How to Make Natural Homemade Shampoo

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » How to Make Natural Homemade Shampoo

I’ve made natural alternatives for body wash, dry shampoo, and other hair care products, but homemade shampoo was by far the toughest. After lots of (failed) experiments, I finally came up with a recipe for DIY moisturizing homemade shampoo. It uses natural ingredients and leaves my hair feeling soft and silky!

DIY Shampoo

I wanted to get away from store-bought shampoos that were full of unhealthy preservatives, synthetic chemicals, and artificial fragrances. Many commercial shampoos just aren’t that great for your hair and scalp.

I tried the “no-poo” method, which has great results for some, but did not work on me at all (and I have some terrible Christmas pictures to prove it!). If you have coarse hair that’s normal to dry, this method may be great for you! I have baby-fine more oily hair and it didn’t work for me.

If you’re not familiar with no-poo, it usually involves rubbing baking soda water onto the scalp as a shampoo alternative. Many people follow it up with an acv rinse (apple cider vinegar rinse) and maybe some coconut oil on hair ends as a conditioner. Some people find it works great, while others report an itchy scalp, hair loss, and gunky build-up in the hair follicles. Over time it can also strip the natural oils from hair.

Don’t Want to Make It?

When I’m traveling or don’t have time to make my own, I’ve used a few organic shampoos that worked really well. My faves are:

  • Wellnesse Shampoo – I co-founded this company and helped formulate the recipes. It uses ingredients that are not only non-toxic but have proven health benefits. There’s even an option for curly hair!
  • Morrocco Method Raw and Natural Organic Shampoo – this doesn’t lather like normal shampoo but it’s been amazing on my hair and has helped strengthen it over time.

A Different Homemade Shampoo

I missed the foaming aspect of shampoo (I know… the “foam” in regular shampoo is made from synthetic chemicals and detergents…).

natural homemade healthy coconut shampoo kid approved

My first time making homemade shampoo I tried plain liquid castile soap, which left me with frizzy hair and a mess of tangles. Then I tried a bunch of homemade recipes that didn’t work well at all. Finally, with the inspiration of a natural coconut milk (scented) shampoo that I love, I finally found a recipe I’m happy with and that doesn’t leave my hair tangled, oily, or both.

It works on kid’s hair too. That’s a picture of my daughter’s newly washed hair (though it isn’t tear-free, so watch the eyes!). It suds somewhat like conventional shampoo and you can customize it to your needs.

It’s such an easy natural shampoo recipe that I can’t believe it took me this long to think of it…

The secret ingredient: Coconut Milk!

What You’ll Need for Homemade Shampoo

  • Coconut milk – The coconut milk helps soften and adds natural oils. (UPDATE: a couple of readers mentioned that the canned stuff did not work well for them, but homemade coconut milk worked great… Depending on your hair type, homemade may be better for you).
  • Liquid castile Soap (like Dr. Bronners)
  • Essential Oils of choice (I’ve used peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and orange or combinations of those). Or you can skip them for an unscented version.
  • Carrier oil – If your hair is more dry you can add a hair nourishing oil. I usually use olive oil, but castor oil, avocado oil, or jojoba oil also work well. Castor oil also helps with hair growth.

Other homemade shampoos call for ingredients like raw honey, vitamin E, aloe vera gel, or glycerin. Feel free to experiment until you find what works for your hair! Another wonderful and cost-effective option is to make shampoo bars (like bar soap for your hair).

Essential Oils for Hair

Adding a few drops of essential oils adds more than just a nice scent. They can also improve scalp and hair health to help thicken hair, prevent breakage, and combat dandruff. Here are a few different options and what they do. I’ve written more extensively on essential oils for hair here.

  • Tea tree oil – Useful for dandruff and itchy scalp. Also treats head lice!
  • Rosemary – Reduces scalp itchiness and flakes, restores hair’s natural oil balance, and can help prevent split ends.
  • Lavender – Studies show it increases the number of hair follicles for better hair growth.
  • Peppermint – Increases hair growth, thickness, and length and deepens hair follicles for stronger hair.
homemade shampoo
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4.13 from 32 votes

Natural Homemade Shampoo

This homemade natural shampoo smells great, works well, and lathers!
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Yield: 4 ounces
Author: Katie Wells

Equipment

Materials

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients in a bottle or jar. Pump soap dispensers and even foaming dispensers work well for this. If you use a foaming dispenser you may need to add ¼ cup of distilled water.
  • Shake well to mix.
  • Shake before each use and massage through the scalp.
  • Store your shampoo in the fridge after each use.

