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What makes a great shampoo bar?

Shampoo bars are becoming increasingly popular as we seek to reduce plastic waste and become more environmentally friendly. It also helps that shampoo bars are formulated to last longer than your traditional liquid shampoo, and many shampoo bars outperform liquid shampoo too. But what makes a great shampoo bar?  

Ingredients in shampoo bars

The most crucial ingredient in any shampoo bar is the surfactant, which helps to cleanse the hair and scalp by breaking down oil and dirt. However, many traditional surfactants can be harsh and stripping, leading to dryness and damage. Look for shampoo bars that contain mild surfactants such as sodium cocoyl isethionate, decyl glucoside, or sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (not to be confused with sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsher surfactant).

Many shampoo bars contain nourishing oils like coconut, almond, or shea butter. These oils help to moisturise and soften the hair, leaving it feeling silky and smooth.

Shea butter shampoo bars

Essential oils not only provide a pleasant scent, but they can also provide additional benefits for the hair and scalp. Tea tree oil, for example, has antimicrobial properties that can help to combat dandruff and other scalp conditions. Lavender oil can help to promote hair growth and reduce hair loss.

Finally, a great shampoo bar should be free of harmful additives such as sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. These ingredients can be harsh on the hair and scalp and negatively affect overall health.

pH balance shampoo bars

A great shampoo bar should have a pH balance similar to your scalp's natural pH level. This will help to keep your hair and scalp healthy and balanced and prevent irritation and dryness.

The natural pH of hair and scalp is slightly acidic, typically between 4.5 and 5.5. When the pH of a shampoo is too alkaline, it can disrupt the natural balance of the hair and scalp, leading to dryness, breakage, and other issues.

A great shampoo bar should be formulated with a pH that is balanced for the hair and scalp.  

A ph neutral beaker

It's worth noting that not all shampoo bars are created equal when it comes to pH balance. Some may be too alkaline or acidic, so it's important to read labels and research to find a shampoo bar that is right for you.  

Please also note that natural soap bars are unsuitable as shampoo bars. Soaps are naturally high in alkali, so make sure you are not using natural soap bars on your hair. To read more about soap versus shampoo bars, read here. 

By choosing a pH balanced shampoo bar, you can help to maintain the health and integrity of your hair and scalp, and ensure that your hair stays looking and feeling its best. 


The lather of a shampoo bar is important for effectively cleaning your hair. Look for bars that create a rich lather when rubbed between your hands or on your hair.  

One of the main benefits of lathering is that it helps to evenly distribute the shampoo throughout your hair. This ensures that every strand gets clean and no areas are left untreated. When you apply shampoo to wet hair, the lather helps to break down oil and dirt, making it easier to rinse away. 

Another benefit of lather is that it can help to remove build-up from the scalp and hair. If you use styling products or live in an area with hard water, it's common to experience build-up on your hair and scalp. The lather can help remove this build-up, leaving your hair fresh and clean. 

A woman washing her hair with a shampoo bar, lots of lather and bubble on her hair

While lather isn't always necessary for effective cleansing, it can be an indicator that the shampoo is working. If a shampoo bar produces little to no lather, it may not be effectively cleaning your hair and scalp. A great shampoo bar should produce a moderate amount of lather, indicating that it's doing its job. 

Finally, lather can add to the sensory experience of washing your hair. Many people, including myself, enjoy the feeling of a rich lather on their scalp, which makes the hair-washing process more enjoyable. This is especially true if the shampoo bar is scented with essential oils, which can provide an added sensory experience. 

Moisturising properties in shampoo bars

When it comes to looking after our hair, moisture is key. Dry, brittle hair is prone to breakage and can be difficult to style, whereas hair that is properly moisturised is more manageable, healthier, and shinier. That's why a great shampoo bar should have moisturising properties. 

Hair that lacks moisture is more prone to breakage, split ends, and frizz. Moisturised hair, on the other hand, is stronger, more flexible, and less likely to break. A shampoo bar with moisturising properties can help replenish your hair's moisture, making it stronger and less prone to breakage. 

A dry, itchy scalp can be uncomfortable and even painful. Moisture is key to maintaining a healthy scalp, and a great shampoo bar with moisturising properties can help to soothe a dry, itchy scalp. Ingredients like Vitamin Pro B5, shea butter, and almond oil can help to hydrate the scalp and reduce inflammation. 

Sustainable packaging 

Sustainability has become an increasingly important topic in recent years, and for good reason. As consumers become more conscious of their impact on the environment, they are looking for ways to reduce waste and make more sustainable choices. This includes choosing products with sustainable packaging, such as shampoo bars.  

One of the biggest benefits of sustainable packaging is that it helps to reduce plastic waste. Traditional liquid shampoos often come in plastic bottles that are not recyclable and end up in landfills or polluting our oceans. On the other hand, shampoo bars can be packaged in sustainable materials such as paper, cardboard, or even metal tins, which are easier to recycle or biodegrade.

Sustainable packaging can also help to lower the carbon footprint of a product. The production of plastic bottles requires a significant amount of energy and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. By choosing shampoo bars with sustainable packaging, you can help to reduce the carbon footprint of your hair care routine. 

The ultimate 8 shampoo bars wrapped in sustainable packaging 

When you choose shampoo bars with sustainable packaging, you support eco-friendly brands prioritising sustainability in their products. These brands often use natural and biodegradable ingredients and packaging materials that are recyclable or compostable. By supporting these brands, you are helping to promote a more sustainable future. 

Sustainable packaging for shampoo bars can also be more convenient than traditional plastic bottles. Many shampoo bars come in compact and lightweight packaging, making them easy to travel with or store in small spaces. 

To view our amazing shampoo bars, view our full collections here.

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