Stick vs. Liquid Shampoo: Differences, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Composition, price, and environmental care are some of the factors that play a role in the choice of stick shampoo vs. liquid shampoo.
Stick vs. Liquid Shampoo: Differences, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Written by Jonatan Menguez

Last update: 10 June, 2023

One of the most popular hair care products in recent years is the shampoo stick. Characterized by a more natural, environmentally friendly composition with fewer chemicals, this product competes with the classic liquid option.

However, there are those who wonder how the two presentations differ. Well, to make it clearer, here are their main characteristics, differences, advantages, and disadvantages. Read on to learn more!

The battle between the shampoo stick vs. liquid shampoo

Solid shampoo is a product that burst onto the hair care market in the last two decades. However, it gained popularity in recent years due to a more widespread awareness about the conservation of the planet and the use of chemicals.

The reason is that it’s presented as a more naturally processed product, with less aggressive components for the skin and without the use of plastics. When compared to traditional shampoos, they have become an increasingly popular alternative for hair and scalp hygiene.

While many of the shampoo bars are made with natural ingredients, such as the herb Cyclea peltata or certain essential oils, they may also include chemicals. In addition, the transition to their use may cause some discomfort when washing the hair.

It’s therefore advisable to carry out a thorough analysis to determine the advantages and disadvantages of both items. The aim is to be able to make a personal choice based on the type of hair, its reaction to the surfactants present in the liquids, and care for the environment.

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Some stick vs liquid shampoo differences

Both stick and solid shampoos are designed to separate sebum from the hair and remove impurities from the scalp. There are sulfate and sulfate-free options in both types of shampoos.

However, it’s more common to find solid versions that don’t use foaming agents or synthetic fragrances in their preparation, which can cause irritation, dandruff, and allergies.

In contrast, these products generate less foam and washing can be somewhat more tedious, especially on frizzy hair. Their main difference compared to liquid versions has to do with the environment, as they don’t require plastic containers and are made with less water.

In cases of hair conditions – such as dandruff, seborrhea, or dryness – a dermatologist should be consulted. This professional will evaluate which type of product is suitable to improve the specific problem.

The advantages of shampoo sticks over traditional shampoo

A more natural look, better environmental friendliness, longer-lasting shampoo…these are the advantages of stick shampoo over liquid shampoo. Let’s take a closer look.

You help to reduce the use of plastic

Plastic consumption, especially single-use plastics, is one of the main generators of polluting waste. Solid shampoos don’t require plastic packaging; they generally include biodegradable packaging, such as kraft paper.

It lasts longer

Compared to traditional shampoos, solid shampoos tend to last longer. This saves money. One 100-gram bottle is equivalent to three liquid bottles, so it lasts longer and the investment is less frequent.

It’s made with less water

Liquid shampoos are made up of 80% water, a figure that is drastically reduced in solid presentations. Its own composition doesn’t require water to take shape. This is another economic advantage.

It’s easy to transport

Frequent travelers have a great advantage in including shampoo bars among their hygiene items. There’s no risk of leakage, unlike liquids, which can spill and make a mess all over your luggage. On the other hand, their size and durability allow you to carry much more shampoo in less space.

It has a more natural composition

Generally speaking, shampoo sticks are made with more natural elements. This is because they include organic ingredients and exclude other chemicals common in traditional shampoos, as suggested by this study in the scientific journal Dermatitis .

Such elements are parabens, sulfates, and silicones. The former function as product preservatives. Sulfates and silicones, on the other hand, are foaming agents, so they provide a greater proliferation of foam during shampooing.

Too much of them can cause irritation and dryness in some skins, as this article in Medical News Today points out. And while there are traditional sulfate-free shampoo alternatives, it’s more common to find solid options composed of natural elements. For example, coconut cream, herbs, or argan oil.

It allows you to dispense with conditioner

For some hair types, the shampoo bar is enough to leave their hair soft and shiny. Therefore, it isn’t necessary to supplement with conditioner. Of course, this depends on the components of the product and the type of hair.

You can make it yourself

With ingredients derived from coconut, essential oils, and some herbs, it’s possible to create your own shampoo bars at home. You just need to know certain details, including the saponification process.

The disadvantages of shampoo bars

Beyond the benefits, no product is perfect and solid shampoos have other disadvantages compared to traditional shampoos.

  • You have to get used to the change. Bars don’t tend to generate artificial softness and shine instantly, as liquids usually do. As a result, there may be a period of adjustment when the hair feels sticky.
  • It creates tangles. The process of washing with solid shampoos causes the hair to tangle, especially in people with curly hair.
  • It produces less lather. The habit of washing with a large amount of lather that facilitates the process is deeply rooted. The natural ingredients in solids generate less lather, which is healthy, but sometimes ineffective during washing.
  • It can look greasy. During a transition to using bars, hair can also look greasier and coarser. However, it eventually returns to its usual condition.
  • It can cause discoloration. Special care should be taken with color-treated hair, as some solid specimens cause discoloration.
  • It melts easily. Since they don’t contain preservatives, these shampoos spoil more quickly and melt in contact with water. The product should be kept stored in dry places to prevent it getting spoiled.

Like this article? You may also like to read: 4 Natural Shampoos that You Can Make at Home

Stick vs liquid shampoo: A personal choice

Choosing between a traditional and a solid product depends largely on the particular desire. In most cases, the stick serves the same function as the liquid. However, this can vary depending on the type of hair and its needs.

There’s no doubt that the stick format is more environmentally friendly. Therefore, it’s a good alternative to prioritize everyday eco-friendly actions.

There are many options on the market right now. You will probably have to try several until you find one that suits your hair and scalp type. So, which option do you like best?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Cheni Cheri, D, Kizhakke Veettil, AS, Pradeep, P, Nayak, S. (2022). Development of EPS-rich herbal shampoo base fermented using Cyclea peltata leaf powder and Lactobacillus plantarum. J Cosmet Dermatol. Consultado el 2 de mayo de 2023.
  • D’Souza, P., & Rathi, S. K. (2015). Shampoo and Conditioners: What a Dermatologist Should Know?. Indian journal of dermatology, 60(3), 248–254. Consultado el 2 de mayo de 2023.
  • Johnson, J., & Cobb, C. (2019). Are sulfates in shampoo dangerous? Medical News Today. Consultado el 2 de mayo de 2023.
  • Saripalla, D. D., Khokhani, N. D., Kamath, A., Rai, R. P., & Nayak, S. (2022). Organoleptic and physicochemical properties of natural-based herbal shampoo formulations with Cyclea peltata as a key ingredient. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 21(4), 1666–1674. Consultado el 2 de mayo de 2023.
  • Trüeb R. M. (2007). Shampoos: ingredients, efficacy and adverse effects. Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft = Journal of the German Society of Dermatology : JDDG, 5(5), 356–365. Consultado el 2 de mayo de 2023.
  • Voller, L. M., & Warshaw, E. M. (2021). Killing Two Birds With One Bar: Shampoo and Conditioner Bars Are Low Allergen and Environmentally Friendly. Dermatitis : contact, atopic, occupational, drug, 32(4), e60–e64. Consultado el 2 de mayo de 2023.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.