This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.As you might already know if you have read my blog before, I lean to the crunchy side of things. I love things that don’t create waste and that don’t have toxic chemicals in them. Things made from NATURAL ingredients.
My latest zero waste swap that has made a BIG impact and has been a BIG success is switching to a shampoo bar instead of bottled liquid shampoo. I’m going to tell you all the details that I’ve learned during the process so hopefully you won’t wait any longer to make the switch, too!
What is so eco-friendly about a shampoo bar?
Personally, I made the switch to a solid bar for shampoo to eliminate the plastic waste that goes along with traditional liquid shampoo. Think of all the plastic that goes into the recycling bin every time you finish up a bottle of your shampoo. It adds up!
On the contrary, many shampoo bars come packaged in paper or cardboard, which can be recycled but will biodegrade on its own even if not recycled. You can even add paper or cardboard packaging to your compost if you have it, eliminating the waste altogether!
Back at the beginning of this summer, I took a look at products that I use regularly and thought about what changes I could make that would produce less waste. Switching to a shampoo bar seemed like a no-brainer, especially once I realized how many options are available! Using less plastic has its own appeal, but I also loved what I found in the ingredients of what has become my shampoo bar of choice.
My Shampoo Bar: The Yellow Bird Shampoo Bar
My go-to place to shop is Amazon since I’m a Prime member and I get most things inside of two days. I think it’s important to try to shop as local as possible even on Amazon, so I was looking for a shampoo bar that was made in the USA. And I found it!
The Yellow Bird company is a maker of family skincare products in the USA. Their products are handmade in small batches, manufactured locally, and they use organic, high-quality ingredients. Ingredients like organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, and essential oils. No parabens. No sulfates. Nothing petroleum-based. None of those ingredients that we know we should avoid but that sometimes seem to be in everything.
The company actually says in their mission statement that they developed their products in part because of family skin sensitivities to chemicals. This really resonated with me since members of my own family have been known to break out in hives after using a new lotion or laundry detergent.
The current packaging that the shampoo bar comes in is a cardboard clamshell style box. (I have actually saved the box and used it with a hair tie to keep it closed for a travel soap case! It works perfectly!)
The Yellow Bird makes two varieties of shampoo bars: peppermint and grapefruit, rosemary & lavender. I opted for the grapefruit, rosemary & lavender one, and it smells so lovely that I ordered it again for my second bar when I needed a replacement. I’m sure the peppermint one is awesome, too, though, since they use essential oils to scent the bars. *ETA: I purchased the peppermint shampoo bar for my husband for Christmas, and it smells amazing! It is so refreshing and invigorating in the shower in the morning…he loves it. *As of April 2020, there is another new scent available in the shampoo bar: Eucalyptus Tea Tree. I’m currently trying it out and really love the crisp, clean scent! I still think my favorite is the Grapefruit, Rosemary & Lavender, though.
Speaking of replacement, these bars last a long time! I typically wash my hair every day, and this bar lasted me about four months! I keep mine on a soap dish in the shower so it can dry out between uses.
A little about my hair…so you know who you’re getting your info from
So first, you should know that I have always had fine, thin hair. When people complain about their gobs of hair and what a pain it is to straighten/dry/curl/pull it back…yeah, I can’t relate. If only I could have such problems.
Because of my less than ideal hair, I have always spent quite a bit of money on shampoo and conditioner, splurging for high-end products promising volume, body, and fullness. I’m not a person who can use Pantene and have my hair look decent. Using something like that always weighs my hair down, making it look greasy and flat.
The other thing about my hair is that I have always been awestruck when I hear someone say they go two or three days between hair washings. My hair looks like it hasn’t been shampooed in a week after barely 24 hours. Another curse of fine, thin hair. If you have it, too, then you know what I’m talking about.
Given my hair situation, I have to admit that I did not have high hopes that I would be able to stick with using a shampoo bar on my hair. My hair just takes so much effort to look decent. But it was definitely worth the try given that I’m highly motivated to cut down on plastic. So that’s what I did.
