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Natural Homemade Shampoo Recipes – How to Make Organic Hair Shampoo

By Heather Levin

Have you ever thought about making your own shampoo?

I know, I know. With the dozens, if not hundreds, of commercial shampoos available to us, why bother making our own, right?

Well, before I get into exactly how to make your own shampoo, I want to stress the reasons why you should consider this option in the first place:

Benefit #1: Saving Money

Like with most things, homemade shampoo is far cheaper than commercial bought shampoo. Especially if you have a larger family, making your own shampoo is going to save money for you.

Benefit #2: Better for You

Do you know what all those chemicals are in your commercial shampoo and conditioner?

Me neither. The FDA doesn’t regulate what companies put in personal care products, which means most of us have no idea what the chemicals are or how they could be affecting us. The majority of large companies like Suave, Pantene, and Aussie use chemicals that have been linked to cancer, immunotoxicity, allergies and more. You can find out more by checking out this Skin Deep page and looking up your own shampoo.

Making your own shampoo is safer for you and your family because you’re using natural ingredients.

Benefit #3: Works Better

This is going to be highly subjective. Some people claim that their homemade shampoo works far better than commercial brands. Other people say they’d buy commercial shampoo any day.

How well your shampoo works is going to depend on the recipe you use as well as your hair type. But there’s a good chance it will blow your store-bought shampoo out of the water…in a good way.

Benefit #4: Better for the Environment

When you use natural shampoo what goes down the drain? Natural ingredients.

Commercial shampoos and conditions contain tons of chemicals, which go right into the water system (especially if your greywater isn’t treated). So, natural shampoos are better for the environment.

Benefit #5: Better for Your Home

Natural ingredients are way better for your pipes. The harsh chemicals in these shampoos can cause major damage to your pipelines which will ultimately cost you big-time financially.

Homemade Shampoo Recipes

So how can you make your own shampoo? Fortunately there are tons of great homemade shampoo recipes out there. Here are two that I really like:

1. Castile Shampoo from Instructables.com

Instructables is one of my favorite sites because you can learn how to make just about anything here. And they’ve got a great recipe for homemade shampoo. This recipe uses liquid Castile soap.

You need:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s, which you can find cheaply on Amazon; you can also get awesome, organic Castile soap from Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil (like jojoba, olive oil, or grapeseed)

Mix all the ingredients into a plastic or glass bottle and you’re good to go!

As far as the results, it’s a mixed bag with this recipe. Some people love this combination; others says it leaves a film on their hair. Again, a lot will depend on your hair type and your water type (hard water seems to leave more film).

2. Baking Soda Shampoo

The awesome ways to save money with baking soda extend to shampoo as well. Baking soda is the household product that I buy in gigantic, 5 lb. bags from Costco and boy does it go fast. I use it for everything, including shampoo!

The biggest benefit to using baking soda is that it really helps get rid of the buildup that settles on your scalp from other hair care products. But, you have to rinse with vinegar if you want your hair feeling as light and fluffy as it always does. Alone, baking soda has a tendency to dry hair out.

Here’s what you do:

  • Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 3 cups water (this will make enough for several washings). Store in a plastic or glass container. You can also make it one serving at a time. Mix 1 Tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water.
  • When you’re ready to use, shake and apply to your scalp, scrubbing it in.
  • After you’ve scrubbed your scalp with the baking soda, rinse with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar (or regular white vinegar for a lighter smell). You can also use 1 Tablespoon of vinegar mixed with 1 cup of water for a lighter mixture.

Keep in mind that there are as many natural shampoo recipes as there are people experimenting. You might need to play with proportions before you find a combination that works great for your hair.

Tip: It might take two weeks or more for your hair to “settle in” to being washed with baking soda and vinegar. The reason is because right now, your commercial shampoo (and daily washing) strips your scalp of natural oils. When you go natural, your hair might feel greasy or thick as your body adjusts. Stick it out! It’s also best not to wash your hair every day, whether you’re using natural shampoo or not. Washing every other day will help keep your hair and scalp healthy.

If you want to learn more, here are some other tips on making your own shampoo.

Have any of you used experimented with making your own shampoo? How did it work out?

(Photo credit: TedsBlog)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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Comments

  • http://www.ramonaiftode.com Ramona

    A shampoo bottle is 5-10 bucks. I think it’s a VERY SMALL PRICE compared to what we splash on when eating takeout food or getting clothing. So the financial reason doesn’t stand, at least for me, and also knowing how much money Americans waste on interest just to max their credit cards. So, if we think budget cutting, that’s not really the main issue.

