A Complete Guide To Shampoo Bars

February 01, 2024 12 min read

Woman using a shampoo bar


 Questions & Answers Image



1. Introduction

The following questions, and answers, have been compiled from our customer queries over the last few years. We've also added a few more that we know prospective shampoo bar users are unsure of.

If you have any other questions let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to answer them for you!

Don't miss out on your storewide 10% discount code by using THANK YOU at checkout too!


A shampoo bar

2. What Is A Shampoo Bar?

Before we move on to the real questions you want to be answered it's probably best to establish just exactly what the best UK shampoo bars are. 

The word ‘shampoo’ is a variant of the Hindi that translates ‘to press or massage’ hair through cleaning.

A proper definition of shampoo is a cleaning agent that ‘does not leave a soap residue’. As you will read later on, soap is not a shampoo!

Ideally, proper hair care requires a balanced, neutral to slightly acidic, shampoo obtained through the use of a blend of mild surfactants that are also gentle on your scalp.

The best natural shampoo bar should be carefully formulated and have a good lather with cleaning and conditioning properties that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils so that it gives you and your hair the best experience and end results.


Good vibes from shampoo bars

3. Are Shampoo Bars Good For Hair?

A somewhat loaded question, but yes they are 'good' in so many different ways, as you will discover from reading on. As pertinent a question as asking are liquid shampoos any good?

One of the key pros of using bar of shampoo is that, in the main (and I'll talk about quality in a second), you will find that shampoo bars are packed with natural hair-boosting ingredients like plant oils so you won't find your hair drying out and this will even make them suitable for daily use, unlike many conventional liquid shampoos that have many synthetic ingredients. 

The real answer lies in the quality of the ingredients. If it is a very low-cost item with little or no information about where the product is created then the odds are that it will not be that great a product for your hair.

Conversely, if it is an expensive product then that doesn’t automatically translate to it being a quality product. Always check the ingredients, the provenance, and the manufacturer!

You will also find they are travel-friendly and longer-lasting than a liquid shampoo. Using the right bar for your hair type will soon get your hair back to its original, shiny, voluminous state as they remove residue left from chemicals in traditional hair shampoos.

Are there any cons associated with using shampoo bars? Not really a disadvantage but, until you get used to using shampoo bars and natural conditioner bars, it will 'feel different' compared to the way you use a liquid shampoo and conditioner. For some people it takes a little while to get used to the act of rubbing a bar of shampoo on their head. 

Depending on the hardness of the water in your area, you may find some bars do not lather as much, which can take some getting used to as typically people associate lather with cleaning, which is not actually the case - a good shampoo bar can clean your hair regardless of lathering. 

Generally speaking, and all things being equal, there are no more cons attached to a shampoo bar than there might be to liquid shampoo - in fact, quite the contrary, after all, liquid shampoo ingredients are made up to 80% of plain water. Now that is a con!


A better life sign post

4. Are Shampoo Bars Better?

Much the same as the answer to the question above; generally, and in most cases, you get what you pay for. There are excellent shampoos and there are excellent shampoo bars.

So which is better shampoo or shampoo bar? Genuine shampoo bars are made with natural ingredients, which means that they are gentle on your hair and scalp. The average mass produced liquid shampoos often contain harsh chemical derived ingredients that can strip your hair of its natural oils and cause dryness and irritation. 

Always check the ingredients, after that it comes down to personal choice. Try them both out to compare and see for yourself.


Woman with curly hair smiling after using a Solid bar Company shampoo bar

5. Are Shampoo Bars Good For Curly Hair?

A good quality shampoo bar with all natural ingredients will be fine for all types of hair, curly or otherwise. The manufacturer should show if this is not the case in their advertising and/or ingredients.

The Solid Bar Company Shampoo Bars are great value

6. Are Shampoo Bars Worth It?

Presumably, this question is asking whether shampoo bars are worth it in terms of cost, or value for money. The answer is an unequivocal yes. Liquid shampoos contain in the region of 80% water – that’s very expensive water you’re paying for when you buy a liquid shampoo.

The main reason water is the prime ingredient in liquid shampoos is so that you can pour it out of the plastic bottle. Who wants more plastic in their house in this day and age?

A secondary factor is that the consumer is given the impression they are getting a greater volume, and hence better value and more product for their money. Clever marketing!

When you first use a shampoo bar you could be forgiven for thinking that it is small for the price, but once you realise exactly how many washes you will get from that (relatively) small but highly concentrated bar that impression will soon change.

Also, don't forget that the main shampoo bars are made with organic ingredients and these are more expensive compared to cheaper ingredients, which are typically harsh chemicals and water, that you find in liquid shampoos.


Shampoo bars are good for the environment

7. Are Shampoo Bars Better For The Environment?

Without doubt. As they contain no water and are not packaged in plastic then they get the thumbs up from environmentalists, and us.

With the right best UK shampoo bars, like The Solid Bar Company’s, you will find they are zero-waste, free from SLS, parabens, silicon, and palm oil, and are 100% biodegradable with all-natural vegan ingredients – so no artificial colouring or fragrances – meaning no chemicals and therefore safer for you and the environment, scoring high in the sustainability charts!

