As consumer preferences continue to evolve, more and more people are making the informed choice to build a lifestyle that is environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral, and sustainable for the planet.
Luckily for us, there are now several industries that are going out of their way to provide for eco-friendly consumers. They’re helping accommodate both our needs and the needs of mother Earth.
We’re seeing a rise in organic and eco-friendly products that are made from renewable resources. With so many people trying to live zero waste lifestyles, finding the perfect product can be difficult.
One specific product that’s gaining a lot of steam is zero waste shampoo. Did you know that more than 552 million shampoo bottles end up in landfills each year? That’s 1,164 football fields.
This article will do a deep dive into zero waste shampoo: what it is, how it works, why it makes sense for both your hair and the environment, and which brands to check out.
Zero Waste Shampoo: What Is It?
Zero waste shampoo has been developed to help reduce the amount of disposable plastic that goes into landfills. It’s often packaged in reusable tubes or containers instead of plastic bottles or cans, and these containers can be constructed from cardboard materials, aluminum, or glass.
This saves space in landfills because the reusable containers used to hold the hair care product do not need to be thrown away after use. You can technically re-use both glass and aluminum containers infinitely.
Zero waste shampoo helps reduce the amount of plastic packaging found in most body wash and hair care products, which are polluting our land and water systems.
Should the status quo continue, over the next 30 years, Earth would see an additional ~12B tons of plastic waste in our environment. That's why it's important to create a zero waste bathroom.
When it comes to this environmentally friendly product, there are usually three major options of note: liquid shampoo, bar shampoo, and dry shampoo.
Liquid shampoo is the preferred option for most people because of its convenience and variety. The ingredients used in these products are mostly the same as what you see in drug store brands, minus the sulfates.
Bar soap shampoo is gaining steam as a viable alternative as well, mostly because it produces significantly less plastic waste via there being no plastic bottle involved in the production process. This type of product requires minimal packaging and can be utilized on the go with minimal effort, and it often lasts longer than liquid shampoos.
Dry shampoos are usually powder-based, and offer many of the same convenience benefits as liquid shampoos while benefiting from the zero waste packaging possibilities of bar soap shampoo. They can also give your curly hair a specific look through texturing, volumizing, and shining in ways that bar and liquid shampoo cannot.
With most zero waste shampoo, you don't have to worry about exposure to harsh chemicals like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and phenol. Zero waste shampoos are usually made with botanical ingredients like coconut oil which keep your hair hydrated while retaining its natural oils.
The Drawbacks of Zero Waste Shampoo
There is no such thing as a perfect product, and zero waste shampoo is no exception. A few drawbacks associated with this type of shampoo include the expense and the variable effect on different types of hair.
For example, those with very oily hair may not see a significant amount of oil reduction over time. When using DIY shampoo, feelings of greasiness may result from the type of vinegar you’re using and the ratio mixed with water. If you do this and find your hair feels heavy when you're done showering, try a thinner solution made with 1/2 cup water and 1 tbsp baking soda.
Another concern is that the novel ingredients may irritate your skin as you wash your hair, especially if you’re new to zero waste products in general. Zero waste products usually rely on natural ingredients, but not everyone is familiar or used to their formulations.
This varies from one individual to the next, of course, and will depend primarily on allergies and your reactions to certain types of soap. You may not have an issue with any of these particular brands, but it's always worth checking before you try them out for yourself if you have sensitive skin.
Here is an overview of specific zero waste shampoo brands, ranging in type from zero waste shampoo bars to zero waste dry shampoo.
Zero Waste Shampoo Bars
1. Bottle None be BOLD Shampoo Bar
Bottle None knocked it out of the park once again with their exceptional quality, affordable BOLD Shampoo Bars. These bars help enhance your bounce and are made with both curly and dry hair in mind. They’re affordable, colorful, smell great, and feel natural on your skin and hair, and the best part of all is that their packaging is low-waste and they minimize garbage.
For those interested, this brand also sells a phenomenal conditioner bar!
2. Emerson Lemongrass-Peppermint Argan Shampoo
Emerson’s lemongrass and peppermint shampoo bars are incredibly popular, and for good reason. They’re affordable, 100% zero waste, and include the perfect blend of essential oils to improve the look and feel of your hair.
Created with Emerson’s patented cold-process filter system, picking up this product means you’re getting a completely plastic-free, long-lasting shampoo bar at a fraction of the price. Buy in bulk to save even more!
3. HiBar Shampoo
HiBar is firm believers in zero waste excellence, and this shampoo bar is no exception. It’s coconut-based, so your hair gets slathered with high-quality coconut oils that leave it looking, smelling, and feeling fantastic.
Whatever your hair type, HiBar shampoo is made for you. These shampoo bars treat curly, straight, and colored hair with care, and their versatility and durability mean you can last months on a single bar. They also make a great conditioner bar.
4. Aspen Kay Lemongrass and Sweet Orange Shampoo Bars
Aspen Kay’s lemongrass and sweet orange zero waste shampoo bar smells amazing, are durable and long-lasting, and leave your hair feeling strong and clean while also being environmentally friendly.
The product line is eco-conscious and utilizes recyclable packaging. It’s cost-effective and a great introduction to shampoo bars for the eco-curious.
