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Ultimate Guide to Vegan Shampoo Bars: What to Try & Skip

Updated January 29, 2024

Although it seems like a natural fit that I, a Birkenstock-wearing, crunchy granola-eating vegan, would be touting the benefits and importance of vegan shampoo bars, that’s not always been the case. Some could even say I was a bit of a laggard when it came to jumping on this eco-friendly train, not because I didn’t think it was the right move but because I’m a bit of a hair snob.

For as long as I can remember, my hair has always been one of my favorite characteristics and one of the things that brought me compliments and confidence, no matter if it was long and platinum or an ashy, short bob. So, because of that, I’ve always babied it with special conditioners (vegan, of course) and treatments, and I have only let one person cut and color it for over 15 years (that’s a serious commitment)! 

I was skeptical when companies started creating vegan shampoo and conditioner bars. Although they hyped the benefits and that my hair would be silky, all I could imagine was that I’d end up with crazy yellow straw atop my head.

Well, my friends, I was wrong about most of them. I finally gave in a couple of years ago and have been on a shampoo bar-testing binge (you’re welcome)! To be honest, I wish I would’ve made the switch sooner. Not only does my hair look and feel the same, but the switch is also better for the environment, and it’s way easier to travel with bars vs. bottles. 

If you’re on the fence about making the switch, this guide is for you! What are you waiting for? Get shampooing!

shampoo bar sitting on a holder next to a wooden comb on a neutral background

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My Favorite Vegan Shampoo & Conditioner Bars 

All of these products have left my hair shiny and soft — no yellow straw! On average, I wash my hair a couple of times a week, which hasn’t changed with using any of these products. I’ve tested them all on days when my hair was super oily and dirty to see how they’d do, and all passed with flying colors.

#1 BRIXY

The team behind these bars are on a mission to create beauty products that are not only better for you but also the planet. They created a bar that works as good, or maybe even better than the stuff in plastic bottles, giving consumers no reason to kick that stuff to the curb for good.

On top of creating a better shampoo product, they’re serious about creating a better planet and donate 1% of sales to support the non-profit, ECOEVO. The organization is run by college students and backed by research from leading professors to educate and enact environmental change.

The bars are plastic-free, created with natural vegan ingredients (coconut oil, cacao seed butter, and argan oil, just to name a few), and are cruelty-free (+ Leaping Bunny certified). They are also rainforest-friendly, no palm oil was used in their creation. In addition to shampoo and conditioner bars, you’ll also find sudsy body wash bars in three lovely scents — citrus, coconut vanilla, and mint eucalyptus.

Shampoo Bars I Tested

I tested out the mint eucalyptus bars, from the outset I was a little skeptical. In the past, that combo was stellar at drying out my skin, so I thought, am I going to end up with yellow straw? To my surprise, it was the exact opposite, these bars performed way better than I expected. The shampoo bar suds up super well and the conditioner bar did a nice job coating my hair. Honestly, their goal of being as good or better than the stuff in the plastic bottles has been achieved. I loved these!

Which Hair Types Will Work with BRIXY?

BRIXY shampoo and conditioner bars are for all hair types.

Check Out BRIXY Products
boxes of vegan shampoo bars created by the brand brixy next to a bar covered in suds on a pink tile background
Credit: BRIXY

#2 Ethique

This was one of the first vegan and cruelty-free shampoo bar brands I tried, and it remains one of my absolute favorites!

Ethique is a New Zealand brand that gained popularity for its eco-friendly and plastic-free approach to hair care. The founder was frustrated with the amount of plastic waste created by beauty products and set out to do something about it. That was back in 2012; the company has grown to include other skincare products in its lineup. In addition to being plastic-free, all of their products do not contain palm oil or harsh chemicals like sulfates and parabens and the products are sustainably produced. 

The company also cares about giving back. A percentage of profits is donated annually to support various non-profit organizations working to protect endangered animals, stop deforestation, uplift those in poverty, and many more. They also prioritize setting up direct trade partnerships to source their ingredients from local organizations. For example, their cocoa butter comes from farming cooperatives in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. 

Shampoo Bars I Tested

One thing I love that Ethique offers are mini tester kits. You get to try five of their fabulous products to decide which one is best for you. These minis are also perfect for travel as they take up much less space than a regular bar (if you end up loving one of their products and don’t want to travel with the full bar, just slice a chunk of it). 

I settled on the Pinkalicious shampoo bar and The Guardian conditioner bar as my favorites!

Check Out Ethique Products

Which Hair Types Will Work with Ethique?

Ethique has one of the most diverse lineups of shampoo bars and conditioners. If you’re looking for a particular hair need, check here first.

