Can A $2 Bar Of Soap Really Replace Your Shampoo?

We tried nine eco-friendly shampoo bars at every price point to find out.

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No matter what your daily beauty routine looks like, getting ready in the morning comes with a hefty ecological footprint. If you’ve been looking to cut down on waste, switching to solid bars instead of bottled soaps and shampoos is a simple way to ease into the zero-waste beauty movement. A good solid shampoo offers the same cleansing benefits as your go-to liquid one—without the plastic packaging. Shampoo bars are easier than ever to get your hands on (you’ll likely find a few options at your local drugstore) and they come in a variety of formulas suited to different hair types. In many cases, brands offer matching conditioner bars, too, and some have even mastered the elusive 2-in-1 formula, which is perfect for packing light and avoiding suitcase spills while travelling.

But is making the switch to solid shampoo as easy as it sounds? We had eight staffers try nine shampoo bars at every price point. Here’s what they thought:

A photo on white background of The Soap Works shampoo and conditioner bar to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

The Soap Works Shampoo & Conditioner Bar, $2, well.ca.

“I acknowledge that this bar was controversial in our office—some of my colleagues with long hair really didn’t like it. But I have short, curly hair and I’m pretty unfussy about shampoo (for me, it’s conditioner that really matters). I liked this bar because it’s completely packaging free—just a bar of soap. I also love that it’s cheap, seems like it will last forever and is easily obtainable at my local health food store. The smell was pleasant and low-key—clean in a classic soap way, with faint notes of cucumber. It lathered well and left my hair feeling clean, but not stripped. While this bar purports to be shampoo and conditioner in one, I still used conditioner afterwards. The next day, my hair looked the same as it always does.” —Gillian Grace, deputy editor

A photo on white background of the Love Beauty And Planet Blooming Colour shampoo bar to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

Love Beauty And Planet Blooming Colour Shampoo Bar, $7, walmart.ca.

“This heart-shaped bar has a gorgeous floral scent, but it didn’t lather as well as The Soap Works bar and it left a faint residue on my hair. I used my usual conditioner, and the next day my hair looked fine. Still, the cheaper bar wins for its cost, cleaner-hair-feel and lack of packaging. (Yes, this one comes in cardboard, not plastic, but cardboard still has a substantial carbon footprint.)” —Gillian Grace, deputy editor

A photo on white background of the Rocky Mountain Soap Rosemary shampoo bar to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Natural Shampoo Bar With Rosemary, $6, rockymountainsoap.com.

“I loved the rosemary scent of this bar, which lingered in my hair by just the right amount, and it gave great lather. It left my long, thick hair feeling slightly dried-out and squeaky after rinsing, but my usual conditioner came to the rescue and the end result wasn’t noticeably different from that of my go-to shampoo. I would definitely use this to replace my bottled shampoo, but I would always follow up with my usual liquid conditioner.” —Maureen Halushak, editor-in-chief

A photo on white background of the Maison Lavande White Flowers & Lavender shampoo and conditioner bar to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

Maison Lavande White Flowers & Lavender Shampoo & Conditioner Bar, $15, maisonlavande.ca.

“I’m a huge fan of shampoo bars because they’re eco-friendly and great for travelling, so I jumped at the chance to test one I’d never tried before. The Maison Lavande White Flowers & Lavender shampoo and conditioner bar lathered as well as any bars I’ve tried in the past, rinsed off surprisingly easily and I loved its delicate floral fragrance. My hair is fairly dry so I used a small amount of my go-to conditioner as well, but I was impressed by how soft my hair was afterwards, even without the added hydration. The next day, my hair was soft, manageable and frizz-free, though I noticed it was a little flatter than usual at the roots, probably because the bar contains conditioner. Though it’s not the best shampoo bar I’ve tried, I’ll definitely keep using it.” —Andréanne Dion, associate lifestyle editor

A photo on white background of the Unwrapped Life Stimulator shampoo and conditioner bar duo to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

The Unwrapped Life Stimulator Shampoo & Conditioner Bars, $35 for the set, unwrappedlife.com.

“The Unwrapped Life’s Stimulator shampoo and conditioner bars were easy to use—I had no problem replacing my liquid shampoo and conditioner with them. I have pretty greasy hair, and new shampoos often make it even greasier or dry it out. New conditioners, especially, tend to mess with my hair’s oils. These bars left my hair feeling clean, refreshed and (miraculously!) not greasy. The only disappointment was that, though the bar is meant to smell like matcha green tea, eucalyptus and cedar wood, the smell disappeared in the shower and didn’t stick to my hair like I had hoped it would.” —Rebecca Gao, freelancer

A photo on white background of the Lush Honey I Washed My Hair shampoo bar to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

Lush Honey I Washed My Hair, $11, lush.ca.

“I was hesitant to try a shampoo bar. My hair is curly, thick but fine, and it needs moisture—I use much more conditioner than I do shampoo. This Lush bar exceeded my expectations. It lathered quickly into a rich foam and the honey fragrance was warm and welcoming. My hair felt squeaky clean after use, which is a new feeling for me and one I’m not sure I enjoyed at the time, but my hair looked and smelled nice, so I may be a convert!” —Alicia Cox Thomson, freelancer

A photo on white background of the JB Skin Guru Peoni shampoo bar in its tin to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

JB Skin Guru Peoni Shampoo Bar, $18, jbskinguru.com.

“This bar got me in quite a lather—because it was such a letdown. I had high hopes for a packaging-free shampoo option, but it created a sad amount of suds, had a strange smell and left my hair feeling dry and strawlike. Not the clean, shiny solution I was looking for.” —Kathryn Hayward, executive editor

A photo on white background of the Buck Naked Soap Company Mermaid shampoo bar to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

Buck Naked Soap Company Mermaid Shampoo Bar, $9, bucknakedsoapcompany.com.

“While the Buck Naked Soap Company Mermaid shampoo bar lathered surprisingly quickly, I did have to rub it on my scalp quite a bit to get that squeaky clean feeling at my roots. The bar left a tiny bit of waxy residue in my hair, but nothing too egregious—it weighed my hair down just enough to help tame the frizz I usually struggle with. My hair dried with a nice wave, but I still needed to spruce it up with a straightener the next morning. That said, I’ll definitely use this shampoo bar again, perhaps alternating with my regular routine.” —Prajakta Dhopade, associate editor, Maclean’s

A photo on grey background of the Lavami Everyday Lemongrass shampoo bar in its tin to illustrate an article about best shampoo bars

Lavami Everyday Lemongrass Shampoo Bar, $13, lavami.ca.

“Because of its sharp edges, this shampoo bar was painful to use and took forever to lather. I didn’t notice anything extraordinary about this experience—it wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great. The smell was clean and fresh, which was nice. Because it wasn’t a 2-in-1 bar, I was able to use my regular conditioner—my hair wasn’t weirdly textured when I stepped out the shower, but it dried quite frizzy. I will stick with my go-to Lush shampoo bar in the future!” —Radiyah Chowdhury, assistant editor