Notes

  • If you use a foaming dispenser, it also makes a great shaving cream.
  • The shelf life of this shampoo is about one week when stored in the fridge.

Troubleshooting Tips

How well this shampoo works depends on your hair type and also your water. Some people with really hard water find it doesn’t combat the extra minerals in their water very well.

Which coconut milk you use can make a difference too. Some have noted that canned coconut milk did not work for them, but homemade did. Keep in mind that homemade coconut milk has a shorter shelf life than canned though.

If you find your hair is really greasy and unmanageable after using this, try doubling the castile soap so it’s 2 parts soap to 1 part coconut milk.

Natural Hair Conditioner

Now that you have a natural shampoo, what about conditioner? Since the coconut oil (and optional carrier oil) are already moisturizing you may not need to use any conditioner. Here are a few different options if you want to try them though!

  • A chamomile tea rinse at the end of each shower (leave in hair!) will produce smooth, silky hair and naturally lighter hair over time.
  • Some people find a 50:50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water used as a rinse helps get hair cleaner and increases shine. You could also put it in a spray bottle for easier application.
  • This homemade conditioner recipe features hair-nourishing oils, glycerin, and essential oils.

But… Don’t Wash Your Hair Every Day!

I can’t leave out one of my biggest healthy hair discoveries. Hair is happiest when you don’t wash it every day! Read this post to find out why the experts say how you wash your hair matters just as much as what you wash it with!

Ever made your own shampoo? Gone “no-poo?” How’d it go? Share below!

This homemade shampoo is all natural and has four ingredients (or less depending on hair type) that cleans hair naturally without stripping natural oils.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

1,178 responses to “How to Make Natural Homemade Shampoo”

  1. Kristina Greene Avatar
    Kristina Greene

    I just made this last night and used some this morning – holy lather!  I was so shocked…and thrilled!  One thing I really missed using more natural shampoos is the lather!  And my hair feels great.   Thanks!!!

  2. Becky Mahan Avatar
    Becky Mahan

    AWESOME. Thank you for this! Castile soap, no ‘poo, and other oil washing methods have not worked for my hair either. I have thick but fine (not coarse) hair, and it gets oily pretty quickly. I am definitely trying this one – it sounds like it will do the trick!

  3. Lintz Avatar

    Thanks for the great post and recipe for the shampoo. I’m going on two weeks using the above Shampoo recipe and here are my results. My hair is overly greasy and my daughters’ hair is greasy by the end of the day. Having said that I realize it will take some time  for our hair to adjust. On day 8, I broke down and tried the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. It seemed to help. I had to make a new batch of shampoo so I decided to leave out the Vitamin E and the Lemon oil I had used previously. After a couple of days of using the new batch my hair still is greasy. For any first timers, I don’t reccommend using a large pump bottle. Even though I would shake the mixture before using, the content in the actual pump wouldn’t be mixed well. I do have to say that my hair now has beautiful waves since I stopped using the commercial shampoo. I will keep trying this recipe for another week or so then try the baking soda and apple cider vinegar.  

  4. Caitlynakjar Avatar
    Caitlynakjar

    Do you have any conditioner recipes? I just tried this shampoo and made my own coconut milk. My hair is very greasy now, any tips?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Hmmm… what is your hair’s normal texture? You could try using baking soda in water as a rinse if your hair is greasy. Apple cider vinegar as a rinse is great for conditioning, but I don’t use this much since my hair is naturally more oily.

      1. Caitlyn Avatar

        Thank you. My hair is pretty fine. I was using the baking soda/apple cider no poo method for a good ten months or so but it was leaving my hair really tangly and almost greasy and didn’t feel soft, it felt straw like almost. The no poo method worked really well for the first week or so but then my hair went down hill and i had really long hair. Right now my hair is shorter than before but I do feel like my hair gets oily/greasy feeling the next day or so.

  5. Orellana Avatar
    Orellana

    Hi I just bought the peppermint oil castile soap and then got worried cause I’m pregnant…7 Weeks. Do you know if it’s safe?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      in that amount, its fine1 just don’t use the oil undiluted on your skin in large amounts…

  6. Arti Avatar

    I made this today, and it was pretty good. My hair is long, middle of my back, thicker, wavy, some curls and color-treated at home with Clariol or whatever product is #344. LOL! (Made up number, but you know what I mean if you color and buy from stores.)  I was nervous not using conditioner since it is so long, and tangles and is sometimes hard to comb after, that I used a bit of coconut oil on the length in the back so I could try to comb through it later with ease. It somewhat worked, but has a slightly different, maybe heavier texture/feeling than what I am used to. This is probably because it is all natural products and not the chemical filled products it is used to. LOL! Maybe this is what it should look and feel like after! Probably the coconut oil did this too a bit, but next time I will try it without to see how it looks. I have lots of wavy, body I have to say. Almost like when I put in product to do this, and this is with no products. Wow! Wash ‘n go hair?! Really?! Yeah!