    As for the health and environmental ideas, I can surely concur. Anyway, for me it’s still easier to have decided on a brand that seems perfect for me and just focus on something else. Of course, for someone who’s got the time and initiative, these tips are indeed valuable.

    • fbc

      I am going to try the baking soda & apple cider vinegar thing starting tomorrow. I am not doing it for environmental nor financial reasons. I have extremely thick, long and oily hair. I have no found a shampoo that takes enough of the oil out of my hair. I have tried about 40 different shampoos over the years including tea tree oil. I was a model at hair shows in the Pittsburgh area and had professionals give me free shampoos all the time. These were expensive shampoos. None of them did it. As it stands now, I wash my hair every day and then use just a bit of conditioner on the ends since it is so thick and long. By night time, the hair at the scalp is oily again. My mom had the same problem until she turned 50. Thanks for the recipes!

      • Guest

        If you have really oily hair/scalp, it’s best NOT to wash it everyday. Washing it strips the hair of oil and makes hair/scalp dry, so the scalp thinks it needs to produce more oil to replenish it. Washing hair only 2-3 times per week helps get it back to a better balance.

  • Susie

    I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s soap for shampoo and have had very nice results. I dilute the soap even further than the above recipe. I dilute about 2 tablespoons into a 1 cup squirt bottle and squirt it directly on my hair, then lather. I do use a small dab of Burt’s Bee’s organic shampoo for the second wash – this removes any film. This combination is cheaper than costly organic shampoos. It also saves on all the chemicals being absorbed into the skin. My hairdresser can’t believe how healthy my hair is.

  • http://stretchyourdollarwaukesha.wordpress.com/ Skirnir Hamilton

    I can get shampoo free on a regular basis at CVS and Walgreens with EBCs and RRs and coupons, so no need to make my own.

    • Loverly208

      if money is all that you’re looking at, then that is great. however, like she said, commercial shampoos come with chemicals that do damage not only to you and your home, but the environment as well. my search for natural approaches to every day products is just as much for our planet as is it for myself.

      • Littlesister70

        But you are just promoting someones product. Which I googled and it is NOT cheap. My inlaws use this and they smell. Someone even suggested just using water to clean with. What a joke. When you sweat and just use water to remove it, you smell worse then before. Maybe you don’t care if you stink to high heaven, but the people around you do care.

  • mona

    I have been experimenting with Castile soap, trying to make a shampoo that is pH balanced for the hair. Using a shampoo that is NOT pH balanced will destroy the hair over time. When I’ve used this soap just mixed with water on my hair, it has left it feeling hard and tangled and STRIPPED. I have normal healthy thick hair.
    I got pH strips after doing a lot of research on the web and understanding the importance of pH.
    Even when mixed with a lot of water, the pH was WAY over the top (9 something) of what a pH for the hair should be. ( I checked several brands of shampoos in my house and they were all in the right pH range)
    Hair is slight acid ( 5 to 6) so what happens is that something with high alkaline pH such as castile soap opens up the cuticles on the hair, and can cause major damage over time.
    I tried adding Aloe Vera which is around 4 on the pH scale hoping to bring it down. That wasn’t working too well, so I tried vinegar, which has a pH of 2.4 – 3.4, and I had to add a LOT to get it down to a pH friendly shampoo of around 5. (http://www.ehow.com/how_4423524_balance-ph-hair.html)
    My formula consisted of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, purified water, Aloe Vera, very little Glycerin, and vinegar. After using about 9 pH strips, I was able to add enough vinegar to lower the pH to a gentle 5 something range. (about 5.5) The problem is, when used on my hair it feels as if I am washing with vinegar and it does not seem to get my hair clean.
    Bottom line, I would not recommend using Castile Soap for shampoo, certainly unless you add something to bring the pH level down, unless you want to ruin your hair over time. For a once and a while “stripping” shampoo maybe so, but VERY diluted with water and some kind of acid added to bring the pH down a bit, and followed by some kind of rinse or conditioner to close the cuticles on the hair which it has opened.
    Also if using Castile must use soft or distilled water.
    Baking soda is another story,…get some pH strips and see for yourself! Point being pay attention to the pH of whatever is put on the hair! Too much baking soda will relax (soften) the hair and cause it to break off.
    My next plan is to try Black African Soap to see if I make that into a pH friendly shampoo…. we’ll see….:)

    • Lakeisha

      @ Mona…I’ve tested the PH of black soap, and it’s at a ph of 8 (when diluted with water to liquify). I’m am currenlty going to experiment with diluting the soap in aloe vera juice (which should bring it to at least a 6 or a 7 since aloe vera juice is about a 4-5). I’m really hoping this work since I’ve bought a big chunk of it (about 2.5 lbs).

