What to Know Before Switching to Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Soap

Just when you thought the movement toward bar soap was slowing down, enter shampoo and conditioner bars. These bottle-free alternatives diminish plastic waste while promising 100 washes without crowding your shower shelf. Intrigued by its eco-friendly nature, yet skeptical of its ability to fully cleanse and moisturize, I decided to give hair bar soap a go.

Photo: ©Milles Studio / Stocksy

Here are the good, the interesting, and the unexpected parts of swapping out traditional hair care for bar soap to decide if the switch is right for you.

The Good

Coming from a naturally curly hair perspective, I entered my bar soap journey with very low expectations. I couldn’t fathom how a small bar of soap could yield enough product to completely clean and moisturize thick hair on the drier side. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

After wetting Kitsch’s clarifying shampoo bar and rubbing between my palms, I worked up enough product to target my scalp. This bar had a mild lather compared to my usual shampoo, which gets really soapy. In fact, low to no lather shampoos are better for curly and dry hair as they don’t strip strands of necessary moisture. Grateful for the little lather, I targeted my scalp and let the excess product flow through the rest of my strands as I rinsed.

Usually my hair needs a major dose of conditioner after shampooing to combat the ensuing dryness. However, my hair felt surprisingly soft and hydrated, which I attribute to the formula’s rich blend of castor oil and essential oils.

Feeling pleasantly surprised by this shampoo experience, I was feeling hopeful about conditioning…

The Interesting

After running the conditioner bar under water and lathering a bit, I instantly knew I was in for a challenge. I couldn’t seem to get any product. This launched a small battle between me versus the bar, as I vigorously scrubbed to extract something I hoped would look like my usual conditioner.

Slowly but surely (and with much patience), the bar began to soften, and I worked up the milky formula. I applied the small amount to my ends, then commenced the lathering process again. It came to a point where I just began running the bar throughout my hair, using a painting motion from root to tip.

Once I felt like I had enough product, I began to detangle. If you don’t detangle your hair prior to showering and rely on a significant amount of conditioner to loosen knots, this bar may not be right for you.

Luckily, I had detangled my strands before showering, which I believe considerably eased the process. Although I didn’t use as much conditioner as usual, my hair retained airy hydration, which I attributed to the bar’s coconut oil and shea butter ingredients.

The Unexpected

I stored the bar in mesh beauty bar bags for proper airflow. However, I also tried drying the bars and storing them back in the original perforated box. I was surprised at how nicely they dried without creating residue.

After using the shampoo bar, I noticed that my hair had softened with a light level of moisture that didn’t weigh down my curls. The sulfate-free, low lather nature of the shampoo bar helped preserve my hair’s natural moisture levels and also thoroughly cleaned my scalp. I came to the realization that it’s time to swap out my bottle of shampoo for this eco-friendly version that actually works better for my hair type.

While I don’t think I can fully break up with my go-to conditioner, I can cut down on use (and save $$) by co-washing with the conditioning bar. Curly hair doesn’t need to be shampooed each time you enter the shower, in fact doing so strips strands of natural oils, leaving hair more prone to breakage. The conditioning bar inspired me to incorporate more co-washes into my routine for lightweight hydration that gives my curls a midweek pick-me-up.

The verdict: If you’re looking for an eco-friendly and economical way to achieve completely cleansed results with balanced hydration (and you have the patience to lather up), give shampoo and conditioner bars a try!