    I like the peppermint feeling on my head, it reminded me of Aveda’s Rosemary Mint conditioner that I used to use. I also shaved my legs with it…it worked, but the mixture is too thin, watery and not shaving cream consistency, but does work, just pour a little at a time in your hand and apply to legs.

    This recipe did not make very much, only about 1/2 of bottle of an old shampoo bottle. Is this normal?

    How can this be made into a somewhat thicker mixture do you think? Does putting in the oils as suggested help with managability, combing after, etc.?

    I used about 10 vitamin E capsules…a little time consuming, frustrating to open and squeeze them out into the bottle, but it works and can be done. Next time, I would buy it in a bottle for easier transfer.

  7. Madi Avatar

    Does this give enough slip to work out tangles in the shower without using a comb? Ive got curly (fine, not coarse) hair that I do not brush…rely on lots of conditioner to work everything out. Would love to be able to make my own shampoo!!

    1. Katherine Avatar
      Katherine

      I have extremely curly and long hair, that I also like to work the tangles out of in the shower. This used to require a huge amount of conditioner in the shower and a leave in conditioner after I showered in order to get the comb through it. With this shampoo I can run a comb thru my hair immediately after washing, no conditioner needed, and my hair has never been so soft, or thick. I love this shampoo.

      1. Natalie Avatar

        Hi, what kind of hair do you have? Did you use regular or homemade coconut milk? It seems like a lot of people have had varying results. Thanks!

  8. Jenny Avatar

    Can’t wait to try this! I also have baby fine hair and have been experimenting with baking soda and castille soap with no luck – it leaves my hair feeling like straw. Lately I’ve been putting coconut oil on my hair 30 minutes before shower with great results, shiny soft hair! But I’ve been using shampoo I bought at the natural food store so I’m excited to try a homemade alternative for just my hair type.  Thanks!!

  9. erin Avatar

    Im really struggling, my hair feels horrible, so tangled and dry, impossible to comb and it seems to leave white chunks in our hair did I do something wrong? I have longer, thin, curly hair. Ireally want to avoid regular shampoo conditioners but they made my hair feel Nice soft and I was able to straighten sometimes and make nice soft curls the other times. z. I tried to straighten the other day and had to rewash in plain castile soap which did not do good things either but at least it wasnt so greasy… Help please im desperate 🙂 I feel like a dirty poodle. My daughters hair is similar to your daughter but I dont seem to notice in her what I am in mine. It isnt soft but seems better. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Ive tried the acv for conditioner but it ends up feeling and looking super greasy.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      It can definitely vary cased on your hair texture. What kind of coconut milk are you using? Try just using really well strained homemade if you aren’t already…

      1. erin Avatar

        Thai kitchen. We dont have much variety here. I tried to read the instructions for making your own its rare to find coconuts here though. Im trying to stick it out but im really hating how it feels. Its been 3 Weeks ive read it can take at least a month.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I used homemade coconut milk made from shredded coconut and buy Dr. Bronner’s by the gallon, so under $0.50.

  10. Jose Avatar

    I think organics shampoos are a lot healthier than traditional shampoos and you are not putting all those toxic substances in your face

  11. Caitlin Miller Avatar
    Caitlin Miller

    Oh man… I have photos, too, of my no-poo days and I don’t look so great!  Unfortunately, I decided to dabble in baking soda and vinegar during high wedding season last summer so I look less than great in pictures from weddings last year!

    Anyway, I’ll have to give this a shot.  Currently I use LUSH solid shampoos.  They’re better than regular shampoos but still not as “clean” as I’d like.

  12. Carol Procter Avatar
    Carol Procter

    I havn’t used shampoo for 12 months now, been using rhassoul clay, but made this tonight and my hair has washed lovely. I have dead straight hair. Will see what it is like tomorrow after sleeping on it.

  13. Jenn Avatar

    I tried doing the no poo for about a year, never worked for me, not matter what I did. Just using the baking soda dried my hair out, it does not help that I live in a VERY DRY climate. My hair way dry, frizzy and always looked oily and greasy, even after the year. No matter what I tried, it just did not work. I had to go back to shampoo and conditioner, begrudgingly. I have been wanting something natural, that would work, so I did not have to use the chemicals, I will give this a try. If if works for you, it should hopefully work for me! 
    My hair is baby fine and I have a tone of it. 
    As a side note, not using soap on my skin has worked wonders for my dry skin. Always feels clean and is much softer and smoother, Hublet loves that!
    Thank you for all of your natural cleaning solutions and remedies!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      You’re welcome! Try the homemade coconut milk if you can if you hair is really fine, and omit the oil unless you need it.

