Transparency, transparency, transparency. In all three aspects of this review– the what, how, and who– I had to take off points for the lack of transparency this company has. With near-5 star reviews on almost every platform, this product works, like actually works just the same as regular shampoo and conditioner, which is super cool. Having tried the ~$13 conditioner myself, and being very critical of haircare products, it 100% is an alternative to shampoo/conditioner in a plastic bottle if you can afford to spend slightly more. And it is super, super great that this product works and is plastic-free, so I am personally willing to pay that little more (plus they offer full refunds). BUT, we have to demand that the company releases more information from the bottom-up and top-down, so we can truly know how sustainable their practices are. Until then, we are left to ask ourselves if the plastic-free nature of HiBAR is just another case of greenwashing.
While HiBAR is transparent about the ingredients of their products, there is a big lack of information on their sourcing of said ingredients. Of course, we can give them the benefit of the doubt, but to be honest we don’t know anything about any of their sourcing practices. For this lack of transparency, I had to downgrade their score.
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (Coconut Oil*), BTMS (Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol (Vegetable Based), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (Vegetable Based*), Glycerin Stearate (Vegetable Based*), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Stearic Acid (Vegetable Based*), Polyquaternium 7, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Natural Fragrance (Lime Peel Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Ginger Root Oil), Mineral Pigment CI 77007. (*Derived Source)
Cetearyl Alcohol (Vegetable Based*), Behentrimonium Methosulfate, (Vegetable Based*), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Stearyl Alcohol (Coconut Oil*), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Glyceryl Stearate (Vegetable Based*), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Coconut Oil & Glycerin*), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Hydrogenated Ethylhexyl Olivate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Natural Fragrance (Lime Peel Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Ginger Root Oil), Mineral Pigment CI 77510, CI 77891, Mica. (*Derived Source)
Some of these ingredients are hard to pronounce or essentially mean nothing in terms of what it actually is to the average person. This is typically a negative sign, and probably has something to do with their claims of being “salon-quality,” AKA, the product has chemicals. On their website, it is stated that they hope to one day be accepted into the most demanding natural stores and co-ops, and so they’re formulating their products with that “happy far-off day” in mind. This claim is super vague and probably means they aren’t going to take out those chemicals at the very least, in the short term. This is important to think about in terms of sustainability, especially because the run-off of these products directly enters our waterways.
One of the best parts of HiBAR is its packaging (NO PLASTIC!!)– the box is recyclable & compostable, as well as uses plant-based inks. Their shipping materials are also either compostable, recyclable, or biodegradable, including any packing tape or product protection– which is super awesome, all A+.
HiBAR shampoo bar is made to last AT LEAST as long as a 16oz bottle, and the conditioners last even longer. As far as the conditioner, their claim is legit and I can testify; I have had a bar for weeks and haven’t made a dent! Their product lines are zero waste, 100% safe for colored or treated hair, have no plastic, no soap, sulfates, parabens, silicone, phthalates, and no cruelty. Their products are also Curly Girl Method-friendly, which is always good and makes the product even more inclusive. They say their products are vegan, use “almost entirely plant-based ingredients,” and “are all about getting rid of nasty chemicals.”
As far as manufacturing, there is no information on their website or elsewhere. Bear in mind that we also are unaware of the ingredient sourcing, and this adds even more ambiguity to the picture. I am left wondering where their manufacturing plant is– in Minneapolis where the company was founded? Is it even in the U.S.? The good news is that they are not manufacturing any plastic, and as far as bar shampoo and conditioner, the production waste should be minimal, but we can’t know for sure. What do they do with “oopsie” batches or leftover cuts? Are their processes truly zero-waste?
HiBAR was started by 4 people–Nora Schaper, Ward Johnson, Dion Hughes, and Jay Schaper– with only one founder being a woman and none being BIPOC. There is almost no information online about their employees, including manufacturers. Their LinkedIn profile states there are 11 employees, but again, no information about their labor practices. Being that there is essentially no information, in this category I had to score low.