11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Curious about zero waste shampoo? The main problem with conventional hair products is their wasteful packaging and the ingredients inside them. Walk down the hair aisle of any convenience store and you’ll see tons of plastic bottles. And no, just because they have a little recycling sign on the bottom does not mean it actually gets recycled. Only 9% of plastic gets recycled overall, so our recycling system needs a serious wake up call. Also, there’s little to no brands who actually use recycled materials in their products – most brands instead are utilizing virgin materials to make their bottles. Virgin materials are extracted in unsustainable ways, like fracking and mining, and take more energy to turn into usable products.

Aside from looking at packaging, the ingredients used in conventional shampoos are also problematic. You’ll find a lot of questionable ingredients like parabens, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances lurking in them. These all get washed down the drain and end up polluting our waterways, but more on that in a moment. It’s important we make the switch to more sustainable shampoo options for the betterment of our waterways. Here are 10 zero waste shampoo brands I absolutely love and recommend.

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Zero Waste Shampoo: The Best Plastic-Free Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Why is shampoo bad for the environment?

One of the biggest environmental impacts of shampoo comes from rinsing it down the drain. It’s full of chemicals and as you rinse it out of your hair, they go down the drain and into the water supply. These chemicals can harm aquatic life and the animals that drink the contaminated water.

The chemicals found in personal care products can actually change the hormone levels in aquatic organisms, make it hard for them to reproduce, and cause a variety of health issues. If there are too many chemicals in the water, like surfactants, it can reduce oxygen levels in the water, resulting in deterioration of water quality and toxic effects to organisms living there. Sometimes so much, it leads to dead zones, void of life entirely.

Ironically, conventional shampoo also contributes to air pollution as well. According to a study, scientists have found that shampoo is a source of the same dangerous form of air pollution made by cars. They found volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in shampoo (and other domestic products like perfume and paint) which are linked to serious respiratory problems. In short, you don’t want to be breathing this stuff in.

What does zero waste shampoo mean?

Getting your shampoo zero waste means buying it without excessive plastic packaging. In the United States alone, 550 million empty shampoo bottles are thrown away each year. Only a fraction of them are actually recycled. This figure also does not include body wash, conditioner, or other bathing products in plastic packaging.

Also, this doesn’t take into consideration the energy and resources needed to make and ship the plastic bottles of shampoo. Transportation is often something that’s overlooked but it shouldn’t be. The heavier and bigger the bottles are, the bigger the vehicles need to be to fit them. Bigger vehicles require more fuel, which results in more carbon emissions. Less packaging thusly translates into less carbon emissions.

Here’s a scenario for you: Imagine 200 plastic bottles of shampoo that each weigh about 16 ozs. Now imagine 200 package free shampoo bars that weigh 2.25 ozs (these are what EcoRoots shampoo bars weigh!). Which is going to take up less space? Which can fit in a smaller vehicle, opposed to a gas guzzler? The one with the least amount of packaging.

How can I buy shampoo without plastic?

You can purchase shampoo without plastic by supporting sustainable brands that utilize plastic-free packaging. The brands on this list all use cardboard, aluminum, or package-free options instead of plastic. One of the brands uses some plastic, but it’s recycled, not virgin plastic. There are even some brands that offer refill systems that promote a truly closed loop system.

Shampoo bars typically provide package free options, plus they help save water because they’re not liquid products. They’re highly condensed versions of shampoo you just add water to, which is better in terms of reducing water waste. After all, to make most shampoo and conditioners, a certain amount of water is needed to create the product and the packaging itself.

Other zero waste shampoo packaging options include:

  • Cardboard or paper (compostable)
  • Metal/aluminum (recyclable or reusable)
  • Glass (Recyclable or reusable)
  • Recycled content (promotes better recycling systems)

Is it worth it to make your own shampoo?

Another option is to make your own shampoo instead. The pros of DIY shampoo are that you get to control what’s in it and can create customize formulas to your hair needs. Homemade shampoo is much more natural and can leave your hair looking and feeling healthier – just be mindful that everyone’s hair is different and will respond differently to various DIYs. What works for you, may not work for someone else, so be ready to set aside time to trying different DIY shampoo recipes.