  14. Reed Avatar

    Does it smell bad without the essential oils as those tend to irritate my senses?

  15. Trina Avatar

    Perfect timing!  I need to make another batch of shampoo and will definitely try this.  I never thought of using cocnut milk, sounds so luxurious… 

    My receipe (currently – I am always modifying it somehow) is:  5/8 cup water, 1/8 cup witch hazel, 2 tbsp liquid castille soap, 1 tbsp honey and 40 drops of mixed essential oils.  This is an adaptation of what I found in Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies, and I have found it keeps my hair very soft (I have pourous fine hair a horrible mix).  It doesn’t have as much suds as your version, but keeps my hair clean and tangle free.

    Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      If your hair is really fine, try the homemade coconut milk if you can… doesn’t weigh down as much

  16. Carolyn Kidder Avatar
    Carolyn Kidder

    Question on the results after shampooing. I made my first batch last night and tried it. My hair had this weird feeling to it. I dried it with the hair dryer to see how it would look. It wasn’t tangled, but it seemed really dull. It seemed that way this morning when I woke up, got it wet, and redried it. Any suggestions? I followed the recipe to a T. Thanks!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      hmmm… what is your hair naturally like? Is it fine or thick? Oily or dry? If your hair is naturally dry, you may need to add more coconut milk, and if it tends to be more oily, you may need to not use the oil…

      1. Carolyn Kidder Avatar
        Carolyn Kidder

        I will try the suggestions. I didn’t add any water. My hair is pretty thick and above the shoulder.  I went ahead and added the almond oil, and wondered if that might have been the problem. I will make another batch and try the adjustments. Thanks!

        1. Irene Goodell Avatar
          Irene Goodell

          I found the same problem with mine. I had to condition mine to get it more manageable. I think I’ll add more coconut milk and more oil. I have thick coarse hair, and tends toward dryness.

          1. Hannah Avatar

            I have thick, wavy hair too, which is prone to oiliness at the top and dry at the ends. I also found it made the hair near my scalp dull, flat and like it needs washing again. I added the Vitamin E oil but not the almond/olive oil. Maybe the key is to not use so much oil if you’re hair has it’s own natural oils? This is also the first time I’ve used a non chemical shampoo ever, so perhaps my hair has gone into shock! I will try it again with more coconut milk as I dread the idea of going back to chemicals

      2. Marie Avatar

        Hello .. I made some last night and used it this morning. ..my hair is color with henna. .. and when I wash it this morning my hair feels waxy and looks not shinny at all… what can it be? My 9 year old used it too… and it does feels a little waxy on him too…what can it be? Help!! Lol.

    2. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Some other readers have given feedback too, and found that they had to adjust ratios to get it perfect for their hair types. One suggestion was to use equal parts of water, castille soap and coconut milk, and other suggested using homemade coconut milk (I updated with the link above) if the canned stuff seems to leave a residue on your hair. Hope that helps!

      1. ALEX Avatar

        How long does it generally take hair to get use to this way of cleaning?
        I’ve been using sulphate free stuff for ages as it irritates my scalp but now, on day 2 of using this method my hair feels heavy and greasy as well as looking such.

        Prior to this my hair is generally very dry the first few hours I’m out of the shower but it gets oily through the day. I added more castile soap and coconut milk to the mix to maybe outweigh the added oils but im not sure if it’s maybe the recipe that I need to tweak or if its maybe just my hair getting use to it all.

        How long does it usually take hair to get use to this?

  17. Cecilia Powers Avatar
    Cecilia Powers

    i just made this and now i can’t wait to take a shower. it looks so luxurious!

    1. Taunia Avatar

      I just made this shampoo as I’m so wanting to get away from the chemicals in store bought shampoos. I was excited to use it but I do have very oily hair now. Thankfully I’m home for the weekend. However I’d like to get some suggestions on how to adjust it. I did make the homemade coconut milk and used that. I also did a AV rinse with about 1 TBSP of AV diluted with 1 cup of water. Unsure if I should do a baking soda rinse after the shampoo instead….. I do have hair that does normally get oily if I don’t wash it every day. It is pretty thick long hair – past the shoulders.

      Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you!

