Home Life: Homemade Shampoo — The why and how of it

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I haven’t used a commercial shampoo for over a year now. I have a thick mop of hair that is right on the line between wavy and curly that has always been a challenge to tame, and have always searched for the next newest product to fix it. I’ve found that using homemade shampoo has eliminated frizz and given my hair a softness it has never had with commercial shampoos, all for less money and more environmentally friendly.

I had read about the ‘no-poo’ method of maintaining curly hair, and did the baking soda/apple cider vinegar version for about three months, but I didn’t find it satisfactory. (No, it wasn’t gross, and it was better than commercial shampoo, after the first couple of weeks.  I just don’t think it was the best thing for my hair).

I did a little more research, and found a few recipes for homemade shampoo on the web. None of them were quite what I wanted, so I fiddled around, and finally came up with my own:

Equal parts water and unscented liquid castille soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented, but any liquid castille will do)
4-6 tea bags of chamomile tea per cup
4 tbsp of glycerin per cup of mixture
1 tsp of oil per cup of mixture (almond, olive, etc.)
1 tbsp honey per cup of mixture
essential oils to preference

honey from northeastharvest.com

Steep tea in hot water until water cools, discard bags.  Mix all ingredients well and store in cool, dark place.  Shake well before using.  Pour over head.  Will be much thinner than conventional shampoo. Fill a squirt bottle with it for better control.

The chamomile is because I’m a blonde. If you are a brunette, you might want to substitute coffee instead, or carrot or beet juice if you’re a redhead (I’ve never tried either of those personally, but they pop up regularly on natural hair sites on the web).
Generally when I make up the shampoo, I use geranium and tea tree oil as my essential oils. Geranium because I love the scent, and tea tree for its antibacterial qualities.

At first, making my own shampoo was just an experiment, to see if I could do it, and to see if I liked it better than the commercial stuff or the no-poo stuff. Once I started using it, though, I would never switch back. I love the scent, I love the way it makes my hair feel, and I love that I don’t have a bunch of gross petrochemicals on my hair.

I still use commercial conditioner (Burt’s Bees brand), however, because I can’t find a homemade recipe that doesn’t require refrigeration, and I have no desire to pour refrigerator cold anything on my head when I’m taking a shower.  My hair really likes the extra humectants in conditioner, so I’m reluctant to give it up. If anyone knows a good recipe for homemade conditioner that doesn’t require refrigeration, please let me know.

In terms of frugality, my homemade shampoo is pretty dang cheap. I bought a 16 oz bottle of liquid castille soap for about 20 dollars (there are wholesalers , and it has lasted me over a year. The cost of the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the glycerine is negligible, and the glycerine cost about 10 bucks for a year’s worth. My hair doesn’t hold up to daily washing, so I usually wash it 2-3 times per week.

Give it a try, or try the no-poo method I linked to ahead.  Your hair will thank you, and so will the environment.

  • Homemade Hair Masks (dailyglow.com)
  • Homemade Conditioners and Treatments (dailyglow.com)
  • Tips for Dull, Dry Hair (dailyglow.com)
  • Mrs. Money: Castile Soap – A “Green” Must Have (savings.com)
  • My No Poo Secret (juliannayu.wordpress.com)
  • Kitchen Beautician (bbandchic.com)
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