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When dreams take the long road and homemade shampoo

by Bele
Intentional, thrifty and toxin-free beauty has been a slow process for me. This face wash was a defining moment. I was stunned by how many people viewed my little post and it made me realise I’m not alone in this love of homemade beauty. Something in me woke up, something that had been left snoring behind the couch for many years.
When I left school I had dreams of starting a natural beauty business, but to be honest I don’t think I was in the right space and time to tell everyone that putting food on their face would give them the most lively of all active ingredients – the fresher, the simpler, the better. My heart was willing, but not my head. So I kept my musings, potterings and recipes to myself.
It takes confidence to openly question the way we do things, the way we’ve always done things. A confidence I didn’t have then and I’m not sure I have now, but I press on anyway, because I think it’s really important that we question everything we do, now more than ever.
The World Health Organisation is concerned about the health impact of the chemicals we’re exposed to in personal care products. These luxury items can be loaded with crap, which is just bizzare and so unnecessary. The companies that do it are only looking to cut costs. Some cosmetics also like to wear big boots and stomp all over humble carbon foot prints when we only have this precious decade to turn things around.
Is there something you know, but are afraid to tell people about?
To me, it’s logical to make simple beauty bits whenever possible for many reasons. It’s empowering to know how to do these things, because companies often like to make it sound so complicated and out of our reach.
Making shampoo is fun and economical, especially if you buy your liquid Castile soap in bulk and use it to make hand, body and face wash too and use the same essential oils. It’s also lovely knowing that we aren’t rubbing unnecessary toxins into our heads.
A battered fire helmet, on the other hand, is essential, according to a certain big brother…Homemade shampoo recipe

Homemade shampoo recipe

This shampoo recipe has been a while coming. Since making this shampoo for children, I’ve read a lot of books and journals to get to this recipe.Homemade shampoo recipe Interestingly, there are similarities between Mrs Beeton’s 1861 recipe, Henley’s 1907 formula, 1970’s The Handbook of Natural Beauty and the current recommendations. This is a good sign that something is working.
I love this homemade shampoo, even though it doesn’t lather the same way my old shampoo did. When I read all the chemicals it took to make that perfect lather it seemed like quite a price to pay for foam. However, if you have long thick hair this will take more effort and product, because lather helps shampoo spread through the hair. Oily hair may not like this recipe when I trialled it, it worked for some and not for others. It may be because it can take a little while for the hair to adjust to this simpler process. We didn’t have any adjustment issues, but ‘you are all individuals’, as Monty Python’s Brian once said.
Mrs Beeton, 1861, suggests using, ‘a penny’s worth of borax’, but I’m suspicious about borax in my shampoo, so I’ve gone with the No-Poo crowd and used some bicarbonate soda instead, because it’s a very mild cleansing  alkaline salt.
Rosemary is tonifying and all round amazing for hair.
Orange is cleansing and rebalancing.
Lavender is healing and soothing.
Aloe vera*  is excellent for nourishing the scalp, but I have listed it as optional because I recently discovered that it’s nearly impossible to buy aloe vera without a preservative. I do use it, because I’m not a purist about these things, but I am selective about where I buy it from.
You can use a herb ‘tea’ to make the shampoo the same way I made this foaming face wash, but this will shorten the shelf life to one month. Whereas, the shampoo recipe below with essential oils should be fine for at least six months, but as always, be guided by any changes in the smell.
The apple cider vinegar spray is a must. You could even try using this after a normal shampoo if you’re not ready for the whole homemade shampoo thang. I’ve always had terrible luck with traditional conditioners, but the acidic vinegar removes all traces of the alkaline shampoo, smooths the hair fibres and rebalances the pH.
As ever, the wonderful thing about a homemade product is that you can adjust it to suit you, perfectly. Is it a bit drying for your hair? Add some more boiled water or a teaspoon or two of macadamia, grape seed or coconut oil (melted). Would you prefer a deeper clean? Reduce the water or add some extra Castile soap. Although, I do have to get bossy – only make one change at a time, people! And always make a note of any changes.
I’m currently testing a shampoo recipe for itchy scalp and dandruff and I will let you know as soon as I’m happy with it. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to look into.

