Make Your Own Shampoo

Homemade Shampoo is one of those tasks that seems a little scary at first, even a little bit impossible. But as it is with most things, it’s easier than you think it might be. Today I’m going to share with you how to make your own shampoo with a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

Make your own shampoo and other hair care products with this simple recipe. #diyshampoo #makeyourown #frugal # diy #haircare

Make Your Own Shampoo

Just taking a look at the ingredients on a bottle of shampoo, you might expect it to be difficult or impossible to make your own shampoo. But of course, store-bought items are full of so many unnecessary ingredients. Beauty products in particular. All you really need to make shampoo from scratch is some liquid castile soap, with apple cider vinegar for the rinse.
Castile Soap: Castile soap is made with only vegetable oils and it is very mild. It is a great item to have on hand. You can use it to clean the kitchen floor (3 tablespoons in a gallon of hot water). Wash store-bought produce (half water and half soap). Even wash your baby (3/4 water to ¼ soap)! I also use it as hand soap in the bathrooms and dish soap when my regular stuff unexpectedly runs out.
–Find even more uses for your bottle of Castile Soap here: Uses for Castile Soap.
Apple Cider Vinegar: The apple cider vinegar softens your hair, helps balance its pH (which can help fight dandruff and itchy scalp). It’s also a natural detangler. As a woman with curly hair, those are all very important issues for me. I have seen recipes that dilute it a lot and some not at all. Personally, I like to use about 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water, but you can play around with it and decide what is best for your hair.

–Find more uses for Apple Cider Vinegar here: Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

It’s been almost two years since I’ve purchased shampoo. Yet my hair is softer, healthier, less frizzy, and much more manageable. I encourage everyone to at least give it a try, regardless of hair type!

Uses for Castile Soap

Homemade Shampoo

What You Need to Make Your Own Shampoo:

  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile Soap (Where to Buy)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Oil or Baking Soda (optional, see note below)
  • 4-5 drops essential oil (optional) (Where to Buy)

How to Make Shampoo

Combine all the ingredients in a jar or bottle that is easy to pour from. Shake before each use. You can use any kind of Castile soap in this recipe and you may find that certain kinds will have a different effect on your hair (example: we use a tea tree castile soap for dry scalp).

Adding Oil or Baking Soda: Adding an oil (such as olive oil or liquid coconut oil) or baking soda into your shampoo is optional. A small amount of baking soda can help with oily hair while the oil can help with dry or frizzy hair. It’s good to do a little experimenting to see what works best for your hair type.

Lavender Hair Rinse

Homemade Hair Rinse

What You Need for Homemade Hair Rinse

  • 1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • Essential oils (optional) (Where to Buy)
  • Dried herbs/flowers (optional) (Where to Buy)

How to Make Homemade Hair Rinse

Combine the water and vinegar (and oils, if using). Store in a small spray bottle. (You can get bottles for all your DIY projects from Starwest Botanicals). As I mentioned above, you may want to play around here with the ratio of the apple cider vinegar to the water to find what works best for your hair type.

Making an Herbal Infusion

If you are using dried herbs or flowers, you will need to make an infusion.

Measure out your desired amount of water into a saucepan and add the dried herbs. For my latest infusion, I used 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, and 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a light simmer. Cover and let steep for 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain out the herbs/flowers and combine with the vinegar. Some say you will need to store infused water in the fridge, but I keep mine in the shower with no issues. Do whatever you feel comfortable with.

Highlighting Hair

You might want to note that certain herbs will create different highlights in your hair. Lavender can help with dark hair, chamomile or lemon will help with blonde or lightened hair, hibiscus will bring out the color in red hair. If you only use a small amount or don’t use the herbal infusion rinse daily, you probably won’t see a change.

Essential Oils

Another alternative to an herbal infusion would be to add essential oils to your shampoo.

Tea Tree has great cleansing and antibacterial properties. It’s a great addition for kids shampoo because it helps protect against lice.

Lavender is calming and known to help speed up hair growth. Rosemary helps thicken hair and reduce hair loss as does Cedarwood. In fact, using all three of these essential oils together can help to reduce hair loss and increase hair growth.

Lemongrass has been shown to be effective in cutting down on dandruff and moisturizing the scalp.

