I ditched liquid shampoo and conditioner a year ago and my hair has never been healthier. Here's why I'll never go back.
I stopped using traditional liquid shampoo and conditioner a little over a year ago.
I now opt for solid shampoo and conditioner bars, and my hair has never been so long or healthy.
The packaging is better for the environment and its made a major difference in my hair.
A little over a year ago, I stopped using liquid shampoo and conditioner and switched to shampoo and conditioner bars.
In December, a friend I hadn't seen in months delivered one of the greatest compliments I've ever received: "Is your hair real?"
As someone whose hair used to grow at a snail's pace, to be asked if I was wearing extensions was thrilling. Not only was it my real hair, but I credited it to two products that have become my holy grail: shampoo and conditioner bars.
About a year ago, I ditched liquid shampoo and conditioner for shampoo and conditioner in bar form. I had reluctantly tried out the bars — could they really be that great? — while visiting my mom, who had become something of a shampoo-bar savant after receiving them as a Christmas gift from my grandmother.
Now, the three of us swear by the bars, despite each of us having different hair types.
The bars have made my hair feel longer, healthier, and thicker.
Throughout all of 2020 to 2021, I wore my hair cropped to a bob, ranging somewhere between chin length at its shortest and my collarbones at its longest.
It wasn't until the middle of 2021 that I made the decision to grow out my hair, and a few months after that I made the swap to shampoo bars.
There are a few different bars on the market, but I ended up switching to solid bars from a company called The Earthling Co. (I liked that their packaging appeared more sustainable than the standard plastic bottles I had been using).
To my surprise, I pretty quickly noticed a difference in my hair.
Now, worn straight, my hair brushes to my elbows — growth that I attribute, at least in part, to using shampoo and conditioner bars. Aside from how long it's gotten, I also think my hair is thicker and silkier than it's ever been.
They're gentle on my hair, without any parabens or preservatives.
Admittedly, I didn't really know what this meant until I started using the bars. Avoiding chemicals was never a priority to me, and I always just bought the cheapest hair-washing products I could find at Target, chemicals be damned.
But since purchasing the bars for the first time last year, I've learned more about parabens — man-made chemicals often found in cosmetics — and have shifted my perspective on what I look for in my hair products.
While the US Food and Drug Administration doesn't have information on the effects of parabens on health, some cosmetic brands choose not to use them as a precautionary measure.
The Earthling Co.'s products, for example, claim to be paraben- and preservative-free, and according to its website, have no harsh, stripping ingredients — making them ideal for my dyed hair.
According to the brand, the bars are made with ingredients like coconut oil, apricot seed oil, and cocoa seed butter.
They're delivered in plastic-free packaging, saving on waste.
The Earthling Co. says its shipping materials are all recyclable or compostable. I don't compost, but I do recycle the little boxes the shampoo and conditioner come in.
According to the brand's website, one shampoo bar is expected to save one to two 16-ounce plastic bottles. and the bars can last between two and six months, or 50 to 75 washes, depending on how frequently you wash your hair.
I try to wash my hair only two times a week, which means I only have to buy them every six or seven months — far less frequently than when I was using plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner.
The shampoo and conditioner bars feel like they last forever.
The only problem is that once it gets down to the final few weeks, the bars break apart into smaller and smaller pieces, making them difficult, and eventually impossible, to use.
It wasn't until researching for this article that I learned there were solutions to this problem: Per the brand's website, you can mold the broken bits onto a new bar, or turn the leftovers into liquid hand soap.
Unfortunately, the products are on the pricey side.
At $16 a piece, the bars are more expensive than the typical shampoo and conditioner bottles I'd opt for at the drugstore.
They are, however, right in line with competitors: Lush's shampoo bars start at $15, as do Ethique's bars.
Overall, I don't see myself buying traditional liquid shampoo and conditioner ever again.
Growing up, I was always frustrated by how slow my hair seemed to grow. I tried everything: biotin supplements, hair masks, and every kind of shampoo that claimed to make hair soft and healthy. Eventually, I determined that my hair just wasn't meant to grow as much as I wanted it to.
It wasn't until testing out these bars in 2022 that I finally felt like my hair was strong, silky, and growing faster than it ever had. Shampoo and conditioner bars may not be for everyone, but I don't see myself going back to liquid products anytime soon.
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