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Zero Waste Shampoo: Because You (And the Earth) Are Worth It!

Zero Waste Shampoo: Because You (And the Earth) Are Worth It!

How many times have you used commercial shampoo without a second thought? For most of us, the answer’s in the thousands. We’re so used to the plethora of hair care products that line the supermarket shelves, that it’s difficult to imagine it any other way.

Despite the mysterious, many-lettered ingredients, and the unsustainable packaging, showers throughout the world are most commonly still full of plastic. 

Read on to find out about changing these habits for the better (it’s not as hard as you might think!), and what zero waste shampoo options are out there.

This article may contain affiliate links. See our full disclosure here.

Are traditional shampoos bad for the environment?

Yes, but maybe not for the reasons you expect. While critics denounce the chemicals found in shampoo, claiming they’re harming both humans and wildlife, there isn’t a lot of clear scientific evidence on this.

However, one thing is certain: shampoo packaging is causing environmental harm.

It’s commonly reported that 552 million shampoo bottles go into landfills every year, and landfills are a huge producer of harmful greenhouse gases.

Even when plastic packaging is recycled, this process uses energy, and the quality of plastic degrades once it’s recycled.

Shampoo can also contain natural ingredients that are sourced unsustainably. Palm oil used in shampoo has especially come under fire, with the WWF reporting in 2018 that land clearing for palm oil plantations releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide and destroys natural habitats.


What are the environmentally-friendly alternatives? 

Luckily there are plenty of zero waste hair care choices that are also free from questionable chemicals and harsh cleansers.

From zero waste shampoo bars to not using shampoo at all, there’s a plastic free shampoo solution for every type of hair and budget

What is the Best Zero Waste Shampoo?

We’ve found the best shampoo options in every format available – from bars to dry shampoo. We’ll go into more detail on why each of these is a sustainable choice below.

ImageNameTypeBest ForPrice
Zero waste shampoo barAspen KayShampoo BarAll Hair TypesCheck Price
shampoo bar EmersonShampoo BarAll Hair TypesCheck Price
Screenshot-2020-08-13-at-13.15.58-1HiBAR MoisturizeShampoo BarDry or Damaged HairCheck Price
Zero waste shampoo barBeauty & the BeesShampoo BarDandruff, Oily or FineCheck Price
Screenshot-2020-08-13-at-14.29.55Ethique Heali KiwiShampoo BarDandruff & Itchy ScalpsCheck Price
zero waste bar shampooChagrin ValleyShampoo BarIrritated Skin & ScalpCheck Price
zero waste shampoo barBeauty KubesShampoo CubeOily HairCheck Price
Zero Waste Shampoo - Liquid RefillablePlaine ProductsLiquid/RefillableAll Hair TypesCheck Price
zero waste shampoo - liquidTrue BotanicalsLiquidAll Hair TypesCheck Price
Zero waste shampooSeed PhytonutrientsLiquidAll Hair TypesCheck Price
Zero waste Dry ShampooChagrin ValleyDry ShampooLight HairCheck Price
Zero Waste Dry ShampooLovett SundriesDry ShampooAll Hair TypesCheck Price
Katie Mae Zero Waste Dry ShampooKatie Mae NaturalsDry ShampooAll Hair TypesCheck Price

Zero Waste Shampoo Bars & Cubes

Did you know that liquid shampoo is 70-80% water? Take out the water, and you get a shampoo bar.

Shampoo bars look like a bar of soap and work much the same way. When they come into contact with water, they produce a lather that you can then massage through your hair. 

There are plenty of no waste shampoo bars to choose from, with ingredients like coconut, cocoa, chamomile, charcoal, and natural oils.

With so many formulas and variations, all you have to look for is one that fits your hair type and provides any extra benefits you’d like.

Unlike name brand shampoo, they typically don’t contain the kind of harsh surfactants that dry hair out, and many users report not even needing conditioner (although if you do want something extra, there are some amazing zero waste conditioner options available too!).

Most shampoo bars are sold with either no packaging or biodegradable paper. And because they’re concentrated, they typically last longer than bottled shampoo as long as you keep them dry between uses.

