Finder Green Fave: Ethique curly hair shampoo and conditioner bars
These plastic-free, solid haircare bars are made especially for curly, wavy hair and they're gentle on the planet.
It can be difficult to find shampoo and conditioner that suits curly hair without even looking at eco-friendly options. But a growing number of products are coming onto the market, including the curly hair range from Ethique.
This New Zealand brand has made its Professor Curl and Curliosity bars with natural ingredients that gently cleanse and nourish curls, without drying them out or weighing them down. The packaging is also certified for home-composting, and 1 tree is planted for every order.
What makes the Ethique Professor Curl and Curliosity bars green?
A big reason people switch to solid shampoos and conditioners is to reduce waste from packaging.
These bars from Ethique break down the impact: 1 Professor Curl shampoo bar gives you the equivalent to 3, 350ml plastic bottles worth of haircare. And the Curliosity conditioner and co-wash bar saves an impressive 9 plastic bottles from landfill.
Both the bars are vegan-friendly and certified as palm oil free by the Orangutan Alliance. They are also free from sulfates, silicones, waxes and drying alcohol – with ingredients between the bars including shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba esters and castor oil.
Ethique is also a certified B Corp and a carbon neutral brand. And as of March 2021 it is actually climate positive, offsetting 120% of its carbon emissions, according to independent assessments by EKOS.
We tried it and loved it
Most people I know with curly hair, or even wavy hair like mine, have plenty of experience trying out different products.
Personally, I stuck with the same shampoo and conditioner for years because I knew it worked for my hair.
I have tried a few alternatives with more focus on natural ingredients, and have also kept a close eye on haircare that reduces waste. But I've been reluctant to try any because my waves can be really annoying and erratic (for example, one side could be wavy, the other could go flat or just be a mix of frizz and oil).
So I jumped at the chance to try Ethique's Professor Curl and Curliosity bars.
My first impression when I got the bars was that packaging was kept to the very minimum, and was recyclable (the shipping box) or compostable (the bar packaging). The next thing I noticed was that they smelled really good.
I'd never used any shampoo bars before, so I carefully read the instructions on the packet. After thoroughly wetting my hair, I used the Professor Curl shampoo bar by rubbing it across my hair a few times, then lathering it the way I would with a liquid shampoo. It worked really well.
I used a similar approach with the Curliosity conditioner and co-wash bar, but spent more time running the bar across the ends of my hair because they dry out pretty easily.
One note: Like any soap or cleansing bar, these do get a bit slippery when wet. I find them easy to grip, but it's worth being aware of if you're used to liquids.
Ethique also has in-shower containers that feel like plastic but are made of bamboo and corn-starch. I found the container a handy way to store the bars, but you could probably use a soap dish if you already have one.
Curliosity doubles as a conditioner and a co-wash, which means you could just use it without any shampoo if that works for your hair. I don't think it would for mine.
I definitely found this bar very gentle and light compared to other liquid conditioners I've used and it took me a couple of washes to work out how long to leave it in and how long it took to rinse it out.
After 2 weeks of using the Ethique bars, I'm really happy with how my hair feels. I let it air-dry and find that the waviness and volume is great on the second day. I've also noticed my hair doesn't get as oily in the last day or so between washes.
I haven't had to deal with much humidity, so I'm not sure how my hair will be when summer comes around. But they are a greener solution than any other haircare I've tried, so I'll happily keep using them.
Where can I get it?
You can buy Ethique Professor Curl and Curliosity bars in stores around Australia and New Zealand, including Woolworths and Priceline in Australia. You can also shop the range online through stores including Biome, Flora & Fauna and the Ethique website.
Professor Curl has a recommended retail price of $22 and the Curliosity bar's RRP is $25. If you're worried that changing your haircare routine will throw your curls into a spin (like I was), you could also try them out by getting mini bars for $7 each.
Finder Green Fave is a regular column that highlights our favourite sustainable, eco-friendly, ethical and cruelty-free products. Looking for more information about eco-friendly choices? Check out Finder Green .
Images: Finder (Amy Bradney-George), supplied (Ethique)