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Bar soaps recently had a major moment, reemerging on the beauty scene with more options available than ever before. But while they were stealing the spotlight, there was an unsung hero quietly waiting in the wings—shampoo bars. As is the case with soap, these solid sudsers are poised to give their liquid counterparts a run for their money.
Meet the Expert
“Shampoo bars are a solid form of shampoo usually made from a blend of raw or plant-based ingredients like oils," says stylist April Kayganich, owner of The Curl Whisperer Salon in Austin, Texas and hair care expert for Puracy. Typically made without sulfates and other harsh detergents that are common in liquid formulas, shampoo bars are also lauded for being gentler on the hair and many are very hydrating, too. Yes, rubbing a bar on your head can take some getting used to, but if you're down to make the switch from liquid to solid, these shampoo bars are where it’s at.
Keep scrolling for our picks of the best shampoo bars.
Best Overall: J.R. Liggett's Virgin Coconut & Argan Oil Shampoo Bar
Not only does this contain moisturizing coconut and olive oils, but it also contains strengthening argan oil to help keep your strands long, strong, and healthy. It protects against pollution and UV damage too, thanks to antioxidant-rich vitamin E and sunflower oil. And how cute is the vintage packaging?
What Our Testers Say
"My dandruff issue subsided almost completely—much quicker and more effectively than dandruff shampoo—and the patches of red, flaky skin I was noticing along my hairline and sideburns vanished completely. My black turtlenecks and I are forever grateful to J.R. Liggett." — Jenna Igneri, Product Tester
Best for Colored Hair: Love Beauty And Planet Murumuru Butter and Rose Shampoo Bar
Sulfate-free and ultra-gentle, this newbie is specially made to keep your hue shiny and vibrant and won’t strip color. Using ethically- and naturally-sourced ingredients, it’s also housed in a carton made from 100% recyclable materials. But we’d be remiss to not mention the scent, one of our favorites of all time—it’s the perfect balance of floral and sweet, and will have everyone asking what perfume you’re wearing.
Best for Curly Hair: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Rhassoul Clay Shampoo Bar
Some shampoo bars tend to leave hair tangled, particularly thick and curly hair. Not the case with this one, specially made to leave your spirals soft and full of body and bounce. The mineral-rich bar also has a unique curved edge that makes it super easy to work into your scalp.
Best for Dandruff: Ethique Heali Kiwi Shampoo for Dandruff or Scalp Problems
This brand offers some of the top-rated shampoo bars on Amazon, including this one. It’s 100% soap-free and uses neem and Karanja oils to treat scalp issues; users repeatedly comment on how well it works to fight flakes. Soothing oats combat itchiness, too, and the zero-waste brand places a special emphasis on minimizing their environmental impact, always a good thing.
Best for Dry Hair: Bar None Hydrating Shampoo Bar
Cocoa butter comes from the cacao bean, which is found inside the cocoa pod, which grows on the cacao tree. Because it's rich with fatty acids and antioxidants, it makes for a great moisturizer.
A trio of heavy-hitting hydrators—coconut, shea, and cocoa butter—make this extra creamy bar choice for parched hair. Plus, there’s also an accompanying solid conditioner, too, a product that’s not so easy to find. Happy reviewers rave about both and comment on the pleasant scent, too.
Best for Fine Hair: Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar
Seaweed is a very powerful concentration of seawater and is able to uptake minerals by absorption and active transport from seawater. Because of these processes, some seaweeds have a dense concentration of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, and lipids, which all pose benefits for the skin.
Lush offers an impressive array of 11 different shampoo bars, but if extra volume is your goal, make this your go-to. Using, you guessed it, a host of sea-based ingredients, sea salt adds body and boosts limp locks, while two different types of seaweed keep your hair soft.
"I was a firm disbeliever in shampoo bars until I tried this product. Not only does it smell amazing, but it actually works. My hair gets quite oily, and this formula cuts right through the grime without making my scalp feel stripped or starved for moisture. That, and my hair is always at its bounciest and most voluminous after washing with Seanik." — Holly Rhue, Editor
Best for Oily Scalps: Basin Charcoal Shampoo Bar
Charcoal is a commonly used skincare ingredient, thanks to its ability to both remove excess oil and purify the skin. Breaking news: It can do the same for your scalp and hair. This bar, which lasts 50 to 75 washes, uses bamboo charcoal to eliminate oil and excess product residue, leaving your scalp and hair feeling cleaner than ever.
