Best shampoo bars: 6 solid shampoo bars to nourish and hydrate all hair types

We've found the best shampoo bars on the market, but how do they compare to traditional liquid shampoos?

best shampoo bars
(Image credit: nuddy)

Using shampoo bars a couple of times a week – or however often is enough for your particular hair type and texture – is something many of us are starting to do. However, most of us will still very much be used to using a liquid shampoo as the first step to clean hair without ever really giving it a second thought.

But times are changing and the concept of using shampoo bars – solid, soap-esque versions of liquid shampoo – as an alternative is becoming more and more mainstream. Shampoo bars were once the best kept secret of avid travellers who would use them with wild abandon thanks to the fact there’s no need to worry about the possibility of them leaking all over your suitcase, plus they take up much less space and don’t count towards the all-important liquid allowance.

Fast forward to 2020 and not only are shampoo bars much more readily available, but people are choosing to make the switch thanks to their incredible eco-credentials. But the main question is this: how do shampoo bars compare to the liquid shampoo that we’re all so used to using? We put six to the test, and Ethique Mintasy came out on top, leaving hair feeling clean and hydrated.

How to choose the best shampoo bar for your hair type

Although it hasn’t always been the case, the choice of shampoo bars that are now available span the majority of hair types in a similar way to liquid shampoo. 

Like traditional shampoos, ensuring you use the right one for your hair type is all down to the type of ingredients used. Shampoo bars tend to be made from all-natural ingredients, so it’s really just a case of researching the different types of oils used and working out what will benefit your hair type most. For example, nourishing shea butter is great for dry, textured hair while cocoa butter and coconut oil are both supremely hydrating meaning they work well on damaged, brittle hair. Seaweed is great for keeping fine hair smooth, while added sea salt will also work to add volume to thinner hair. If you’re prone to an oily scalp, look for a shampoo bar formulated with charcoal, which will work to remove excess oil while aloe vera will gently cleanse sensitive skin types without causing irritation. 

The one thing that you always need to remember, though, is that it might take a few washes for your hair to adapt properly. There is always a transition period that comes with making the switch from traditional shampoo to shampoo bars, and after the first couple of washes hair may feel waxy; that’s completely normal and is why you should always stick with your choice of product before deciding it’s not quite right. 

The best shampoo bars you can buy right now

The best shampoo bar for most hair types

Ethique Mintasy

(Image credit: Ethique)

Ethique Mintasy Solid Shampoo

Best for… most hair types, it’s formulated with cocoa butter and coconut oil

Specifications
Weight of bar: 110g (equivalent to 3 bottles of shampoo)
Brand eco-credential: Plastic free, carbon neutral, vegan and all products made without palm oil
Key ingredients: Cocoa butter, coconut oil, peppermint extract
Reasons to buy
+It’s created by a brand who’re really passionate about sustainability+It had the best results from first use
Reasons to avoid
-We found it didn’t dry out very well, therefore it might not be as easy to travel with as some without a case-Slightly more pricey

A minty fresh shampoo that leaves hair feeling clean and hydrated
Ethique’s bright green, square-shaped shampoo bar was a pleasure to use. It smelt super fresh and minty thanks to the peppermint oil, and it foamed up really quickly and easily in comparison to some of the others we tried. The minty scent felt like it was helping to cleanse the scalp as well as the air, and it was easy to wash out, too. It didn’t leave hair in a tangled, matted mess and while hair did feel a bit too squeaky clean, it still felt cleansed, smooth and hydrated without that telltale waxy feel that some shampoo bars can have in the first few uses. 

The best budget shampoo bar

Faith in Nature

(Image credit: Faith in Nature)

Faith in Nature Coconut and Shea Butter Shampoo Bar

Best for… anybody looking for a sulphate-free shampoo bar

Specifications
Weight of bar: 85g
Brand eco-credentials: Plastic free, carbon neutral, vegan and all products made without palm oil
Key ingredients: Cocoa butter, coconut oil, peppermint extract
Reasons to buy
+It’s on the more affordable end of the scale+All ingredients are 100% natural
Reasons to avoid
-We found it took a while to get a decent amount of foam-Might weigh down finer hair types

Sulfate free and vegan friendly, this shampoo bar is as effective as it is affordable
This shampoo bar is a good size in that it’s not too big and not too small, therefore making it easy to grip once it’s wet – it didn’t slip and slide all over the place (which is no mean feat for a shampoo bar!). However, it was quite difficult to foam up – it took some doing both in my hands and by rubbing directly onto the hair, which did cause a bit of unnecessary tangling. Once washed out, hair didn’t feel as squeaky clean as some shampoo bars, instead it felt like regular liquid shampoo had been used. It didn’t have much of a scent but we didn’t find that to be a problem at all. 

