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the best shampoo bar on the market

July 18, 2019

The very first blog post I wrote on Steel City Wasteland was about zero waste shampoo and how I hate shampoo bars.

I’ve tried several different kinds. I’ve tried Lush, J.R. Liggett, and some other random brands that just weren’t up to par.

If you’re tried a shampoo bar, you know what I mean.

First of all, in most shampoo bars, the lather is nearly non-existent.

(I know, I know, the soapiness of a lather doesn’t have anything to do with cleanliness… it’s just a chemical called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS, that makes consumers FEEL like our products are doing an even better job than they really are. But, hey, as a 20+ year all-things Dove girl, I know I’m an SLS addict.)

Second, it just feels weird to rub a bar of soap on your head. Maybe it’s just me, but something about it feels weird to get used to.

Third, the after-wash film. Shampoo bars always leave a nasty film on my crown and the nape of my neck.

If you’re unfamiliar with the filmy feel, imagine shampooing your hair, but not rinsing the shampoo out. When your hair is dry, it still looks like its coated in some sort of soapy oil.

Yeah, that’s what shampoo bars do. At least, that’s what they’ve always done for me.

Until I tried Ethique.

All about Ethique

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Ethique — pronounced “eh-teek”; it’s French for “ethical” — is a New Zealand-based beauty company that’s goal is to end the world of plastic waste.

The brand started in 2012 “as an alternative to the 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles thrown out globally each year,” according to their website.

They have tons of beauty products — all plastic free.

Here are a few things they carry:

HAIR PRODUCTS: shampoo, conditioner and hair masks
FACE PRODUCTS: cleanser, scrubs and moisturizers
BODY PRODUCTS: cleansers, moisturizers and deodorants
LAUNDRY: laundry bar and stain remover
PETS: dog shampoo
STORAGE UNITS: in-shower containers

Reasons to love Ethique

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1. Plastic-free
Ethique uses biodegradable ingredients and compostable packaging.

2. Plant-based, but palm-oil free* and vegan
Ethique uses the best ingredients that are plant based and ethical.

*The problem with palm oil:

Palm oil is a controversial ingredient because of the way it’s obtained. Palm oil is cheap, and it can be found in lots of processed foods. The palm oil industry is destroying rain forests, especially in Indonesia. There’s a lot I could talk about surrounding the palm oil industry, like how it’s also contributing to increased CO2 in the atmosphere. But, as with a lot of things, there is some good to it. It’s creating a lot of jobs for Indonesians.

Interestingly, I went to the Borneo rain forest in Indonesia two years ago. While trekking with my friend, our guide — a local — talked to us about palm oil and how it’s harmful to the environment, but it’s helping the local economy. He said it’s a tough issue to have a strong stance on, because he’s seen the good and the bad. I think that’s a helpful reminder.

If you do buy something that contains palm oil, try to opt for one that is sustainably sourced — like Dr. Bronner’s soap. But, when in doubt, it may be better to just avoid palm oil altogether. The choice is yours.

3. Cruelty-free
Ethique doesn’t test their products on animals. In fact, they only test their products on willing humans. They are certified cruelty-free by CCF (Choose Cruelty Free), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and SAFE (a New Zealand-based agency that certifies cruelty free companies).

4. Sustainable, and a B CORPORATION!
Ethique is a B Corporation, which should speak for itself. If you’re unfamiliar with B Corporations, here’s what their website says: “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Essentially, B Corps are the most well-rounded, ethical, sustainable, transparent corporations in the world. Here are a few B Corps you may know: Patagonia, Klean Kanteen, Tom’s of Maine, Ben and Jerry’s, and Stonyfield Organic.

If you see a company that’s a certified B Corp, rest assured that company has gone through a serious vetting process to be dubbed a B Corp. They really are the best of the best — a company you can trust.

5. These products last, and they save you money

Ethique boasts that one shampoo bar can last anywhere from 6-8 months. I haven’t been able to attest to that, as I’ve only tried the sample size. But the bars are definitely concentrated and seem to last quite a while!

6. The sample bars are adorable

The sample kit is super cute. The bars are heart-shaped. They just make you want to use them!

How well do the products work?

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Honestly, their shampoo bars are excellent. Not just for a shampoo bar, but for a natural shampoo, they’re outstanding.

Both the shampoo and conditioner lather well and neither leave a film on my hair. I can rub the shampoo bar on my hands or rub it on my scalp, both ways give a good lather!

At first using a shampoo bar may feel odd, but once you use a product that works well — like Ethique — you don’t even think twice about it. I hated using shampoo bars because they never worked for me. But Since using Ethique, I actually get weirdly excited to shampoo my hair in the shower.

Not to mention, all the products smell AMAZING, and every ingredient is not only listed, but on their website, Ethique goes into detail about what each ingredient does and where it comes from. LOVE the transparency.

I bought the hair sample kit to try a few different shampoos and conditioners before I invested in one.

I’d definitely recommend doing that! They also carry a sample kit for face wash and body wash, too.

The Ethique Hair Sampler is $16 and comes with three shampoos and two conditioners.

My favorite shampoo from the kit is the Heali Kiwi, because it’s good for my dry, sensitive scalp. Ethique also has shampoos for oily hair and dry, damaged hair. Basically, whatever your hair/scalp type, Ethique’s got you.

As far as their conditioners go, I liked The Guardian best.

Ethique’s conditioners are definitely the best bar conditioners I’ve used, but I would say I like the shampoo a little better than the conditioner. I’ll continue buying both, though, because I like them both! But I was really wowed by the shampoo.

I’ve also been using their face wash and I actually really like it!

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I’ve been using the SuperStar! cleanser. It smells like orange and I’ve noticed that it cleanses my skin without drying it.

I’d highly recommend it for dry skin folks!

Any downsides?

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Only one thing that comes to mind, though I wouldn’t consider it a downfall necessarily, is accessibility.

For most folks living in the USA, you’ll likely buy your Ethique products off Amazon.

This could be a positive thing to some people, because you can use your Amazon Prime membership! So that’s dope! But buying on Amazon means your package could come in plastic. Working with Amazon, Ethique doesn’t have much control over that.

Though, it should be noted that I ordered off of Amazon and my package only came in cardboard! So you never know!

ALSO! Ethique is slowly moving their products across the US. Right now, they’re working their way into Target stores, and are currently stocked in all Erewhon stores throughout California! Amazing!

Locally to Pittsburgh, Ethique products are available at Target at the Waterfront in Homestead.

Check out this link to see if there’s a Target that sells Ethique near you.

Overall, I love this brand and will continue buying their products! And, now that they’re available in more places locally, I’m even more floored to purchase from them!

I LOVE their shampoo. I’m thrilled to have found a zero waste, shampoo bar.

I’m still a big fan of Plaine Products shampoo and conditioner — check out that review here. But for now, I’m sticking with Ethique, and I couldn’t be happier.

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