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Have you ever wondered what people used to use to wash their hair before liquid shampoos? You know, shampoo is a relatively recent innovation.

Before they started coming in liquid form in bottles, they were always bars of soap.

But, those were harsh on your hair as people weren’t as concerned about locking moisture into their hair as we are now.

Instead today’s shampoo bars are specifically formulated to be used on hair just like a liquid shampoo isn’t meant to be used as a body wash.

Let’s take a look at what shampoo bars for men are all about and see why you should make the switch.

Why use a shampoo bar?

They look just like a bar of soap, but these bar shampoos are actually made out of the stuff your hair and scalp need. 

But, why should you make the switch? Why not just keep using a regular shampoo?

Let’s go over some pros and cons of using a shampoo bar so you can see if it is worth it.


More sustainable – For many this is the sole reason to switch to a bar shampoo. Since it is the same as a bar of soap, the packaging is minimal. Sometimes less than a toilet paper tube is all that is needed to package a bar of shampoo. Imagine how many plastic bottles you’ve used over the years and then try to picture how that affects the environment. Yes, plastic bottles are recyclable, but not needing to recycle things is far more environmentally friendly.

Longer lasting – Also tied in to sustainable is the fact that they last longer than shampoo. Like a lot longer. Especially if you have long hair. 

This is also economical. Shampoo is not cheap and sometimes you can definitely use too much of it. In fact I would say that guys especially tend to overdo it with how much they portion out for shampoo.

Now you don’t have to worry about how much you should use. You simply rub it into your hair and lather it up. There’s no way to use too much so the bar will last considerably longer and save you money in the process.

Use it less frequently – I have been a big proponent on this blog about not shampooing your hair frequently and this is a great way to be able to do that. No matter what shampoo you use, you shouldn’t be washing your hair every day.

With a bar shampoo for men, you can use it less frequently but your hair doesn’t end up feeling or looking greasy when you take a break. This is especially true if you have oily hair.

Travel friendly – Forget about going out and buying travel bottles to be TSA compliant and then transferring your shampoo into one. Now you can take your shampoo into your carry on without even having to think twice about it since it isn’t a liquid. 


Hard to apply on long hair – Oddly these shampoo bars were originally marketed towards women. Now there’s nothing wrong with that but the problem lies in using them on long hair. It is hard to rub the bar into your hair if it is longer than shoulder length. If you have short hair then this is not a problem at all as getting a good wash with one is easy.

They expire fast – I doubt very much that you would have the same bar for over 6 months, but if you do then you may notice that it smells a bit off. The essential oils used can go rancid over time. They do last a while, but don’t try to stretch it out too much.

It takes a while to adjust – It may not seem like a big deal to switch to a bar shampoo after using a liquid, but there is a period when you might be wondering if it is worth it based on the results. There can be a bit of build up in the first few weeks of using one.

Not as much lather – This isn’t such a big deal as lather doesn’t always mean that it is cleaning any better than one that doesn’t produce as much. But, I admit I am a sucker for a good, rich lather. Or at least I was when I had hair!

Bar soap vs bar shampoo

They look like soap and act like soap, but are shampoo bars actually soap?

The process is the same, but the ingredients are different. If you were to use your ordinary soap on your hair, you would quickly find it really bad.

It will likely leave your hair very sticky and overly clean. By that I mean stripped of its natural oils and very dried out.

The answer is to use many of the same ingredients as you would find in bar soap and reformulate them to clean your scalp and hair.

Remember that soap making is a lesson in chemistry. Different proportions are going to yield different results. So, don’t look at a bar soap and shampoo bar and by comparing the ingredients feel you can easily swap them out.

The other thing to remember is that soap is made to be able to emulsify the dirt on your skin and lift it away. Shampoo is not meant to do that. Though they will also clean your scalp, the skin is different what your hair needs is different.

What to look for in a shampoo bar

Many people are looking to switch to bar shampoo because they feel like they are a more natural choice.

While this is mostly true, there are plenty of brands that are using the same harsh chemicals in liquid shampoo and cheap soap detergents. This definitely muddies the waters and means you have to do a little due diligence to make sure you are getting something that will be good for your hair and skin.

Here are some of the ingredients you want to see in a shampoo bar for men.


Usually made from vegetable fat these days, glycerine is an incredible moisturizer. It does wonders for your hair and scalp by adding and locking in moisture. It even can attract moisture from the air so it makes your hair more hydrated as the day goes on than if you didn’t use it.

The trick is to watch out for glycerine that is vegetable derived otherwise you may be using one that is made as a by product of petroleum which you don’t want.

You may need to use some trial and error when finding which bar shampoo is going to work best for you since some brands may use too much. This can cause your hair to have a tacky feel to it.

Argan oil

If the shampoo bar for men contains argan oil chances are you are going to love what it does. Argan is one of the best oils for hydrating and repairing damaged skin cells and hair. It leaves your hair feeling really soft and with a healthy sheen. The shafts of the hair are also strengthened, so if you are prone to split ends then this is a must have ingredient.