How to Use Homemade Shampoo

Use this DIY shampoo just like any other. Squirt a small amount onto your head, lather and rinse. Make sure to shake before using. Spray some of the vinegar rinse onto your hair, massage, and comb through (if you have curly or thick hair). Let it soak for a few minutes if you wish, then rinse. You don’t have to rinse the vinegar, as it can act as a leave-in conditioner. (The vinegar smell should dissipate after a few minutes.) Enjoy!

— If you loved this recipe you might also want to try to make your own Dry Shampoo or try this simple Coconut Oil Hair Conditioner.

Find even more DIY and Make Your Own projects on Little House Living!

Don’t want to make your own shampoo but still want something all natural? Check out the shampoo that Wellnesse has!

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LHL BookIf you liked this recipe for DIY Homemade Shampoo you will absolutely love my book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It features 130 recipes just like these that are perfect for your household!
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Would you ever try and make your own shampoo? What essential oils and herbs would you add?

Merissa Bio

This post on Make Your Own Shampoo was originally posted on Little House Living in April 2013. It has been updated as of September 2019.

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73 Comments

  1. I’ve been looking for something like this and finally gave up and bought something from Trader Joe’s. Maybe this will finally be the solution!! Is it some much to ask for something natural that doesn’t make your hair look and feel hideous? I’m hoping this is it!

    1. I can’t wait to start making this! Does this need to be stored in a glass jar because of the essential oils though?

  2. sounds lovely..
    coud you make this with the Kirks castile bar soap ?

    I think tho.. that Castile soap is 100% olive oil.
    soapteacher.blogspot.com
    Thanks again for posting..
    lisa

    1. I have never made it with bar soap, so I’m not sure how that would work. If you do try it, though, let us know!

      Many centuries ago, the term ‘castile’ referred to soaps made in the Castile region of Spain from local olive oil, but it is now used for any vegetable oil-based soap.

  3. Hi! Great recipe and just what I needed. It is not only very frugal but healthy and organic too. But where do you buy castile soup? I haven’t seen it at WalMart nor CVS or RiteAide or our local grocery stores and most of the time I don’t have money to order it online. We don’t have any of those health food stores around here so where else would I find it? Thanks.

    1. If your grocery store has a health food section, it might be there. Dollar Tree often carries bars of Kirk’s Castille soap. Dr Bronner’s is the brand you’re most likely to find any other place. I’ve used it most of my life and we love it. If you have a GNC around, they may have Dr Bronner’s. Or you can always ask your grocery store to get it. Azure Standard carries Dr Bronner’s, if you have access to them.

    2. Loved this till i realized Castile soap (baby unscented)isnt good for people who dye their hair. Its to harsh it washes the dye out quicker

  4. Hi, I recently added a few dreadlocks to my hair and am looking for some natural residue free shampoo. Do you know if this is residue free?

  5. I tried this & it feels like I have a residue on my hair. It still feels that way after using the rinse & airdrying. Did I do something wrong?

    1. Do you have hard water? As Tiffanie pointed out below, that can sometimes have a negative effect and prevent soaps from rinsing completely.

      1. I am so glad to hear it’s not just me :-). We have city water but no water softner. So, that could very well be the problem. Thank you

  6. I’ve started making a lot of my own beauty products, but shampoo isn’t one of them…yet. Thanks for all the great tips!

  7. Okay, I’ve officially given up on this, and different combinations. I tried no vinegar, apple cider and white vinegar, and after 5 months of searching for natural, the search goes on. Everything homemade leaves a disgusting residue, and natural, store bought either strips my hair of everything or leaves it like straw, dull and colorless (takes away most of my natural red) and blah. It may just be our horrible, super hard water, but still no solution for me…

    1. Tiffanie, since you have tried several different things, have you thought about your thyroid. It might be worth checking, it may not be but after checking and levels are OK then there are lots of other things to try on your hair. I just found out my thyroid levels was way off and with a change in my diet and some “seaweeds” my hair is responding nicely to these homemade items.

  8. I made a variation of the shampoo this weekend and really like it. Mine has Castile, Water, Olive Oil, and Honey. I will try the rinse as well. Thank you for this post.

  9. I love making personal care products! As soon as my hubby runs out of what he has, I’m going to make this.

  10. I’m looking forward to trying this. I tried the whole wash your hair with baking soda, rinsing and then rising with vinegar. I didn’t particularly care for that. But I have everything to give this shampoo a try. 🙂 Thanks for sharing it!

  11. I am looking forward to trying this recipe. I just bought a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s unscented castle soap. Now I see that it says baby mild. Do you think this will be strong enough to clean my very oily hair? Was also planning to use it to make household cleaner. Now worried it will be too mild. I can exchange it as I haven’t opened it yet.

