Camryn Tries Everything: I Used Bar Shampoo and Conditioner… Here’s What I Discovered,

Photo is by Camryn Calderwood

I am Medusa. My snakes tangle amongst themselves with malicious intent. They hiss at the products that threaten to lather them. They turn combs — their mortal enemy — to stone. Untamed and independently sentient, my curls are seemingly uncontrollable.

My Greek mythology fantasies aside, I have naturally curly hair and it’s difficult to maintain. It’s a genuine struggle finding products that meet my consumer expectations and requirements. I’m not picky. I’m just always on the hunt for an easy-to-use and effective hair routine. 

I certainly do not have an unlimited budget for hair products — especially considering how quickly I burn through conditioner. Unfortunately, my wallet has left me feeling limited to the small selection of drugstore products. For most of my life I’ve used Pantene’s “Curl Perfection” products. I know. I can sense you cringing from home. With Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol and harmful preservatives topping the list of “Curl Perfection” ingredients, I’m thankful that I finally stopped including Pantene in my hair care routine. But if the budget-conscious, admittedly beautifully fragrant Pantene products are out of the question, what do I recommend? I’ve discovered the hair care jackpot: bar shampoo and conditioner. 

Everyone is well-acquainted with bar soap, but what does a bar-based shampoo or conditioner look like? Many young consumers have been researching and re-assessing their hair products during quarantine. Similar to custom-made skincare brand Curology, custom hair care brands such as Aura and Prose have recently become more popular. Mass customization has dominated other industries such as fashion, so this trend is not necessarily surprising. Customization is especially fitting for the hair care industry, since hair type and texture vary so much from one consumer to the next. Additionally, consumers are increasingly aware of the ingredients in their products, including the possible presence of parabens and harmful chemicals. The hair care market has been changing and evolving, which fosters the demand for innovative, new products. If you’re on TikTok, then you may already be familiar with the bar hair products trend, because the tag “#shampoobar” has gone viral. While there are many companies that make shampoo and conditioner bars [most of them being small businesses], there is one brand that sticks out on TikTok reviews: The Earthling Company.

When I began researching The Earthling Company, a few things stuck out to me. First of all, The Earthling Company makes more than just hair care products. The brand also specializes in body care, kitchen products, travel essentials and even pet care. Along with that, they preach a “Plastic-Free” and “Low Waste” method of doing business. All ingredients and packaging are environmentally-conscious. Their core values become crystal clear just by reading the bio on The Earthling Co. Instagram page which states, “Help us create a more sustainable + harmonious world!” But mission and company values aside, do The Earthling Company shampoo and conditioner bars really work, especially for textured hair?

Even after completing my research, I was skeptical. When I first opened the package, a brown-beige, SweetTart-shaped bar popped out. Compared to the gargantuan bottles of shampoo and conditioner I was used to, this bar appeared tiny. I didn’t think it would last me more than a week [which was concerning since I had ordered it online and took days to arrive]. But then I began using it. 

I purchased the Sweet Sandalwood scent, and it smells earthy, yet sophisticated. This lovely scent is only heightened when the bar is met with water. The first ingredient of most bottles of shampoo and conditioner is water. This makes no logical sense since water is readily available in the shower or bath. Because the shampoo and conditioner bars are made of highly concentrated amounts of every other ingredient that isn’t water, it only takes a small amount of product to seamlessly lather my thick hair. Realizing this, my fears about the product not lasting long were squashed. Post-shower, I found that my curls felt softer and proved to be less tangled as I brushed them. Even after my hair had dried, I was pleasantly surprised at how silky smooth it looked and felt. It was like each individual curl gave a sigh of relief as it soaked-in the nourishment of natural ingredients and simultaneously got a much-needed break from harsh chemicals. 

So what is the verdict? 

If you haven’t tried shampoo and conditioner bars, you need to. Even if you’re a skeptic. Haircare can make or break a daily routine. It’s important to find products that meet your consumer expectations and improve your lifestyle. I certainly have, so now I say farewell. Goodbye, narrow drugstore selections for curly hair. Goodbye, harmful chemicals, and parabens. Goodbye plastic packaging that holds mostly water. Goodbye going through products in a month’s time. Hello, shampoo and conditioner bars! 

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Hi, I’m Maria McGinnis, a senior journalism student from Stow, Ohio. I’m also the editor-in-chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty, and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.

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