5 Waste Free Shampoo Alternatives

Waste free shampoo as an plastic-free alternative for your hair? Why not!

Haircare is a part of our daily routine. Styling, washing, conditioning, and even just brushing through the strands to remove tangles and knots that build up overnight or throughout the day.

waste free shampoo

Why do we do this?

Because we care about our hair, we want that thick, shining, luxurious hair from the commercials. We want those gorgeous waves that they promise us.

What we don’t think about is the cost at which we achieve these things. We are not thinking about what those shampoos are made of and what they are doing to our hair or what they are doing to the environment.

We remain ignorant of what is happening behind the scenes when these bottles are being mass-produced.

Choose waste free shampoo alternatives and be aware of how the products you consume affect our environment.

We are so conditioned to seeing shampoo come in little plastic bottles that we sometimes can’t see past it.

These bottles contain products that damage our hair rather than heal it and end up in landfills, which if measured for a year could fill 1,164 football fields or more.

This type of hair care is detrimental to our hair and our environment, making it necessary to find waste free shampoo alternatives to maintain health.

Committing to a change will not be easy, but to help you, here are the top 5 waste free shampoo alternatives that I have discovered:

1. Bicarb And Vinegar

waste free shampoo

You may be more than a little hesitant to try this method, but I promise it works great for specific hair types (mainly those with curly hair).

You may ask why I thought of trying this, and honestly, it was a surprise to me too. I was unsure of what it might do to my hair and how it might react, but that later flew out the window once I began using it. 

Once you’ve tried it, it may be hard to switch back after seeing the results.

First, you need to understand how much and how long the bicarb and vinegar should be left on your hair.

Technically, the bicarb is the shampoo replacement, and I use about a teaspoon to wash my hair. The vinegar is the conditioner, and I use approximately 1/8th cup of white vinegar diluted with warm water.

My hair is only about shoulder length so the portions may need to be adjusted for significantly longer or shorter hair.

Before use, I mix the bicarb with a little bit of water to make a watery solution, and then I rub it into my hair like regular shampoo, use the vinegar mix by pouring it gently through your hair and rinsing in less than a minute. Do this about every 3-5 days as necessary.

While the process is quite simple and the results are outstanding, I still get a lot of funny looks and a good bit of questions when I recommend it as a replacement for shampoo.

The most common question being:

Won’t I smell like vinegar?

No, you won’t. I understand why you might think so, but the white vinegar smell dissipates almost immediately while apple cider vinegar might take a little longer. If you’re really worried, just add 1-2 drops of essential oil to the vinegar rinse before using it.

2. Waste Free Shampoo Bars And Conditioners

waste free shampoo
EcoRoots Zero Waste Solid Shampoo & Conditioner Bars (10.50$)

An easy solution for those not willing to attempt the bicarb and vinegar mix is the use of as solid shampoo and conditioners bars.

My personal favorite is the Coco Lime Shampoo Bar & Summer Breeze set from Ecoroots.

waste free shampoo
EcoRoots Summer Breeze Shampoo Bar (10.50$)

They’re the perfect combination of eco-friendly and hair-friendly while allowing you to buy rather than make which is really helpful for those of us who don’t have that little extra time (or motivation) to try and create our shampoo and conditioner.

Go check this blog post for more information about zero waste shampoo bars.

But how is this better than regular shampoo?

Get this:

It’s all about what it’s made of.

Shampoo and conditioner bars do not have plastic containers and are shipped in biodegradable cardboard packages – zero plastic involved.

The bars are sulfate-free, silicone-freeparaben-free, and are 100% vegan.

EcoRoots 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner Bar (10.50$)

With their all-natural and organic ingredients, they’re able to be used entirely without leaving the soapy residue in our sewage system and tanks, making it better for the environment and better for the home. That’s not where the benefits stop.

There’s more:

These specific shampoo bars are coconut oil and cocoa butter based, leaving it an SLS-free shampoo bar that doesn’t strip the natural oils or color out of your hair.

It also contains sunflower oil which boosts shine and moisture and rose water, which has anti-inflammatory properties that help to heal sensitive scalps.

The bars are even super simple to use! You only need to massage the bar into wet hair to produce a creamy foam then rinse with water and follow up with a conditioning bar.

Just remember to leave the bar out to air dry, or you might go through it quicker than initially planned.