Best for Travel: Apple Valley Natural Soap Shampoo Bar Sampler Pack
Any shampoo bar is great for travel by definition since you don’t have to worry about spills or it getting snatched up by the TSA. But since most of them last for a long time, if you don’t want to have to deal with bringing the bar back home after your trip, grab this sampler pack. It features small slices (about 1/3 ounce, each good for three washes) of the brand’s 15 different shampoo bars. Take a different one with you each time you travel and figure out which one you like best.
Best Multi-Tasker: Meow Meow Tweet Rosemary Avocado Shampoo Bar
Looking to streamline your shower situation? This solid sudser does it all, working to effectively cleanse both your hair and body, with certified organic and fair-trade plant-based ingredients. Not to mention that it’s safe to use for kids and even pets, too.
Best Natural: Friendly Soap Natural Handmade Shampoo Bar
Most shampoo bars tend to have fewer chemicals and questionable ingredients, but the ingredient list of this one takes the cake. It contains castor, coconut, and olive oils, tea tree and lavender essential oils, and water, and is free of parabens, palm oil, plastic, and sulfates. Amazon shoppers love it, though do point out that it’s better suited for oily rather than dry hair.
Best Organic: Chagrin Valley Shampoo Bar, Rosemary Lavender
Made with certified organic ingredients (an impressive feat, at this price point), this one uses hydrating jojoba oil and mango butter, along with invigorating rosemary and tea tree oil that leaves your scalp feeling pleasantly tingly.
Best for Sensitive Scalps: Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera
Have fine, straight hair? Thick, curly hair? This bar works for every hair type and texture, using 100% plant-based ingredients such as aloe vera, castor oil, and coconut oil to gently cleanse strands. It’s also fragrance-free, perfect if you have a sensitive or easily-irritated scalp.
Shampoo bars are a travel-friendly, eco-conscious substitute for your traditional bottle of liquid shampoo—and there are plenty of options to choose from. The JR LIGGET’S JR Virgin Coconut & Argan Oil Shampoo Bar is our top choice. It's super hydrating and also packed with antioxidants that can safeguard your strands from sun and pollution. The Love Beauty And Planet Murumuru Butter and Rose Shampoo Bar is a very gentle option, particularly for those with colored hair, while the Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar earns our vote for those with fine hair. And if you want one bar that can do it all, pick up the multi-tasking Meow Meow Tweet Rosemary Avocado Shampoo Bar, which can be used all over your body, too.
What to Look For in a Shampoo Bar
Most options are sulfate-free, here—but still, keep in mind that, even if sulfates are listed, not all sulfates are created equal. Many shampoo bars rely on plant-derived sulfates, which aren’t as harsh or drying, says Kayganich, who adds that it’s worth doing a little investigating if you do see sulfates listed on the label.
Kayganich suggests avoiding formulas that contain added synthetic fragrance since that’s just a blanket term that can mask a whole litany of ingredients. Essentially, if you see that term on the list, it's much harder to know what you’re actually getting.
According to Sofie Pok, barber and co-creator of STMNT Grooming Goods, the popular skincare ingredient is great for hair too, and especially good to seek out in a shampoo bar. It can help remove impurities while also increasing volume, she says.
How do you use a shampoo bar?
With shampoo bars, you want to practice a slightly different technique than with liquid shampoo. Option one: Rub the bar in between your wet hands to work up a lather, then work that through your hair. Option two: Rub the bar directly on your hair (cutting it into smaller pieces will make this easier), but always work downward, instead of piling your hair on top of your head, which can create tangles. Kayganich notes that the heavy oil content in most shampoo bars can potentially lead to build-up and residue on the hair over time, so consider working a clarifying shampoo into the mix once or twice per month if you find that your strands are starting to look oily or limp, she says.
How do you store a shampoo bar?
You can store it as you would any other bar soap, so in the shower is fine. But to help increase the longevity, try putting it on a soap dish that has some ventilation on the bottom, so that air can circulate around it and it doesn’t get gunky underneath.
How long do shampoo bars last?
According to Kayganich, one bar can replace up to three plastic bottles of shampoo—so quite a while. Some brands even claim that their bars last for 80 to 100 washes.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough shampoo bars from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s a daily shampooer, and after writing this article realized how beneficial shampoo bars can be. (But definitely underscores the fact that it’s important to use lots of conditioner after.)