After having my 3-1-1 bag removed from my luggage and each item inside it scrutinized by Keflavik International Airport security, I knew I wanted to lighten up on the amount of liquid I take with me while traveling. An obvious solution is to skip the shampoo and conditioner — after all, most hotels offer them among their amenities. But I’ve been trying to cut down on my reliance on single-use plastics, so I try to avoid using hotel products that are packaged in them. And my hair is notoriously fussy — fine yet curly, frizz-prone, and color-treated. It just doesn’t adapt well to shampoos and conditioners meant for more common hair types. Could bar shampoo and conditioner be the answer to my packing prayers?
About Naples Soap Company
I reached out to Naples Soap Company, a Florida-based maker of hair and skin-care products made with natural and organic ingredients. The company was founded in 2009 by Deanna Wallin, a nurse who suffered from eczema and psoriasis, and whose daughter was born with the same conditions. In her quest to avoid common skin irritants found in beauty products, she created her own cleansers and lotions. Both mother and daughter’s skin issues abated, and a new company was formed.
Naples now sells a variety of products for the face and body that are free of “baddatives” like parabens, alcohol, and phthalates. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free. Their shampoo bars are gluten-free, while conditioner bars are not.
Ease Of Packing Bar Shampoo And Conditioner
Naples gifted me with two sets of shampoo and conditioner bars: Coconut Water and Florida Fresh ($11 per bar). According to their website, both are volumizing and effective for all hair types, including oily, dry, curly, flat, and textured. They’re also said to be safe for color-treated, keratin-treated, and bleached hair, and nourishing for dry, flaky scalps. Each Naples Soap Company shampoo bar is rated to last for 50 to 75 washes when allowed to drain and dry on a soap dish. Naples sells their own soap dish, made of eco-friendly bamboo, for $7.
Coconut is one of my favorite scents, so I loved the Coconut Water right out of the package. It has a lightly tropical smell, with a hint of bergamot — sort of like a cocktail at a high-end Caribbean resort. Florida Fresh, their best-selling bar, has a more pronounced fragrance, a bright, citrusy blend of tangerine, lime, bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, and orange, plus a bit of mango.
I took the bars with me on two trips: to Newport, Rhode Island, and New Brunswick, Canada. Packing them was simple. I tucked the waxed paper bag containing Florida Fresh in with my socks and underwear. The bars took up about two palms’ worth of space. They also had the unintentional benefit of making my unmentionables smell like a fruit smoothie.
I snapped the Coconut Water bars into Naples’ simple clamshell-style travel cases ($3.50 each). They’re made of plastic, but they’re reusable. These take up a few more inches of carry-on real estate but are worth it if you don’t keep the original waxed paper bags or are traveling to hot-weather locations.
All four bars held up beautifully in transit, whether packed in my carry-on or checked luggage, and showed no signs of melting, cracking, or flaking. I haven’t tried hacking off a piece of each to really lighten my load, but I may do so when bag space is tight.
How Bar Shampoo And Conditioner Stack Up
For my first wash, I chose Coconut Water. Once under the showerhead, I followed the package instructions and swiped the bar a few times from roots to tips, then massaged. The shampoo bar had a nice lather and rinsed easily. It had been about a week since my most recent salon coloring, past the window when I typically see dye bleed, and I was a little dismayed to find a noticeable amount of dye swirling around the tub drain. I’d like to believe I had the water temperature turned up a little too high, but given the expense of salon color, it gave me pause.
A few days later, when I washed my hair again, I used Florida Fresh, following the same steps. Like Coconut Water, it produced a thick lather and made my scalp feel squeaky clean. The scent was more energizing than Coconut Water, and I didn’t notice any dye bleed.
Naples’ conditioner instructions say to separate hair into two or three sections and swipe the wet bar from roots to tips. Because conditioners can weigh down fine hair, I went light on the application at the roots and heavier on the tips, where I’m more likely to need smoothing and protection.
I usually air-dry my hair. After wrapping it in a T-shirt for 20 minutes to remove excess water and control frizz, I allowed it to fully dry. My hair ended up looking and feeling light. The curl wasn’t as well-defined as it is with my favorite shampoo, and there wasn’t a ton of body, but it still had a nice mixture of loose curls and waves.
After I returned home, I decided to try blow-drying following the use of Naples bar shampoo and conditioner. This time, after absorbing excess water with the T-shirt, I blow-dried until mostly dry. Again, my hair looked and felt light. The texture was soft and easy to run a comb or my fingers through. There still wasn’t much body, so I may need to experiment with volumizing styling products following washing and conditioning — as long as they don’t take up precious 3-1-1 bag space.
I liked the buoyant and clean feeling the Naples shampoo bars and conditioners created. And I loved the fragrances and the ease of packing. Removing two bottles from my bag meant the rest of the items could freely slosh around and were easier to view without opening the zipper top.
At home I’ll probably stick with my specialty shampoo and conditioner, made specifically for my hair type and with color protectants, and which seem to offer a bit more hold and volume. But I plan to keep using the Naples bars while traveling. I’ll adjust my salon colorings to at least two weeks before a trip, so I don’t need to worry about dye bleed, and I can enjoy knowing that I’m using a low-waste product that’s simple to pack and kinder to my skin and the Earth.