Zero waste and low waste hair washing: 5 ways

When I started reducing my waste, I tackled the bathroom first. From soaps to cleaning products, top to bottom. There are a lucky few with access to bulk liquids like shampoo or conditioner, but that is far from the reality for most of us. Because of this, I’ve explored a handful of methods to wash my hair. It has been about a year since I began trying to find a suitable plastic free way to wash my hair, and I’ve finally found one I like. Let's face it, liquid shampoo is a pain to travel with, and the colorful bottles of different shapes and sizes don't make the bathroom look any neater.

For any of you looking for reviews of these methods, the following information may be relevant to you: I have very thick and voluminous hair. My hair texture is wavy or slightly curly, and since my hair is undamaged, I don’t need conditioner unless I used a detergent/traditional bottled shampoo.

No-poo method

This was big on Pinterest a few years ago and many people adopted the no-poo (=no shampoo) method because it made their hair appear healthier. With this method, hair is cleansed with a baking soda and water mixture and conditioned with vinegar. Vinegar can easily be found in glass and baking soda comes in cardboard, so this method lets you steer clear of plastic

My experience with the no-poo method was a hit, with the occasional miss. At times my hair seemed to be clean, and other times my scalp was crazy oily- it worked well when I lived with soft water.  I would still encourage you to try this method! It’s super cost effective, and I know other people who had great experiences with their hair using this method.

actual zero waste shower

Castile soap and other bar soaps

Some people have great luck simply washing their hair with a regular bar of soap. There’s not much to say about this option-give it a try with whatever you already have at home!

My experience with regular bar soap was not successful. It never seemed to rinse out enough to be clean. Again, this option is very cost effective and I would still recommend trying it since you probably have a bar of soap laying around! I have also heard regular soap works very well for people with very short hair, so if your hair doesn’t extend much past your scalp, it might be a good fit for you.


Regular soap + baking soda

I don’t know if this is a real method, but it worked very well for me. When I moved last year to an apartment with crazy hard water (as in, any drop of water that dried on a glass looked like someone had splattered white sauce), my hair wasn’t getting clean with the no-poo method. I would saturate my scalp with baking soda and water, then use a bar of soap to work up a lather and rinse it out. This seemed to get my hair totally clean, despite the hard water.

No washing

The easiest, cheapest way to wash your hair is to not wash it, but give a good rinse to clean it once a week. I know this is popular for some people with curly hair, but I’ve heard of people with straight hair doing so as well.

This has not worked for me. I can go down to two washes a week, or about every four days, but my hair is pretty bad by the third day and the fourth day is a joke. Despite spacing out washes like that for months on end (like 6+ months), my scalp just seems to produce too much oil for this method.

Shampoo bars

Shampoo bars are the only low waste hair care that have worked for me without fail. Shampoo bars are great for travel and come in various shapes and scents. I like this one by Lush. My first try with a shampoo bar was not successful; I bought a bar made by a local soap maker and it did not clean my hair. It left a waxy residue and my hair never felt clean. While the Lush bars are pricey, mine lasted about 5 months, left no weird residue, cleaned my hair, and smelled great.

There are options for solid shampoo as well from many brands, like this popular bar. This was the third (and most recent) shampoo bar I’ve tried. They're affordable, virtually unscented and work just as well as Lush shampoo bars.

What do you think? What works for you?



How do you wash your hair? Let me know in the comments!