  • Normal
  • Dry hair
  • Oily hair
  • Dandruff
  • Curly hair
  • Sensitive scalps 
  • Brassy hair (special purple shampoo for blondes)
pinkalicious shampoo bar and green guardian conditioner bar from ethique sitting on a pink background
Credit: Ethique

#3 Viori

These bars are gorgeous, from the actual bar to the packaging; Viori didn’t cut any chic corners! You will feel like you’re getting something extra special (they’d make a great gift!) when they show up on your doorstep, and you are! Aside from the bars being vegan and cruelty-free, they are made with a special ingredient, Longsheng Rice, inspired by the Yao women of China. This rare variety of rice is native to the Longsheng region in China, where the Yao women have been using it for centuries to care for their hair. This rice is believed to be rich in nutrients and beneficial for hair health.

To honor and respect their connection to the Yao women, Viori pays a fair wage for all products they purchase, and they donate at least 5% of their profits back to the community, which in the last two years has totaled $250,000. 

Just like Ethique, all of Viori’s products are also plastic-free.

Shampoo Bars I Tested

I tested out the Hidden Waterfall shampoo and conditioner bars and liked both. The conditioner bar was the most moisturizing out of all of the bars that I have tested — make sure you really rinse your hair or it could be greasy. The scent is also the strongest out of all of them and at first I thought it would drive me nuts but it doesn’t stay with your hair.

If you’re worried about not loving their scents, they do offer a mini discovery bundle that features four scents that are appropriate for all hair types (Citrus Yao, Terrace Garden, Hidden Waterfall, and unscented). 

Use code VEGGIES at check out to save 10%!

Check Out Viori Products

Which Hair Types Will Work with Viori?

  • Normal
  • Dry hair
  • Oily hair
  • Sensitive scalps 

They also have a pet shampoo bar and just launched a dry shampoo that I want to try!

Viori Products to Try

Hidden Waterfall shampoo bar (all hair types)
Hidden Waterfall conditioner bar (all hair types)

Use code VEGGIES at check out to save 10%!

#4 Meow Meow Tweet

I am a crazy cat lady, so when I found a vegan and eco-friendly brand that loves cats, too, I couldn’t resist! Meow Meow Tweet is a fun, whimsical brand offering a range of cruelty-free beauty products, including shampoo bars, body soap, deodorants, facial care products, and more. All of their products are created using high-quality, plant-based, and organic ingredients, and they prioritize using low-waste and plastic-free packaging. 

Like Ethique, Viori, and BRIXY, these cool cats prioritize supporting non-profit organizations and local communities. Every month they donate funds to small, mutual-aid, grassroots-focused, BIPOC- and queer-led organizations fighting for environmental, social justice, and animal rights. 

meow meow tweet vegan shampoo bar
Credit: Earth Hero

Shampoo Powder I Tested

Unlike the other two, this company has shampoo and conditioner powder in addition to its bars, so I decided to try that! At first, I thought it might be a little messy, but like with switching out any product, it just took some getting used to. I suggest starting with wet hands, adding a little powder, and then rubbing your hands together and then into your hair. You’ll probably have to repeat that, and as you get comfortable with the product, you’ll be able to add more powder and water to your liking, but I think it’s best to start small. 

Of all three brands, Meow Meow Tweet does the best job with scent; their rose geranium scent is a lovely light, floral scent perfect for kick-starting the morning. 

Use code VEGGIESABROAD to save 10%!

Check Out Meow Meow Tweet Products

Which Hair Types Will Work with Meow Meow Tweet?

  • Normal
  • Dry hair
  • Oily hair

Meow Meow Tweet Products to Try

Shampoo powder in rose geranium
Conditioner powder in rose geranium 

If you purchase these (and/or other eco-friendly products use code VEGGIESABROAD to save 10%!

Vegan Shampoo & Conditioner Bars That I Didn’t Like

Now I feel like this might be the most essential part of this article, sharing with you the ones I tried that I didn’t like! Just like with many other products on the market, shampoo bars aren’t one size fits all. It’s possible that you might like these, but they didn’t work well for me (I have a normal hair type). I’d rather share this with you so you don’t have the same experience and then decide to kick shampoo and conditioner bars to the curb for good! 

Trader Joe’s

I had high hopes for this affordable bar, but sadly, it disappointed me. It left my hair super dry! I tried it with several different conditioners and even used a leave-in conditioner, but it was too much for my hair. It’s possible that it would work well if you have super oily hair. I ended up using it as a shaving bar until it was gone. 

