Over the last five years shampoo bars have saved around 30 million plastic bottles from landfill. Isn’t it time you joined the naked revolution?
Solid shampoo bars are a great alternative to liquid shampoos. They are economical to use because they last for up to 80 washes, which is roughly three times longer than an average 200ml bottle of shampoo. This means that every naked, unpackaged bar you use saves up to three plastic bottles from landfill — and this has a hugely positive impact on the environment.
There are other advantages to using shampoo bars too. They are entirely self-preserving, so no synthetic preservatives have to be added to keep them fresh — and they are gentle enough for even the most sensitive scalps. They are also a no-spill alternative to shampoo when you’re travelling. Forget about decanting your shampoo into tiny bottles because solid shampoo bars can travel in your carry-on luggage.
All this explains why, in the last year alone, more than 2.5 million shampoo bars have been sold globally — and it’s exciting to think of the positive impact this could have on the environment if even more of us ‘got naked’ with solid shampoo.
What are shampoo bars?
Shampoo bars were invented more than 20 years ago by Lush co-founder Mo Constantine and cosmetic chemist Stan Krysztal. They were so revolutionary that Cosmetics to Go, the company that later became Lush, successfully applied for and won a patent to protect this exciting new invention.
Mo and Stan quickly realised that a shampoo bar acted as the perfect base for all kinds of beautiful natural ingredients, which is why there are now several different varieties to choose from, containing everything from cocoa butter and honey to peppermint and rosemary.
Shampoo bars couldn’t be easier to use; simply rub the bar between wet hands or straight onto wet hair to create lots of lather. You can then massage this foam into the hair and scalp as you normally would, before rinsing as usual. After use, leave the bar out in the air to dry, keep it in a round tin or a cork pot specially designed to keep your shampoo bar clean and dry when you’re travelling.
A lotta bottles
Since 2010, more than nine million shampoo bars have been sold worldwide — and that’s just a fraction of the number sold since they were invented.
Given that every one of these hard-working bars does the job of three bottles of shampoo, shampoo bars have saved around 30 million plastic bottles from going to landfill since the start of the decade.
“Shampoo bars have a hugely positive impact on the environment,” says Lush co-founder Mark Constantine. “We’re extremely proud of them because they’re long-lasting and totally unpackaged. Imagine the difference it would make if everyone was using them? It would be lovely if the whole industry followed our lead.”
In fact, it’s impossible to underestimate the difference it could make if more people used solid shampoos. According to figures from market intelligence agency Euromonitor International, sales of haircare products climbed by 6% in 2012, with shampoos accounting for 35% of spending. It’s safe to assume that almost all of these shampoos come in plastic bottles which are destined for landfill. To make matters worse, many of us throw away half-used bottles because they don’t deliver the results that we expect, adding to the waste.
“If we get the product right and give good customer service, there’s an extremely good chance that we’ve prevented two half-empty bottles of someone else's under-performing shampoo ending up in the bin,” explains Mark.
No synthetic preservatives are needed to keep shampoo bars fresh because they’ve been formulated in a way that inhibits bacterial growth. Bacteria needs certain conditions to thrive and grow, including water. So solid shampoo bars, which are made with little or no water, are innately self-preserving — and will stay that way.
“We made a lovely discovery with our self-preserving products,” explains Mark. “If a formula is self-preserving today, it’ll be self-preserving next week, next month, next year — and in ten years time. It’s a truly long-lasting product because it won’t grow bugs at any time.”
This is great news for people who prefer to avoid synthetic preservatives — and shampoo bars are a good option for those with sensitive skin, too. The application technique means they are gentler than conventional liquid shampoo, simply because only the foam is applied to the hair and scalp. The concentrated product doesn’t make direct contact with the skin, so the risk of irritation is minimal.
Which solid shampoo is right for you?
There’s an impressive range of shampoo bars to choose from, with plenty of new additions to come.
For the ultimate fuss-free experience, Godiva combines shampoo and conditioner — so you won’t have to take any bottles into the shower. New is specially formulated for thin or fine hair, and Seanik is packed with nori seaweed and sea salt for added volume and shine. Soak and Float can help to treat sore, dry or irritated scalps, while Braziliant works wonders on curly hair.
Other new additions to the range include Montalbano, which is loaded with popping candy for the ultimate morning pick-me-up, and Jason and The Argan Oil, which contains 23% less SLS to help prevent fade on colour-treated hair.
So if you haven’t tried shampoo bars yet, what are you waiting for? There really is one to suit every head of hair, but with so many to choose from, it might take you a while to decide on your favourite.
Translated by Anthea Wong; edited by Kadii Chan.