Shampoo Bars Giving Liquid Picks a Run for Their Money

ishonest / Chloe Jeong

Bar soaps recently had a major moment, reemerging on the beauty scene with more options available than ever before. But while they were stealing the spotlight, there was an unsung hero quietly waiting in the wings—shampoo bars. As is the case with soap, these solid sudsers are poised to give their liquid counterparts a run for their money.

Meet the Expert

  • Our Picks
  • Final Verdict
  • What To Look For
  • Why Trust ishonest

Best Overall: J.R. Liggett's Virgin Coconut & Argan Oil Shampoo Bar

Not only does this contain moisturizing coconut and olive oils, but it also contains strengthening argan oil meant to help keep your strands long and strong. Made with Vitamin E and sunflower oil, this shampoo bar protects against pollution and UV damage, according to the brand. And how cute is the vintage packaging?

What Our Testers Say

"My dandruff issue subsided almost completely—much quicker and more effectively than dandruff shampoo—and the patches of red, flaky skin I was noticing along my hairline and sideburns vanished completely. My black turtlenecks and I are forever grateful to J.R. Liggett." —Jenna Igneri, Product Tester

Best for Colored Hair: Love Beauty And Planet Shampoo Bar

Hair Type: Color-treated | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Floral | Size: 4 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | ishonest Clean: Yes

Sulfate-free and ultra-gentle, this newbie is specially made to keep your hue shiny and vibrant and won’t strip color. Using ethically- and naturally-sourced ingredients, it’s also housed in a carton made from 100% recyclable materials. But we’d be remiss to not mention the scent, one of our favorites of all time— it’s the perfect balance of floral and sweet, and will have everyone asking what perfume you’re wearing.

Best for Curly Hair: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Rhassoul Clay Shampoo Bar

Hair Type: Curly | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Coconut | Size: 4.5 oz | Cruelty- Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

Some shampoo bars tend to leave hair tangled, particularly thick and curly hair. Not the case with this one, specially made to leave your spirals soft and full of body and bounce. The mineral-rich bar also has a unique curved edge that makes it super easy to work into your scalp.

Best for Dandruff: Ethique Heali Kiwi Shampoo for Dandruff or Scalp Problems

Hair Type: Dry | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Kiwi | Size: 3.9 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

This brand offers some of the top-rated shampoo bars, including this one. Formulated with neem and Karanja oils, it’s 100% soap-free and promises to help with scalp issues; users repeatedly comment on how well it works to fight flakes. Soothing oats combat itchiness, too, and the zero-waste brand places a special emphasis on minimizing their environmental impact, always a good thing.

Best for Dry Hair: Bar None Hydrating Shampoo Bar

Hair Type: Dry | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Clean | Size: 3.5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No

Key Ingredients

Cocoa butter comes from the cacao bean, which is found inside the cocoa pod, which grows on the cacao tree. Because it's rich with fatty acids and antioxidants, it makes for a great moisturizer.

A trio of heavy-hitting hydrators—coconut, shea, and cocoa butter—make this extra creamy bar choice for parched hair. Plus, there’s also an accompanying solid conditioner, too, a product that’s not so easy to find. Happy reviewers rave about both and comment on the pleasant scent, too.

Best for Fine Hair: Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar

Hair Type: Fine, thin | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Citrus | Size: 1.9 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: No

Key Ingredients

"Seaweed is a very powerful concentration of seawater and is able to uptake minerals by absorption and active transport from seawater. Because of these processes, some seaweeds have a dense concentration of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, and lipids," according to master esthetician Lydia Sarfati.

Lush offers an impressive array of 11 different shampoo bars, but if extra volume is your goal, make this your go-to. Using, you guessed it, a host of sea- based ingredients, sea salt promises to add body and boost limp locks, while two different types of seaweed are meant to keep your hair soft.

