Trader Joe’s Shampoo Bar

Single-use plastic containers have made a big mess in the world, clogging up our oceans and filling up landfills. We’re talking about things such as shampoo and toiletry bottles, yogurt cups, water bottles, and more.

However, the problem didn’t get much attention until 2018 when China stopped accepting imported plastics intended for recycling. That’s when we started learning that only a small amount of plastic sent for recycling is actually recycled. Greenpeace reports that in developed countries less than 50% of household plastics collected for recycling is actually recycled. Globally, the rate is only about 9%.

As consumers, it can be difficult to know how to help alleviate the problem when big corporations continue to churn out single-use plastics at great profit to themselves. We still need things like soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or food.

One option is to try using a service such as Loop, which delivers a limited selection of popular name brand products in reusable containers to your home, and when you’ve used everything up you can schedule a container pickup.

Another option is to look for products that use less packaging or use more environmentally friendly single-use packaging such as cardboard.

Trader Joe’s, which is Aldi’s cousin, can help you combat plastic pollution in a small way with its shampoo bar, with all the benefits of a liquid lathering gel in a bar form. It looks just like a bar of soap (make sure to let others in your household know about this so they don’t mistake it for bar soap), and it’s packaged in a cardboard container you can recycle (or maybe compost). Even if you just chuck the packaging in the trash after you’re done, it’s going to degrade a lot faster than a plastic container would.

Trader Joe's Shampoo Bar

The Trader Joe’s Shampoo Bar cost $3.99 for a 4-ounce bar at the time of publication. That’s less than most other shampoo bars I’ve seen.

Among other things, this bar contains peppermint oil, tea tree oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oils. TJ’s states it is made with saponified oils (oils that have been converted into soap by reaction with alkali), and it also contains a few specks of dried mint leaves.

It was not tested on animals, and it is paraben-free, sulfate-free, and color-safe.

Trader Joe's Shampoo Bar

Trader Joe’s Shampoo Bar ingredients and directions. (Click to enlarge.)

To use, wet the shampoo bar and gently rub the bar onto wet hair, moving from root to tip and adding water as needed to encourage lather. Once lather forms, set the bar aside and massage the shampoo into the scalp and hair as normal. Rinse well and follow with conditioner if desired.

For maximum use, the package recommends storing the shampoo bar in a well-ventilated area away from the direct spray of water. It’s helpful to have a soap dish or other specific spot to store the bar.

Trader Joe's Shampoo Bar

The Trader Joe’s Shampoo Bar out of the box.

As for how well it works, here are a few pros of using this shampoo:

  • It has a pleasant peppermint scent.
  • It makes a good lather, but you’ll want to make sure your hair is thoroughly wet, and you can also run the bar under the shower flow to wet it as well, and this will speed the process of making a lather.
  • It is easy to rinse out.

However, this shampoo did not do it for me. It left my fine, medium-length hair feeling too dry, or something else that I’m not quite sure of. After rinsing it out in the shower on the first day, it left my wet hair feeling almost sticky and harder to run my fingers through. I followed up with my normal Pantene conditioner, which seemed to help some, and went on with my day. 

After the second wash, while combing out my wet hair, my hair felt stiff and like I still needed conditioner, even though I’d used some. After my hair was dry, it still felt stiff and I couldn’t comb my fingers through it as easily as I’m accustomed to being able to do, and it felt tangled.

After doing some Googling, I found I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Some people on a Reddit thread commented that it made their hair sticky, frizzy, or dry, or it left greasy build-up over time. Some people described a “squeaky clean” feeling, but to me and others it felt sticky or drying.

It also appeared that people on Reddit with thin or fine hair were more likely to have problems with this shampoo bar, so your mileage may vary depending on your hair type. Maybe it will work better for my husband who has thick, non-fine, short hair. I stuck the bar in his shower for him to try.

Ultimately, I stopped using the bar because it was too drying. I really wanted to like it, but I can’t.

The Verdict:

The Trader Joe’s Shampoo Bar can help you reduce your consumption of single-use plastic containers. It looks like a bar of soap but lathers like traditional shampoo, and it has a nice minty scent. Unfortunately, I found it to be too drying for my fine, medium-length hair and I went back to my old plastic shampoo bottle.

About Rachael

Rachael is the Senior Editor for Aldi Reviewer. When she isn't busy shopping at Aldi, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and collecting house plants. You can learn more about her at www.rachaelsjohnston.com.

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