A no waste shampoo bar is also great for travelers because it takes up less space and you don’t have to worry about TSA restrictions if flying carry-on. 

Some people report that certain kinds of shampoo bars leave their hair feeling waxy, and it might be harder to find one that works for very curly hair, but on the whole, there are very few downsides to shampoo bars.

Since most companies that make them are ecologically and ethically conscious, they also tend to be vegan and cruelty free.

Let’s look at the best plastic-free shampoo bars

Zero waste shampoo bar
  • Paraben Free
  • Silicone Free
  • Sulfate Free
  • Cruelty Free

This compact shampoo bar smells as sweet as it looks, and it’ll leave your hair feeling fresh. It soothes, strengthens and restores with its unique formulation of argan oil, nettle, hibiscus, and horsetail.

Made in the USA and packaged using the bare minimum of recyclable materials, this eco friendly product is a great choice for those wanting to try their hand at shampoo bars for the first time.

Each little bar is the equivalent of three normal bottles of shampoo, and they come in handy 2-packs to save you even more.

Buy on Amazon here

EMERSON – LEMONGRASS PEPPERMINT

shampoo bar
  • Sulfate Free
  • Palm Oil Free
  • Paraben Free
  • Cruelty Free

A beautifully scented shampoo bar that will leave your hair feeling amazing. A unique formulation of natural oils will nourish your hair, while lemongrass and peppermint essential oils will add shine and strength.

Each bar is handmade using a ‘cold process’ to ensure none of the goodness is lost before it reaches your bathroom shelf.

These large plastic free shampoo bars lather well and will last a long time if you keep it dry between uses.

Buy from Etsy here

HiBAR SHAMPOO – MOISTURIZE

  • Paraben Free
  • Phthalate Free
  • Sulfate Free
  • Silicone Free
  • Palm Oil Free
  • Vegan

A highly moisturizing coconut oil-based shampoo that will leave your hair shinier than ever!

Among the best plastic free shampoo bars for dry hair, the HiBar lathers well, is safe for color-treated hair, and it’s even suitable for those with luscious locks. So if you’re looking for zero waste hair care for curly hair – look no further!

One bar will last you at least as long as a bottle of shampoo and its unique shape makes keeping it dry between uses super simple.

Buy HiBAR Shampoo from:

BEAUTY & THE BEES – REAL BEER

Zero waste shampoo bar
  • Paraben free
  • Palm oil free
  • Sulfate free
  • Silicone free
  • Cruelty free

Those with fine, oily or dandruff prone hair will have to get their hands on a bar of this amazing shampoo bar by Australian brand Beauty and the Bees. A 100% natural and nourishing formulation will leave your hair feeling fresh and looking divine.

The addition of honey & beeswax will make your hair silky smooth, but also means this isn’t the right choice if you’re looking for a vegan shampoo bar. Try Ethique (below) if this is the case.

Each bar is the equivalent of roughly two bottles of shampoo, and it lathers so well you won’t miss the commercial stuff!

Buy from Amazon here

  • Palm Oil Free
  • Plastic Free
  • Cruelty Free
  • Sustainable
  • Vegan

Specifically formulated to help relieve itchiness and dandruff, the Heali Kiwi shampoo bar from Ethique combines oatmeal and ancient ayurvedic oils to soothe your scalp.

It smells fab, it washes hair beautifully, and a little goes a really long way. One bar of Ethique zero waste shampoo will last you as long as three regular bottles! That’s a great saving to both your wallet and the environment.

New Zealand-based Ethique were one of the very first companies to create shampoo bars and they’re most definitely one of the best!

Buy Ethique Zero Waste Dandruff Shampoo from:

CHAGRIN VALLEY – NEEM & TEA TREE

zero waste bar shampoo
  • Sulfate free
  • Silicone free
  • Paraben free
  • GMO free
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan

This waste free shampoo bar from Chagrin Valley is a true multitasker. Great for both your hair and your body, it’d make the ideal travel companion.

Perfect for those with irritated skin and scalps, the high quality, mainly organic ingredients will work together to soothe and nourish both your hair and your skin. The antibacterial properties in tea tree oil will also help combat acne.

