The Misguided Advice of the Shampoo Bar.

Lush Store - White City
Lush Store – White City

In my pre-travel frenzy of research, I came across this piece of advice from a fellow traveller – Take a shampoo bar with you instead of a regular bottle. They last months and are so small so they save you so much money and space, and you don’t have to worry about replacing it!  Well it sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

I think a few places sell them but I was recommended ‘Lush’ so I went to check them out. Well there were so many options, it was hard to not get carried away! Shampoo bars, conditioner bars, shampoo and conditioner bars, bars that smell like lavender, rose, coconut, chocolate, bars for greasy hair, dry hair, bars with petals in them… Ok I did get carried away… I think there’s something about Lush. The intoxicating smell of soap gives you some kind of mad product-buying adrenaline rush…

Lush Shampoo Bars
Lush Shampoo Bars
Lush Shampoo Bars
Lush Shampoo Bars

But anyway I’m getting off track here. I bought a shampoo bar was the conclusion to that story. I had been deliberating it, as it would mean more space for shoes, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to wash my hair with a bar of soap. But after the heady concoction of products in Lush, I just went for it. And even got a cute tin for it to live in.

LUSH Shampoo Bar Tin

I took it with me to Asia. I was not impressed.

Here’s why…

  • You only get as much lather as a regular bar of soap so washing your hair is hard work.
  • In terms of haircare, it’s down there with 2 in 1 shampoo and you really don’t want to spend an unnecessarily long time detangling your hair when you could be scuba diving or exploring a temple instead.
  • And the thing that annoyed me most, was that you were meant to wait for it to dry completely before putting it back in its tin and packing it. That’s just not an option when you’re backpacking. Everything’s spontaneous and fun and you can’t be worrying about washing your hair in time for your shampoo bar to dry…
  • …So you pack it anyway, and then at your next destination the tin has stuck to the bar and cannot be opened. Not cool.

Honestly, I really wish I liked the shampoo bars because they are super cute and space saving. But they’re just not practical for backpacking in my opinion.

Lush Shampoo Bars
Lush Shampoo Bars

I think I lasted a respectable 6 weeks with the shampoo bar before giving up and buying normal shampoo! So you see I did TRY to be a frugal, space-saving backpacker once upon a time… And it made me become a flash-packing princess that tells you to take anything that makes you happy!

Feel free to try them yourself but I would recommend trying them before you go. But seriously, don’t be swayed by the backpacking nazis, or the Lush sales assistants at that.

If you wouldn’t use a bar of soap to wash your hair at home, you’re not going to want to use it when you’re away. It’s as simple as that.

17 thoughts on “The Misguided Advice of the Shampoo Bar.

  • 4th November 2012 at 12:32 am

    What one did you try? I bought one this week and have to say I actually thought it was great! I just left it on the side of the bath though so I guess I didnt have to worry about it drying lol

  • 4th November 2012 at 5:57 am

    Wow! Your experience is so different than mine. I have used several of the Lush shampoo bars and they foam more than my regular shampoo. Perhaps you aren’t getting your hair sufficiently wet? I make 4-5 swipes across my head and then lather up. I don’t use the little tin as the shampoo seems to stay wet in there and becomes a gooey mess. I just use a small zip-loc instead and don’t bother to seal it. The bar eventually dries out. I use the Jungle conditioner in the same manner.

    As an aside, I have used the shampoo bar to wash my clothes too – it works very well. I have used the conditioner bar to shave my legs – it is very slippery. So both bars are dual use for me.

    I do agree with your advice about trying things out at home. On the road is *not* the time to figure out that the new thing is not working for you. You don’t have many options for recovery at that point.

  • kara8188
    4th November 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Wow mine is clearly contrary to popular opinion! Haha!

    Gosh I can’t remember what mine was called but it was the pale green one if that helps?

    Good point – I guess it could’ve been because my hair wasn’t wet enough – I was in Thailand and Cambodia at the time when the shower was a cold dribble so it took a lot of effort to put my head underneath it! But my hair was long at the time so I just found that it was hard work to lather up all of my hair and then it was hard to detangle… But that’s just me. I know others swear by them!

    I’m glad you had problems with the tin too! The zip lock’s a cool idea, but if it’s open didn’t it get all over your clothes?

