The Best Shampoo Bars for Travelers

The Earthling Co. Shampoo Bar is our top pick for all hair types.

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Best Shampoo Bars for Travelers

Amazon / Basin / Thirteen Lune

If you’re an avid traveler, it’s pretty likely you’ve had a leaky shampoo bottle bring a truly unwelcome surprise to your destination. Luckily, not only are solid shampoo bars an appealing substitute for liquids in plastic containers for this reason, they save space, too. These swaps also offer more natural ingredients (and fewer chemicals) inside, and less waste when they’re finished. 

Our top pick is The Earthling Co.’s Shampoo Bar, thanks to its cleansing effectiveness on a wide range of hair types from curly to color-treated styles. But, if you’re looking for something a little more specific, keep reading, because our list rounds up the best shampoo bars for all hair and scalp needs. Whichever you choose, be sure to get a pouch or a carrying case like this one to store the bar while traveling. 

Here’s our breakdown of the best shampoo bars:

Best Overall: The Earthling Co. Shampoo Bar

The Earthling Co. Shampoo Bar

Courtesy of The Earthling Co.

Why We Love It: The all-hair-types bar replaces 2-3 standard-sized bottles of shampoo.  

What to Consider: The smell is noticeably strong, and can get stronger after a few uses.

A great go-to company for shampoo bars is The Earthling Co. The brand focuses on less-harsh natural ingredients—like coconut oil, apricot seed oil, and glycerin—that still offer a good lather to remove unwanted buildup and help hair get silky and clean. All are labeled safe for curly and color-treated styles, along with different textures from fine to coarse so this is a good option to start with, and for families with multiple hair types in the household. There are a variety of scents like mint, vanilla, coconut, and citrus, and each bar is said to last up to 75 washes.

Size: 3 ounces | Hair Type: All

Best for Damaged Hair: Basin Kombucha Shampoo Bar

Basin Kombucha Shampoo Bar

Basin

Why We Love It: The B vitamins found in kombucha can help grow and fix damaged hair.  

What to Consider: The bar can get messy, so be sure to buy a soap dish or pouch to keep it protected.

You might be used to drinking kombucha for gut health, but this shampoo bar can actually help repair damaged hair, too. A deficiency in B vitamins can lead to hair loss and breakage but the Basin Kombucha Shampoo Bar packs those inside (along with natural ingredients like coconut and jojoba oils). It boasts a variety of fragrance notes, including mandarin, red currant, date, and coconut. Just lather the bar up to get rid of dirt and grime, and start repairing from the roots down. 

Size: Not listed | Hair Type: Thinning hair, damaged hair

Best for Dry Hair: HiBar Moisturize Solid Shampoo Bar

HiBar Bar Moisturize Shampoo

Amazon

Why We Love It: This vegan bar is incredibly moisturizing.

What to Consider: If you don’t have dry, coarse, or color-treated hair, it might leave your locks feeling greasy or looking oily.

For dry, damaged, or thick hair that needs a little extra love, the HiBar Moisturize Shampoo Bar is the perfect one to choose. It’s marked safe on color-treated hair, and is free of sulfates, parabens, silicone, and phthalates. The bar itself is vegan (made from rice protein and coconut oil) and features a fresh, natural citrus scent combining lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange peels with ginger root oil. 

Size: 3.2 ounces | Hair Type: Dry hair, thick hair, color-treated hair

Best for Thick Hair: Vacay Beauty Hawaii Healthy Hair Bars

Vacay Beauty HAWAII HEALTHY HAIR BARS

Thirteen Lune

Why We Love It: Concentrated raw honey powder helps to cleanse and moisturize thick hair, and to leave styles shiny and smooth.

What to Consider: The bar is only available as part of a set, meaning you’ll have to spend more money on it.

This honey-infused bar conditions and nourishes thick hair to ease the detangling process and combat dryness. Just rub the bar between your hands with some water and the resulting shampoo breaks down dirt and buildup with other natural ingredients like coconut oil, cocoa butter, and jasmine oil (to leave a sweet scent when you’re done). 

Size: 3.9 ounces | Hair Type: Thick hair

Best for Scalp Stimulation: Unwrapped Life Stimulator Shampoo Bar

Unwrapped Life Stimulator Shampoo Bar

Unwrapped Life

Why We Love It: The bar stimulates the scalp and supports growth (while also cleansing the hair).

What to Consider: Its smell is a bit strong thanks to essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, cedarwood, and bergamot.

If you’re looking to invigorate your scalp and get all of that oil and dirt out, the Unwrapped Life Stimulator Shampoo Bar is a great place to start. Peppermint oil stimulates hair follicles to promote hair thickness and growth. This bar also features natural ingredients like French green clay, matcha green tea, and eucalyptus oil, in addition to being vegan and cruelty-free. There are no silicones, phthalates, and parabens inside, and it works on fine, oily, or even chemically treated hair.

 Size: 4.8 ounces | Hair Type: Oily hair, fine hair

Best for Oily Hair: Kitsch Tea Tree + Mint Clarifying Shampoo Bar for Dandruff Relief

Kitsch Tea Tree + Mint Clarifying Shampoo Bar for Dandruff Relief

Ulta

Why We Love It: This bar provides up to 100 washes and works to remove oil buildup from greasy hair. 

