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Raising the bar

According to Greenpeace, UK supermarkets produce a staggering 800,000 tons of plastic every year. Much of this single-use plastic finds its way into landfill sites and waterways, polluting the oceans and harming wildlife.

“We know that only 9 per cent of the plastic ever made has been recycled,” says Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner, Camilla Zerr ( “So even the best efforts to sort plastics into the right recycling bins are not enough to stem the scourge of plastic pollution. That’s why making plastic-free consumer choices is always best.”

One of the most simple ways to reduce your plastic consumption is to switch from shampoos and conditioners in plastic bottles to solid shampoo and conditioner bars. There is an increasing range of dedicated shampoo and conditioner bars available now on the market with plenty of tantalising natural ingredients in that will leave your hair feeling clean, moisturised and healthy.

More bang for your buck

“This is an easy swap we can all get on board with,” says Camilla. “Not only are shampoo and conditioner bars free of the pointless plastic packaging that’s typical of conventional options, they also tend to last much longer than liquid shampoos – so you get the added bonus of more bang for your buck.”

When shopping for shampoo and conditioner bars, be sure to look for ones that are free from chemical nasties such as parabens and Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). Also look for products that are wrapped in recyclable packaging. Many are vegan and cruelty-free too, for a completely ethical product choice. Many natural shampoo bars are made from plant-based extracts and contain natural fragrances, but it’s always a good idea to check the ingredients before you buy.

“It is very important that shampoo and conditioning bars are formulated for specific types of hair for them to have the best effects,” explains Tony Maleedy, Trichologist and founder of EarthKind ( “For example, someone with dry, brittle hair will benefit greatly from using a shampoo and conditioning bar rich in oils and moisturisers, but that same bar would be far too heavy for someone with fine, oily hair. In their case an oil-free shampoo with light moisturising properties and not using a conditioner may be ideal.”

Look after your locks

One very important thing to bear in mind is that it is crucial that hair is washed with a shampoo bar and not a bar of soap. “Soap is made in a completely different way to a shampoo, using a strong alkali such as sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), mixed with an oil or fat to produce the soap,” explains Tony. “This means that soaps are always alkali with a pH between 8 to 10. The normal pH of our skin is slightly acid, between 5 and 6, and this is also the ideal pH for our hair to stay in good condition. If the hair is rendered alkaline because soap is used to wash it, it will become brittle and will break. This is why shampoos (bars or liquids) are made to have a pH of between 5 to 6, the same as the skin.”

One last tip is to make sure that you keep your shampoo and conditioner bars dry between uses as this will ensure that they last longer. Look for dishes or containers that are made from sustainable materials and definitely not plastic!

Your local independent health food store is a great place to shop for natural haircare products that are kind to your hair as well as the environment. Ask in store for help with choosing the right products for you.

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