Ditching the bottle and making the switch to solid shampoo bars

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There has always been something alluring about a nicely packaged shampoo or personal care product. The packaging designers definitely tap into some kind of psychology of the consumer so that they can project the image that they want us to have of their product. Somehow, we might unconsciously link a pretty bottle to the quality of what’s inside it.

I haven’t made many lifestyle changes recently, and when I have, it tends to be very gradual. Sometimes I don’t notice until after the fact that I had made a change (e.g. certain eating habits, like eating less chicken or pork). Sometimes, though, I do consciously make abrupt changes. This is one of those.

About 1 year ago, I decided to completely ditch shampoos that come in plastic bottles and switch to more natural and unpackaged products to replace shampoo and conditioner. I have bought Burt’s Bees and Dr. Bronner’s soaps, and Lush shampoo and conditioner bars. Below is the Lush Squeaky Green shampoo. I also love the Godiva shampoo bar (see a review here).

I really like the freedom of not thinking about what happens to those bottles after I’m done, and there are several other benefits of using solid shampoo bars, like:

  • Natural ingredients that smell great!
  • Compact (diameter is ~2in, depth is ~0.75in) and long-lasting (the bars have lasted at least 12 weeks or ~50-60 washes, which is fewer than the company claims because I have a lot of long, thick hair)
  • It’s a solid, and therefore easier to get through security in your carry-on at airports. Plus, not having to worry about things exploding in my bag, leaving me with a soapy and sudsy piece of luggage, is awesome. This has never happened to me, but I don’t want to think about the possibilities,

There is definitely something psychological about making gradual vs. abrupt changes in your life. It depends on what you are comfortable with, and how much you are willing to change at once. This has worked out for me, but others are doing things like making 1 change for each day in the year.

I’ve been able to get over the pull of attractive packaging. That was a bit of a mental trick, but I can now better recognize when those marketing geniuses are trying to work their magic on me.

What are your thoughts? Do you tend to make gradual changes or abrupt ones? Which ones have stuck with you and which have not?

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2 Responses

  1. Chia-Yi says

    I’m not sure what it is about packaging, but I think it fulfills some kind of pleasure or need for comfort. I have been meaning to read up on this area of psychology, but haven’t yet.

    Dr. Bronner’s is good, but you could try soaps from Lush, or check out what they have in your market. Fairway has a big selection now and there was one line of soaps that had no packaging and seemed to be all natural ingredients. Actually, I’m currently using the soap that I bought at the Sock Monster when I was visiting you guys in Seattle, and I like it a lot!

    I agree that changes can be exhilarating! Sometimes I feel like I have a little more freedom.

  2. Nat says

    I like what you wrote about the pull of attractive packaging–it can definitely very effectively manipulate you if you’re not consciously aware of it.

    As you know, Dori uses all-natural homemade deodorant and shampoo, and uses Dr. Bronner’s soap. I think it’s great, although I haven’t really made the transition myself due to some minor reasons (I don’t like the smell and feel that much), but I’m hoping to make a similar transition myself soon.

    Major changes are of course pretty frightening, but they can be exhilarating, too…