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Make Your Own Shampoo

Updated on September 28, 2010

Homemade All-Natural Shampoo

Do you want to make your own shampoo? You can! It's not difficult, plus making shampoo yourself lets you customize the scent of your shampoo or avoid all scents and synthetic chemicals altogether, if that is what you want. You can make an all-natural product, plus get the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing it yourself. Are you ready? Let's get started.

photo: Old Shampoo circa 1909-1932 (Library of Congress)

Homemade Shampoo Overview

Modern commercial shampoos are detergents, but shampoo used to be liquid soap to which moisturizers were added so that the shampoo didn't strip natural oils from your hair and scalp. I've got a few different recipes for you in this lens. One starts from scratch, where you make your own soap and go from there. Personally, I don't like going back to basics quite that far, so I also get into how you can take a natural vegetable-based soap and use it to make a shampoo.

Shampoo Ingredients

... if you're doing it from scratch

These are the ingredients for the start-from-scratch shampoo:

2 lb 10 oz olive oil

1 lb 7 oz of solid-type vegetable shortening

1 lb coconut oil

10-1/4 oz lye (sodium hydroxide)

2 pints water

1-1/2 oz glycerine (also known as glycerin or glycerol)

1/2 oz vodka

1-1/2 oz castor oil

essential oils (optional), such as peppermint, rosemary, lavender, etc.

coloring (optional)

Read the safety precautions on the lye and follow them! Choose a well-ventilated area to make your shampoo. While kids can help make shampoo if you start with soap, this particular recipe is adult-only. Keep the lye away from kids and pets.

Find Shampoo Ingredients Online

You may be able to find the ingredients to make your own shampoo at a health and beauty store or a craft store. If not, you can find them online. Feel free to add products to this list or to vote them up/down according to your preferences.

Dr Bronner's Organic Pure-Castille Liquid Soap - Unscented - 4 oz
Dr Bronner's Organic Pure-Castille Liquid Soap - Unscented - 4 oz

As organic as soap gets.

Renowned for their quality, versatility and eco-friendliness, Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps are truly in a class by themselves.

These extremely concentrated soaps contain no artificial dyes, preservatives or thickeners.

Multi-purpose: 18-in-1 uses this product works as a boat wash, hard surface cleaner, canvas cleaner, laundry soap, body wash and shampoo, toothpaste and more.

Completely biodegradable and vegetable based.

Made with 100% certified organic oils.

100% Vegan with no synthetic petrochemicals, detergents or surfactants.

Great for all skin types.

Super-concentrated for superior value.

Simple, ecological formulations.

Dr Bronner's is going Fair Trade for all major ingredients.

Unlike many cleaning products, Dr Bronner's discloses all ingredients on the label.

Rosemary 100% Pure Essential Oil - 4oz
Rosemary 100% Pure Essential Oil - 4oz

Botanical Name: Rosmarinus Officinalis

Plant Part: Leaf

Common Uses:Rosemary essential oil stimulates cell renewal. It improves dry or mature skin, eases lines and wrinkles, and heals burns and wounds. It can also clear acne, blemishes or dull dry skin by fighting bacteria and regulating oil secretions. It improves circulation and can reduce the appearance of broken capillaries and varicose veins. Rosemary essential oil helps to overcome mental fatigue and sluggishness by stimulating and strengthening the entire nervous system. It enhances mental clarity while aiding alertness and concentration. Rosemary oil can help you cope with stressful conditions and see things from a clearer perspective.

Mixes well with: Atlas cedarwood, basil, bergamot, cedarwood, cinnamon, citronella, clove, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, hyssop, juniper, lavender, lemon, lime, marjoram, myrrh, neroli, nutmeg, oregano, palmarosa, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, rosewood, sage, spearmint, tangerine, tea tree, and thyme.

Safety Information: Avoid during pregnancy. Do not use if diagnosed with epilepsy or high blood pressure. Do not rub or massage directly over or below varicose veins. Should not be used in conjunction with homeopathic remedies, as it will act as an antidote.

