£8.99 per bar
We have put ourselves on a personal mission: to change a lifestyle choice for the sole purpose of making the world a better place to live in. Obviously, if everyone made a change no matter how small, the impact of that collective action would be felt the world over. But being eco' has become more of a trend than a responsibility so we want to scroll and filter through the products out there and find the ones that are worth the investment but also to find out if they're up to the job of what they're supposed to do in the first place.
We like to think our recycling game is pretty decent, it really vexes us when faced with a piece of plastic we can not recycle or have no other purpose for. One area of our home that you'll find endless products in plastic packaging is the bathroom. Granted, most of the shampoo and shower gel bottles can be recycled but the end goal for humanity is cut out the need for this plastic packaging where appropriate. Each week, you'll find us throwing an empty bottle of shower gel into the recycle bin but it got us thinking; we were brought up on soap bars, where are they now?!
So, the decision was made to research some bars not just for the body but for the hair if that was possible. We don't usually name drop in specific product reviews but the market leader for this area is Lush. If you don't know Lush, they are the shop where most of their products are made into shapes of fruit, cakes etc. The smells are just sublime and we are a fan. Although they tick most of the right boxes (against animal testing, handmade, ethical buying), prices though can be on the premium side. There must be cheaper alternatives out there but still keeping within the ethos of using natural products and being better for the environment.
I strayed towards Amazon, you'll often find some small businesses on here with the right approach. On the other side of the coin, you can find a 'Del Boy' or two where you'll realise your money was better off somewhere else. Bubble Blocks was one of the recommendations made and looking into them, it's a simple product with a simple message. A shampoo bar with no plastic packaging involved. It had peaked my interest.
Eco or Ego?
So Bubble Blocks claim:
To be 100% plastic free
Palm oil free
Use natural ingredients and 100% vegan
Include Argan Oil
Now, we do not claim to be an eco' expert or scientific geek and are happy to retract or correct our mistakes but we have tried to educate ourselves as much as we can to give an honest review like we have done in all our product features. So did we find plastic? Unless we actually dissect the bar and try to find microscopic pieces of plastic, it's a plastic friendly product. Recycled paper to wrap the bar with a handy string to hang up in the bath somewhere, no one likes a dried bar stuck to the side of their bath!
What's the issue with this palm oil then? I'll refer you to the highly recommended and eye opening Leonardo DiCaprio documentary Before The Flood where he explains this and a lot of other global issues in much more detail than I can give you. The bottom line is that palm oil is used in a lot of products, our favourite spread Nutella uses it as an ingredient (we haven't brought a tub in ages partly for this reason, the other is that we're trying to avoid the onset of Daddy Belly!), they have been reported to have signed up to a certified and sustainable system of palm oil production but the issue still remains. Palm oil production is a big cause of deforestation through the clearing of forests and fields to grow these trees. The oil itself is derived from the fruit of the oil palms which is then used in food and health products. As a result, the loss of habitat for some species is one major concern, the other concern is the burning of fields/trees to clear land to plant these oil palms which results in an increase in carbon pollution. All in all, it's an ingredient with a very shady background, one as a consumer you aim to avoid or at least look for an ethical mark to combat and contain this global issue. Bubble Blocks it seems are on the right side of the fence here.
Like Lush, Bubble Blocks are handmade (although we haven't set foot in their lab, kitchen or bathroom so we are not a witness but with most products, consumer trust is key that what a product says is actually true). Being an online business, they are up against the face to face customer service that shops like Lush can offer, walk into a Lush store and you're thrown into a Banksy meets Picasso dream like environment, it's hard to compete with something like that where you're tempted to eat the products instead of wash with them!
My knowledge of Argan Oil is quite limited. It sounds nice though doesn't it?! From what we can work out it acts as a natural moisturiser and apparently, native to Morocco where they use to dip bread or drizzle over pasta. What is it with eating things that you cleanse with?! I'm now wondering if my beard oils are nutritional?! The actual ingredients list is pretty long, there are some words on there which we even struggle to pronounce let alone know what they're made from.
Re-buy or Recycle?
There's no point buying anything if it doesn't fulfil it's purpose in the first place. We did have flashbacks to when we were younger after a bath with that post wash soap feeling where your skin feels grippy and has that basic soap smell. What pulled us into buying a bar from Bubble Blocks was the range of fragrances on offer, we opted for a couple of Lime and Coconut bars but if you want to go way out there, they do make a Tea Tree and Peppermint. Another temptation to consume rather than wash! Honestly, you still get that soap smell when you're drying so it could do with a more potent hit of lime and coconut to really get you smelling like a fruit cocktail!
So the bar does come with a warning of sorts. Because it's made from natural ingredients, Bubble Blocks says your scalp "needs time to rebalance it's scalp oil production" so they prepare you for a transition phase. What I missed at first was that cream feeling you do get with chemically made brands and the smoothness you're left with so it does take time and effort to remind yourself that the bar will take time to feel like shampoo. It makes you wonder that at some point in the beauty industry, someone made the conscious decision to introduce synthetic ingredients not realising the long term effects it would bring in the future.
One thing that has not been mentioned is the price. It's 2-3 times more expensive than an average shampoo bottle but this is not uncommon in products which are deemed better for your lifestyle and the environment. Look at vegan food for example, there are many valid points why we should all look towards a vegan lifestyle but as it's still a niche market trying to infiltrate the mainstream, it holds it's price. But it's hard to see why, in theory, less ingredients should justify a higher price? Same with a shampoo bar especially when it comes to packaging. Most plastics are made from crude oil and it's an expensive business to extract oil then manufacture it into a certain type of plastic (I was schooled recently by a colleague who used to work in the pil industry). So if the packaging is recycled paper, surely it's a cheaper and more attainable material to use? Maybe what we do not see is the actual making process and the time it takes to bind the right natural ingredients. A good point our pal Sam Hodges said 'it's the change you're investing into'.
In all of our reviews, we try our best to give you an honest and truthful opinion but you have to remember like all reviews you come across on any platform, it's an opinion of the reviewer. The depth of review and experience of the reviewer is what gives it integrity and ultimately trust to the reader. We hope this comes across but whereas someone prefers the taste of a Galaxy, someone else will prefer Cadburys Dairy Milk (both are reported like a lot of chocolate to use palm oil in their production, the amounts are reported to be small and from a sustainable source but shows the scope of products you can find palm oil in) so we've basing our eco' reviews on two simple questions:
1. Is this product better for the world and the environment?
2. Is it worth my investment and lifestyle change?
From what we can gather, Bubble Blocks seem to be one of the good guys. They tick a lot of boxes and offer a range of fragrances in their bars. Plastic free and natural ingredients, it's supporting two common global drives at the moment. Is it worth buying? They have definitely made me want to buy into shampoo/shower bars more, it's cheaper than Lush but to say it's better for you personally we can not say as we have not used a Lush product comparable for this review. In the past, we have purchased beard wash and gift sets, we haven't yet come to the stage in our lives where a hot bath and a bath bomb is needed although having a little one in the house, that time is near! Are there cheaper alternatives out there? Well we popped into Lush to check out the competition in person and it's a similar price for half the bar, but the flavours are completely different. There's no denying it, it is more expensive than a shampoo bottle but you're buying a shampoo bar for all the right reasons. So for now, that bar is hanging up in our shower doing the job it's set out to do, giving me clean hair and doing it's bit for the environment.