James McQuarrie is a UK based Product Leader who helps teams discover, design, build and deliver digital products and services that delight their users.
In 2019 I decided to see how I could reduce my use of single use plastics.
That led me to trying solid shampoo bars.
That led in tern to me making my own solid shampoo in early 2020.
Three years on I thought I’d share an update on what I’ve learnt about using solid shampoo over that time, which bars I’ve used - all in the name of competitor research of course ;) - and answer some of the common questions people ask when they’re thinking of losing their bottle and trying a solid shampoo for the first time.
What have I learnt having used solid shampoo bars for over three years?
Firstly, no two bars are the same.
Each brand’s offering, especially men’s shampoo bars, is different.
Some are easier to use than others (mainly due to their shape and density).
Some last longer than others - even when used as frequently as each other and stored in the same way.
Some leave my hair overly fluffy and in desperate need of some after wash products to control and style. Some (Tidy included) leave my hair very manageable, and needing no additional products to style nicely.
Some definitely smell nicer than others. Some hold their fragrance for longer than others. Some smell great in their box and wrappers and then not at all after a few washes…
Overall I’ve confirmed that I’ll never go back to liquid shampoos out of choice.
Which men’s solid shampoo bars have I tried?
Tidy, obviously ;)
Head & Shoulders, both their aloe vera version and their coconut oil version.
Jim’s Bricks, the regular bar.
Several Aussie shampoo bars.
Several Ethique shampoo bars.
Several Faith in nature shampoo bars.
One or two from Lush.
Look out for individual reviews of the above on the Tidy blog in the future…
So for the questions folks ask about mens solid shampoos.
Do solid shampoo bars really work as well as liquid shampoos?
Yes. At least for me, and many of Tidy’s customers.
Like liquid shampoos, solid shampoos don’t work for everyone though. Also like liquid shampoos, it can take trying a number of different brands and “flavours” of shampoo bars before you find your preferred bar.
I’ve tried a lot of different brands over the last three years, and still prefer Tidy’s bar personally. Of course I spent a lot of time perfecting the recipe for my bar before launching it for sale, so it’s pretty much formulated for me as the first customer :D
Many of our customers agree. They’ve tried Tidy and alternatives and they keep coming back to Tidy. Some haven’t gotten on well with Tidy bars though.
Folks with longer hair or particularly dry scalps have reported Tidy shampoo doesn’t work as well as they’d like. Thankfully there are a growing number of options on the market now for those who’d like to explore a wider range of men’s solid shampoos, so there’s more and more chance that you’ll find one that works for you.
Which means, if you’ve tried shampoo bars in the past and haven’t gotten on with them, now would be a great time to revisit the plastic free, solid shampoo options out there.
Solid shampoo bars are expensive, are they worth paying for?
The honest answer here is it depends on what you value when you’re choosing which shampoo you’re buying.
Many solid shampoo bars on the market are more expensive than liquid alternatives.
Solid shampoo bars last longer (on average) than liquid shampoos. So can offer more value for money in that sense. How long any individual shampoo bar lasts will depend on how often you use them and how much you use each wash, so your milage may vary.
Solid shampoo bars also tend to be made with more premium, chemical free ingredients that are potentially better for your hair and scalp.
Tidy men’s solid shampoo is made with 100% organic ingredients. No artificial nasties. These high quality ingredients are more expensive to buy, which in turn increases the price of our shampoo bars. I think it’s worth it. There’s something very unappealing about bathing in synthetic chemicals.
And it’s better for the planet, and therefore all of us, if we’re not flushing so many nasties down the drain each time we wash. Less plastic (no bottle) and fewer chemicals equals win win in my book.
If you’re looking for a budget way of washing your hair, solid shampoo bars may not be for you. You could always save even more money by not using any shampoo of course…
Aren’t solid shampoo bars really messy once you start using them?
In some cases; yes.
As I said I’ve tried a lot of shampoo bars over the last three years, and many of the high street brand’s bars to have a habit of disintegrating after a few washes.
That’s not the case for all shampoo bars though. And you can reduce the issue if you look after them a little bit.
The trick (if you can call it a trick!) is to let them drain after use somewhere that they’ll not get soaked before your next use.
I personally use a mesh soap pad made of recycled plastics recovered from the ocean. But any soap dish with drainage will do.
I’ve even heard of people resting their bars on the bristles of an up-turned scrubbing brush between uses. This allows the bars to dry nicely and collects any soft bits that run off the bars in the bristles of the brush. You can then use the brush with shampoo pre-loaded to scrub your body in the shower too. Clever.
How do you travel with a solid shampoo bar?
As the world has opened up more since the dark days of COVID, I’ve been asked this more and more.
Many people I know use a soap dish to carry their solid shampoo bars while travelling.
I use a FlatPak Soap Bar Case from Matador. It’s essentially a dry bag for your shampoo, but made of a special material that allows the bar to dry while in the bag, without getting everything else in your luggage covered in shampoo.
The bonus of a shampoo bar while travelling is that is doesn’t count towards your liquid allowance on a plane and if you use it (like I do) as a body wash as well as a shampoo, you can carry just the one bar and lighten your load.
Top tip: if you do travel with a Tidy shampoo bar in a soap dish / tin, make sure to towel dry your bar as much as possible before sealing it away for travel. It will be less messy and will prolong the life of your shampoo.
Should I try a men’s solid shampoo?
I’m slightly biased of course, but I honestly think you should give them a whirl.
If you’re the kind of man who likes quality products, that work really well and are looking to reduce your personal impact on the environment, they are 100% worth trying.
Switching to a solid shampoo is one of the easiest ways of reducing your consumption of single use plastics, and as the number of products on the market for men seemingly increases almost weekly, there’s never been a better time to lose your bottle and go hard in the shower.