Pure Lye Drain Cleaner / Opener, 2 lbs.
Pure Lye Drain Cleaner / Opener, 2 lbs.

High grade sodium hydroxide / Lye. Used for biodiesel (or soap making) when the quality of the caustic is very critical. Also use if: you have been having problems with the consistency of batches, formulate with hard to saponify oil blends, or employ sensitive essential oils. This grade is also Food Codex, FCC, and Kosher certified, with a Certificate of Analysis included. Can be used for Pretzels, Olives, Lutefisk, Hominy or any other food use. All products are shipped in easy-to-store, easy-to-use resealable HPDE containers (Shipped 2 lbs of Lye per container).



Make Shampoo from Scratch

Mix together the olive oil, shortening, and coconut oil in a large glass or enameled pan.

Mix the lye and water in a glass or enameled pan. Heat will be produced by the reaction.

Warm the oils to 95°F-98°F and allow the lye solution to cool to the same temperature. One of the easiest ways to get the ingredients at the same temperature is to set the containers in a sink or tub full of water that is at the correct temperature.

When the mixtures are at the proper temperature, stir the lye solution into the oil mixture.

When the ingredients are integrated, the mixture should sort of resemble sour cream. Stir in the glycerine, alcohol, castor oil, and any fragrance oils or colorants that you want.

If you want solid shampoo, you can pour the shampoo into soap molds and allow it to harden. Use this shampoo by lathering it with your hands and working it into your hair or else you can shave flakes into hot water to prepare bottles of shampoo as you need it

If you want liquid shampoo, just add more water to the shampoo mixture, bottle the preparation, and use it the usual way.

Dry Shampoo

Shampoo is meant to remove excess oil and help lift away any flakes or grime. If you can't get wet, this is your best bet:

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 tablespoon ground almonds

1-1/2 tablespoons orrisroot

Mix the ingredients together. To use this shampoo, massage a teaspoon of the mixture into your scalp and brush it through and out of your hair. Repeat the process if necessary.

About Dry Shampoo

Another dry shampoo option is to brush baking soda through your hair. I don't really recommend this, because the pH of baking soda is such that it can weaken hair's protein, keratin. It's a decent dry shampoo for dogs, though.

Video Showing How to Make Shampoo

Here's a video that discusses making your own shampoo.

Make Shampoo from Soap

This recipe makes a shampoo base that can be customized for different types of hair and different fragrances.

1/4 cup of grated vegetable-based soap (castile soap)

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp olive oil

Dissolve the soap in hot water to dissolve it. Stir in the vegetable oil. Feel free to double, triple, etc. this recipe.

You can use the base shampoo by mixing it with glycerine and essential oils or other herbal ingredients.

1/2 cup base shampoo

2 tablespoons glycerine

~5 drops essential oil

Special Shampoo Recipes

Using the Base Shampoo Recipe

Herbal Shampoo for Oily Hair

2 tablespoon dry peppermint

2 tablespoon dry spearmint

1 tablespoon dry sage

1 cup water

1/2 cup shampoo base

Bring the herbs and water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the mixture to steep for 20 minutes. Strain out the herbs. Mix the herbal water with the shampoo base.

Herbal Shampoo for Dry Hair

1 tablespoon dry comfrey root

1 tablespoon dry rosemary

1 tablespoon dry chamomile

1 cup water

1/2 cup shampoo base

1 beaten egg

1/3 cup milk

Bring the herbs and water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to steep for 20 minutes. Separate out the herbs with a strainer. Mix the herbal water with the shampoo base, egg, and milk. This shampoo is perishable so refrigerate any portion that isn't used right away.

Conditioning Shampoo

1 beaten egg

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup water

1/2 cup shampoo base

essential oils (optional)

Mix the ingredients together. This shampoo helps give your hair body (egg is a natural conditioner) and shine (lemon juice makes the shampoo slightly acidic, helping to seal the hair shaft).

Take the Shampoo Poll!

Why do you want to make your own shampoo?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks for the recipes. I am going to try the Herbal Shampoo for Dry Hair. Just need to figure out where to get comfrey root...