No sulphate crystals in The Solid Bar Company shampoo bars

8. Are Shampoo Bars Sulphate-Free?

Some are, and many aren’t. Close scrutiny of the ingredients is required to ascertain this. A useful guide to what you don’t want to see in your shampoo bar can be found here in our blog How To Find The Best UK Shampoo Bar.

All of The Solid Bar Company’s products are sulphate-free and vegan.

Sulphate is a 'salt' that is generally sourced from petroleum or plants (coconut or palm oil) and added to cleaning and personal care items to create lather, giving a stronger 'impression' of cleaning power - as you will read further on, this is not always a good thing!

Sulphates derived from petroleum can be associated with pollution, at the point of manufacture, to possible health risks from long-term use. Those derived from palm oil are controversial due to plantation destruction. All sulphates can be toxic to marine life when they get washed down the drain.


Woman with blue coloured hair - our shampoo bars are colour safe

9. Are Shampoo Bars Good And Safe For Coloured Hair?

All of The Solid Bar Company’s shampoo bars are safe and good for coloured hair. All of our hair products have been laboratory tested and are fully EU Cosmetic safety (CPSR) approved.

This is not the case for all shampoo bars – again, check the ingredients and the manufacturers' recommendations. If a shampoo or a shampoo bar is not safe for coloured hair then this should be clearly stated. Most natural shampoo bars are full of natural oils, which help condition your hair and preserve its colour.

As already mentioned, if the product is not correctly pH-balanced and too alkaline then there is a possibility that your hair colouring will be rinsed out early. If you have concerns about your coloured hair the real ingredient to look out for, and beware of, is sulphates which are to be viewed as 'paint strippers' for your colour; so avoid!


Hair loss image - no hair loss with real shampoo bars

10. Can Shampoo Bars Cause Hair Loss?

If it is a REAL shampoo bar and not a soap bar masquerading as a shampoo bar then this should not occur.

However, if you use soap or other alkaline surfactants, to shampoo your hair they can damage it. A good read for more information on this subject is here in our blog 5 Ways Fake 'Shampoo' Bars Damage Hair.

Hair loss is common among men and women. Stress, genetics, hormones, medications, nutrition, health conditions, and other factors can cause hair loss. Genetic hair loss can't be reversed.

A breakage is an exterior event that causes hair to fall out. Hair products such as both shampoo bars and liquid shampoo can cause hair loss, but again, it is very rare.

Our bars and ingredients have been tested and approved (see the answer to the question above) to not cause breakage or hair loss. If you’ve made the switch to a shampoo bar, you may notice some changes in your hair as your hair adjusts to a solid shampoo product.

However, if the shampoo bar you have been using has caused hair damage or loss then I can guarantee that it is of 'questionable' provenance. Check who made it, where it is made and what the ingredients are.

Then, you will find the reason why the problem has occurred. Not because it is a shampoo bar but because of poor quality and possibly harmful ingredients.

Are shampoo bars good for thinning hair? One of the key features of shampoo bars is that they don’t strip your hair. The better bars on the market are formulated with quality ingredients, essential and plant-based oils that deeply nourish both your hair and scalp, boosting its health and promoting hair growth. While shampoo bars can work well for thinning hair, it is essential that you check out the ingredients before you buy.


Soap bars are best not used on your hair just your body

11. Can Shampoo Bars Be Used As Soap?

The simple answer is yes, you can use shampoo bars on your body. If it’s safe to use on your hair then it should be safe to use on your body. Note that the reverse is not necessarily true – see below!

All of The Solid Bar Company shampoo bars are not soap and come with all the benefits of your liquid shampoo, without the plastic.

We have tested dozens of formulas to develop the perfect 100% plant-based shampoo bar, with all the foaminess, nourishment, and care of a liquid shampoo but in a solid format, meaning zero plastic waste. So, again, if you wish you may use them as a body soap.

Better still, we also make highly moisturising Castile soap bars which you can purchase here instead. 

A head of hair with bad dandruff not from a real shampoo bar

12. Can Shampoo Bars Cause Dandruff?

This is where we need to dip into a little bit of chemistry and consider the pH (potential of hydrogen) in a shampoo.

pH is a figure that indicates the acidity or alkalinity of a substance on a logarithmic scale of 0-14 with a pH of 7 being neutral. Lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline. Your hair and sebum have natural pH levels of between 4 and 5.5.

If the shampoo bar is correctly pH-balanced then there should be no problems for you, BUT if it is a soap bar or not properly pH balanced then irritation can come about - lye-based soaps can be very alkaline products with pH values of 9-11.

The pH Scale - The Solid Bar Company shampoo bars are the right pH for your hair

Additionally, a proper definition of shampoo is a cleaning agent that ‘does not leave a soap residue’. Unfortunately, soap does leave a residue which means that ‘soap’ is not a shampoo.