Zero Waste Liquid Shampoo
5. Oneka Cedar & Sage Shampoo
For those of you looking for environmentally friendly, eco-conscious liquid shampoos, Oneka Cedar & Sage Shampoo has you covered. This shampoo is light, bubbly, and incredibly fragrant - it turns an average shower into an extravagant forest waltz.
Oneka has also made sure that their Cedar and Sage shampoo works well with all hair types and is safe on colored and treated hair, and their formulation improves sebum production and is aimed at revitalizing your scalp.
6. True Botanicals - Nourishing Shampoo
Built from pure aluminum, the shampoo bottle itself is completely reusable and trendy, and the shampoo carries a light, neutral fragrance that many people (us included!) have grown to love. It’s also jam-packed with antioxidants and hydrating factors to help suit any hair type.
7. Seed Phytonutrients Shampoo
Looking for a high-quality liquid shampoo that comes in recyclable packaging? Seed Phytonutrients’ new liquid shampoo might just be right for you. The bottle is constructed from completely post-consumer recycled paper, and uses significantly less plastic - up to 60% less, in fact - than most of its competitors.
In addition, it contains several natural oils to improve the bounce and shine of your hair, and every order comes with plantable seeds to help you give back to the Earth.
8. Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Liquid Shampoo
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics has been making waves in the zero waste industry for their attention to detail and commitment to the zero-waste cause. When you order their liquid shampoo, you get a reusable (not to mention beautiful) glass bottle plus a pump.
Future orders involve 100% recyclable caps made of aluminum. The shampoo itself is incredibly hydrating, and ideal for frizzy or otherwise weak & brittle hair.
9. Butter Me Up Organics Daily Shampoo
Lastly, Butter Me Up Organics Daily Shampoo is exactly what it sounds like and more - highly moisturizing, daily shampoo to help improve the quality and cleanliness of your hair. It’s hydrating, PH balanced, and organic.
When you order, customers get the opportunity to choose between glass or BPA-free squeeze bottles, and it reflects the company’s devotion to zero-waste or low-waste processes wherever possible.
Zero Waste Dry Shampoo
10. Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve
Looking for highly specific dry shampoos optimized for light or dark hairstyles? Chagrin Valley has multiple custom-made lavender and rosemary shampoos to accommodate your hair, whether it’s primarily light (blonde, red, or colored) or dark (black and brown).
All shampoo orders come with 100% recyclable packaging, making this a strong environmental alternative to traditional drug-store-bought shampoos, and we love it for its fresh fragrance and soothing formula.
11. Fat and the Moon Day to Day Shampoo
Formulated out of passion, Fat and the Moon was created specifically after the creator, Rachel Budde, found out that the vast majority of ‘natural dry shampoos’ (or at least the ones that were marketed as such) contain high concentrations of aluminum and sulfates.
To combat this, Fat and the Moon’s shampoo lines are all aluminum-free and include completely natural ingredients that were researched and added crafted with love and passion. We adore Fat and the Moon’s shampoos and every order packs a punch.
12. Love Hair
Love Hair is one of the most popular eco-friendly dry shampoo brands for a reason. Every order is completely vegan and natural, and they offer several types of fragrant, powerful shampoos that suit every need. They focus on leaving your hair feeling clean and residue-free, and the packaging on every bottle is 100% recyclable for that extra ‘oomph.
13. Life Unpacked
Made in Canada, this shampoo is 100% zero waste, and includes one of our favorite fragrances to date: the perfect blend of cacao and vanilla oils.
Your hair will feel strong, hydrated, and natural, and each order of shampoo comes in refillable glass bottles lined with fully compostable packaging.
They also offer affordable refill orders wrapped in the same compostable packaging, so you can rest assured that you’re being eco-friendly from start to finish!
DIY Zero Waste Shampoo
Tired of conventional shampoo? If you’d rather make your shampoo, there are plenty of simple zero waste shampoo recipes that can help your hair feel hydrated and frizz-free for less.
One such example is a family favorite: coconut aloe zero waste shampoo. To make it, simply mix 1 cup extra virgin coconut oil, 1 cup of aloe vera gel, and 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil and you’ll have completely DIY, healthy shampoo at home.
Zero Waste Conditioner
Finally, many brands (including several that we mentioned above) also offer affordable, high-quality zero waste conditioners. (We love a conditioner bar.)
While many zero waste shampoo users find they don’t need as much conditioner as they do when using traditional shampoo - mostly due to the lack of sulfates in the majority of zero waste shampoos - it’s always good to have the option of an extra hydrating rinse at the end of your shower.
Pro-tip handed down for generations: apple cider vinegar can also be used as a cheap conditioner in a pinch!
13 Zero Waste Shampoos to Keep Your Hair Healthy Without the Waste
In summary, the zero waste movement is fundamentally changing the consumer relationship with both disposable product companies and the wider environment. As our society grows, more and more customers want their care products to be environmentally friendly and carbon neutral.
There is also an important subset of consumers that prefer zero waste products because they are concerned about the safety of potentially harmful containers like BPA, bottled shampoo, and wasteful tubes.
Whatever your reason for switching from traditional to zero waste shampoo and conditioner, we’re happy to have you and excited for the next few years of zero waste product development.