Lush

Another one that I had high hopes for! I love many of Lush’s products, but I won’t be returning for any of their shampoo or conditioner bars. I tested out the Jason and The Argan Oil shampoo bar and the American Cream bar; both are formulated for drier hair types, but my hair was difficult to brush and blow dry and felt stiff after using them.  

Vegan Shampoo Bar FAQ

What Are Vegan Shampoo Bars?

Vegan shampoo bars are solid bars of shampoo typically made with plant-based oils, butters, and essential oils. They don’t contain water, which allows them to be free from preservatives and eliminates the need for plastic packaging, which makes them a sustainable alternative to shampoo bottles. Vegan shampoo bars are also free from harsh chemicals and sulfates, making them gentle on the hair and scalp.

When choosing a shampoo and conditioner bar, it’s crucial to purchase bars that match your specific hair type because the products tend to be more concentrated. I once thought that a deep conditioning bar would be a great idea for something special for my hair (I have a normal hair type), and I ended up with very greasy hair — I needed to rewash it.

Benefits of Using Vegan Shampoo & Conditioner Bars

There are quite a few benefits associated with these magical bars. First, they are environmentally friendly as they eliminate the need for plastic bottles, reducing plastic waste and pollution. Additionally, they often come in minimal packaging, further reducing waste. According to Forbes, in the US, over 550 million plastic shampoo bottles are sold yearly, and only 5% is estimated to be recycled!  

Vegan shampoo bars are also cruelty-free, as they are made without animal-derived ingredients and are not tested on animals. Furthermore, these bars are typically made with natural and plant-based ingredients, making them gentle on the hair and scalp. They are also free from harsh chemicals and sulfates, which can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause damage. After using a vegan shampoo bar, you can expect to have soft and nourished hair.

a person with a makeup brush next to a bunny's face signifying animal testing

Lastly, shampoo and conditioner bars tend to last longer than traditional liquid products. Some companies share that their bars can last over six months, depending on how often you wash your hair! On average, my bars have lasted around four months with two people using them — that’s pretty cost-effective if you ask me. 

How Do I Use a Shampoo Bar?

At first, using shampoo and conditioner bars might seem a little awkward, but honestly, once you get the hang of it, it’s not much different than using regular liquid shampoo. 

  • First, get your hair good and wet, then take the bar and either rub it between your palms and then onto your head or directly onto your head. I like to use the bar directly on my hair, and I usually rub it in circles until I feel like I’ve got enough shampoo. Once I have enough, I just lather it up and rub it into my scalp, then rinse.
  • The process with conditioner bars is similar, but I don’t rub in circles; I usually take the bar and rub it down from the base of my head over and over. Once I’ve rubbed enough on my hair, I work it through with my hands and let it sit for a minute or so, then rinse. 

Remember that a little goes a long way with conditioner bars, so it’s best to start with a small amount and adjust accordingly. 

a woman shampooing her hair in the shower

Tip for Storing Vegan Shampoo & Conditioner Bars

Once you’ve chosen the perfect vegan shampoo and conditioner bar, it’s important to know how to use and store it properly to maximize its effectiveness and longevity. Here are some tips:

After use, store your shampoo bar in a dry and well-ventilated area. Avoid leaving it in a wet puddle, as this can cause the bar to soften and deteriorate. Consider using a shampoo bar holder (every brand sells one) to keep your bar dry between uses, prolonging its lifespan. 

If you’re traveling, store your shampoo bar in a travel container or a bag to prevent it from getting wet or damaged. I always dry the bar off to keep it from breaking down while on the road. If your shampoo bar starts to become too small to handle, combine it with another small piece or use a soap-saver bag to extend its use.

Vegan Haircare Wrap-Up: More Products & Tips to Try

Now that you have a few vegan shampoo and conditioner bars to test out, you might be wondering about other eco-friendly products to try! Check out these other guides and articles for more helpful products and product swaps.

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How to Travel with Only Carry-On Luggage
24 Vegan Travel Snacks & Essentials to Always Pack
15 Zero-Waste & Eco-Friendly Products to Try
Compostable Trash & Kitchen Bags That Work
The Best Vegan Travel Tips for Every Trip

About Author

Rebecca is the founder of the vegan travel company Veggies Abroad. In 2021, she bid her 15-year career goodbye and ventured into the world of ethical business with the launch of a vegan travel blog (the one you’re reading!). As the blog flourished, Rebecca expanded her vision to encompass personalized travel planning services and launched Veggies Abroad's inaugural vegan tour to Thailand, marking the beginning of many more eco-conscious, plant-powered adventures to come. Follow her adventures on Instagram or Facebook @veggiesabroad