A few months ago, I got to try shampoo and conditioner bars from Superzero, a new zero-waste haircare line. I was sent mini versions of the products to test out, but this review is not compensated and contains solely my own opinions.
Thoughts on sustainability + “clean” claims
I’ve used shampoo bars before from Lush, but I never liked that their first ingredient was sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)—a surfactant (e.g. cleansing agent) that is very effective, but a little too harsh for my hair. (Aside from the potential skin irritation this ingredient can cause, it feels extremely out of step to me for a “natural” brand like Lush to include it—but that’s a whole other blog post I could write.)
To be clear, I don’t want to demonize SLS or synthetic ingredients in general; they all have their place! I just personally prefer to use gentler, sulfate-free hair products.
Sustainability has always been a priority in my life, and personal care products may be my biggest weakness in that arena. I love products! But I don’t love all the packaging that surrounds them. And aside from their plastic bottles, traditional shampoos and conditioners are especially egregious for being made up mostly of water, which makes them heavier and less compact than their solid counterparts. (More weight and volume = less efficient to transport. For example, it would take more fossil fuel energy to ship 100 bottles of shampoo than 100 shampoo bars the same distance.)
So I was excited to try Superzero, a gentle, vegan, plastic-free line of solid shampoos and conditioners.
Each bar arrived in a cardboard box, which can presumably be recycled (depending on your local municipality’s recycling program). I was initially worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell the bars apart in the shower, but the shampoo bar is round and the conditioner bar is a square-ish shape, alleviating that concern. Besides, their textures are pretty different: The shampoo has a rougher texture while the conditioner is smooth and creamy.
I used these bars for several months, washing my hair about once a week as I usually do these days. Overall, I liked how they made my hair feel, but I didn’t like the process of using them. I’ll get more detailed with this below, starting with the positives.
Superzero says their products will give you “your lightest hair yet,” and I would agree that “light” is the best way to describe how my hair felt after using the shampoo and conditioner bars. It felt clean, but not overly stripped, and smooth, but not greasy or heavy. My (naturally wavy/curly) hair could probably use a bit more moisture than the conditioner bar provided; I believe they sent me samples of the “Normal/Oily Hair” line, so I bet I would have better success with the “Dry/Colored/Frizzy Hair” options.
I took photos of my hair on wash day and each day afterward during one hair-washing cycle to show how my hair looked over the course of a week. I took each photo in the morning and didn’t brush my hair or put in any other products (admittedly mostly out of laziness, but also out of dedication to this review, of course!), so you can see what just the bars are doing.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the performance of this shampoo and conditioner. They kept my hair looking nice for three days, and I could stretch beyond that with dry shampoo or styling. The bars also lasted longer than I expected them to—granted, I was only using them once a week, but the majority of each bar was still intact after a few months of use.
This longevity may be due in part to the fact that, as I mentioned above, I struggled with the actual experience of using the bars. The shampoo bar was not too bad: One, I was familiar with the process; two, it lathered up to an extent where I could be confident I was getting the product into my hair; three, since I was putting it on my scalp, I had a hard surface (my head) to rub the bar against to apply the product. But the conditioner bar was difficult for me: It took a long time to get enough product on my hair and I was never quite sure my hair was being conditioned properly. In addition, trying to rub the bar against the length of my hair, which obviously moves around quite a bit, was awkward and not very effective. Ultimately, it was a time-consuming and frustrating process, and the reason why I stopped using the Superzero bars after a few months of effort.
Would I recommend?
With all that said, I think the Superzero products are worth a try if you a) have shorter hair, b) have prior experience using shampoo/conditioner bars, and/or c) don’t mind putting in a bit of extra time and effort to make your haircare routine more sustainable. If you think the application process would overly frustrate you like it did me, then these may not be the products for you.
Price-wise, the minis (the size I tried) are $6 per bar, and the full-size bars are $18 each. Given how long even the sample bars lasted me, I think this is a pretty good value. While they are more expensive than your typical drugstore shampoo or conditioner, they are not exorbitant and I’d expect the bars to last you quite awhile (especially the full-sized ones).
Also, I have to give a shout-out for the brand for pricing their sample sizes at the same rate, e.g. 1/3 of the price for 1/3 of the product compared to the full-size bars. (Most brands don’t do this—they’ll charge half the price for 1/5 the amount of a full-sized product, just for the convenience of a sample size!) So, I would definitely recommend trying out the mini sizes first.
Let me know if you have any other questions about these products. Have you tried shampoo and conditioner bars? What do you think of them? (Personally, I have my eye on Ethique’s concentrates—I might be trying those next.)