Badger Balm shampoo bar review
Zero waste hair washing was one of the least enjoyable zero waste switches I made. Switching from a detergent based shampoo that strips your hair of any oil to a washing method that cleans without stripping the good stuff always has some weird times as your hair adjusts. Not to mention that certain methods, like baking soda, just water, or regular bar soap, don’t work for everyone.
The good news is that the hair washing method I’ve always found success with is a good, commercial shampoo bar. The bad news is that some of the most dependable shampoo bars, like those from Lush, are expensive, so if you leave one in the hostel shower of a 12 person dorm and it melts away you’ve essentially washed €12 down the drain (so I hear). I’ve never bought a handmade shampoo bar from a small maker that actually cleaned my hair, but I’ve always had success with bigger brands.
Badger Balm is a brand available online, but I purchased this shampoo bar at TJ Maxx, which is one reason I’m reviewing it. TJ Maxx is, of course, not available to everyone, but it is available in many places, and the shampoo was available for a good price ($4.99), especially relative to other shampoo bars like those from Lush ($10.95+). For shampoo bars to be a viable alternative to liquid shampoo, they need to be comparable in price, availability, and actually work, because greasy roots aren’t for everybody. I live in relatively rural upstate New York and I have two TJ Maxx within 40 minutes of me, but the nearest Lush is at least two hours away, so I consider it to be more widely available than Lush.
What I love about the Badger shampoo bar is that it’s vegan and cruelty free. Like all shampoo bars, it has the advantage of being travel friendly since it’s not a liquid and can be packed in a carry-on bag. The bar is also made in the USA. Badger Balm is a certified B-Corporation, which is a certification that takes into account a company’s greater social and environmental impact, meaning it meets the “highest standards of verified performance” as put forth by the certifying body. From the ethical side, my only qualm is that the bar contains palm oil, which is something to avoid when possible because farming palm oil has lead to deforestation in the past years and it’s not always possible to know if the palm oil you’re consuming was responsibly harvested.
Hair & water type
To help you understand how the shampoo bar worked with my hair, it helps to know what I’m working with. I have very thick, undyed, wavy hair. My water is treated well-water, so it’s a little hard. I’ve use the shampoo bar for at least 7 washes.
An immediate plus of this shampoo bar is that it lathers well. This is important because without ample bubbles, it’s impossible to know where the soap is on your scalp. With liquid soap, you can spread it in your hands and then distribute it through your scalp, but you have to manually rub a shampoo bar on your head to make suds; this bar lathers quickly and amply, which makes it easy to use.
This shampoo bar rinses alright, but as is vaguely recommended on the box, could probably use a vinegar rinse to get totally out of your hair. My hair feels soft after using it, but seems thick at the roots, making the hair not feel light or fluffy where you deposit the shampoo. The more washes in a row I used the shampoo bar, the heavier the thick feeling on the roots. I definitely recommend using a vinegar rinse or something similar to truly get the shampoo out of your hair.
Moisture & volume
As I said, this shampoo bar leaves my hair soft, but a little stuck to my head. The hair isn’t greasy to the touch, but it’s heavy at the roots. My hair is not especially dry and has a lot of volume, so it’s unusual that it’s held down. I don’t recommend this bar to someone with fine hair or someone who cares a lot about volume.
Would I rebuy?
I would rebuy this shampoo bar if I wanted a two step hair washing routine (washing with a shampoo bar + conditioning/clarifying with a rinse), but I prefer a shampoo bar that I can use totally alone. While as a shampoo bar it didn’t perform perfectly, this bar is a good soap and makes a great bubble bath. I recommend the bar if you have soft water, want a moisturizing shampoo, and have regular to thick hair, and I don’t recommend it if you have fine hair and/or very hard water.
Good luck finding a zero waste hair washing method that works for you, and happy zero wasting!