e believe the most essential travel toiletry items are shampoo and conditioner bars. Why you ask? Well, in this post we go over exactly that and provide an honest review of several different brands that we tested.
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What are Shampoo and Conditioner Bars?
Simply put, shampoo and conditioner bars are solid forms of the liquid form that we are all used to applying. They typically come in the shape of a small round puck that fits nicely in the palm of your hand.
Why Use Shampoo and Conditioner Bars?
The biggest reason we decided to use shampoo and conditioner bars is that they are not considered a liquid for going through TSA security. And if you’re like us and prefer to travel carry-on only, reducing your liquids is important. Not only that, the solid form gets you a lot more uses than the 3 ounces of liquid that TSA allows. If the TSA liquid rule is new to you, read about it here.
Packing shampoo and conditioner bars eliminate the risk of them spilling onto the rest of your luggage contents, whether that be your clothing or electronics.
Most brands do not use any plastic in the making or packaging of shampoo and conditioner bars. Additionally, the ingredients used are all-natural without any chemical additives. This is all around great for the environment and your hair!
How to Use Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
The first time using shampoo and conditioner bars can be a little odd since it’s different than what you’re used to. But don’t let that stop you.
- Wet your hair and the bar
- Glide bar over your hair multiple times until you feel there’s enough product
- Set bar aside and massage the lather into your scalp
- Once you feel it’s massaged enough into your scalp, rinse
- Repeat with conditioner bar
- Tip: you can also use the shampoo bar as a body soap bar (further reducing the amount of toiletries)
- Once done, store away from water in between showers (this allows the bars to last longer)
What to Look for When Buying Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
How well does each bar lather? If it’s a shampoo bar do you get a good sudsy, frothy lather? If it’s a conditioner bar, do you get a nice creamy, smooth lather? We associate these lathers when the product is working well. Some brands lathered better than others.
Each bar has some sort of scent. Some floral, others sweet, or even funky scents that you may not typically think would be used in a shampoo or conditioner. This really comes down to personal preference what you may be drawn to, so obviously we reviewed it based on how well we liked the scent and if we thought it was overpowering or mild.
Cleanliness & Residue
Do you get that squeaky clean feel once you rinse out the product? Or does the bar leave behind a residue? Unfortunately, even if a bar lathers well and smells great, it may still leave your hair feeling dirty even though you just washed it.
Soap/Body Wash Use
Does the shampoo bar lather enough that it also works well as a soap bar for the entire body? (Only applicable for shampoo bars)
Does the packaging consist of any plastic? Are the ingredients used naturally derived without any added chemicals? Both these factors contribute to how eco-friendly the shampoo and conditioner bars are.
Shape/Size comfort and packability
How well does the bar fit and feel in your hand as you use it? Does the size pack well?
The overall quality of the bar considering the cost, as well as, how many showers each bar allows.
Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Review
We put 10 different shampoo and conditioner bars to the test and evaluated each one based on their: lather, scent, cleanliness, soap use, eco-friendly, shape/size, and value. Depending on how each bar scored for each of these categories we then gave them an overall Go Score of 1 to 5 – 1 being bad and 5 being excellent.
Before we get into the review, we should note both of our hair types since that could change how it works on your hair if it’s different than ours.
RJ’s Hair – Short (typical man haircut), curly, thick density, coarse texture, and prone to be frizzy
Megan’s Hair – Shoulder length, straight, thick density, fine texture, and prone to be greasy
As you can see, our hair types are quite opposite so we took this into consideration as we reviewed each bar.
Read on to see the complete review of shampoo and conditioner bars.
Shampoo Bar Brand Ratings
|Brand||Go Score||Lather||Scent||Cleanliness||Soap Use||Eco-friendly||Shape/Size||Value|
|Beauty & The Bees Tasmania||4.64||5||4||5||5||5||5||3.5|
|Sweet & Sassy||4.64||5||5||5||5||4||5||3.5|
|Nature Skin Shop||4.57||5||5||5||5||5||3||4|
Conditioner Bar Brand Ratings
|Nature Skin Shop||4.7||5||5||5||4||4.5|
|Sweet & Sassy||4.5||5||5||4||5||3.5|
|Beauty & The Bees Tasmania||4.4||5||3.5||5||5||3.5|
Combo Bar Brand Rating
|Brand||Go Score||Lather||Scent||Cleanliness||Soap Use||Eco-friendly||Shape/Size||Value|
Lush Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
Lush Shampoo Go Score: 4.71 out of 5
This review is specifically on the Lush Jumping Juniper Shampoo Bar as Lush has several different shampoo bars that have different scents and serve different purposes. The manufacturer states the Jumping Juniper bar is made particularly for oily hair.