Bentonite clay

This ingredient is becoming more and more popular as an ingredient now that it is understood how beneficial it is for skin and hair. It naturally draws impurities from your pores and leaves them free of dead skin cells and bacteria. If you have really oily scalp or hair then this will help to regulate it without drying it out.

Castor oil

If you have oily skin and hair or are prone to outbreaks of acne on your head, then castor oil is the ingredient you want to see. It is a great disinfectant so it naturally purifies the pores and leaves the skin free of bacteria. 

It can be a bit harsh, though so if you have sensitive skin then it may be a good idea to avoid it even though it is all natural.

Jojoba oil 

This is one of the ingredients that pretty much every good shampoo should have. It is as close as it gets to naturally replicating our own natural oil called sebum. It works wonderfully as a moisturizer that gets deep into the skin and hair to keep it hydrated and healthy.

What to avoid in a bar shampoo

This list is basically a who’s who when it comes to any cosmetic product and is not just relegated to shampoo bars for men.

Try to avoid these as they can have some nasty side effects and even end up damaging your hair if you use too many of them.


This is a by product of petroleum production and is also called Vaseline. Is it particularly bad for you? The jury is still out, but many people tell us to avoid them just to be safe. The reason you find it in shampoo and soaps is for it’s so called moisturizing. What it actually does is coat the hair or skin and leave it feeling like it has been moisturized but it doesn’t penetrate it. It is not giving your skin any benefit at all so there is no reason for it to be there.


These are preservatives in the soap to make sure it doesn’t get any bacteria or mold. Which seems like it’s a good thing until you consider the damage it can do to people. It penetrates deep into the skin to the point it can be found in the bloodstream. It mimics estrogen so guys that use too many products with parabens end up with lower sperm counts. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

SLS is there to provide some nice lather which isn’t really necessary to begin with. It literally serves no other purpose. It can result in skin irritation and dry out your hair. No reason at all to be using products with SLS in them.


These are in the soap to dissolve the fragrances so the smell of the soap is apparent even when it isn’t wet.

The problem with it is it disrupts the pH balance of your skin and destroys the natural barrier that protects the skin from damage from the sun, pollutants and other harsh chemicals we find in our cosmetics.

Best Bar Shampoo for Dandruff | The Yellow Bird

This bar shampoo isn’t formulated specifically for dandruff but it has ingredients that will definitely tame those flakes. The formula is all natural and features a lot of ingredients for a healthy scalp and stronger hair.

In fact, if you are struggling with hair fall that isn’t due to male pattern baldness, then you may see some stop to the hair loss and even modest regrowth. It has peppermint oil in it and menthol flakes. Peppermint oil has been found to be as effective as Minoxidil in growing hair. If you have thin spots with tin, wispy hair then this shampoo may help you fill in those spots.

As far as how it cleans, it is formulated especially to clean your scalp and hair without stripping the oils. It contains argan and jojoba to hydrate the skin and hair and lock that moisture in. Your hair will feel fuller and softer thanks to the argan oil.

Knowing that sometimes these bar soaps can leave build up on the hair and scalp, they added kaolin clay and sea salt to the mix to make sure it doesn’t leave a residue. Kaolin clay is very gentle on your skin so it doesn’t irritate like bentonite can for some people.

If you are vegan or at least care about animals, then this soap will give you a guilt free clean since it is vegan and all natural. Never tested on animals.

It doesn’t have any synthetic ingredients and the fragrance comes from the peppermint essential oil. This is very good news if you have sensitive skin and need to go fragrance free.

The smell of peppermint is invigorating and fresh.

If you have short to medium length hair then I think this is a great shampoo bar for men. If your hair is long then your results may vary.

J.R. Liggett’s Old Fashioned Shampoo Bar

I love having variety and you will too if you buy this three pack of JR Liggetts bar shampoo. If you have a few people in the household with different hair types and needs, then this is a good pack to get as it has three different formulas. Surely one of them is going to suit the specific needs of just about everybody.

The first bar is with tea tree and hemp oil. If you have an oily scalp or are prone to acne or dandruff then the tea tree will clear out your pores and disinfect the scalp to get rid of any bacteria that may be lurking there. Hemp oil is added to repair your damaged scalp and leave it plump and elastic. This can also help with preventing dandruff. 

It also contains olive oil and coconut oil to really hydrate your hair and leave it feeling soft and strong.

Then there is jojoba and peppermint. For those with dry skin you get a great boost of hydration from the jojoba oil. Even if you have oily skin this helps because jojoba almost perfectly mimics sebum so it will not strip your oils and leave your skin dry. It regulates how much oil your skin needs so your hair gets the hydration it needs while balancing the scalp. And peppermint will rejuvenate the scalp. By adding a menthol quality it stimulates the scalp so it increases blood flow. This extra blood will bring more oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and hair follicle. This increases the strength of the hair shaft and will add shine to the look of your hair.