    1. Personally, I have used both the baby mild and the regular versions for cleaning/shampoo and did not notice a difference, so I think it would be fine. If anyone else has an opinion, please feel free to chime in!

    2. I have used the Baby Mild soap, and I think mostly what’s mild about it is that it doesn’t have the added fragrance of the other Dr. Bronner’s varieties, so it doesn’t have the tingling or eye-stinging qualities that some of them do. It seems to me that it cleans just as well.

  12. I love castile soap, but it did not work well on my hair.I wash my hair with vinegar only. It works really well for me!

  13. I’ve been using just a baking soda & water mix for a shampoo, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse, but been wanting to try something different. I think I’ll start alternating with your castile soap shampoo recipe. Thanks!

  14. I love my homemade shampoo and have been using it exclusively for 2 years. I use 1/3 c of the Unscented Baby Mild liquid castille soap by Bonners, 1/4 c. coconut milk (you can find it canned at Walmart) 1 t. Vitamin E, olive or almond oil, and if you want it scented, add about 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Love it! My DH also uses it.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this “recipe”. I really appreciate this; regular shampoo makes my hair super oily, and I am concerned about the animal testing/cruelty involved with commercial shampoos. I received my (animal testing free!) almond castille soap today – I’m ready to try this!

  16. The recipe you gave, the AMOUNTS of each ingredient to use, does it not depend on how many oz bottle your trying to fill?

  17. Well I went out and got all the ingredients and I’ve tried it a few different ways now including not putting any extra olive oil and only a very small amount of essential oils but my hair still always comes out feeling dirty 🙁
    My hair is normally kind of oily at the roots. Is there another way to tweak this recipe so it does not leave any oily residue ? I really like the idea of using my own home made shampoo, but this isn’t really working.

    1. If you are coming off of regular shampoo, your hair will sort of ‘detox’. Commercial shampoos contain harsh sulfates that strip the hair of its natural oils every time you wash, causing it to over-produce oil to compensate (this is also why commercial shampoos also require a conditioner, to re-moisturize the hair). When you switch to a gentler natural shampoo, your hair will continue over-producing oil until it returns to its natural state. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and no, it’s not fun or pretty. But stick it out! Many people who think they NEED to wash their hair everyday are able to go 4-5 days between washings once their scalp normalizes. Hope this helps! 🙂

  18. I use about 1/4 baking soda to 3/4 water to wash my hair, then to rinse, 1/3 -1/4 ACV to 2/3-3/4 water, with about 8-12 drops of essential oils. I mix them into those dollar ketchup bottles at the store to squirt the ” shampoo” right on my scalp. I leave the ” conditioner” on for a few minutes before rising.

  19. I have a question about the Castile soap…what is your favorite brand? Also, anyone who has tried the peppermint castile soap…is it tingly?

      1. Just got back from Kroger where I found a bar of Kirks Castile Peppermint soap and a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Almond liquid castile soap. I washed my face with the peppermint bar, and I really like it. It does have a pleasant tingle! Going to mix up the shampoo and try it in the morning.

  20. There has not been any mention about using any of these combinations on color treated hair. And how about a homemade conditioner?

  21. Thanks for putting the recipe up! I use one very similar to this, but substituting the water for coconut milk. Next time, I’m thinking of making one with oat water or green tea. Mmm!

  22. I had been wondering how difficult it would be to make homemade shampoo. Thanks, Amanda, for posting this recipe! Will be getting the ingredients very soon to make my very first homemade shampoo!!! 🙂

  23. My hair has some type of residue. I used coconut milk but not from a can, it came in a carton, does that make a difference? Also I have hard water so is very possible that’s the problem. I’m gonna have my hubby install a softener. Also the ACV rinse, is it safe to use everyday?

    1. I would use the rinse maybe every other day, depending on your hair type. The coconut milk from the carton has different ingredients than the can (a can should only have coconut cream in it) so there could be something from that giving your hair a residue.

  24. So glad I found this post. I’ve tried the shampoo recipe and it made my hair pretty greasy. Do you know why that is? Is that what the rinse is for?

  25. I switched over to DIY shampoo in May, because I can no longer find a shampoo without some form of MSG. I have been using the baking soda shampoo and the castille shampoo. Then I rinse with ACV and water. I really love it, but I am getting a residue. It is gunking up my hairbrush and looks like dandruff, but it’s not. Otherwise my hair feels clean. Any suggestions on how to get rid of the gunky residue?