What We Like: This bar lathers up really well, smells clean and refreshing with floral and citrus scents. Additionally, you get the squeaky-clean feel and it pulls double-duty since it works great as a soap bar as well. We got 28 uses out of it using it twice daily for two weeks and using it each time as both a shampoo and body soap bar. The bar is round in shape with a diameter of about 2 inches and a thickness of half an inch. Lush doesn’t use any plastic in their packaging and each bar is made from naturally derived ingredients.
What We Dislike: Nothing, we love these shampoo bars!
Lush shampoo bars are by far our favorite since it hits the mark on all categories. The only category it received a lower score is the value because compared to the other bars we reviewed and the cost for size it scored the worst, but because it scored so well on everything else, the increase in cost is worth it. We’ve tried all of their shampoo bars and love each and every one of them.
Lush Conditioner Go Score: 2.6 out of 5
This review is specifically on the Lush Big Conditioner Bar since Lush has a few other conditioner bars. The manufacturer states it’s good for beachy hair.
What We Like: It has a nice subtle, clean scent. As with Lush’s shampoo bar, the conditioner bar doesn’t use any plastic in their packaging and each bar is made from naturally derived ingredients.
What We Dislike: Unfortunately, there are a lot more dislikes for this bar than there are likes. This bar didn’t condition, in fact, it’s better to not use at all and save on space. It didn’t matter how much we put on; we never felt a creamy lather that you would expect with a conditioner. Due to its large oval shape, it’s a bit harder to handle to begin with. Also, if left in the bathroom, the humidity makes it soft and hard to manage as a conditioner bar. Due to this, we ended up not using the bar completely and only got about 12 showers out of it.
Even though we didn’t like this conditioner bar, that’s not to say all the conditioner bars Lush makes are bad. We haven’t tried their other ones yet, but we’d like to since we think so highly of all their shampoo bars.
Lush Combo Shampoo/Conditioner Bar
Lush Combo Bar Go Score: 1.93 out of 5
We end our Lush brand review with the Lush Avocado Co-Wash Bar which is both a shampoo and conditioner combined into one bar.
What We Like: The only thing going for this bar is that it’s eco-friendly – no plastic and made from naturally derived ingredients.
What We Dislike: The lather is more of a conditioner creamy lather and not a shampoo soapy lather which also means there isn’t a squeaky clean feel, so it’s hard to tell if your hair is actually clean. Since it doesn’t have the nice soapy lather, it doesn’t work well as a soap bar. The scent is odd and really hard to define, it doesn’t stink, but smells tart like you’re about to eat the tartest fruit bar or pie. We got a total of 6 showers out of it, doesn’t go nearly as far as others, probably the shortest lifespan for the size. Each shower we used it three times since by the third time we had more of a soapy lather. The shape is a little funky which makes it hard to store and travel with. It comes packaged as a wedge with red wax around it – looks like Babybel cheese. The shampoo/conditioner inside the wax is pretty soft, so the wax probably keeps it together. But due to the wax, it has you question how you’re supposed to use it.
The rest of the review is geared for the ladies since it has to do with longer hair. Megan did not enjoy this bar at all, it fails at all levels! It doesn’t glide over hair like others have, instead it pulls out hair leaving behind strands of hair on the bar – pretty gross. This bar definitely isn’t good for long hair – as mentioned above, Megan’s hair is shoulder length and the struggle was hard enough. Megan’s hair didn’t feel clean or conditioned, she actually had to use another conditioner bar in order to run her fingers through her hair. As you use the bar, wax pieces come off in your hair. After Megan dried her hair there was evident residue left behind making her hair feel dirty and hard to manage. Megan ended up having to take another shower after drying her hair because it felt so gross.
We really wanted to like this one since it would have been the ultimate space saver for toiletries, but in the end, it was the worst bar we reviewed [sad face].
On a happier note, Lush has TONS of different solid toiletry items ranging from toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, body/soap, and makeup. We haven’t tried them yet, but we’ve heard great things about them.
Nature Skin Shop Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
We assessed both the Coconut Milk Shampoo Bar and the Coconut Milk Conditioner Bar. We’re a sucker for coconut, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check these babies out! Both are eco-friendly made from naturally derived ingredients and recycled packaging. We separated our review of each in different categories for the shampoo and conditioner bars below.