    • 23rd November 2016 at 2:22 am

      I use shampoo bars at home but not the ones from Lush. The shampoo bars from Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve online and I adore them. I go for the Neem soap and for a while stopped conditioning all together, or using only leave-in. I’d give their stuff a good look.

  • 24th January 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I loooove my Lush shampoo bars! I haven’t had any problems with lathering and it’s the shampoo I use when I’m at home too! yeah I just place it on the tin lid while I’m going other things and then pop it back into the tin. 🙂

  • 6th December 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I’m with you on this one. The shampoo bar I used from Lush was ok, but my hair definitely had way more tangles (like, comparable to a rats nest) and was way drier. I guiltily tossed it a month or two into my trip and bought a bottle of my preferred shampoo.

  • 13th March 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I totally agree with you on the soap tin front…they’re a nightmare! After just a week, mine had dents in it from me throwing it on the floor in frustration trying to open it (it worked, but meant closing it again was pretty tricky!) I do think the bars lather up well and they last ages but next time I might go for the ziplock bag route! 🙂

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  • 22nd July 2015 at 1:45 pm

    I just bought a solid shampoo and conditioner from Lush for an upcoming trip. I want to try them anyway because I like the idea of not having packaging. I’m going to stay in one place so I don’t have to worry about letting it dry, but I was also thinking that it would be a problem if you were moving around. I haven’t tried it yet, but I know some people cut of little pieces instead of wetting the whole bar, so that might be the perfect solution.

    • kara8188
      22nd July 2015 at 1:50 pm

      I think the main problem was them not drying and sticking to the tin so you might be ok. Let me know how you get on!

  • 22nd July 2015 at 1:49 pm

    I just bought a solid shampoo and conditioner from Lush for an upcoming trip. I wanted to try them anyway because I like the idea of not having plastic packaging. I’m going to stay in one place so I don’t have to worry about letting it dry, but I was also thinking it would be a problem if you’re moving around. I haven’t tried it yet, but I know some people cut off little pieces instead of wetting the whole bar, so I think that would be the perfect solution.

  • 8th November 2015 at 10:37 pm

    So glad I’m not the only one! I’m backpacking at the moment and I pre-wash my hair with real shampoo, then I take a tiny piece from the squishy morrass inside a zip lock bag and rub it, and rub it. then over my hair – ad nauseum.

  • 7th January 2016 at 5:22 am

    Ahm, just to let you know, the lush shampoo bars are “real shampoo”. They are not soap at all as actual soap contains different ingredients. The bars have the same washing detergent (sodium laureth sulfate) in them like the liquid shampoos you’re used to from the high street, which means they do bubble up pretty much just as much and wash just as well.
    Some of the bars are pretty hit and miss, some are superb like the New bar which you can’t go wrong with.

    I agree with the tin, it’s not good for travelling if you can’t air dry the shampoo because it will get a bit gooey and stick. I prefer to cut the bar up into smaller chunks and put it into a bigger box. (or store the other half somewhere dry until you use it)

    If you got trouble with tangly hair, honestly, you got the wrong shampoo for you.
    I’d recommend natural bars anyway as the sulfate based detergent dries your hair and scalp and you will need a conditioner when washing with them.

  • 13th September 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Hey- I keep my lush shampoo bar in a “hubba bubba tape” case.

    You know the plastic circle that opens in half and there is a super long roll of chewing gum in it?

    It works a treat, it was practically made for a round lush shampoo bar.

  • 8th November 2016 at 9:40 pm

    Definitely sounds like you use them incorrectly. Just because somethings doesn’t lather doesn’t mean it’s not doing th job. We are so used to suds and bubbles that if a produst it’s sudsy we feel like its not working. Also pat it dry with a towel to prevent it from sticking. I traveled for years with shampoo bars and never had a problem?

    • Kara // Heels In My Backpack
      9th November 2016 at 8:57 am

      Hey! I completely understand that not all products lather but it didn’t actually do the job either, completely tangling my hair. And of course I tried to pat dry the shampoo bar but it still stuck. Since this review I’ve actually read countless reviews online that say the same thing about it sticking in the tin. It seems the only way around it is to allow it dry completely before packing it away. Which isn’t always possible with spontaneous travel! Appreciate your view nonetheless, just wasn’t the same as mine. Safe travels x

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