"I was a firm disbeliever in shampoo bars until I tried this product. Not only does it smell amazing, but it actually works. My hair gets quite oily, and this formula cuts right through the grime without making my scalp feel stripped or starved for moisture. That, and my hair is always at its bounciest and most voluminous after washing with Seanik." —Holly Rhue, Editor

Best for Oily Scalps: Basin Charcoal Shampoo Bar

Hair Type: Oily | Sulfate-Free: No | Scent: Musk | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

Charcoal is a commonly used skincare ingredient, thanks to its potential ability to remove excess oil. Breaking news: It might do the same for your scalp and hair. This bar, which lasts 50 to 75 washes, uses bamboo charcoal meant to eliminate oil and excess product residue, leaving your scalp and hair feeling cleaner than ever.

Best for Travel: Apple Valley Natural Soap Shampoo Bar Sampler Pack

Hair Type: All | Scent: Variety | Size: 15 0.3-0.5 oz bars | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Any shampoo bar is great for travel by definition since you don’t have to worry about spills or it getting snatched up by the TSA. But since most of them last for a long time, if you don’t want to have to deal with bringing the bar back home after your trip, grab this sampler pack. It features small slices (about 1/3 ounce, each good for three washes) of the brand’s 15 different shampoo bars. Take a different one with you each time you travel and figure out which one you like best.

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Herbal | Size: 4.5 oz | Cruelty- Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

Looking to streamline your shower situation? This solid sudser does it all, working to effectively cleanse both your hair and body, with certified organic and fair-trade plant-based ingredients. Not to mention that it’s safe to use for kids and even pets, too.

Best Natural: Friendly Soap Natural Handmade Shampoo Bar

Hair Type: Oily | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Lavender | Size: 3.4 oz | Cruelty- Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

Most shampoo bars tend to have fewer chemicals and questionable ingredients, but the ingredient list of this one takes the cake. It contains castor, coconut, and olive oils, tea tree and lavender essential oils, and water, and is free of parabens, palm oil, plastic, and sulfates. Users love it, though they do point out that it’s better suited for oily rather than dry hair.

Best Organic: Chagrin Valley Shampoo Bar, Rosemary Lavender

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Clean | Size: 1.7 / 5.6 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

Made with certified organic ingredients (an impressive feat, at this price point), this one uses hydrating jojoba oil and mango butter, along with invigorating rosemary and tea tree oil that leaves your scalp feeling pleasantly tingly.

Best for Sensitive Scalps: Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar with Aloe Vera

Hair Type: All | Sulfate-Free: Yes | Scent: Clean | Size: 3.5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | ishonest Clean: Yes

Have fine, straight hair? Thick, curly hair? This bar works for every hair type and texture, using 100% plant-based ingredients such as aloe vera, castor oil, and coconut oil meant to gently cleanse strands. It’s also fragrance-free, perfect if you have a sensitive or easily irritated scalp.

What to Look For in a Shampoo Bar


Most options are sulfate-free, here—but still, keep in mind that, even if sulfates are listed, not all sulfates are created equal. Many shampoo bars rely on plant-derived sulfates, which aren’t as harsh or drying, says Kayganich, who adds that it’s worth doing a little investigating if you do see sulfates listed on the label.


Kayganich suggests avoiding formulas that contain added synthetic fragrance since that’s just a blanket term that can mask a whole litany of ingredients. Essentially, if you see that term on the list, it's much harder to know what you’re actually getting.

Activated Charcoal

According to Sofie Pok, barber and co-creator of STMNT Grooming Goods, the popular skincare ingredient is great for hair too, and especially good to seek out in a shampoo bar. It can help remove impurities while also increasing volume, she claims.

ishonest / Jenna Igneri

Option one: Rub the bar in between your wet hands to work up a lather, then work that through your hair. Option two: Rub the bar directly on your hair (cutting it into smaller pieces will make this easier), but always work downward, instead of piling your hair on top of your head, which can create tangles.

You can store it as you would any other bar soap, so in the shower is fine. But to help increase the longevity, try putting it on a soap dish that has some ventilation on the bottom, so that air can circulate around it and it doesn’t get gunky underneath.

According to Kayganich, one bar can replace up to three plastic bottles of shampoo—so quite a while. Some brands even claim that their bars last for 80 to 100 washes.

Why Trust ishonest

ishonest contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s a daily shampooer, and after writing this article realized how beneficial shampoo bars can be. (But definitely underscores the fact that it’s important to use lots of conditioner after.)

Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(1): 43-48.

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