5 Shampoo Bars without Sulfates

In this article we introduce you to solid shampoo bars without sulfates that help you to solve 2 main issues with conventional hair care products: SLS, that irritates the skin and plastic waste.

Why is SLS bad for hair?

In shampoos, sulfates create a frothy lather that removes dirt, oil and styling product buildup from the hair and scalp. One of the most common sulfates you’ll find in cosmetics is SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate).

However, sulfates can be too effective at washing away grease, which can leave hair or skin feeling a little parched. And if your skin or scalp is particularly sensitive, sulfates can cause irritations like redness or itching. Unfortunately, they do have the potential to leave hair and skin feeling dry.

But there is another problem with conventional shampoo: The plastic waste!

How many shampoo and conditioner bottles are thrown away?

Haircare products are mainly packaged in plastic containers. Even all-natural and organic liquid shampoos and conditioners come in plastic bottles that end up in landfills or get burned in waste-to-energy plants.

According to Johnson & Johnson more than 552 million shampoo bottles could be ending up in landfills every year. Alone in the U.S:, the number of used shampoo bottles every year could fill 1,164 football fields.

To address this plastic avalanche there is recycling, on the one hand. However, the proportion of plastic containers that actually gets recycled is alarmingly low.

According to Johnson & Johnson only 1 in 5 people consistently recycle items from the bathroom.

But how about avoiding plastic containers in the first place? And do without SLS?

There is a solution that becomes more and more popular: Sulfate free shampoo bars!

So what is a shampoo bar?

First of all, sulfate free shampoo bars are not like curd soap that you might remember from your childhood. They contain mainly plant-based ingredients that provide the same cleansing experience as liquid shampoos.

First of all they don’t require packaging, so they are much better for the environment than their bottled counterparts. They are usually wrapped in paper or even jute sachets.

Shampoo bars are more concentrated than traditional shampoos and conditioners, so you can use less per application and they will last longer.

Liquid Shampoos consist 70 to 80% of water. A lot of water that needs to be bottled and transported. Roughly ten to fifteen trucks of liquid shampoo would be needed for one truck of solid shampoo bars to get the same number of washes!

In order to keep the liquid shampoo fluid it needs a lot of ingredients that have nothing to do with the actual function of a shampoo: Cleaning your hair!

Conventional shampoos need surfactants – compounds that bind to oils and water – such as SLS Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and SLES Sodium Laureth Sulfate which are derived from petroleum or from fatty acids of palm or coconut oil.

Commercial surfactants are pretty harsh cleaners. They strip the oils from your hair and scalp and contaminate the waste water.

Then there are foam boosters (surfactants/emulsifiers) such as cocamidopropyl betaine derived from fatty acids reacted with nitrogen-containing compounds to make the liquid shampoo foamy.

And there is a lot of other stuff that impacts your health and burdens the environment such as silicones, thickeners, fragrances and preservatives.

Shampoo bars don’t need all this stuff. They can focus on cleaning and nourishing your hair.

So what is actually the differences between a shampoo bar and hair soap?

It’s mainly the pH. While soap has a ph of 7 or more, the surfactant used in shampoo bars have a neutral ph (4 to 5) which is much gentler to the hair. This difference in PH causes different things to happen to the scales on each strand of your hair. ​

Shampoo bars are free from synthetic chemicals. They are even more cost effective as they last longer than liquid shampoo bottles:

Our recommendations for Zero Waste Shampoo Bars without SLS:

The Yellow Bird Pepermint Shampoo Bar

Vitamin E rich Argan and Jojoba oils hydrate and protect hair from frizz. Freshly scented with Pepermint Oil. Contains no synthetic fragrances or perfumes.

Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar for Dandruff or Touchy Scalps, Heali Kiwi

Specifically designed for those who suffer from scalp problems and dandruff. Made of Kiwifruit Oil, Coconut Oil, Neem Oil, Oats, Calendula and Manuka Oil.

100% soap free, pH balanced and safe for colour treated hair. Palm Oil free.

J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Shampoo Bar

The J.R. Liggett’s shampoo bars come in a 3 bar variety pack: Tea Tree & Hemp Oil, Jojoba & Peppermint as well Coconut and Argan Oil.

The all-vegan bars are 100% biodegradable and do not contain harsh chemicals.

Whiff Shampoo Bar, Unscented

That shampoo bar contains only a few ingredients:

  • Plus D-Panthenol – a provitamin B5, for elasticity, moisture retention & flexibility,
  • Coconut oil with fatty acids and vitamins that strengthen hair,
  • Cocoa Butter as a super moisturizer,
  • Hemp Seed oil with vitamin A, C, & E,
  • Sodium coco sulfate as a foaming agent that leaves hair feeling clean without a waxy or oily residue
  • Unscented, No palm oil, No Colorings, No Additives. Free from Harmful Additives, Fragrances, Scents and Colorings. Handmade in the USA.

Mini Meditation Organic Shampoo Bar

These all natural Essential Oil Hair Bar Shampoos come in 4 Scents: Lavender, Citrus, Tea Tree, and Peppermint

They are 100% organic and eco-friendly.


Using solid shampoo bars without sulfates can make a bit impact on the environment. Harsh chemicals to preserve the liquidity of regular shampoos can be avoided. By using shampoo bars we can remove the burden on our waste water and avoid filling landfills with plastic bottles.

Try them and join the zero waste movement!

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash