Homemade Solid Shampoo Bar Recipe

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Solid Shampoo Bar Recipe
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » Homemade Solid Shampoo Bar Recipe
Note from Katie: I’m excited to welcome my friend Elizabeth (also a mom of five) to share her recipe for solid shampoo (shampoo bar soap). If my homemade natural shampoo didn’t work for your hair type, this may be the answer. I know you’ll love it as much as I do! Enter Elizabeth…

When I began my journey to give my family a chemical-free lifestyle I adapted pretty easily to natural cleaners like homemade laundry soap and natural all-purpose cleaners. I drew the line, however, with my own personal hygiene routine.

I have always had oily hair and skin and I was not willing to give up my store-purchased shampoos and face-washes for fear that natural cleaners would not be able to keep my oily hair in check. But as I began to see more information on the chemicals in conventional shampoos, I decided it was time to make the switch.

I also learned that when chemical shampoos strip the natural oils from your hair (which is what I thought I needed) they cause your scalp to overproduce in an attempt to compensate being stripped in the first place. This shocked me. By stripping the oil out of my hair I was actually making it worse!

I first experimented with the no-poo method, but I had disastrous results! I was jealous of people who had success with this method, but I was certainly not one of them. So I went back to my “regular” shampoo and went on the hunt for another option. That is when I stumbled upon solid shampoo. I would have never thought I could use a bar of soap on my hair, but I was excited about the possibility of actually using a soap with a lather to clean my hair.

Benefits of Solid Shampoo

I was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked. It took a while for my hair to fully adjust, but I never felt like I was walking around with unclean hair the way I did when I was trying “no-poo.” And because I was no longer stripping my hair of all it’s natural oils I was able to shampoo less, which was great news for me since I previously would not leave home without washing my hair.

Another perk I experienced was quicker showers. As a mother of 5, this was very important to me. Actually shampooing my hair took the same amount of time, but because I was using an apple cider vinegar rinse as my “conditioner,” it eliminated the lengthy process of letting the conditioner set and then the time it took to rinse it out.

Finally, because the shampoo bar is basically a bar of soap, it can be used on the whole body. This also makes it easy to travel with because all you need is your bar of soap and a small bottle of rinse and you are good to go!

How to Make Solid Shampoo

Soap is made by combining a lye (sodium hydroxide) and water mixture with various oils. A chemical reaction occurs and the oils are saponified giving you soap (no lye remains.) Each oil used in soap making has a different saponification value which means that each oil requires a different ratio of lye to water depending on the amount and type of each oil used.

A soap calculator can help you to figure this out by allowing you to enter the amounts and types of oils you will be using and telling you how much water and lye to use.

Different oils also have different benefits when making soap. For example, coconut oil makes a hard bar that has good cleaning properties while olive oil makes a soft bar with moisturizing benefits. The trick to soap making is to find the right combination of oils to give you a perfect balance for your needs. For our shampoo bar we are going to use:

Coconut oil-makes a nice hard bar that cleans and lathers well, but it can be drying so it is recommended to use no more than 30%.

Olive oil-makes a softer bar that has wonderful moisturizing properties, but does not give much of a lather. Up to 50% is recommended.

Castor oil-helps stabilize the lather created by the other oils. While it is recommended to use no more than 10% because too much castor oil can make your bar feel sticky, we are going to use slightly more in this recipe because the lathering properties really help when working the soap through your hair. I have never had a problem with my shampoo bar feeling sticky.

Tallow-makes a hard bar with great cleansing properties. Use up to 50%. (I rendered the beef fat from a cow we had butchered to make tallow. You can substitute palm oil in this recipe which has the same benefits as beef tallow. Just be sure to recalculate your ingredients to be sure your lye/water ratio is accurate.)

Essential oils also make a wonderful addition to shampoo bars, but are not necessary. I have used a combination of tea tree, rosemary, and peppermint and also peppermint and orange. Both were lovely.

Shampoo Bar Supplies

I have bowls/spoons designated only for soap making because we are working with lye and I don‘t feeling comfortable using these bowls for food.

  • Glass or high quality plastic mixing bowl for mixing lye and water (I use a qt. mason jar)
  • Non-reactive pot or crockpot for warming oils
  • Candy thermometer (I have two, one for the lye mixture and one for the oils)
  • A soap mold (I use a silicone bread mold)
  • Digital scale for precise measuring
  • Stick blender
  • Wooden spoon
  • Gloves and protective eyewear
  • White Vinegar (good to have on hand to neutralize lye in case of spills)
Solid Shampoo Bar Recipe
4.85 from 26 votes

DIY Shampoo Bar Recipe

Make your own solid shampoo bar at home with natural ingredients and essential oils.
Prep Time35 minutes
Resting and curing time29 days
Yield: 12 bars
Author: Katie Wells



  • Wearing protective gloves and eyewear, pour the distilled water into a glass bowl/jar for mixing.
  • In a well-ventilated area, slowly add the lye to the water. (They must be mixed in this order. DO NOT add water to the lye.) This causes the mixture to become very hot so keep that in mind for protecting the surface of your work area. Stir and let sit to give time for the reaction to take place and for it to cool back down. I use the candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
  • Meanwhile, measure the coconut oil, tallow or palm oil, olive oil, and castor oil using a digital scale.
  • Combine them in a non-reactive pot or Crock Pot and begin to slowly warm the oils.
  • You ideally want your oils and your water/lye mixture to be about the same temperature when you mix them (between 100 and 120 degrees). When the temperatures are close, slowly add the water/lye mixture to the warmed oils.
  • Use a stick blender to begin mixing until trace is achieved. You can tell when you have reached trace when your mixture is still fluid, but a drop or drizzle of the soap mixture stays on the surface for a few seconds before falling back in. [Just pull your immersion blender (in the off position) up and let some soap drizzle off.]
  • Add the essential oils if you are using them.
  • Pour the mixture into a soap mold. *Remember, saponification is not complete yet at this point so you still want to be wearing your gloves/eyewear.
  • Cover the soap mold with an upside down cardboard box and cover with a towel to keep it warm while it continues to saponify and leave for 24 hours. If your home is particularly warm you may not need the towel. If it gets too warm it could crack, which I don’t think would cause a problem but your soap won’t be as pretty.
  • While still wearing gloves, wash all utensils in hot, soapy water. You can add some vinegar to your hot, soapy water to help neutralize the lye.
  • After 24 hours, remove the soap from the mold and slice it. I cut mine about 1 inch thick.
  • Stand the bars upright and let them cure in a well-ventilated area for about 4-6 weeks and then enjoy!


Use whichever essential oils you like. I like to use .5 ounce each of tea tree, rosemary, and peppermint.
See the section above for more information on equipment.
No time to DIY? My (Katie’s) Wellnesse Cleansing Shampoo is another great option!


How to Use Solid Shampoo

Solid shampoo is used much like any bar of soap. Get your hair wet and begin to rub the bar over your hair until you have a nice lather. Now you can massage and lather your hair as if you were using “real” shampoo. Rinse with water.

Most people need to follow with an acidic rinse such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water. People with drier hair may try up to a 50/50 mix.

Because I have oily hair I use less ACV. I mix about 1/3 cup ACV in a 20 oz spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with water. It is roughly a 1/5 ratio. You can also add essential oils to make it smell wonderful. I use 10 drops each of rosemary and peppermint.

After you are done shampooing, just spray this all over your hair and leave it in. The vinegar smell dissipates as it dries and you are left with the lovely smell of essential oils.

Update from Katie: My personal care products line Wellnesse doesn’t have shampoo bars (yet), but if you want a non-DIY option try the 100% all natural, biodegradable shampoo bar from Morrocco Method.

Ever tried natural shampoo? What worked for you?

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.


250 responses to “Homemade Solid Shampoo Bar Recipe”

  1. Tina Avatar

    I cut the recipe in half just to try it first. It didn’t really trace and seems like it’s separated. You weigh the water and lye in ounces right???

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      I’m not sure, but it seems like the lye and water might be liquid ounce measurements while the rest of the ingredients are weighed out.

  2. Shelli Avatar

    5 stars
    This is really close to my soap recipe. I superfat those bars at 6-8% . Can you tell me what the superfat was for the shampoo bars? Thanks

  3. Michelle Avatar

    5 stars
    Would it be okay to cook this so it saponifies right away. I do hot process for my soaps.

    Thank you.

  4. Jessica Avatar

    5 stars
    Hi Katie!

    Thank you so much for posting this soap recipe! This is the first soap product that I’ve made, so I’m very new to this whole thing! I live in the Philippines, and checked on the soap after 24 hours. It looks and smells wonderful (had to substitute because I didn’t have certain oils: 20oz coconut oil, 13oz olive oil, 3oz Castor oil), however it looks like my skin on a hot summer day. I tilted the soap, and it “sweated profusely “. Is this “sweat” dangerous, meaning unprocessed lye? Is it OK to still cut it? I’m thinking about leaving it for another 24 hours to see if it changes before I cut the soap bars. Thank you in advance for your advice and cheers to your health, happiness, and success!

    Much love,

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      The glycerin that’s a natural by-product of making soap can attract moisture in the air and cause the soap to “sweat”. This is often because of high humidity in the air or the right amount of lye to oils wasn’t used. Did you run the new ingredients you used through a soap calculator first? Many skincare recipes do fine with substitutes, but when making soap each oil used reacts a little differently in the recipe so simply changing them out before recalculating the lye doesn’t usually work. The bars you have should be safe to use but they may not work quite as well.

    2. Mary Avatar

      Can I only use tallow instead of all the plant and seed oils? I have to stay away from all plant based oils. So it would be tallow with lye and distilled water?

      1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

        It might work, but you would need to find a recipe that only uses tallow for the fats. This one is calculated to work with a certain oil blend and lye ratio so it likely wouldn’t work to just replace all of the other ingredients with tallow.

  5. Evangeline Stacy Avatar
    Evangeline Stacy

    I hope you’re doing well. I am going to make soap for the first time with this recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Ky Avatar

    5 stars
    This is not shampoo. Real shampoo involves surfactants.
    This is an excellent soap though!
    PS. anyone concerned about palm oil, I use cocoa and shea butters.

    1. Deborah Avatar

      I came to ask what I could substitute for Tallow and Palm. I don’t want to use either. What can be substituted?

  7. Aarti Avatar

    5 stars
    This is a super recipe …. however a hot process way with coconut oil taught on this very website i love to make Can i make this the hp way?

  8. Megan Avatar

    Hey ,
    I thought this post was great but saying “Palm oil can be substituted for the tallow for a purely vegetable soap.” is disastrous considering supporting palm oil poses many environmental problems. It’s the largest driver of Indonesian deforestation, which destroys habitat and contributes to climate change.

  9. Cathy Avatar

    Do you think that I could make this soap, let it completely saponify and then melt it together with your conditioner bar to make a co-wash? I’m dreaming of a good co-wash for my curly hair and don’t like that the one lush sells contains sulfates.

  10. Marie Avatar

    I can’t wait to try this. I recently fell in love with the idea of shampoo bars when i began reducing my plastic use. I have fine hair that gets very oily after about 24 hours.

  11. Carla Worley Avatar
    Carla Worley

    This is my favorite shampoo bar! I’ve been using it for about two months with the ACV rinse sprayed in just as in the article, but I still find my hair to be really greasy on the underside of my hair. Trying to limit my shampooing, so I only wash 2 times a week. I have to use baby powder and cocoa powder every day as a dry shampoo to fight the greasiness which is really annoying. Am I doing anything wrong?

  12. James Avatar

    Is there anything else I can substitute for the tallow other than palm oil? Animal rainforest habitat is being wiped out to grow palm all over the world and it’s unsustainable.

  13. molly Avatar

    I was wondering if you could post the amount of palm oil to use for this recipe if I wanted to substitute? Or is it the same as the tallow, 10 oz? Thanks!

  14. Mary Avatar

    I do love this soap. I had been using an expensive organic shampoo for years, so the transition to the bar was smooth. But, It seems to come to trace awfully quickly and when I add my essential oils (tea tree, peppermint and argan oils) it just be comes a gloppy mess. It’s very difficult to pour in to the mold(s) without a bunch of air holes. We can use these soaps for us, but it’s not acceptable for selling at Farmers Markets. Any advice? Thanks!!

    1. Amalia Avatar

      I make hot process soap and heat up the essential oils using the double boiler method. It should work for cold process as well. You just don’t want a huge temperature difference when you add the essential oils.

  15. Susan Avatar

    You might want to edit this to make it clear that you understand that EVERYTHING is made up of chemicals, literally everything, so saying “chemical free” makes you sound like you don’t understand the most basic of science facts. It’s really distracting.

  16. Maria Brown Avatar
    Maria Brown

    Thank you! I have been trying for some and didn’t know why I was not getting good results, I love your research, much appreciated.

  17. Emma Avatar

    Hi! Yes, using a shampoo bar is very environmentally friendly because it cuts down on packaging, but conventional palm oil is a major threat to our environment. Be sure to use certified sustainable!

  18. Brianna Avatar

    I would love to make my own soap, but I’m nervous about using Lye with two young children. How do you ensure the safety of the area during and after? Thanks!

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