Nature Skin Coconut Milk Shampoo Go Score: 4.57 out of 5
What We Like: This bar smells amazing straight from the box with a rich coconut scent, but once on your hair, it’s a nice subtle yet clean scent. It has a nice frothy lather and squeaky-clean feel on both hair and body, so be sure to use it as a soap bar as well. The shampoo bar is rectangular in shape (approximately 3 inches by 2 inches), pretty large for travel, so you can easily cut into smaller sizes. This is the only shampoo bar we reviewed that came with ridges which we thought was pretty cool because it allows you to grip the bar easily; however, after the first shower the ridges disappear.
What We Dislike: Surprisingly for its size, it only provided 15 showers, which we would have expected more. Due to this, the value score is knocked down, but ultimately that’s the only thing lacking.
Nature Skin Coconut Milk Conditioner Go Score: 4.7 out of 5
What We Like: Just like the shampoo bar, this bar has a divine scent of coconut and a wonderful creamy conditioning lather. The amount of uses this bar provides seems endless and we’ve honestly lost track, but to give you an idea we’ve pretty much used this bar daily since March 2019 and it’s still going strong at the beginning of November 2019. Out of all the conditioner bars we reviewed, this bar beats them all.
What We Dislike: At first glance, the price might be daunting as it is the most expensive but it has also lasted the longest by far, which makes it so worth it. This conditioner bar is a large puck in shape (approximately 3 inches in diameter), again pretty large for travel and doesn’t fit as well in the palm of your hand, but that’s just a minor inconvenience.
Sweet & Sassy Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
The Sweet and Sassy Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Set comes with two shampoo bars and one conditioner bar. This is perfect because in general, you get quite a bit more washes out of the conditioner than the shampoo. You also have the option of three scents: Sun Kissed (what we reviewed), Coconut Lime, or So Sumptuous. Each bar fits nicely in the palm of your hand as they are round with a diameter of about 2.5 inches and 1.5 inches thick. It’s also convenient that the set comes with two recyclable plastic containers (one for the shampoo and the other for the conditioner) – great for on-the-go travel! Some may say that the plastic containers that it comes with are not eco-friendly, so because of this we knocked one point off for the eco-friendly category, otherwise, the bars are naturally derived and chemical-free.
Sweet and Sassy Shampoo (Sun Kissed) Go Score: 4.64 out of 5
What We Like: This shampoo has a great lather with a squeaky-clean feel. Additionally, it makes a great soap bar, but ladies be careful around the genitals – this one burns. It has a great scent of peach even though it doesn’t have peach in it (ingredients include orange, tangerine, lime, and coconut). It has the same consistency as the Lush Shampoo bars that we love and pretty much the same experience. We got a total of 29 showers out of it.
What We Dislike: Nothing to note.
Sweet and Sassy Conditioner (Sun Kissed) Go Score: 4.5 out of 5
What We Like: This conditioner conditions really well and it doesn’t take much to feel the lather working. We received a total of 38 showers out of it due to the little amount you need to use to get the conditioning lather. Just like the shampoo, it has a peachy scent, but not as strong.
What We Dislike: Nothing to note.
Beauty and the Bees Tasmania Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
We tested a few of the Beauty and the Bees Tasmania bars: Real Beer Shampoo Bar, Real Beer Conditioner Bar, Lemon and Chamomile Shampoo Bar, and Honey Silk Hair Conditioning Bar. All of Beauty and the Bees Tasmania bars are eco-friendly with recycled packaging and the bars are made from naturally derived ingredients. We separated our review of each in different categories for the shampoo and conditioner bars below.
Beauty and the Bees Tasmania Shampoo Go Score: 4.64 out of 5
Each of the shampoo bars are rectangular in shape measuring about 2 inches wide by 4 inches long and 1 inch thick, skinnier than any of the others but great for sharing if you need to cut in half (like in Iceland at the campground showers). Each bar lasted 19 showers with shampooing twice in one shower and using it as a soap bar.
What We Like: Both shampoos (Real Beer and Lemon and Chamomile) lather wonderfully and it doesn’t take much at all to get a nice lather. These shampoo bars have a great squeaky-clean feel which also makes for a nice soap bar.
The real difference between these two bars is the scent and texture. The Real Beer Shampoo scent reminded us of the holidays with a strong scent of cloves (think eggnog). Smells good but may not be for some. The texture has small flakes of herbs in it, which could be strange for a few, but they were small enough for us that it didn’t bother us, we thought the pieces were small enough to be exfoliating.
On the other hand, the Lemon and Chamomile Shampoo has a nice and refreshingly clean lemon scent. So if cloves are not your thing, this lemon bar is better. Also, there aren’t any pieces in the bar so this could be better in this regard too if you don’t want any of the exfoliating features that the Real Beer shampoo bar had.
What We Dislike: No complaints with these Beauty and the Bees Tasmania shampoo bars.
Beauty and the Bees Tasmania Conditioner Go Score: 4.4 out of 5
The conditioner bars are circular in shape with a diameter of about 2.5 inches and half an inch thick. Each bar lasted 30 showers.
What We Like: Both conditioners (Real Beer and Honey Silk) have a nice creamy lather as you would expect from a conditioner and just like the shampoo bars, it doesn’t take much to feel it doing its job.
Also, the biggest difference between these two conditioner bars is the scent. The Real Beer Conditioner smells a lot like the shampoo – cloves, just not as strong. However, unlike the shampoo, there aren’t any pieces of herbs in the conditioner.
The Honey Silk Conditioner doesn’t have any real scent. You would expect a sweet scent, but there’s not much there, which could be good for sensitive scalps.
What We Dislike: No complaints with these Beauty and the Bees Tasmania conditioner bars.
Ethique Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
We tested out the Ethique Hair Sampler which comes with 5 small bars that fit great in the palm of your hand: 3 shampoo bars and 2 conditioner bars. Each bar is the shape of a heart about 1 inch in diameter. The sampler set is great if you want to test out each bar to see which one you like best before you purchase a full bar. It also works well for travel if you end up liking all of them since the size of each bar is perfect. All of Ethique’s items are environmentally friendly, not made with plastic or chemicals, and all naturally derived. We separated our review of each in different categories for the shampoo and conditioner bars below.
Ethique Shampoo Go Score: 4.36 out of 5
Each of the shampoo bars lasted 4 showers with shampooing twice in one shower and using it as a soap bar.
- Frizz Wrangler (shampoo for dry/frizzy hair) doesn’t lather well, nor do you get the squeaky-clean feel, but it does its job. Makes a better shampoo bar than a soap bar. Smells good with a mixture of sweet (coconut) and citrusy (lime).
- Heali Kiwi (shampoo for dandruff) lathers better than the Frizz Wrangler but takes a little bit more product to get it to lather. You do get the squeaky-clean feel without any residue left behind. Not too much of a scent and not a great soap/body bar. It’s designed for sensitive scalps but seems to work fine for regular use also.
- Saint Clements (shampoo for oily hair) is the best shampoo bar in the sampler. It lathers really well with the squeaky-clean feel. It’s both a great shampoo and soap bar. Smells good with citrusy essences. Very comparable to Lush’s Jumping Juniper, that we liked so well.
Separately, we purchased and reviewed a regular-sized Ethique Shampoo Bar (Pinkalicious) to test the size of a regular bar. It’s a square block about 2 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick and fits in your palm nicely. It smelt great with scents of vanilla and a hint of fruitiness (grapefruit). The lather and soap were great and we got a total of 30 showers using it.
Ethique Conditioner Go Score: 4.5 out of 5
Each of the sampler conditioner bars lasted 22 showers.
- Wonderbar (conditioner for oily-normal hair) does good conditioning the hair, but The Guardian (mentioned below) does it better. The Wonderbar takes a little more product before you feel it conditioning. Smells great with a coconut scent. After a shower and once the hair is dried, Megan’s hair felt fuller (good for fine hair) and her fly-a-ways weren’t nearly as noticeable as usual.
- The Guardian (conditioner for normal-dry hair) does a fantastic job conditioning the hair with just a little bit of the product. You can feel the conditioner lather on and run your fingers through your hair. It smells okay, not bad, just reminds us of a household cleaner like pine-sol. After a shower and as the day went on, hair felt great and hair had a subtle nice clean scent.
We have not tried the full-size conditioner bars to know how long they last.
Ethique also provides multiple other solid toiletries like deodorant, lotion, and body soap. We haven’t tried these items, so we can’t confidently recommend them.
Whiff Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
The Whiff Shampoo and Conditioner Bar Set is packaged in recyclable and biodegradable materials, as well as, made from four naturally derived ingredients. Each bar is round in shape but smaller than most of the other bars.