You could also try an apple cider vinegar hair rinse, but please note you’re supposed to use this alongside shampooing your hair normally. An apple cider vinegar rinse is when you mix a few tablespoons with water, then work it into your scalp after shampooing and conditioning. You let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it out. It’s great for people who need to rebalance the pH of their scalp, or have dandruff because it’s antimicrobial.

As far as actual homemade shampoo goes, I really like this recipe from Good Housekeeping – it’s simple with only 4 natural ingredients. I’d like to give it a shot one day myself! I also have a DIY dry shampoo recipe on the blog you can try – my dad loves this stuff!

Plaine Products: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic free liquid shampoo + conditioner
  • Refill program
  • Aluminum bottles with optional pumps
  • Organic ingredients
  • Vegan and cruelty free

1. Plaine Products

Okay so Plaine Products shampoo has to be one of my favorite brands on this list, hence why they’re listed first. I’ve been using them for years and absolutely love their closed loop system. They come packaged in aluminum which is fully recyclable, but here’s what even cooler – you can tell the bottles have been reused plenty of times. Sometimes I’ll get one with a little dent in it and I’ll smile because I know that means it was sanitized and refilled before, so everything comes full circle.

My favorite is their citrus lavender fragrance – I always get the shampoo and conditioner in that scent. It’s all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, and really works wonders on my hair. For more details on Plaine Products, check out my blog post The Best Zero Waste Shampoo + Conditioner.

EcoRoots: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic free shampoo +conditioner bars
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Palm oil free
  • Handmade in USA
  • Ships package free

2. EcoRoots Shampoo Bars

Out of every option on this list, these are my favorite zero waste shampoo bars. They also sell amazing conditioner bars. I’ve tried both and am honestly hooked. They ship to you completely plastic-free in a cardboard box, cushioned by shredded paper you can just compost. They have so many fun scents and colors – no other place sells shampoo bars quite like theirs. I wrote a whole review on their shampoo and conditioner bars – def check it out for more info.

Hibar: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic free shampoo + conditioner bars
  • Bars for different hair types (frizzy, oily, flaky, etc.)
  • Safe for colored or treated hair
  • Vegan options
  • Leaping Bunny Certified

3. Hibar

Hibar has five different bars to choose from: Maintain, Volumize, Moisturize, Soothe and Fragrance-Free. Each is made to cater to different hair types. All of them are safe to use for treated or colored hair. They have a unique shape to that’s supposed to help with gripping in the shower. Hibars come plastic-free and you can easily recycle or compost the packaging. Some of their products contain small amounts of honey, but they do have vegan options like their Moisturize, Volumize and Fragrance-Free Bars.

Plum Brilliance: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic free shampoo bar
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Ethically wildcrafted from chemical and pesticide free botanicals and oils
  • Comes package free with only a recyclable paper sleeve
  • Handmade in small artisan batches in the USA

4. Plum Brilliance

So this shampoo bar is unique because it’s the only one of it’s kind. Crafted with charcoal and rosemary, it helps balance your scalp’s pH and undo damage. The shampoo bar itself looks like a work of art and you can tell it’s handmade the instant you look at it. I love the minimal packaging too – it gets shipped to you with only a paper sleeve on it. And it’s beautiful how it featured wildcrafted plants – aka the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or ‘wild’ habitat, without overharvesting. Truly unique.

Beauty Kubes: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic free shampoo + conditioner cubes
  • Activated by water
  • Travel-friendly
  • Palm oil free
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Plants a tree with every order through Tiny Yellow Bungalow

5. Beauty Kubes

These tiny little cubes pack a lot of punch. Each one is good for one wash and there are 27 in a box. There are two formulas to choose from – one for normal to dry hair, another for oily hair. To use these you just take a cube and crumble it in your hair, then add water to form a paste. Smooth it over your hair, add more water, and you’ve got yourself shampoo. It also comes wrapped in biodegradable paper and cardboard packaging, which means zero plastic. They also sell zero waste conditioner cubes.

Meow Meow Tweet: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic free shampoo bars + powders
  • Packaged in paper + aluminum
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Made with organic and fair trade ingredients
  • Climate neutral

6. Meow Meow Tweet

Meow Meow Tweet sells both shampoo bars and shampoo powder – to use both of them, you simply have to add water, which I love. Water free products help save water after all, because they’re ultra concentrated. The shampoo bars come in compostable paper packaging, while the shampoo powder comes in a recyclable or reusable metal bottle and cap.