      Homemade Shampoo Blog

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I have been testing out different versions of the castille based shampoo, but I don't like how squeaky clean it leaves my hair. Like literally, when it's wet and I run my fingers through it, it squeaks. So I'm trying to find a conditioning shampoo. I like the recipe with the egg but I'm wondering how long that lasts, or is it like a one time thing? Thanks!

    • Azareal profile image

      Azareal 8 years ago

      I would think if you refrigerate it, it should be good for a couple of weeks.

      [in reply to Aurora]

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I just finished making this shampoo base with the glycerin and essential oil (Lavender). I grated my own handmade 100% olive oil soap bar for this recipe. I have just used the shampoo and rinsed off with apple cider vinegar and water. My hair is still wet so I have no feedback yet. However, I know there is a transition period. I find it difficult to find a shampoo without SLS or detergents (or a gazillion ingredients). I really hope that it works out. I have psoriasis and I believe that the commercial shampoo is either a contributor or, at best, not contributing to healing.

      I know that my husband will use this shampoo because he refuses to use any commerial shampoo that I have ever purchased. He seemed quite interested when I showed it to him. He also liked the gentle Lavender scent.

      I'll check back after a few shampoos to let you know how well I have transitioned or whether my hair has adapted.

      Thank you for the recipe.


      P.S. Wow, and what a difference in price!

    • Tiffany3 profile image

      Tiffany3 6 years ago

      Great lens! I use a shampoo bar but I would love to make my own shampoo.

    • profile image

      TWOnline2 6 years ago


    • profile image

      TWOnline2 6 years ago


    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 6 years ago from Corona, CA

      I may try this someday. Nice lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Why are you adding lye to shampoo?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      How much does the from scratch make if you put into bottles? This is the recipe I have been looking for. I need to make large batches and this will be cheaper than buying liquid castle soap! Thanks = )

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Did you figure out how much extra water to put so it can be bottled?

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 6 years ago

      Very practical. Great lens.

    • Clipperguy profile image

      Clipperguy 5 years ago

      Good stuff. I just might try it. I sell my one brand of hair care product, but it is made for me by a lab.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How much water do you add to the recipe for liquid soap? Any idea how much liquid soap it makes?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I Travel for my job 6 months out of the year. I do not have access to a store for months at a time. I can not take enough liquid shampoo with me to last the entire period. What I would like to do is find a recipe for a powdered shampoo that I can make that will rehydrate with water. I am not looking for a dry shampoo to use between shampoo's but a true shampoo powder that I can reconstitute. Do you have a recipe for something like that?

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My Favourite book on this subject is The Fragrant Pharmacy, by Valerie Ann Woodward. Great Lense.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      If you are going to make 'shampoo' from scratch (which this recipe is really just cold process soap making at its basics) you MUST test the ph. Cold process soap can sometimes have active lye for a couple of days. You must test for this.

      Also, using lye is very dangerous if you're not experienced with it. You need safety glasses, gloves, and minimal exposed skin. It BURNS. Like acid. Keep lots of water nearby in case you get any on you. It is not pleasant.

      And, sodium hydroxide is for making solid soap, bars of soap. You can make liquid soap using potassium hydroxide and a different process which is more time consuming. Most people will agree that using CP soap and adding more liquid creates a snot-like substance, and the ph value is far too alkaline for your hair. You need to adjust the ph of any homemade liquid soap so that you don't leave your hair feeling like straw.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i need the formulation for production of hair shampoo and hair conditoner my email is

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I know this is an old post and that you have probably found a solution, but have you tried shampoo bars? It is shampoo in bar form.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      I like this lens. I've been making my own shampoo and i love it. There is no way i'm going back to commercial shampoos and conditioners.

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 4 years ago

      Great info. Thanks

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I'm not sure I will ever make my own shampoo, but as a science teacher I find it a fascinating project.

    • Dazzlecube profile image

      Dazzlecube 4 years ago

      Great lens!

      I have a quick question: Is baking soda *diluted in water* also not recommended as a shampoo?

    • profile image

      Lima Rahman 17 months ago

      good imformation. Thank u very much.

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