How to use a shampoo bar
I wasn’t really clear on how exactly a shampoo bar was going to work when I bought it. Luckily, The Yellow Bird includes with their shampoo bar a little instruction sheet filling you in. You can either lather the bar in your hands and then apply to your hair, or you can glide the wet bar across your wet hair and then lather. I find it simpler to just swipe the bar right across my hair. Then, you just shampoo like you normally would and rinse. You can repeat if you like. A shampoo bar definitely produces less lather than a regular liquid shampoo (largely because it has no sulfates), but this bar does lather well.
After the first shampoo, my hair felt great. It felt super clean, fuller than normal, and was easy to comb out without using a detangler. That’s unheard of for my fine, thin hair!
What about conditioner?
The Yellow Bird and most other natural shampoo bar brands recommend you use an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse after shampooing. All you do is mix up a diluted water/ACV solution, apply to your hair after shampooing, and then rinse out. The ratio doesn’t need to be exact, but most recommendations call for 1-2 tablespoons of ACV in 1 cup of water.
FYI: The vinegar smell 100% goes away once your hair is dry. I like to add a few drops of rosemary essential oil and lavender essential oil to my rinse. Rosemary oil is thought to help stimulate hair growth, and lavender oil can be used to condition hair.*
I have experimented with using different methods to get the rinse onto my hair. I eventually settled on using a repurposed spray bottle that I keep in the shower and simply spray it onto my hair. It seems to last a lot longer and it is just easier than trying to pour the rinse on my hair or squirt it on.
I find that after shampooing with The Yellow Bird shampoo bars followed by the ACV rinse, my tangle-prone hair is very easy to comb out (easier than it ever was with traditional shampoo & conditioner).
You may have heard about there being a transition period when you switch to using a shampoo bar, and that is not a lie. Within 2-3 days of switching to the shampoo bar, I started to notice my hair looking really greasy only a few hours after washing. It was different than normally oily hair. It was more like if you applied hair wax or some other heavy product way too much to your roots.
The Yellow Bird actually warns you that there will be this awkward transition period while your hair adjusts to the new shampoo, so I was prepared for it. But I really did look like I hadn’t washed my hair in a month for several days!
Here are the things that got me through this period in well under a week.
- Dry shampoo to my roots
- Brushing with a natural bristle brush to distribute the heaviness
- NOT over-washing my hair (being patient)
- Putting my hair up in a bun
Now that I’ve been using a shampoo bar going on 5 months…
I love it! I have not been tempted to switch back to liquid in the least because my hair feels so much better using a shampoo bar. Over time my hair has continued to feel fuller with more body. I think this is because it doesn’t have the residue of traditional shampoos and conditioners weighing it down anymore.
After the initial transition period, my hair has become much more normal than oily, and I can easily go two days without needing to wash my hair. Crazy! I’ve also noticed less breakage. Maybe my hair is just healthier, maybe it is less tangly when I comb it out…whichever is the reason for fewer of my hairs snapping, I’ll take it!
Important note if you have very hard water…
The ONLY negative that I have encountered while using a shampoo bar has happened when I have traveled. The water where I live is naturally extremely hard, so we have a water softener installed in our home. As I’ve said, the shampoo bar works beautifully and lathers nicely with our water (which is softened.)
However, when I have vacationed to areas that have hard water, I have run into some trouble after a couple days of hair-washing. My hair has started to feel weighed down and look greasy, similar to the transition period that happens when you first switch to a shampoo bar.
Because of this, if you live in an area that has extremely hard water, I would recommend that you keep this in mind as you start out with a shampoo bar. If you have hard water where you live and you can’t seem to get past the “transition” stage after a week or so, it’s probably the minerals in your water.
You can install an inexpensive water filter on your shower head as an easy fix for this. Plus, soft water is much gentler on your hair and skin, so this would be a smart thing to do anyway if you have hard water.
What are you waiting for?
Switching from bottled shampoo to a shampoo bar is a healthy change you can make to reduce the waste you produce while also reducing the toxins you put yourself in contact with. If you’re considering it, I definitely recommend you just go for it!
Update as of April 2020: I’m coming up on 2 years since switching to the Yellowbird Shampoo Bars, and love my hair more than ever. I actually cut bangs in the fall and am now growing my hair long, neither of which I could have pulled off before switching from bottled shampoo!