Whiff Shampoo Go Score: 4.57 out of 5
What We Like: The shampoo lathers extremely well and can be used as a soap bar, but as with some of the others, it may be sensitive to the female genitalia. It fits nicely in the palm of the hand and has the same consistency as our favorite Lush shampoo bar.
What We Dislike: The peppermint scent reminded us of candy canes or gum, they smell good, but Megan would prefer a different scent because she doesn’t associate peppermint to clean hair. Also, due to its smaller size, we only received 10 total showers out of it, because of this the value score is dropped since the cost for size is still pretty pricey.
Whiff Conditioner Go Score: 4.4 out of 5
What We Like: The conditioner has a nice creamy lather and it doesn’t take much to feel it working. It also has a nice size that fits in the palm of your hand well as you glide it through your hair. It’s still on the smaller side, but as with all the conditioners you get a lot more uses out of it than shampoo and so far, we have received 16 showers with half the bar used.
What We Dislike: As with the shampoo bar, it also has a peppermint scent that Megan isn’t really fond of for clean hair.
J.R. Liggett Shampoo Bars
We purchased the J.R. Liggett shampoo set that comes with three (3) shampoo bars of different scents – coconut and argan oil, jojoba and peppermint, and tea tree and hemp oil. Besides the scent, the review for each bar is the same. Each bar is rectangular in shape and measures about 2 inches wide by 2.5 inches long and 1.5 inches thick – definitely hearty bars! We got 20 uses out of each bar.
What We Like: These shampoo bars are probably the most budget-friendly due to their size and the quantity that you get. Basically, for the price of one bar from other manufacturers, you get three bars. Additionally, these bars definitely lather up really well on your hair and when rinsed out you get the squeaky-clean feel. None of the scents are very strong, the only one that had the strongest scent was the peppermint (reminiscent of candy canes), but still very subtle. All of them have somewhat of a scent that reminded us of the paste we used in elementary school for paper projects or a starchy scent like pasta. We feel very neutral about the scent.
What We Dislike: The heartiness of these bars makes it a little hard to hold the first few uses, but it’s not bad, just a minor inconvenience compared to other bars. These shampoo bars aren’t good as soap bars since they don’t lather up as well on your bodies as it does on your hair, and ladies beware, it burns if used around your genitals. Unfortunately, after the shower and once our hair dried, we both noticed our hair was harder to manage. For Megan’s longer and fine hair, she noticed it was hard to brush and style (even with conditioner use) because her hair kept getting tangled. RJ mentioned it was hard to tame his curls. Even though these bars are budget-friendly, the quality is definitely lacking, so you get what you pay for. As far as being eco-friendly, each J.R. Liggett bar is made from naturally derived ingredients; however, they all came packaged in plastic, which dropped their score a little bit in this category.
Yellow Bird Shampoo Bar
The Yellow Bird Shampoo is a large rectangular bar (the biggest that we reviewed) and will cut into smaller pieces nicely if needed. It’s packaged in a biodegradable/recyclable box and made from all naturally derived ingredients. The packaging states it has scents of grapefruit, rosemary, and lavender and it is quite strong out of the box, but when used on the hair it’s pretty subtle and has the starchy scent that we mentioned with the J.R. Liggett shampoo bars. In fact, the whole experience is identical to the J.R. Liggett shampoo bars even though it is a completely different brand. It left our hair hard to manage. The higher Go Score relates to the higher eco-friendly and shape/size scores, but it’s one of our least favorite bars. We didn’t use the entire bar before stopping use, so we can’t comment on how many uses we got out of it. However, by its size, you should get a lot of uses, probably close to 40, if not more.
Tree Naturals Conditioner Bar
The Tree Naturals Conditioner is also a large rectangular bar, the same size and same packaging as the Yellow Bird Shampoo. So, it’s also the largest conditioner bar we reviewed and, if preferred, can be cut into smaller pieces. It conditions really well and doesn’t take much before you feel it working. The scent is subtle and starchy – we couldn’t smell the green tea or coconut, so we give it a neutral score for scent. We haven’t used up the bar, so we’re unable to state how many uses, but based on its size our guess would be around 80 uses.
So there you have it, our honest review of the many shampoo and conditioner bars that we tested and why we think they are an essential toiletry item.
We absolutely love shampoo and conditioner bars. We initially tested them out for travel only thinking we would stick to the liquid form outside of travel; however, we love them so much that we’ve now converted to using them each and every day regardless of travel. We’re pretty sure you will love them too!
If you have used them before, feel free to let us know in the comments below your thoughts on them, or shoot us as an email. We’d love to hear from you!
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