One bottle of the shampoo powder equals four standard shampoo bottles. This brand also works with rePurpose Global to reduce, reuse, and offset the plastic they use in their products and packaging, making them plastic negative. They’re also Climate Neutral Certified, meeting net-zero or better carbon emissions through measuring, offsetting, and reducing their carbon footprint.

Fat and the Moon: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic free shampoo bar + powders + dry shampoo
  • Packaged in paper + glass
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Handmade and ethically crafted
  • Made with organic content

7. Fat and the Moon

Fat and the Moon sells an assortment of zero waste hair products: Shampoo bars, powders and dry shampoo. There’s a difference between a shampoo powder and dry shampoo by the way – yes, both are dry, but the powder needs water to activate, while the dry shampoo does not. I bought the shampoo powder for my father and he really loves it – he just puts a bit in his hand, uses a bit of water, then rubs it in. It creates a kind of paste which he uses to wash his hair, then rinses it out.

It’s also great for when you go camping. Dry shampoo is when you just sprinkle some into your hair, comb it through, and go about your day – perfect for when there’s no time to shower or dry your hair. All of their products are vegan and handcrafted, plus they come without plastic. You can repurpose, recycle or compost their packaging easily.

Seed Phytonutrients: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Liquid + powder shampoo
  • Packaged in paper + recyclable aluminum
  • Paper bottles come with seed packets
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Made with organic content
  • Climate neutral

8. Seed Phytonutrients

Seed Phytonutrients cuts down on plastic use by having a paper exterior you can take off to compost. Inside the actual shampoo is encased in recycled plastic which is great because you don’t often see brands actually use recycled plastic – most use virgin plastic that promotes extracting raw materials from the earth in unsustainable ways.

When you remove the paper exterior for composting, you’ll also find a secret packet of plantable seeds! I’ve gotten basil in the past which I love. They recently started selling shampoo powder which comes in a plastic-free fully recyclable aluminum container. Also, Seed Phytonutrients supports their organic farmers by paying for 100% of their crop upfront, regardless of yield. This allows them to reinvest in their farms and plan for future harvests, protecting the future of organic farming!

Alphine Provisions: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic-free liquid shampoo
  • Packaged in recyclable aluminum tube with optional reusable pump
  • Products contain a minimum of 70% organic content
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Made in the USA

9. Alphine Provisions

Alphine Provisions comes in a fully recyclable aluminum bottle – and I love how you can choose to purchase it with or without a pump. This helps prevent a lot of unneeded waste. There are two main scents to choose from: Fir + Sage or Cedar + Sandalwood. Both are made with at least 70% organic ingredients that are wildcrafted and natural. A portion of all sales of this product go to the Colorado Outward Bound School Scholarship Fund.

Ethique: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic-free shampoo bars
  • Packaged in compostable paper
  • 100% soap free + palm oil free
  • pH balanced and safe for color treated hair
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Climate positive

10. Ethique Shampoo Bar

Ethique is a vegan shampoo bar I’ve always wanted to try but never got around to. But, I have tried their laundry stain bar and loved it, so I know they’re a reliable brand. One of their shampoo bars is equivalent to using three shampoo bottles. Ethique is also climate positive which means they offset 120% of their carbon emissions. Their office is powered by 100% renewable energy (so cool!) and a tree is planted for every order. They have several different scents to choose from so feel free to browse around.

Chagrin Valley: 11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

Features:

  • Plastic-free shampoo bars
  • Packaged in compostable paper
  • Made with organic content
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Handmade in the USA

11. Chagrin Valley

This brand has some of the cleanest ingredients on this list – and I absolutely love the way they craft their products with so much care and detail. They only use sustainable raw materials in their products and that includes certified sustainable palm oil. They also do not use ingredients like Rosewood, Sandalwood or Frankincense essential oils if they come from endangered or threatened plants. All their packaging is zero waste and plastic-free. They also sell apple cider hair rinse (packaged in reusable glass bottles) that’s designed to compliment their shampoo bars.

11 Zero Waste Shampoo Brands for Sustainable Hair Care

So, which of these zero waste shampoos would you try? Did I forget any brands? List them in the comments below.

For more zero waste hair care tips, check out these zero waste curly hair products and DIY hair spray.

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By Ariana Palmieri

Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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