habit shift: solid shampoo and conditioner.

May 4, 2022

This post is sponsored by Conscia, a sustainable line of hair care products that are waterless, soap-free, gluten-free, vegan and responsibly packaged.

Solid shampoos and conditioners aren’t exactly new. Anyone who’s been loitering around neighborhood health food stores for as long as I have will be familiar with the paper-wrapped bars proclaiming they can do triple duty as hand, body, and hair soap. More recently, as more folks have become more concerned with the implications of so much single-use plastic, the concept has gone even more mainstream. But while the products have become more ubiquitous, the experience of using them has often remained decidedly lackluster.

In the past fifteen years or so, I’ve tried a great number of solid shampoos and passed over even more, unconvinced I could get them to work for me. So many have left my hair feeling dirtier than it was before; my scalp coated in soapy build-up. Others have left my hair feeling stripped of its oils, dry and limp. More often than not, the bars have crumbled or turned gummy before I’ve had the chance to properly finish them. I’ve relegated the soapy remains to regular body soap or watched them slip down the drain and never looked back. Suffice to say, when Conscia reached out to me about test-driving their plastic-free shampoo and conditioning stones in December of last year, I had my reservations.

Still, the soft ocean-tumbled look of their stones lured me in. I was tempted by the promise of a full sensory experience from aromatherapy to a healthy scalp microbiome. The idea that my shower caddy might have nothing more on it than a few sculptural stones made the offer too good to resist and I’m glad I didn’t. Using these stones for the last five months has been anything but onerous and I’m happy to offer my own review in case it gets any one else closer to experiencing the sensory delight of these not-so-humble stones.

Conscia’s shampoo and conditioning stones are made by hand by Nicole Brown, owner of San Francisco’s Tailored salon. In her more than twenty years in the industry, Nicole struggled to find haircare products that were both environmentally friendly and high quality and so she decided to make her own. After trial and error and beta testing the products on salon clients, eventually, Conscia was born—a line of waterless, soap- and cruelty free luxury hair products.

We’ve been using the Hydrate Lapis Shampoo and the Hydrate Resina Conditioner since January. The stones arrived in a cocoon of plastic-free packaging: tucked in paper, labeled with seed paper, and wrapped up in hemmed hemp off-cuts. (The cloths are the perfect size for little kid/dessert napkins and we’ve happily welcomed them into our family’s napkin stash.) The smell is intoxicating. Conscia says “uplifting citrus and crisp green grass” and I say something that makes it impossible not to inhale in big greedy huffs. Yes, they also make our bathroom smell incredible. Yes, using them on my kids means sniffing their scalps is even more irresistible. More importantly, in contrast to just about every solid shampoo I’ve tried, the Conscia stones lather beautifully, dry quickly, and hold their shape. They also rival the nicest liquid shampoos I’ve used for effectiveness and ease of use.

Conscia markets its full-sized stones as being equivalent to three 8-ounce bottles of typical liquid shampoo. As far as it’s useful to know, I can say that all five members of this family have been exclusively using Conscia’s stones since the beginning of the year and that in that time, we have worked our way through one full-sized shampoo stone and one petite-sized shampoo stone. Our original full-sized conditioner stone is still less than half-way gone. As far as upkeep, we don’t do anything special except to let them air dry between uses on our shower caddy that’s kept out of the shower stream.

For even this skeptic, the shift has been entirely delightful. If you’d like to try the stones for yourself, Conscia is offering Reading My Tea Leaves readers a 15% discount with the code ERIN15.

This post was sponsored by Conscia. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support this site. Use the code ERIN15 to receive 15% off your Conscia order. Offer expires May 30, 2022.

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  • Reply Claire May 4, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    These sound wonderful, Erin! Thanks for introducing me to a new solid haircare brand. I’ve tried Ethique and enjoyed it, and was curious about exploring another option. I’m admire Conscia’s dedication to eliminating unnecessary packaging and shipping, however $45 for two petite stones or $65 for the large is a steep price point if I’m trying to decide between their products (or determine whether it’ll work for my hair). Might you know if they have plans to offer a introductory price point option? As you brilliantly wrote in your post, some solid haircare options haven’t worked for me in the past and I’d hate to waste such a great product!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 4, 2022 at 3:09 pm

      They’re not inexpensive, for sure! I think in terms of an introductory price point, the best they’re able to offer at the moment is the 15% discount, but I’ll let you know if I learn more!

      • Reply Claire Star May 4, 2022 at 3:38 pm

        Thank you, Erin!

    • Reply Milou May 4, 2022 at 7:09 pm

      I have to agree. I hate plastic, but I wash my hair maybe once a week and my partner shaves his head, so an 7.00 bottle from Duane Reade lasts a really, really long time. If there was a lower price point trial, I might try, but 45 bucks for shampoo seems a bit steep.