    • guest

      I believe this would be where using Vinegar as a Conditioner comes into play :)

  • http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com Small Footprints

    I just love your “make your own” recipes. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  • http://www.sarahtrachtenberg.com Sarah Trachtenberg

    This is a good idea, but at the risk of nitpicking, Dr. Bonner’s soap is quite expensive. Maybe there are other brands of castile soap, but I’ve never seen them and I guess you’d have to go to a specialty store or order them online (hello, shipping and handling charges!).
    I use V05, since it’s usually available for less than $1 a bottle.
    I’m skeptical that your baking soda recipe, while an excellent additional cleanser once in a while, simply wouldn’t take the place of shampoo, or at least wouldn’t for my hair.
    I will give this advice: why bother with a second lathering? Wash, rinse and repeat? That’s just what the label says to sell twice as much of their product.

    • Jacobjonsullivan

      I’m a hairdresser and you are not doing yourself any favors with v05 unless you like adding the same things they use to make floor wax in your hair. This wouldn;t be my first suggestion but definately better than anything on a grocery store shelf

    • Rcampbell145

      I never wash my hair twice. Just rinse it well. Everybody says my hair is beautiful.

    • Thomarykay

      I use the Baking Soda Shampoo and Vinegar Conditioner, and I absolutely love it :) Don’t knock it until you rock it ;) I work in Cosmetics, and have to look great every day, even if bringing the kids to school. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to my hair!

    • Southernsweetie

      you only need a 1/4C of the Dr. Bonner’s. One bottle of Dr. Bonner’s will make multiple batches of shampoo. It can also be used for hundreds of other things. It’s a great product. I use it for shampoo, all purpose spray cleaner, laundry soap, etc. When you look at the cost of the amount you need per recipe, it’s quite small.

    • kris3

      a 32 oz bottle of dr. bronners soap is only $10 at trader joes or even online about the same price with shipping off ebay or amazon and you only need 1/4 cup with each bottle is equals less than 1 dollar. and take a look at ingredients in your v05

  • Xuongbaibien

    I tried natural shampoo as I am becoming more and more passionate about what I am putting on and in my body. It did make my hair heavy and greasy feeling; I gave up. Now you have encouraged my to try again and for longer to see if my body will ajust. Thank you!!

    • Tasssilverhawk2001

      I like you have found the Baking Soda *shampoo* to be an awful awful experience, i have oily baby fine hair and the so called shampoo did nothing but make an absolute mess of my hair it took me days to get it back into some semblence of normal. The Castille shampoo apparently does not work well with the water where i am as it also left a nasty film on not only my hair but also my body, is there another commercially available product that may work??

      • Chi

        I think you might have to invest in a shower head filter. If you have hard water, it can affect the shampoos you use and affect your hair and skin.

      • Padwanlearnder

        People said earlier that you need to use a natural “conditioner” after the “Shampoo (Baking soda/water) to bring the hair back to normal PH etc,, lemon juice, white vinegar, apple cider or something like that with water

    • lgcamp

      I put a bit of witch hazel in my shampoo to cut the greasy feel. I also rinse with apple cider vinegar. Everybody comments on how nice and silky my hair is.

  • Nancy Michelli

    I like the sound of the recipes but if you really want to call them “organic” then the ingredients need to be organic. I don’t think bulk baking soda from Costco is necessarily organic. And to use organic ACV you would have to use something like Braggs which could get very expensive. Good ideas though.

    • Kate

      Baking soda is inorganic. Like water. Its made of minerals. Good ideas though.

      • Ashleah

        I think Nancy is referring to organic as it is used in the food industry to determine if a product has unnecessary additives. Arm & hammer use to contain aluminum, but the company now espouses that their product is 100% Sodium Bicarbonate

  • Steph

    This may be an obvious answer however can you use avocado oil with the shampoo recipe instead of grape seed or olive?

    • Cassie

      sure can, it’s just as good for your hair and scalp as well.

  • Tlebleu22

    How well does the baking soda routine work if you work outside and sweat enough that your whole head is wet?

    • Hockeyluverdb

      Since sweat is simply water and salt, I would assume baking soda would work fine. Honestly you’d probably be able to get away with just hot water (since sweat is water-soluble) if you want.

  • Margot97

    As an employee who works in the pharmaceutical industry, your statements regarding chemicals is false. Any product with the intended use for humans is regulated and must comply with quality standards and testing. We do not put in random chemicals in a whilly-nilly fashion.

    • Mimi-petstylist

      and most products contain sodium lauryl sulfate so what is your defence for that?

    • Annsudds

      have you googled these chemicals? Wikipedia gives you the harmful effects of these chemicals so I am confused as to why you consider these statements false?