Tip: I use this sisal bag to extend the life of my shampoo bar.

3. Buy Shampoo In Bulk

waste free shampoo

We’ve all bought our groceries in bulk from one of those waste-reducing bulk shopping stores, but have you ever thought of purchasing your non-perishables from one as well? No?

Let me enlighten you:

Buying in bulk using your containers means less waste overall.

Sure, it doesn’t completely eliminate the waste produced from using a shampoo that comes from the store. You still have the ingredients it uses, the process used to create the shampoo as well as the containers that they are stored in at the shopping center.

What it does mean is that you are effectively reducing the amount of waste produced when you’re shopping, especially if you’re reusing the same bottles each time.

The different shampoos and their benefits will depend on what the store carries, but hopefully, they have an all-natural, SLS-free option available that will keep your hair healthy.

If not, then choose the option that seems best for you.

The benefit of this method is that there is not much change to your usual hair care routine while there is a positive impact on the environment.

Here’s the easy way to do it:

Go shopping at one of your favorite stores to try and find a nice set of (preferably) glass bottles or dispensers that you can store you’re shampoo and conditioner in.

Try and make sure that they’re able to be stored easily in your shower and allow easy access (i.e., a nozzle or squirt top) to your shampoo. If you don’t, there is a good chance that you’ll become frustrated, give up, and switch back to the conventional shampoos.

Next, find a bulk shopping store. If the store is far away, take a larger container to fill rather than bringing your small ones.

Making one trip is less time consuming and having the extra at home will help you in the long run. After that, you’re all set!

4. DIY Dry Shampoo

waste free shampoo

What better way to reduce waste created by shampoo bottles than reducing your shampoo use?

Well, at least by cheating the system. The newest trend is all about using dry shampoo instead of washing your hair each day (which isn’t recommended anyway) and creating less waste.

It will be surprising to you how little your hair will be affected once you completely transition and give your hair time to adjust but to make sure that you keep your hair healthy, try a homemade natural shampoo.

Try this:

  • ¼ cup arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch OR two tablespoons arrowroot/cornstarch and two tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Five drops of essential oil in the scent of your choice
  • Old make-up brush for application and mixture

Mix the essential oil into the arrowroot or cornstarch and store it in a small jar or powder container.

When needed, apply with the make-up brush to the roots or oily parts of your hair. You don’t have to apply with the brush, but it makes it easier for use on styled hair and prevents you from having to comb through as much.

The best thing about this recipe is that it can be modified to be a wet/dry spray shampoo.

All you have to do is add 1 cup warm water and 1.4 cup vodka, rubbing alcohol, or witch hazel (depending on how risky you want to be with the scent). Put it all into a small spray bottle and apply it to your roots or on the oily parts of your hair. Let it air dry and then feel free to style as usual.

Quick tip:

When trying this waste-free shampoo method, only use the arrowroot and not the cocoa powder recipe if you have blonde or light-colored hair.

Use the recipe with the cocoa powder if you have dark brown or black colored hair. Otherwise, you will see the powder or spray sitting where you have sprayed (or spread) it.

5. Avoid SLS Shampoo Products

One of the ingredients that you may or may not have been warned about: SLS, or sodium lauryl sulfate.

SLS is better known as the thing that makes your shampoo soapy and foamy.

It’s used to break the bonds between molecules in your hair, allowing the shampoo and your hair to interact more effectively, making it easier to remove dirt and oil from your hair.

So why are we avoiding it?

The problem:

It’s a harsh cleaner.

SLS is a cleaner that is used in all sorts of cleaning products like toothpaste, mouthwashes, and garage-floor cleaners. Something used to that degree cannot be safe or healthy for your hair.

Sure, the cleaner removes the dirt from your hair and gives it a nice clean reset, but it also happens to strip the hair of its natural oils making your hair dry and brittle and increases your heads irritation.

This is not exactly an alternative method, but it is one heck of a good reason to switch to an all-natural shampoo.

Why wouldn’t you want the best for your hair and scalp?

Switching To Waste Free Shampoo

It’s time to break free from our conditioning and pick a waste free shampoo that works for us rather than what we are taught is best for our hair.

waste free shampoo

We need to realize what the ingredients of these products are doing to our hair and our environment and what we need to change to do better. It’s all about making choices that benefit us and the planet in the long run.

So, here’s the question:

Which shampoo is best for you?