Shampoo Powder Is a Hot New Trend in Eco-Friendly Hair Care

A plant-based, water-activated concentrate turns into lather in your hands.

shampoo shaker bottle


Shampoo and conditioner powders are the latest innovation in the world of eco-friendly hair care. I thought I had tried every green, plastic-free, refillable, compostable, all-natural hair-washing method until I received two emails in the same week from companies now selling these washing powders. 

"Powders?" I thought in confusion, and promptly accepted the samples they were offering. One came from a brand new startup called Cocofomm, the other from established eco-beauty brand Meow Meow Tweet. Both arrived in paper envelopes and consisted of a light-colored granular powder.

Cocofomm's delivery came with a small shaker bottle, but as founder Liz Qiao-Westhoff explains, any leftover spice shaker will do. That piqued my interest because it's a zero-waste product that makes use of packaging most people already have at home, and the envelope in which the powder comes is plastic-free and compostable.

Cocofomm shampoo powder


Qiao-Westhoff, who lives in New York City with her husband and two children, says she was inspired to start Cocofomm last year when she became alarmed about the amount of plastic pollution and the abysmal recycling rate. 

"I used to love plastic. It's cheap, durable, easy (and SHINY!). A few years ago after becoming a new mom, I changed," Qiao-Westhoff tells Treehugger. "All it took were some disturbing facts—for example, that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish [by weight]—and I began doing things I'd never even cared to do before."

"I began reusing soap bottles and refilling instead of tossing them. This was huge for me. In the bathroom, I switched to shampoo bars but they were expensive and dried out my hair. I wanted to reuse bottles and conveniently refill without spending a lot or creating waste."

Cocofomm's Tea Tree Mint Powder has gone through four different versions to reach its current formulation. To use it, you soak your hair in the shower, dump a small amount (1/2 teaspoon to start) into your hands and rub it together well, then apply it to wet hair. As you work it in, the lather gets better and smoother. I loved the minty smell. 

It feels pretty much the same as Meow Meow Tweet's new Rose Geranium Shampoo and Conditioner Powders. Its standard 2-ounce size comes in a recyclable aluminum container, chosen as packaging because it has a high recycling rate and is lightweight for shipping. There are mini 0.25-ounce samples that come in the paper envelopes that I received.

Meow Meow Tweet's shampoo powder
Rose Geranium Shampoo and Conditioner Powders.

Meow Meow Tweet

I liked that there was a conditioner option to accompany the Meow Meow Tweet shampoo; Cocofomm's came with just shampoo, but you could use whatever conditioner you want along with it. The formula smelled lovely and, like Cocofomm, I immediately noticed how thick and creamy the shampoo felt as it dissolved into a lather in my hands—not the airy foam that you get from conventional liquid shampoos.

I have thick, wavy hair that tends to be dry, frizzy, and difficult to manage. Both products gave me similar results—a sense of cleanliness without feeling like my hair had been stripped. In fact, my hair had the smoothness and shininess that it usually gets two days after washing, when some of the oil has come back and it becomes more manageable and nicer-looking (I dislike freshly washed hair). As one commenter on Cocofomm's website said, "There isn't that wispy, fluffy, post-shower feeling." 

The only downside was that my hair didn't last quite as long before needing to be washed again (I usually go 5-7 days between washes), but I'd be willing to wash slightly more frequently if it meant I could skip those awful dry, unruly days at the start of the cycle and emerge from the bathroom with smooth, flowing locks!

Reviews are positive for Meow Meow Tweet's powders, with one person saying, "This shampoo leaves my hair feeling clean but not stripped, and the powder forms a really lovely thick lather when I add water. On the days that I've used it so far along with the conditioner, my hair is incredibly thick and luscious when it dries." It's advertised as both a clarifying formula, good for demineralizing hair if you have hard water, and as a daily shampoo. 

Figuring out the proper amount requires some experimentation. I used far too much the first time, then scaled it back for my second and third tries. I found it was key to rub the powder between my hands thoroughly before applying it to my hair, at which point it's still more like a paste that turns to foam when it contacts the hair. Meow Meow Tweet assures the granules will continue to dissolve on your scalp and the lather gets better as you add water and work it in. 

Overall, I am impressed. I didn't know there was a way to make shampoo as green (or greener) than unpackaged bars, but both of these companies have proven otherwise. These are also highly affordable options, with Cocofomm's $12 pouch lasting 30-40 washes or 2-3 months, and Meow Meow Tweet's $24 container equivalent to four standard 8-ounce shampoo bottles.