      • http://www.facebook.com/marti.stevens.7 Marti Stevens

        Are you going to continue your research, or believe everything WikiPedia tells you? Are you going to disbelieve a pharmaceutical scientist because anyone with a keyboard can add information to WikiPedia? Really? I would suggest continuing your research, as in chemistry and organic chemistry classes in university. There’s alot of information to gain, if one only seeks for it.

        • Liz

          Well, I’m a 15 year old astrophysicist and I know that people lie about who they are. Sulfates are bad for you, end of story. Don’t be a dick.

          I’m actually a high school teacher, and as long as you are checking the sources for the Wikipedia article, they can be a wealth of knowledge. There is a reason that it is so popular with the young intellectuals.

        • Radoe

          I’m pretty sure that’s what they said about lobotomy as well. Not to mention all those pain relievers that caused massive killings and suicides. Are you going to argue that mineral oil is not a petrol derivative? Would you put petrol on your skin? Man, I really hope you’re a troll.

        • lgcamp

          I never believe Wikipedia, but it far outranks the pharmaceutical companies in MY book. Somebody hasn’t done their research on the toxic chemicals in commercials products.

    • abcxyztime

      You obviously are not very educated on the effect of these products on your skin… I think you need to research the harmful ingredients in products before you make remarks like that. Pharmaceutical companies with your prescription meds are the 3rd leading cause of death in america… How do you say that is healthy? Yes, do certain people need medicine.. There is a place and time when it may be necessary, but man, you don’t have any clue what you are representing.

    • Thirtytwobelow22

      But your standards kill us.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandi-Nelson/1585291582 Brandi Nelson

      @Margot97.. So tell me then your products are completely safe to use over and over again. there are no cancer causing chemicals in your products? The FDA sets regulations that are still harmful to us. I was shocked to see the trusted brand that we use on our babies as one of the the bad and harmful products with cancer causing chemicals.

  • C.A

    I’m not understanding why all the extra’s go into all this stuff anyway. Let’s go back to the old ways. Anything we need we can get from the land! The world is money hungry!

  • Liz

    I absolutely love my baking soda shampoo! I make sure to boil my water for at least 10 minutes to help get rid of some of the minerals in my very hard water. Then I put the baking soda into an old soda bottle, and pour the water slowly! It fizzes. I pounded a nail through the cap of the bottle so it will squirt. I do the same with my vinegar “conditioner.”
    It’s been 6 months since regular shampoo has touched my hair, and I’ve seen less breakage, and my hair is glossy and doesn’t tangle as much. Just be prepared with hats! The first month will be kinda gross. I augmented my shampoo then with a Tbsp of dry baking soda right on top of my head just before the shower.
    Good luck!

    • Arianebloom

      boiling the water would only concentrate the minerals, try filtering it first.

  • jkemar

    hi eveyone,
    where can i buy the dr.bronner’s pure castile soap?

    • Chi

      You can buy it at a Wholefoods store or online from Amazon etc.

    • McKenzie Simmons

      Kroger or Publix

  • Eemurambwa

    lm in SA were can l buy sastile soap

  • http://www.facebook.com/alyssa.maulawin Alyssa Maulawin

    Does it make bubbley something on your hair or is it like water shampoo?

  • http://www.facebook.com/susancrenshaw.elmore Susan Crenshaw Elmore

    Thanks for the info. I just keep finding recipes and adjusting them to my needs. Maybe the kid in the pic is just a random art clip, but I thought it was funny there is a bottle of johnson&johnson behind him, and bleach wipes. doesn’t really jive with your message.

  • Mrs. Lopez

    I am trying the baking soda and ACV but find my hair has a film on it. It isn’t greasy though. Any suggestions for me? I am using a mix of 1.5TBS of ACV to 1cup water, am i needing more ACV? It seemed last night after using the ACV the film was worse…

  • lgcamp

    Add a bit of witch hazel to the first recipe to cut the film it leaves on your hair.

  • Liam

    Hi!

    The amount of each ingredient used, does it not depend on how many oz bottle your trying to fill?

  • Mary J

    Hi, I have been a long time user of shampoo and conditioner but I noticed that I had tangles galore and decided to try the baking soda remedy shampoo and vinegar rinse and did not have tangles even when I tossed and turned and just for haha’s, I tried using commercial shampoo and conditioner and rolled my hair and found out that I had so many tangles it was hard to brush my hair today. I believe I will go back to the baking soda and water shampoo and the vinegar rinse. It is pennies on the dollar and no tangles and hair does not get oily either but it is snowing in Idaho. So I am not sure how my hair would be in a warmer climate. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

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