Haircare is one of the areas in life where plastic just seems unavoidable. However, Lush have been paving the way for package-free shampoo for the past two decades. We try one of their solid shampoo bars to see if the suds live up to conventional shampoos or whether it is just money down the drain.
I, like many others, am very conscious of how much plastic I throw away every day, so have been looking for methods to cut it out of my routine. I find that my beauty routine is definitely one place that needs work, while I’m not sure I can get on-board with mascara cake, solid shampoo I think could. Whenever I got into the shower, all I could see were plastic bottles; not only very unsustainable but also not at all aesthetically pleasing. I considered investing in Pinterest-worthy refillable glass bottles but as there’s not a nearby shop that provides refills, this would result in buying shampoo in plastic bottles to fill the glass ones, therefore not cutting my plastic usage at all.
High street brand Lush are responsible for designing solid shampoo bars as we know them today; the company’s co-founder Stan Krysztal invented them over 20 years ago and secured a patent to protect the invention, however many brands have since expanded into solid shampoo.
The company have broadened their stock of the solid shampoo to 13 bars, each with individual properties meaning you can choose between prioritising shine, silkiness or smell. ‘The Naked Revolution’ is aiming to reduce plastic use and ultimately prevent more landfill; they claim a shampoo bar can last for 80 washes, which would mean it would last roughly three times longer than the average bottle of 200ml shampoo.
I decided on ‘Seanik’, a bright blue bar speckled with black seaweed (which I was very nervous would give me what looked like black dandruff, but thankfully never has.) The smell is very fresh and provides a reminder of being at the beach, a perfect wake-me-up if you need a morning boost. Jasmine Absolute is an ingredient that stands out and lingers on my hair post wash and the fine sea salt definitely adds volume to the roots.
When the salesperson explained how to use it, she advised rubbing the bar between two hands to create a lather and then scrubbing the bar against your hair if more is needed. I have found that it’s definitely necessary to rub the bar at both the front and back of my head get enough product. However, I have fairly long, thick hair and have always had issues with portion control so this may be excessive for others (for reference, the advised ‘two blueberries’ worth of conditioner is probably around ¼ of what I usually use.)
The bars are sold in a recyclable paper bag and cork or metal tins can be purchased from the store to prolong the bars (allowing them to dry out) meaning no plastic waste is produced. Lush claim that over the last five years shampoo bars have saved 30 million plastic bottles from landfill. The bars also claim to be free from synthetic preservatives yet are ‘innately self-preserving’ meaning they could last for years. They are also made from either natural ingredients or ‘safe synthetics’ making them vegan and sustainable.
Now onto the negative of the solid shampoo: money. These bars are not cheap, usually costing £8 (55g) and with an added optional extra of a tin (£2.50) to keep it in. If you’re looking to also try a conditioner bar, buying the pair with a tin each to store will set you back nearly £20, not extortionate but definitely more pricey than your average shampoo bottle from the supermarket. Despite this, I will definitely be re-buying a shampoo bar when my little blue disk has finished – because, as well as being sustainable they are also ideal for travel, whether this be to the gym or while travelling further. They don’t have to be put into the liquids bag for going through airport security and don’t leak all over the fresh top you’d packed for post-workout, an added double win in my books.