A few weeks ago I was tossing an empty can of shaving cream into the trash when it hit me: this metal can could be joining thousands like it in a landfill where it will take tens of thousands of years to break down (can they be recycled? I’ve never heard it discussed). I committed at that moment to finding an alternative to canned shaving cream.
It took me, um, one minute at my local food coop to find a perfectly good alternative to shaving cream. It’s called a shave bar, and the one my husband and I are using looks just like a bar of soap except it’s made of saponified oils so it’s even more moisturizing than a moisturizing soap. The shaving industry recommends using a shave brush to create a lather and then apply to skin, but my husband and I find that our hands work just fine.
People all over the world make artisanal soaps, so you may be able to find a shave bar that’s locally made. The one we’re using is made by a small business less than 50 miles from where we live. Check out the beautiful, simple packaging.
Shampoo and body soap bar
I was so impressed by the shave bar that I decided to try a shampoo bar made by the same company. I really, really wanted to like it. Can you imagine replacing plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner, plus body soap, with a single bar wrapped in recycled packaging? Imagine traveling or camping or boating with a single, non-leaking, environmentally-friendly soap. Holy cow why aren’t we all using a shampoo bar?!
Alas, it does not clean in the way that shampoo does. Shampoo strips hair of oil and the scents that oil holds, and then it adds a scent we choose. By day three of using the shampoo bar to clean hair and body I felt a bit like the New York Times journalist who wrote about her no-soap, no-shampoo bacteria-rich hygiene experiment. I felt uncomfortably greasy.
That said, I would encourage you to try a shampoo bar for yourself. Depending on your hair texture and length, and the kind and amount of minerals in your water, it’s possible you could get great results.