What to Consider: It can be a bit drying for some shoppers.

This shampoo bar gets straight to the point. The Kitsch Tea Tree + Mint Clarifying Shampoo Bar for Dandruff Relief features tea tree oil, an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredient that removes dandruff and buildup from oily hair. The bar is free of silicones, sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, and uses other natural ingredients like refreshing mint and vegetable glycerin to promote thickening and keep hair soft.

 Size: 3.6 ounces | Hair Type: Oily hair

Best for Curly Hair: Good Juju Dry / Curly Hair Shampoo Bar

Good Juju Dry / Curly Hair Shampoo Bar

Good Juju

Why We Love It: You can actually use this bar to wash and moisturize your face and body in addition to your hair.

What to Consider: The patchouli-heavy scent may be off-putting to some shoppers.

Curly hair can be finicky. You’ll likely want a product to cleanse and hydrate without adding extra frizz, weight, or oiliness at the same time. That’s where the Good Juju Dry / Curly Hair Shampoo Bar comes in. Its vitamin-rich jojoba oil protects and conditions hair, plus the product adds other nourishing organic ingredients like coconut oil and shea and cocoa butters.

Size: 2.5 ounces | Hair Type: Curly hair, frizzy hair

Best for Sensitive Skin: Gladskin Shampoo Bar for Sensitive Scalp & Skin

Gladskin Shampoo Bar for Sensitive Scalp & Skin

Gladskin

Why We Love It: This hypoallergenic bar is a must-have for those with scalp inflammation, eczema, or other sensitivities. 

What to Consider: It may take time for your hair to adjust, and the natural scent is a bit odd.

If you have really sensitive skin or struggle with redness and eczema on your scalp or around the hairline, a natural product like the hypoallergenic Gladskin Shampoo Bar for Sensitive Scalp & Skin is worth checking out. It’s free of alcohol, steroids, preservatives, parabens, sulfates, and fragrances that could irritate the skin and exacerbate existing issues, but it still will get your hair nice and clean.

Size: 3.88 ounces | Hair Type: All hair types, sensitive scalps, itchy scalps

Best Organic: The Yellow Bird Eucalyptus Tea Tree Shampoo Bar

The Yellow Bird Eucalyptus Tea Tree Shampoo Bar

The Yellow Bird

Why We Love It: It lathers up nicely and has a mild scent.

What to Consider: It may leave a residue on your hair if you don’t rinse thoroughly enough.

For an organic shampoo bar that works really well for preventing dandruff, try the The Yellow Bird Eucalyptus Tea Tree Shampoo Bar. The namesake ingredient fights flakes while other natural additions kaolin clay help to keep the scalp as clean as possible. In addition to shampoo, the bar can actually be used as a body soap, shaving lather, and face wash, too.

Size: 4.5 ounces | Hair Type: Thin hair, oily hair, curly hair

Tips for Buying Shampoo Bars

Consider personal hair needs

Before you purchase a shampoo bar, do your research and figure out what works best for your hair type. Be on the lookout for ingredients that address your needs. Avoid bars with strong fragrances if you have sensitive skin or are prone to eczema along your scalp and hairline. For dry hair, for example, a bar with coconut oil is a natural and effective way to add moisture. The condensed ingredients in shampoo bars are typically quite strategic, so picking one that works with your hair right off the bat can save you time and money as well.

Think about storage

Some bars come in a recyclable cardboard box that works as a carrying case while you’re traveling. But otherwise, you might want to consider buying a cloth sack or storage tin for your shampoo bar to keep it from crumbling apart or making a mess in your bag.

Give your hair time to adjust

When switching over from liquid shampoo to a shampoo bar (or when testing any new products), allow time to adjust. It can take a few weeks for your hair to adapt to the condensed ingredients in a shampoo bar.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you use a shampoo bar?

    Once you’re in the shower, you can directly rub the bar into your scalp, or lather it in your hands. Work it into the scalp to get a nice foam coverage through your crown down to the bottom of your hair. Once you’ve thoroughly massaged it in with your fingertips, rinse off the shampoo with warm water, and condition as desired.

  • Are shampoo bars more beneficial than liquid shampoo?

    Bar shampoo is very travel friendly, and lasts quite a bit longer than most shampoo bottles. The bars also often include more natural ingredients than the liquid alternatives. However, shampoo bars can call for more sufficient rinsing than liquid shampoo to fully remove the product so be sure to use accordingly.

  • Why should I switch to solid?

    Switching to a shampoo bar not only eliminates unforeseen spills in your luggage to make travel easier, but it’s good for the environment, too. Bars also use less water in the actual solution because they’re concentrated shampoo. Lastly, you can cut down on your overall plastic use when making this solid swap.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, travel journalist and photographer Jess Kelly looked into dozens of shampoo bars and chose the best ones jet setters should pack on their next trip. Based in New York, Jess has written for over 10 different publications including HuffPost, Condé Nast Traveler, Insider, Food & Wine, Cosmopolitan, Thrillist, Roadtripper, and Bon Appetit. Follow her travel and adventures on Instagram @Adventures.Are.Waiting.

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