Shampoo Bar Review: Can Lush's Be Beaten By A Cheaper £2 Version?

I'm all for ditching plastic, but will these actually wash my hair?

In Spenny vs Penny we compare the products we love, with those following in their (sometimes pricey) footsteps. Are they worth the cash? Here, we compare shampoo bars from Lush, Friendly Soap and Wild & Sage.

I’ve been trying to cut down on single-use plastic in my day-to-day life. I have a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, I put my food shopping into my backpack to save 5p plastic bags and I have started using bars of soap at home - but one thing I haven’t yet managed to ditch is the other plastic bottles in my bathroom.

The main thing putting me off switching to shampoo bars is the price. At Lush, where most people I know with shampoo bars bought theirs, you can pay anything between £8-15. Apart from Lush there is depressingly little choice on the high street or in supermarkets, so I wanted to try a few cheaper alternatives from online to see how they compared.


I tried each bar for about a week each to see how it fared. As a regular gym goer I typically wash my hair every other day, anything longer and my fine hair gets greasy, so a week’s cycle means I can use each three to four times to see the results. I don’t use conditioner on my hair anymore, so I try the following three shampoo bars on their own, which really allows me to compare performance.

Spenny: ‘The Black Stuff’ Bar, Lush, £15


I’ll be honest and say the big black bar looks more like a lump of coal than shampoo, and its size and shape make it hard to handle and lather up. But I guess the bigger the better, right?

My hands are covered in black foam when I use it, which is concerning as I stand in the shower – but it quickly turns into a usual white foam when I apply it to my hair. I don’t have to apply much to get the shampoo to foam up.


I leave it in for a few minutes while I shave my legs – and when I wash it out, I notice straight away how soft my hair feels (something that doesn’t usually happen since I’ve ditched conditioner). I choose the ‘Black Stuff’ bar, because it’s meant to be good for fine hair – and true to promise my hair is fluffy, soft and voluminous after drying. After I do my usual haircare (brush, dry, straighten), my hair looks like it does with my usual shampoo, only it stays cleaner longer. I’d say I can go an extra day without washing before it gets too greasy.

It comes with no packaging, only wrapped in paper – which is great for the environment – but I do find it hard to know where to store it so it doesn’t get stuck to the sink or end up with black goo everywhere. I settle on keeping it wrapped in the paper it came in, left on the side. It looks messy, but it’ll do.

Penny: Lavender And Tea Tree Shampoo Bar, Friendly Soap, £2.18


You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this shampoo looks dull AF – purely functional, with its yellow tinge and basic packaging. That said, it’s the cheapest shampoo bar I can find online (a fraction of the price of Lush’s), so I’m not surprised by its appearance and eager to know how it works.

You can smell the gorgeous lavender and tea tree scent through the box and so I’m optimistic. The Friendly bar takes a lot longer to lather up in my hands – the first time I rub it in my hair, it barely goes foamy at all. So I reach for the soap again, lather it up for a bit longer, and manage to get the optimum amount for my hair so it feels like I’m having a good wash.

What I love about this one, is that the bar doesn’t go gooey and de-figure if you leave it in a pot or out on the side. It’s just like a standard bar that can sit in your soap dish, unlike the Lush one that I was worried would melt or stick to something.

I have thin hair that’s often flat, and it has a lot of volume after this shampoo. It isn’t super smooth afterwards – it’s slightly on the wiry side, as if I’ve put a bit of mousse in it to give it an extra oomph. And it accentuates my curls more than usual (which I straighten out every day). Lush’s bar keeps my hair glossier and looking clean for longer, but this isn’t a huge bother to me as I go to the gym so end up washing my sweaty hair more frequently anyway.

Penny: Rosemary And Lavender Shampoo Bar, Wild & Sage, £6


Similarly to Friendly Soap’s shampoo bar, the Wild & Sage bar is more like regular soap, so it holds its shape, can be left on the side, and doesn’t go all gooey in my hands.

Again, it takes a while to lather up and go foamy in my hair – at one point I wonder whether to rub the bar directly on my head, but after a few more seconds of rubbing it between my hands, it starts to resemble shampoo.

The bar smells amazing. Probably because it has lavender in it, which is a relaxing scent anyway (and can send you off to sleep). When I wash out the shampoo, my hair feels knotty and a bit rough, but as soon as I dry my hair, it looks glossy – a little less “stiff” than the Friendly bar.

On a few mornings I wake up after using this bar and my hair is so curly. I have naturally curly hair, but it usually gets tamed when I blow-dry it – so this was a sight to see. (See below bed hair + shampoo bar = curly mane). I can go the usual two days before feeling like I want to wash my hair again.


The third time I used this bar, my hair felt a bit sticky and greasy. This is probably because I used too much and didn’t wash it out properly, to be honest.

This is my favourite bar of the lot. The results are similar to the usual Pantene shampoos I’ve been using for years and, while I did prefer the effect the Lush bar had on my hair, it’s too messy and expensive. Wild & Sage is sustainable both for the environment and my bank balance.

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