Then the last bar is coconut and argan oil. If your hair is in serious need of hydration then this combo is ideal. If you suffer from brittle hair and split ends the combination of argan and coconut oil is ideal. The argan oil will repair the scalp and hair down to a cellular level. It strengthens the shaft of the hair so you are less likely to get split ends from it being brittle. The coconut oil acts as an antioxidant to go after the free radicals in your hair and skin. This leaves your hair looking younger and feeling strong and soft.

Any one of these bars is great to give you more manageable hair.

Voodoo Bamboo Charcoal Shampoo Bar

If you’ve been using regular shampoo for a while and need to get your hair back to its natural state then this is an ideal bar shampoo to do just that.

This bar shampoo for men won’t leave any kind of residue and will remove any toxins present in your hair. It has an intense formula to hydrate your hair, repair your scalp and hair follicles and allow your hair to do its thing naturally.

Pitch black in appearance it has charcoal to remove any dead skin cells that have accumulated in the pores, will remove any toxins present in your hair and scalp and will remove any build of from your previous shampoo.

The best part is that you won’t need to use this every day. A few times per week is more than enough to regulate your scalp and hair and leave you with a healthy and soft mane.

It contains things like Tasmanian seaweed extract to remove any heavy metals and toxins from the hair while adding protein for strength. Then honey and beeswax will form a barrier over the hair and scalp to lock in moisture leaving your hair strong and hydrated throughout the day. 

Castor oil is also present to disinfect the scalp and clean out your pores. This can be a little irritating for guys with sensitive skin, however. 

The scent is slightly like liquorice with a fresh and bright fragrance.

If you are looking for a great way to detox your hair and get back to normal then this is definitely the shampoo bar for men for you!

iHeart Nature Artisanal Bar Shampoo


If you suffer from skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis or just dandruff then this is the bar shampoo formulated just for you.

It has a myriad of strange ingredients that are all there to clear away your skin problems and leave your hair and scalp healthy and clean.

The main ingredient is neem oil which is known to reduce inflammation as well as a phenylbutazone which is a prescription drug to care for eczema. It is rich in fatty acids and glycerides that easily penetrates the outer layers of the skin to give deep healing to your scalp. It can even get rid of lice, so if you have kids and have gotten a notice from school that there has been lice detected then this is a good gentle way to clean your kids and your hair. Even fungus is no match for neem oil. If you have ringworm then this is a gentle way to get rid of that, too.

Lavender is also present and will soothe your scalp if you have an irritated or dry skin. Though this is a clarifying shampoo as it contains neem and even castor oil, so it may be a bit harsh for some. I wouldn’t use it if you just have sensitive skin not associated with a type of dermatitis.

How to use a bar shampoo

Though a shampoo bar for men is easy to use and there is nothing technical about it, there are a couple of things to keep in mind to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

One of the problems is that these soaps are usually superfatted. This means that there is more fat or oil present than there was lye. Superfatted soaps can give up a nice lather, but there may be spots that don’t lather and dissolve. This makes for patches with build up.

Here are two ways to use the bar shampoo of choice:

Lather it in your hands first

Make sure your hair is thoroughly wet and then take the bar of shampoo in your hands. Give it a thorough rub around in your hands to develop a rich lather. Some shampoo bars will laher better than others. And your water does play a part, so if your water is hard, don’t expect a thick lather. Just do the best you can here.

Then use your fingers like a com and run them through your hair. Repeat the process of creating a lather in your hands and run your fingers through the hair again.

Massage the shampoo into your scalp with the tips of your fingers and work it into a lather.

Then just wash your hair as you normally would. 

Make sure you rinse it several times to reduce the risk of any build up. Run your fingers through the hair to feel around if there are any spots where the soap is sticking to your hair.

Use it directly on the hair

Again, make sure your hair is thoroughly wet before getting started. Then wet the bar of shampoo and rub it directly on your head.

Make a circular motion and move it around all over. Don’t focus it on one spot because you are likely to use too much and cause it to build up in that spot.

Once you feel like you covered all of your hair, put the bar down and just use your fingers.

Massage the scalp with the tips of your fingers to work the shampoo into the roots of your hair and create a thick lather.

Then just shampoo your hair as normal. Rinse thoroughly a few times to make sure there is no residue left over.

Final Thoughts

Things are really getting interesting when it comes to men’s grooming products. There are so many natural and sustainable ways to take care of our skin and hair that the choice is almost overwhelming.

When you use a shampoo bar for men you are taking great care of your scalp and hair and helping to reduce the damage being done to the environment.

In this day and age there is no point in using products with harsh chemicals that does nothing to help our skin and hair health and only serves to add to a company’s bottom line at the expense of your health.

And dumping toxins and plastics into the environment when there are alternatives doesn’t make sense either.

I hope you do care about the environment but even if you would rather not think about it, you still will get a lot out of using a bar shampoo.

If you have any questions about them then let me know by adding a comment to the box below!