Buy Chagrin Valley Shampoo Bars from:

BEAUTY KUBES – FOR OILY HAIR

zero waste shampoo bar
  • Organic
  • Palm oil free
  • Sulfate free
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan

A little different from your regular shampoo bar, Beauty Kubes are the perfect compromise between waste free shampoo and convenience.

Simply take one cube with you into the shower – keeping the rest of the box dry – crumble it into your hand and mix with a little water to create a paste. Then use like regular shampoo!

Each recycled cardboard box comes with 27 cubes, meaning even if you’re a regular washer (every second day), it should last you a couple of months at a minimum.

Buy from Well Earth Goods here


Zero Waste Liquid Shampoo

If you don’t want to give up the feel of liquid shampoo, search out a place that you can refill your old containers, or buy refillable shampoo products online.

Most bulk stores have zero waste liquid shampoo available, and if you already shop at these stores, this can easily fit into your existing shopping routine. The absence of packaging and the fact that they are produced in bulk makes them an eco-friendly option.

However, if this isn’t an option for you, or you’d rather order your zero waste shampoo online, there are several companies that produce liquid shampoo in eco-friendly packaging, often with their own recycling programs.

Liquid shampoo might not be as good of a value as bars, and you certainly have fewer choices, but overall this is still a great zero plastic shampoo option.

Let’s look at the best options for waste-free liquid shampoo

PLAINE PRODUCTS – REFILLABLE SHAMPOO

Zero Waste Shampoo - Liquid Refillable
  • Refillable
  • Sulfate free
  • Paraben free
  • Non-GMO
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan

At last… A liquid shampoo that’s truly zero waste! What about that plastic pump I hear you ask? Well, that’s optional. You can choose to receive a bottle with or without a pump. So even if you order one for the convenience the first time around, you can reuse that baby to your heart’s content!

The aluminium bottle is also recyclable, but better than that, it’s returnable. Simply return it free of charge and it’ll be put back to good use.

The shampoo itself is stellar, and safe for the whole family. It’ll tame an unruly mane in no time, no matter how dry, damaged or color-treated it is.

Buy Plaine Products shampoo from:

TRUE BOTANICALS – NOURISHING SHAMPOO

zero waste shampoo - liquid
  • Sulfate free
  • Cruelty free
  • Non-toxic
  • Vegan

While not being 100% zero waste, this liquid shampoo from True Botanicals does come close. The bottle is made of aluminium which is infinitely recyclable, but the plastic pump is not. You could, however, reuse it by upcycling other bottles for your homemade cleaning solution.

The shampoo itself is just like using your usual drug-store brand, without the nasty chemicals. Suitable for all hair types, it’ll lather up nicely and leave your hair feeling luxurious.

Buy direct from True Botanicals here.

SEED PHYTONUTRIENTS – NATURAL DAILY SHAMPOO

Zero waste shampoo
  • Sulfate free
  • Paraben free
  • Gluten free
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan

A low waste shampoo that won’t strip your hair of its natural oils, this daily shampoo from Seed Phytonutrients is a great all-rounder.

The earth-friendly bottle is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper with a post-consumer recycled plastic liner, which means it uses 60% less plastic than a traditional shampoo bottle.

Compost the paper, and recycle the plastic liner once you’re done. You’ll even find a packet of plantable seeds within the packaging!

Buy Seed Phytonutrients Shampoo from:


Soap Nut Shampoo

Despite looking a bit like shriveled acorns, soap nuts are actually berries from the Sapindus Mukorossi species of tree. Inside they contain saponin, a natural cleaning agent. Soap nuts are also 100% biodegradable, and the trees can produce nuts for 90 years, making them very sustainable.

If you’re an experienced zero waster, you may already use soap nuts for laundry, but they are also gentle enough to be used as shampoo. Recipes vary, but the basics are to put 5 or so in a few cups of water, bring it to a boil, let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, and leave it continue soaking overnight.