      • Reply Diana June 16, 2022 at 12:21 pm

        You could try basin! They have individual bars at $9, but a 4 pack goes for $30

  • Reply Anna May 4, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    I bought these after your shower curtain post where you briefly mentioned them! Loving them so far.

    • Reply linda May 4, 2022 at 5:14 pm

      mee too! erin is always a reliable source for good products that are also eco friendly. i like the shampoo and still getting used to the conditioner but overall i’m happy to continue using and the hydrate smells like lemon grass to me 🙂

  • Reply Chelsea May 4, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Excited to try! May I ask where your beautiful towel is from?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 4, 2022 at 4:24 pm

      Fog Linen!

  • Reply Rachel E May 4, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    If any curly haired folks have tried these, I’d love to hear about their experience.

    • Reply anne May 4, 2022 at 4:44 pm

      I’d second this request! I feel like the shampoo might be fine but I am concerned about the conditioner having enough slip and moisturizing for my curls…

      • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 4, 2022 at 5:50 pm

        Over on Instagram, Gina Stovall says she’s been using the same on her v curly hair!

    • Reply Ann May 4, 2022 at 8:34 pm

      I have curly hair too and after a lot of bad luck with solid products from different brands I found Ethique’s Frizz Wrangler, which I love. They have mini’s of their products which makes trying things out easier. They have a slight scent, but it doesn’t make my bathroom smell or stay noticeable on my hair which I’m happy about. I’ve found the scents from other brands overpowering and work in a scent free environment.

    • Reply Nikia May 12, 2022 at 6:51 am

      I’m a Black woman with thick, curly hair, and I can confirm that their products are amazing, super effective, and I really love the aesthetics and the simplicity of the product as well!

  • Reply Judith Ross May 4, 2022 at 6:20 pm

    I find that bar shampoo lasts a long time — I’ve been using the same bars for more than a year now, but I don’t shampoo a lot. I’m giving this brand a try. After all, Mother’s Day is coming and I deserve it 😉

  • Reply Evan May 4, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    I also tried these after your post about the shower curtain, but I cannot for the life of me get the conditioner to do *anything.* It’s as hard as a rock. The site says to rub it on your hand and then onto your head, but I can’t get anything to transfer. Would love it if you have any tips, because it is an expensive little stone to waste. They both smell nice and the shampoo works fine, but the conditioner has me stumped.

    • Reply Karen May 4, 2022 at 9:51 pm

      I second this question! I’ve been using Hi bar shampoo and loving it, but I’ve had such difficulty trying to distribute a solid conditioner into my (big, dense, curly) hair. I would love to hear any thoughts or pointers!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 5, 2022 at 9:39 am

      Hi Evan! I’d say it’s definitely true that the conditioner doesn’t lather the way the shampoo does, but to me anyway that doesn’t make it feel like it’s not working! I rub my bar directly on my hair, focusing on the ends.

    • Reply Paige May 6, 2022 at 4:26 pm

      Don’t know if this will help, but I had that experience at first, too–mostly with the conditioner, but even with the shampoo. I think the issue had something to do with getting it wet enough at the base. I think in their instructions they say something about “activating” the stones (with water). Now the conditioner is working quite well for me.

  • Reply Christina May 5, 2022 at 9:17 pm

    Really appreciate you trying all the options and finding good ones! I want to switch to solids, but like some others here, my hair likes creamy conditioner most. Conscia looks very appealing. Will give them a try as soon as I finish my latest bottle of Hairstory’s UnWash (which is nice and creamy but still has plastic waste)

  • Reply elisabeth May 7, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for doing all the legwork! Going to give them a try

  • Reply Theresa Holloway May 8, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    How are they for color treated hair? Are they safe? I really want to try these but keeping my color is #1 to me. Thank you for your help.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 9, 2022 at 11:00 pm

      No experience with this myself, but Invet you could reach out and ask Conscia!

  • Reply cathy May 13, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    I really wanted to give this a try, but one of the main ingredients is oat flour, which my kid is allergic to. Between that and all the seeds, it’s a no-go. Maybe one of these days I’ll find a bar shampoo that’s allergen-friendly.

    • Reply Diana June 16, 2022 at 12:24 pm

      Cathy try looking into Basin shampoo/conditioner bars! When I looked at ingredients I didn’t see oat flour listed.

    • Reply Diana June 16, 2022 at 12:30 pm

      I looooove shampoo bars. Why did google recommend this article AFTER i restocked my other ones lol. Unfortunately I just ordered 4 more bars from a different brand that I’ve been using for 3 years now, so I’ll have to write down this brand so I can look more into some of theirs whenever i finish my current bars. This is such a great review, and I’m obsessed with how these are more egg shaped


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