It’s definitely time I provided an update on my hair care routine. I’ve never actually written a specific blog post about shampoo and conditioner before but I have listed my family’s choices in my complete guide to a zero waste home. One of the reasons I haven’t dedicated a blog post to this topic till now is because I’ve never really been satisfied with the results of what I’ve tried. My husband and children use water only and the occasional wash with a bar of soap but my journey hasn’t been that easy.

Four years ago I started with an attempt to go straight from washing every second day with regular shampoo and conditioner to using water only to avoid plastic bottles and reduce the chemicals on my body. I persisted for three months but didn’t notice any improvements on the greasiness. I couldn’t take it anymore so I started using a locally made shampoo bar about once a week. This was much better, but after about a year my hair seemed to be getting very dry and frizzy, so I switched to the method of washing with diluted bicarb soda and rinsing with diluted vinegar (my homemade kombucha vinegar). It wasn’t so bad but it wasn’t a breeze to implement either. I continued this for about two years but again my hair was quite frizzy – and then I noticed the smell!

Many people will argue online that hair not washed with shampoo and conditioner smells or does not smell. I can tell you that my hair and scalp developed a strong ‘natural’ smell that was not pleasant. I couldn’t smell it all the time, only when weather conditions were damp or humid and when I was physically active. If I could smell it, other people must be able to smell it too, perhaps more often than I noticed it. I’m already self conscious about my hair, I have alopecia, so that was the last straw for me and I went out and bought a bottle of shampoo and conditioner.

Interestingly, my daughter also developed this smell whilst washing mostly with only water but the boys didn’t. I gave some shampoo and conditioner to my daughter who had just turned eight years old and I was surprised to learn that she had no idea what to do with it or how to use it! Even though her hair has never really been washed with shampoo and conditioner, I assumed that she would have learnt from the TV or friends or relatives.

I didn’t feel good about going back to bottles of shampoo and conditioner, so I looked around for something that was as close as possible to the shampoo and conditioner experience but better for the planet and people. Ethique was the clear winner for me on paper (or more accurately on webpages) but would it perform well in real life?

Ethique bars are made with 100% naturally derived ingredients. This means they are free from parabens, petroleum by-products, palm oil (and its derivatives), synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde donors and more. Ethique bars are also plastic free (the packaging is compostable), plant-based and vegan, fairtrade and cruelty free.

They’re easy to use, check out the video below, and are basically the same as shampoo and conditioner except the water content has been removed to make them a concentrated bar rather than a bottle of liquid.

My first Ethique shampoo and conditioner bars arrived in May 2019 and lasted until January 2020. That’s a good run for my money and I am very happy with the look and feel of my hair now. The smell also went away very quickly and has been replaced by the lovely bar scents.

I used the shampoo bar, Frizz Wrangler – Dry Frizzy Hair (110g) and the conditioner bar, The Guardian – Dry, Damaged, Frizzy Hair (60g). Despite the difference in the weights of these bars, I still have lots of the conditioner bar remaining.

This time round I decided to order the shampoo bar, Damage Control – Normal Dry Hair (110g) and the conditioner bar, Too Delicious – Super Hydrating (60g), and am loving these too.

We store our bars on their boxes on the bathroom window sill which is conveniently right next to our shower, so that they dry out between uses and last longer.

My daughter is back to washing mostly with water and occasionally with these bars. The smell has gone away for her too and when she came back from her first school camp she commented on how much better the bars were than the large bottles of shampoo and conditioner that everyone else brought with them, because they took up less room and were easier to carry around. Great point, and I have to agree because I also find them a much better option for travel situations and camping trips.

Let me know if you have any questions, or check out the Ethique website to learn more. I’ve tested quite a few of Ethique’s products now, so you’ll probably be hearing more about those soon.

11 thoughts

  1. Hello Tammy, and thank you. For what it’s worth, re: using water only for cleaning your hair – I have, for several years now. I just massage my scalp as you would when using shampoo. After a few weeks of adjustment (looked a bit greasy) it’s great! So easy, no waste; looks healthy, clean, shiny. No need for ACV or bicarb. My hair is fine, and wavy. I used to need to wash my hair everyday. With water only, it’s about 5 – 7 days. I never brush; an ordinary comb only and no, my hair doesn’t smell: I’m told it smells good. My hair is never greasy now; it used to be greasy after only one day when I used shampoo. I love the freedom and ease; no having to remember to buy shampoo, no plastic, no cost.
    Also, I wipe a slice of lemon under my arms in lieu of deodorant – works better than any deodorant I’ve tried. Have tested it up to 4 days showerless: no smell even after hard work. PS I don’t shave.
    I use each slice a few times, keep it on a small dish in the fridge – when it’s tatty I compost it. If I’m not going to use the rest of the lemon, I slice and freeze it. I take a slice out before I shower; if I remember to; using it frozen is no great hardship

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love that it has worked for you, Trish and it’s experiences like yours that made me keen to try water only but it just didn’t work for me. It works for other members of my family but my hair just got worse and worse. It wasn’t even like grease, it was more like a wax coating that I couldn’t budge. I might try again one day but for now I’m sticking with Ethique. 🙂 I have a similar issue with deodorant. Perhaps its something to do with my body chemistry or even medications. Thanks for sharing your experience too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tammy! Thank you so much for sharing this post on our clever little bars. I’m so happy to hear that you didn’t give up the search for the right bar for you and chose to give ours a try. It’s so great to hear that you’re loving them so far and have invested in other bars to try also. I do want to note that I wonder if the other bars that you have tried previously were soaps, we have noticed from feedback from customers that the soap shampoos tend to leave waxy soap residue on the hair, which is why most people opt to do the ACV rinse to get the residue off the hair. Also, soap has a high pH which has been proved to dry and break hair over a long period of use. Thanks again for your support, it means a lot! Hope you have a wonderful week. Jen

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My pleasure, Jen. Yes, I think my previous shampoo bars were soaps. I did try adding the ACV rinse after using the soap bars for a while but the damage was done and I didn’t notice improvement. I was ready to move on to something else. 🙂 Thanks for putting so much effort into making a product that’s good for people and the planet available to as many people as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this post and your sugaring recipe post! I personally find that Ethique does the best job at washing hair and scalps. It isn’t super harsh like Lush, nor is it super greasy like some other local Aussie brands I know. Their coconut cream facial cleanser is amazing. It removes my minimal makeup, and it’s even helped with blackheads! Their other bars are quite lovely too. I’ve definitely minimized plastic usage because of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am also quite conscious of purchasing products in single use plastics, as well as the effects of all the nasty ingredients in most store shampoo’s and conditioner’s. I have seen shampoo bars pop up in my facebook and always wondered what they were like. Your blogpost has encouraged me to take the leap and give them a try. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes! I am loving my Ethique shampoo (Frizz Wrangler) and conditioner (Wonderbar) too! So so much better than the first shampoo bar I tried out. I actually loved them so much that I decided to purchase their face cleansing bar as well – the Bliss Bar has been awesome. Also I love your tip about storing them away from the shower to help them dry out more and last longer! So helpful!

    Liked by 2 people

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