Once in contact with water soap leaves an alkaline residue that is harmful to the hair in the form of calcium salts which accumulate in the hair strands, leaving them opaque and tangled. This soap ‘scum’ can also cause itching, exacerbate redness, scaly patches, and dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis), and leave the hair dull.

Also, if hair becomes very alkaline and porous, the cuticle cannot retain the colour as the cuticle fails to hold the new pigments and the colour will rinse out prematurely, so not good for coloured hair either.

Once again, the key to avoiding any problems here is to check the ingredients and provenance of the shampoo bar you are buying!


Woman angry about here damaged hair from a fake shampoo bar

13. Can Shampoo Bars Damage Hair?

The answers to 8 and 10 above cover a lot of this ground. A REAL shampoo bar should not damage your hair. There may be mild changes in your hair as you adjust to the new product but in reality no more than if you were to change your liquid shampoo for another liquid shampoo.

If you feel that your hair is being damaged in any way by a 'shampoo bar' then stop using it immediately, check the ingredients and the manufacturer out again and there is a 99% chance you will find that it is not a proper pH-balanced shampoo bar with all-natural ingredients but probably a soap bar. 

Shampoo bars last a long time and are good value for money

14. Can Shampoo Bars Expire?

Liquid shampoo expires and even the best shampoo bars have an expiry date.

So to answer how long shampoo bars last, that depends somewhat on the manufacturing process, the quality, and the type of ingredients. Then if all of those answers are of a high standard then a shampoo bar can last up to 18 months. You can also help achieve this if you store your products in a dry place, away from direct sunlight when they are not in use.

Although, under normal circumstances, the chances are you will use the shampoo bar well before the expiry date comes around.


15. Do I Need To Use A Conditioner After A Shampoo Bar Wash?

Not necessarily. If you are using a good quality shampoo bar with rich moisturising natural ingredients then your hair can be fine without. One of the key reasons people use conditioners after using commercial shampoos is that many of them contain petroleum products that actually dry your hair and scalp.


How do shampoo bars work - explained!

16. How do shampoo bars work?

They work in much the same way as normal liquid shampoo. The key differences are that they are in highly concentrated form and, should contain no water

Start by wetting your hair and the shampoo bar thoroughly, then rub the bar between your hands to make it foam.

Then gently massage the shampoo bar on your hair lathering it from the roots to the tips. Keep massaging into your hair and scalp until all hair is covered in a foamy lather. It may take slightly longer to lather in hard water areas.

Also, be aware that shampoo bars are concentrated shampoos with no water, so you will not need as much lather as you do with liquid shampoos. Too much lather in shampoo bars could mean the shampoo has very strong cleansing agents, and this can dry your scalp.

Then rinse thoroughly.

After use, it is best to keep your shampoo bar in a dry place to maximise its life.

If you wish, then follow on with a natural conditioner bar for more intense hair nourishment.

You can see a short video on how to use a shampoo bar here. 


Transition time for change to shampoo bars

17. Is There A Transition Period When Switching To Shampoo Bars?

With The Solid Bar Company products, we say that there is no transition period and no special regime you should follow.

However, everyone is different so when you first start using natural products - and in particular, if your previous liquid shampoo has been heavily laden with artificial ingredients - your hair may readjust by overproducing sebum.

Some people don't experience a transition period at all but it can last a few weeks for others. If you live in a hard water area the transition period is usually longer, a water softener helps hugely although we are aware that these are prohibitively expensive to most of us.

Best hand made ceramic shampoo bar dishes

18. How Best To Store Your Shampoo Bar?

To ensure you get the best out of your shampoo bar and make it last as long as possible here are a few simple guidelines you should follow:

Keep your bar(s) out of any direct flow of water when not in use.

Place on a dish or rack; preferably one with holes to allow the bar to dry. We offer these wonderful unique hand-made ceramic soap dishes for just that purpose.

Allow drying in a well-ventilated space, out of direct sunlight.

If you really want to keep your shampoo bar in the shower then a draining rack is a must. Also be aware that even if your bars are in a draining rack, you still need to position the rack outside of the flow of water. It doesn’t matter how well the rack drains, if your bars are constantly getting wet, they’ll end up soggy and dissolving. 

After following all these simple guidelines, once you’ve washed your hair, you'll find your shampoo bars last much longer.

Should I use a conditioner after washing my hair with shampoo?

Yes, it is recommended to use a conditioner after washing your hair with shampoo. Shampoo cleanses the hair and scalp, while conditioner helps to moisturise and nourish the hair, making it softer and more manageable. Using both will give you the best results for healthy and beautiful hair.

After shampooing your hair, conditioning your hair is an important step to lock in all the moisture and make it more manageable To get the best results, make sure the conditioner is evenly distributed and your hair is well coated

Don't forget to check out the full range of the best UK shampoo bars here.

Finally, don't forget to ask us in the comments below if you have any further questions we can answer for you.

Best wishes,

Rebecca at The Solid Bar Company

PS. While you're here why not check out why our Shampoo Bars Are Planet Friendly!

 All the questions you asked about shampoo bars

(This blog was updated in February 2024)


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