answer to pollution, but is at least better than single-use packaging.
- Packaging that you can reuse for years, such as refillable tins. To the question: where can you find shampoo in bulk? You can bring these types of refillable containers to your farmers’ market or local organic shop, and fill them in with the relevant goods and liquids (including oils and shampoos!). However, make sure to read the label and instructions carefully. Namely, there are toxic ingredients to avoid, such as parabens and SLS.
- The best option and all-time winner being, NO packaging at all. Zero Waste, full stop. This is easily feasible if you make your products at home, or if you buy them locally (bring your containers!). Less transport, no shipping. And, minimal pollution before or after the creation of the product (if truly locally made, of course).
We hope this 360 review on Zero Waste shampoo and conditioner bars helped you make the best choice for you and your loved ones’ hair types.
Not only are they gentle for your hair and scalp, but the ingredients used by the sustainable brands described above are also environmentally friendly.
Do not hesitate to raise awareness of plastic bottles’ pollution and why reducing Waste is crucial. For example, offering a shampoo bar is an original Zero Waste gift!
And, let us spread the word #giveupthebottle! And remember, if going full DIY mode is a bit difficult, make sure to select products with the right packaging.