      1. Gilly Avatar

        Hi Taunia and WellnessMama,

        I have the same hair type as you: long, past the shoulders (breast length), thick and oily at the roots (mine is dry at the ends because I colour it, I’m 43 and have about 5% grey). I am gradually moving away from chemicals and have been making my own deodorant for about a year now. I really want to get to grips with shampoo. I tried this recipe with an ACV rinse (1tbsp / 1 cup water). I found the results unbearable and had to go straight back into the shower to wash it again.

        My hair came out feeling as though it was coated in a thick layer of wax, I couldn’t get a comb through it, it was so heavy and filled with tight knots that snapped out, I had broken hair all over the floor after combing. After blow drying I couldn’t even run my fingers through my hair, it was so nasty I felt like I hadn’t washed my hair for a month.

        I didn’t use homemade coconut milk, I used canned. But I notice Taunia, you *did* use homemade coconut milk and got the same results anyway (so I don’t want to go to more trouble and expense for the same result). Did you ever find a solution?

        The last thing you want with thick hair is to make it even thicker. How do you create a homemade shampoo that doesn’t give that thick, waxy feeling?

        Please help!

          1. Gilly Avatar

            Hi,

            Thanks so much for replying so quickly. I was hoping to use the ingredients I’ve already brought but since the soap nuts can be used to wash clothes (and a laundry detergent alternative was next on my list) I’ve bought them!

            I’m going to try a different recipe tonight and see how I get on with the castile soap/coconut cream and I’ll report back with results. I’ll use more soap, less cream and no oils as a test run.

            The soap nuts should arrive tomorrow so I’ll try those in a few days and let you know how it goes.

            Did you find that you had to go through the adjustment period that so many people are talking about?

            Thx Gilly

          2. Gilly Avatar

            Hi Katie,

            I tried the soap nuts this morning. It’s interesting, definitely better results as I haven’t gone straight back in the shower to shampoo. Although I almost did, my hair felt very heavy, tangled, and greasy after “shampooing” with the soap nut recipe.

            It was also difficult to use from a bottle since it’s like water, most of it went down the drain! Will have to find a spray bottle.

            I managed to blow dry it, although it took 45 minutes because I was essentially moving grease around my head. My hair smells clean but is very greasy at the roots and I’ve had to tie it back.

            The consensus seems to be that after using chemical shampoos for so many years my hair will be over-producing sebum and needs to adjust, so I’ll stick with it.

            I’m going to try Emily’s recipe too (thank you Emily!) and see how that goes. I’ll keep everyone updated since it’s a bit frustrating on the blog when I see someone experiencing the same problem as me, you make some helpful suggestions for them, but they never respond with results, so there’s no way of knowing if it worked or not.

            So… for anyone having trouble with very thick, long hair that’s oily at the roots and dry at the ends… watch this space!

          3. Gilly Avatar

            Hi Katie,

            I tried Emily’s recipe with the same results (it seems coconut milk is not for me), so I’m sticking to the soapnut recipe now. I’m also using Amla and Shikakai (after one of your other bloggers mentioned using Amla, I found a recipe on youtube that combines the three). My hair feels really clean afterwards, I haven’t washed it for a few days now and it still feels nice. I also prefer the smell to soapnuts alone, it’s quite pleasant.

            I have one major question though. What do you do AFTER you shampoo? My hair is very long and gets so tangly with the soapnuts shampoo, it becomes completely unmanageable. It really needs conditioning and detangling to make it manageable. I’ve seen your detangling leave-in spray recipe which I’ll try next. But do you also condition after the wash? Do you use a shop-bought conditioner? For your daughter particularly if not for yourself, since she has very long hair?

            Thanks so much
            Gilly

          4. Gilly Avatar

            Hi Katie,

            Thanks! My marshmallow root is en-route! LOL… and apparently, it won’t just condition my hair but increase my psychic powers and prevent people putting spells on me! Who knew it had so many uses! LOL!!!

            Hopefully this will be the answer to my wishes and I’ll be no poo in no time!

            Thanks for all your tips. It’s a great site!

            Love Gilly x

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Not unless you are an actual celiac. It shouldn’t harm the skin, since it isn’t hitting the digestive track, unless you have full celiac disease, which is an autoimmune reaction. There are definitely some non-wheat versions if you are diagnosed though…

  18. Venus Avatar

    is that your daughter’s natural hair? haha children are sometimes blessed with the best hair types and color

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Yep… that is her natural hair color and texture. She got the great Italian genes on that one! She was born with a ton of hair, and by the time she was 3 months old I was actually having to use natural detangler because her hair was so long… I hope the curls stick!

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