In the shower, you only need to massage a few tablespoons into your hair, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wash it out. While this won’t lather or soap up like traditional shampoo, soap nut shampoo is cleansing and yet gentle, so it’s good for people who suffer from psoriasis or eczema, or for people who like to wash their hair more frequently.

With soap nuts, a little goes a long way, so this is a very economical choice too. 

Where to Buy Soap Nuts:

DIY Zero Waste Shampoo

The internet is full of DIY recipes for both no waste liquid shampoo and no waste shampoo bars, but some of the easiest are ones are based on liquid castile soap.

Castile soap is a plant-based mixture made from oil, water, and lye. A few different kinds of oils can be used to make castile soap, so look out for ingredients that are organic and sustainably sourced.

On its own, castile soap can leave hair feeling dry, so many people add natural oils like jojoba for some built-in moisturizing, and essential oils to add a nice scent.

The result is naturally antibacterial and will produce a nice lather. However, castile-based shampoos are not a good choice for colored hair, and if you have hard water, you may be left with some residue. 

Where to buy Castile Soap:

Plastic Free Dry Shampoo

If you like using dry shampoo or want a quick fix for greasy hair, corn starch and cocoa powder are great natural alternatives that can usually be sourced without plastic packaging.

Just place a little bit near your roots and brush through your hair, and you’ll be able to extend your time between water-wasting showers. Not quite up for making this DIY dry shampoo? Shop our favorite zero waste dry shampoos below.

Best Zero Waste Dry Shampoos…

CHAGRIN VALLEY FRESH LOCKS

Zero waste Dry Shampoo
  • Organic
  • GMO free
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty free

The lavender and rosemary essential oils in this zero waste dry shampoo aren’t just there to make your hair smell amazing – they make your hair healthier too!

Lavender oil works to soothe your scalp, while rosemary promotes hair growth. And they both work together to balance your natural oils between washes.

Available for both light and dark hair types, it’ll fast become a staple in your zero waste hair care routine.

Buy from Amazon here

LOVETT SUNDRIES LAVENDER DRY SHAMPOO

Zero Waste Dry Shampoo
  • Non-toxic
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty free

The simple formulation of arrowroot powder and bentonite clay work wonders on your hair on ‘in-between’ days – like an instant refresh!

Add volume and texture to lacklustre locks the natural way.

A little goes a long way with this plastic-free bottle, so it’s a great cost-effective way to save on shampoo and water usage.

Buy from Well Earth Goods here

KATIE MAE NATURALS – DRY SHAMPOO

Katie Mae Zero Waste Dry Shampoo
  • GMO free
  • Non-toxic
  • Cruelty free
  • Vegan

Katie Mae has gained a cult following for her simple yet highly effective dry shampoos. Available for blondes and brunettes in a variety of scents (or unscented), there’s something for every hair type.

This dry shampoo adds texture and fullness to your hair while caring for your scalp – and the earth. Recycle your glass bottle once you’re done, or send it back for a refill!

Buy Katie Mae Naturals Dry Shampoo from Etsy here


The “No Poo” Method

The “no poo” method is – as it sounds – built around the idea of using no shampoo. The idea is that if you allow your hair to retain its natural oils, it will be healthier and shinier and you won’t have issues with skin or scalp irritants. Not to mention that this method very environmentally friendly and cheap too.

Going “no poo” sounds extreme, but it doesn’t mean not washing your hair at all. Most people who use this method will wash their hair with water and do intermittent cleansing with baking soda and an apple cider vinegar rinse. Some also like to add rye flour or clay washes and natural oil treatments. 

Many claim that their hair has never been better, but not everyone is a fan. There is also a transition period of weeks to months before your scalp will adjust and stop overproducing oil. However, considering that commercial shampoo hasn’t been around for that long and “no poo” is the ultimate waste free shampoo, it’s worth trying at least once.


Glamorous commercials and pithy taglines try to convince us that traditional brands are our bad hair day saviors, but the truth is that you can get shiny, healthy, and voluminous hair without harsh substances and environmental harm.

Zero waste shampoo options have taken off, and consumers have an abundance of choices to cleanse their hair in natural, sustainable, and economical ways. You and the earth are both worth it. 

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