  26. I am so excited to try this! I know it’s going to take some time to get my hair used to it, but I’m looking forward to finally moving from toxic substances in my home 🙂

  27. I am thinking about trying this Shampoo, but what do you think about using jojoba oil instead of olive oil or coconut oil, in the shampoo and also the conditioner with the vinegar and water mix?

  28. Hi! I just tried this & was super excited!! I have longer hair and I guess I wasn’t sure how much soap to add…since it doesn’t really suds up like shampoo. I added a lot of the cider conditioner and could not brush through it after the shower! I even had to add a lot of additional leave in mix of it (which didn’t help much. I did about a 2:1 ratio water to cider… Any suggestions?? I really want this to work! I’ve tried “natural” conditioners before and couldn’t use them because of the tangled process. Thank you!!!

    1. I use a basting brush and baste my hair from the ears down with coconut oil after my acv rinse. Then I brush my hair in the shower and that’s it. My hair is long, thick, and down past my back.

  29. I read that Kurt’s Castile doesn’t cause a residue when used with hard water. When I use Dr. Bronner’s, it leaves a greasy residue on my hair, I have mixed in baking soda with some success, but I have knee length hair which tangles easily and am still going through loads of conditioner. The ACV doesn’t seem to condition enough. I have hard water. Maybe this would help those who have similar problems. http://digprimal.com/2014/04/08/homemade-shampoo-recipe-that-works-for-hard-water I think I will try grating a bar of Kurt’s Castile into a pan of water and adding a little bit of coconut oil. May also experiment with some honey or just use egg yolk.

  30. I have seen tips about using xanthate gum to thicken the shampoo… Any suggestions on when to add it as I have added 1tsp. So far to 1 cup of the finished shampoo and it doesn’t thicken. Thanks!

  31. My hair loves this shampoo! It comes out lovely and soft. However, it makes my scalp very flaky. I mean really, really, really flaky. Does anyone have any suggestions? I use Dr. Bronners Peppermint and always finish with the ACV rinse. Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated!

    1. I would do a coconut oil conditioner every few weeks to help moisturize your scalp. For this I massage coconut oil into my scalp and leave it for a few minutes after I’ve wet my hair, then I follow with a rinse and the shampoo. Depending on your hair type it WILL make your hair greasy for the first day or two so I do it on the days we aren’t going anywhere, but after that it should return to normal but with a more moisturized scalp. I repeat this about every other week.

  32. Hey All, I use an egg yolk and a little bit of honey in about a cup of water on my hair as soap and it works really well!

  33. Just an idea, but if all else fails, just go get some regular shampoo from the dollar store until you’ve perfected this “natural” shampoo thing. And technically, EVERYTHING from the North Pole to the South Pole is “natural” because everything we use on Earth is from “nature”, therefore “natural”. Even chemicals are natural. Arsenic is natural, BUT DON’T PUT IT ON YOUR HAIR! 😉 Stay vegan!

  34. Mommies and women with long hair: I need some ideas!
    My daughter has hair down to her knees. She’s only five. I have used acv with water as a rinse. It works well but makes her itchy. I have also tried making conditioner with marshmallow root. Omg, works better but I hate having to keep taking it out of the fridge each time we use it. Any ideas anyone? She doesn’t have sensitivities to anything, except the fact that she’s only five…. And a kids skin is usually more sensitive than adults. Her hair is wavy. And so so long. Thanks everyone.

  35. I am wondering if this is safe for rebonded hair? I’m planning to switch off from using store brought products and start using organic/natural shampoo and conditioner, so I’m seeking for the feedback here if it’s safe for my hair, by the way, I have a very oily hair this is the reason why I wash it daily. Your response is highly appreciated.

  36. I have never thought that it’s possible to make homemade shampoo. Thank you so much for sharing these recipes! Gonna try some of them out! These all seem great. Thank you for sharing all these information here.

  37. Too many are oblivious to the fact that fast hair growth scalp therapy shampoos (of course with no sulfates, no parabens, no DEA) even exist. Hair styling enthusiasts are now able to have longer hair and achieve more options. Surely worth searching.

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    It goes without saying the content above is so useful for so many reasons. It steers away from the accustomed pitfalls and errors too many fall into- getting defective alternatives. Greatly appreciated!