Raising The Bar

Solid shampoo products are eco-friendly, leave hair naturally lustrous and make traveling easy.
Photograph courtesy of Chagrin Valley

by Beth Landman

Have you ever had your favorite hair wash confiscated at the airport for being an ounce over the limit? There’s an easy solution—shampoo bars. First used before liquid formulas became popular in the 1940s, they have come into vogue again. “Liquid shampoos are over 90 percent water anyway,” points out noted hair stylist Ishi, who just moved into the Ricardo Maggiore salon. Bars not only pass TSA regulations, their compact size and wrapping are more environmentally sound than plastic bottles, and are generally made up of chemical- and detergent-free ingredients that don’t strip the natural oils that gives hair its luster. Pop one in your weekend bag; one bar usually gives you the same number of washings as one to three bottles, and some people swear they can multitask, even working well to clean dishes and clothing. Below, some of our favorites:


Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar

Made with all-natural and artisanal ingredients including aloe vera, natural glycerin and castor oil, this bar is vegan as well as paraben-, silicone- and sulfate-free. $22; us.christophe-robin.com

J.R. Liggett’s

This New Hampshire-based company has several shampoo bar options. Apart from the Original Formula, which was developed 30 years ago and has a fresh, clean scent, there is the refreshing Jojoba & Peppermint Formula; the rich Moisturizing Formula with mango butter and almond oil for dry, damaged, straightened or color-treated hair; the Herbal Formula with heady scents of rosemary, lavender and cedar essential oils, recommended for itchy scalps; the Virgin Coconut & Argan Oil Formula meant for unmanageable flyaway or frizzy hair; and the rejuvenating Tea Tree & Hemp Oil Formula, suggested for dull hair. $7.49; jrliggett.com

Chagrin Valley

Only natural soaps and salves are produced by Chagrin Valley, which makes 19 different shampoo bars. Among the choices: Ayurvedic Herb; Café Moreno; Coconut Milk; Nettle; and Honey Beer and Egg. $8.95; chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com

Unwrapped Life

Travel destinations inspired the Wanderlust bars from this eco-friendly line including Aspen, with coconut and cocoa butter; Bora Bora, with vanilla and ylang-ylang; Laguna, with raspberry seed oil; and citrus-, wood- and tobacco-scented Havana, popular with men as well as women ($15.50). There is also a plant-focused therapeutic Wildcrafted collection including The Balancer with turmeric and calendula, meant to normalize follicle activity and strengthen hair; and The Detoxifier, with bergamot, hemp seed oil and apricot seed ($17.50). unwrappedlife.com


Eight bars, including Frizz Wrangler and Oaty Delicious, which is gentle enough for babies, are available from this brand, which uses coconut-derived surfactants rather than sulfates (which strip the hair) to produce lather. $16; ethiquebeauty.com