The best shampoo bar for dry hair

Kind 2

(Image credit: Kind 2)

Kind2 The Hydrating One

Suitable for curly and coloured hair, this shampoo bar adds a super shine

Specifications
Weight of bar: 80g (equivalent to 60 washes/two bottles of shampoo)
Brand eco-credentials: All natural and products packaged in recycled cardboard
Key ingredients: Cocoa butter, coconut oil, peppermint extract
Reasons to buy
+It’s suitable for both coloured and curly hair+Soap free and pH-balanced so is kind to sensitive scalps
Reasons to avoid
-It doesn’t have much of a scent-It’s sulfate-free so doesn’t lather up that much

We followed the shampoo bar with the conditioning bar and were pleased with the results; be warned the shampoo bar doesn’t create much of a lather or foam though. That’s due to the fact that it’s sulfate-free and therefore doesn’t have the foaming agents in it, but that doesn’t make it any less effective and instead is much kinder to the scalp and is less likely to dry it out or cause irritation. It also doesn’t have much of a scent, but that’s not necessarily a problem, it’s just down to personal preference. However, it did leave hair feeling soft, smooth and manageable with a great shine to boot. 

The best volumising shampoo bar

Nuddy shampoo bar

(Image credit: Nuddy)

Nuddy Ultra Volume Blow Dry Shampoo Bar

Peach-scented and gives serious volume to fine hair, this bar narrowly missed out on being our top pick

Specifications
Weight of bar: 100g
Brand eco-credentials: Plastic free and cruelty free
Key ingredients: Coconut oil, argan oil and glycerin
Reasons to buy
+It’s created by a female-run, independent brand+pH balanced and super nourishing
Reasons to avoid
-Curly hair types might find it too drying-May be too heavy for thin, fine hair

A super fun brand, Nuddy’s peach and acai shampoo bar smells incredible and really works to help volumize hair. It was super easy to use, lathered up really quickly and easily. It didn’t leave hair feeling <too> clean, and nor was it too tangled or knotted after using. Nuddy claims there’s no transition period for this shampoo bar and we can wholeheartedly agree; hair felt smooth and soft like it usually would after using a traditional liquid shampoo, plus it was still super manageable and easy to brush through post-wash. The added bounce and volume also lasted until the next wash. 

The best shampoo bar for damaged, coloured hair

Biovene

(Image credit: Biovene)

Biovene Hydrate Repair, Argan Oil & Mint shampoo bar

Minty fresh, this shampoo bar is infused with argan oil to help hair that’s dry and damaged from colouring

Specifications
Weight of bar: 40g (the equivalent of 30 washes)
Brand eco-credentials: water free, zero waste, plastic free as well as all products and packaging are biodegradable
Key ingredients: Argan oil, peppermint, shea butter and macadamia oil
Reasons to buy
+It’s formulated to help prevent hair fall+Made with palm oil and free of sulfates
Reasons to avoid
-It’s formulated with beeswax so isn’t suitable for vegans-Added shea butter may weigh down fine hair

We found that this shampoo bar took a while to foam up but when it did eventually start to later, it was definitely worth the wait. It didn’t smell very strongly though, and hair didn’t feel too squeaky clean. It was used with the solid conditioner from the same range, which actually left hair feeling much smoother and more hydrated than we thought it would. However, once hair had been dried and styled it did feet a bit limp and greasy, although the more the shampoo bar was used the less that tended to happen so that could just have been the tell-tale transition period. 

The best shampoo bar to moisturise hair

The best shampoo bar to moisturise hair Lush Coconut Rice Cake Shampoo Bar

(Image credit: Lush)

Lush Coconut Rice Cake Shampoo Bar

With creamed coconut and coconut milk, this bright pink bar will inject much-needed moisture into thick and bleached hair

Specifications
Weight of bar: 55g
Brand eco-credentials: No packaging is used, all products are vegetarian and handmade
Key ingredients: Cocoa butter, white rice, creamed coconut, organic coconut milk
Reasons to buy
+It’s created by Lush, the trailblazing eco-friendly brand+Comes ‘naked’ without any packaging
Reasons to avoid
-It’ll be too rich for anybody without thick or dry textured hair -Contains sulphates (albeit a palm-free alternative to SLS)

Super foamy and coconutty, this shampoo bar smelt incredible and had a lovely, rich lather. It was used when hair was full of three-day-old grease, dry shampoo and dirt and it did clean effectively in the first use, leaving hair feeling cleansed and much lighter. The double dose of coconut is really moisturising but the addition of sodium coco sulfate, which although doesn’t contain palm oil, is still a type of sulfate used to help a product foam but that can often cause dryness on the scalp. It’s especially good for those with super dry and curly or textured hair because of the sheer amount of moisturising properties it has.