DIY Shampoo

Yes. That’s a bottle of homemade shampoo shining like a beacon in my windowsill. It’s only special because it took me so long to find the right recipe.

Little by little I’m trying to replace all of my health, beauty and cleaning products with things I make using only natural ingredients. After I successfully made deodorant and a few different hand and lip balms, shampoo seemed as though it should be next on the list.  And it seemed like it would be easy to find something that worked. But it wasn’t. Not at all.

First I tried baking soda to clean my hair and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. This method works wonders for lots and lots of people, but not for me. I tried the baking soda as a paste on my hair. I tried it diluted in water and poured on my head. I tried it with apple cider vinegar and without. All I ended up with was a flaky scalp and greasy hair.

In the midst of experimenting with the baking soda method I went to the hairdresser for a cut. When I arrived I reluctantly took my hair out of my pony tail and explained I’d been trying something new with my hair but it hadn’t been working very well. She didn’t judge me at all, but suggested I at least use some Dr. Bronner’s once a week to make sure I was actually cleaning my hair (I took this as a gentle way of letting me know my hair wasn’t clean). So when I left the hairdresser I tried Dr. Bronner’s, but it might have been even worse than the baking soda and apple cider vinegar combo. In fact, my hair was the perfect texture for dreads. And even my always supportive and encouraging husband touched my hair one night and suggested that maybe, just maybe, I should try something new.

And so I did. It’s so nice to not be dirty anymore. Seriously, there was about a month during which my hair was in no way acceptable in polite society. But now I can exit the house without a hat or scarf on my head. I can even get close to people. These are luxuries I now realize. It’s pretty great to have them back.

This shampoo is based on the amazing resource found here at The Modern Herbal. It provides a grid of ingredients, what each does, and provides suggested herbs and oils for different hair colors and types. (ETA: The Modern Herbal site is no longer and I can’t find a replacement for this great resource. However, The Nerdy Farm Wife has a helpful base shampoo recipe that you might find useful until I can find a better resource). I have normal dark hair and so I created the recipe below following the framework provided by The Modern Herbal.

Rosemary Shampoo

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary (to soften and enhance dark hair)
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender (to soften)
  • 1/3 cup almond Dr. Bronner’s castile soap
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet almond oil (to moisturize)
  • 25 drops rosemary essential oil (to enhance dark hair)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable glycerin (to moisturize)

1. Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the herbs. Cover and let infuse 20 minutes.

2. Strain herbs from water, then let the water cool. When cool add all other ingredients to the infused water. Transfer to a container.

3. Use as often as you would traditional shampoo.

This recipe makes about 8 ounces. I placed mine in a travel container. My only suggestion for this shampoo is to store in  plastic. Through trial and error I learned that glass bottles, while preferable, keep liquids in the shower very cold and very cold liquids on the head are not ideal first thing in the morning. Also, the lather of this shampoo is not such that you can place the shampoo in your hands and work it through your hair. It requires you to dot the shampoo along your scalp in various places, then work through your hair, rinsing normally.

It might be that I was filthy for so so long that I forgot how special being clean was, but I’m really thrilled with my hair these days. It feels good, looks good and smells good. And my husband no longer recoils at the sight of my head. All good things.



8 responses to “DIY Shampoo”

  1. Maryann Avatar

    I love your honesty and your fearlessness in trying all things natural. Maybe you should start a business creating shampoos for certain people with certain hair types – i.e. my hair is lighter than yours so not sure the rosemary would work as well? Though I’m sure it smells lovely. Anyway, thanks for sharing your journey. One day I’ll be brave along side you again. 🙂

    1. Claire Avatar

      Chamomile for golden highlights!

      Thanks for appreciating my adventures in hygiene. 🙂

  2. […] post and recipe here: This entry was posted in Shampoos and tagged Shampoo by admin. Bookmark the […]

  3. […] things around the house haven’t. The temperature and humidity have changed so much that my DIY Shampoo is creating some serious scalp confusion. Our beautiful and promising garden rebounded after the […]

  4. Jojo Avatar

    Loved this post! It’s a lot of the same things i’ve been experiencing while trying to go more natural for shampoo. Do you need to use the plants or can the essential oils be ok in this recipe?

    1. Claire Avatar

      Hi Jojo, Thanks for reading! I’ve tried the recipe both ways — with the rosemary plant and only with the essential oil, but didn’t note much of a difference. I think whatever you have on hand is fine. Just a note, I have noticed that this shampoo works better for me in the winter than in the summer. I’ll be curious to know how it works for you.

  5. jami Avatar

    Your link to the modern herbal no longer works, do you think you could find the grid again?

    1. Claire Avatar

      Hi Jami,

      I’m so sorry about that. I should remember to copy things down since the internet is so temporary sometimes. Unfortunately, I can’t find the grid or anything similar, but this link from the The Nerdy Farm Wife might help a little. She has a base recipe and then mentions some benefits of different oils and herbs. Not as great as the grid was, but perhaps it can help. I’ll continue to look for the grid though — thanks for letting me know the link no longer works!

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