Shampoo ingredientsHomemade shampoo recipe

Makes about 8 fl oz (US cup size) or 250ml (UK & AUST cup size)
about $8 (based on average natural shampoo costing $10, although I’m embarrassed to say my old one cost $28)
Does not contain
Sodium Lauryl Sulfates, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Mureth Sulfate, Siloxanes, Derivatives of Lauryl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol and Olefin Sulfonate
carbon emissions and water use
½ cup liquid Castile soap
¼  cup boiled water, cooled
¼ cup honey (not for babies under one year old)
1 tablespoon bicarbonate soda (US: baking soda)
15 drops orange essential oil
30 drops lavender essential oil
15 drops rosemary essential oil
1 tablespoon aloe vera (optional)*
Sterile or very clean squeeze lid or pump 8 fl oz or 250ml bottle
Mix all the ingredients in a bottle. Label with ingredients and date.
To use:
Test on a discrete spot for skin irritation.
Give a good shake. Squirt the shampoo straight onto wet hair to reduce wastage, as it is quite runny. Massage into scalp and through hair, being careful to cover all the hair, as it won’t lather in the way commercial shampoos do. Rinse well.  Follow with the apple cider spray – this is a must!

 Apple cider conditioning sprayHomemade shampoo recipe

Makes about 180 ml or 5 fl oz
4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ cup boiled water
15 drops orange essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
Sterile or very clean spray bottle
Mix all the ingredients together in bottle, label with list of ingredients and date.
To use:
Test in a discrete spot to check for skin irritation.
After the shampoo has been well and truly rinsed out, shake the spray bottle and give the hair a good dowsing with the apple cider vinegar spray. Rinse out really well. Have a look at how your hair is responding and if need be make some adjustments mentioned earlier.
Bele x
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About BlahBlahMagazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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  1. I am definitely going to try this as I have never found a shampoo that has been kind to my hair.

  2. Thank you for this Bele, I love it! I’m bookmarking it to make when I have time. I really don’t like commercial shampoos, or their impact on the environment.

  3. You are amazing! I love a foamy shampoo because I have thick hair but I might need to give this a go because I have been thinking about what chemicals I’ve been washing my hair in. 🙂

  4. I bought some no-crap shampoo from a bulk foods place and we do love it. But must try making my own too. Have to bookmark for another day, but will get there. I think many many people would like to give this a whirl. It’s good to warn them that it doesn’t foam too, forewarned is forearmed.

    Just a bloggy thought… maybe your url would be better to start ‘homemade shampoo recipe’ for better searchabilty… happy to chat that through if you’d like to.

  5. Thanks for the recipe Bele, I’ll have to try it out. I’ve been no poo for a while, but haven’t yet reached what they call “no poo bliss”. My hair is best described as “a wild horse tangled in a clothes line” so I do miss big, foamy, toxic shampoos! Love ACV, though. I never cease to be amazed at what it can do for my hair x

  6. Wow, Bele! You totes nailed this! I can smell the beautiful fragrances coming through my screen!
    You are so talented, lady! x

  7. Hi! Thank you for the recipe!
    Would it work to use aloe vera gel directly from a plant or would it go bad?

    • Good question. I’ve been wondering about this, but my fresh aloe is in short supply at the moment. We used too much of it for sunburn! The curious thing is how it goes yellow when exposed to the air and that’s probably why it needs a preservative, because it changes so quickly.
      If we were to use fresh aloe it would probably need to be kept in the fridge, which would make it difficult. It’s a tricky one. I wonder if anyone has tried making recipes with fresh aloe?

  8. Does anyone know if the oils listed in the recipe for the shampoo and conditioning spay necessary, or are they solely for fragrance?

  9. Avoid conditioners with sulfates and keep one protein based conditioner at hand whenever you experience excessive shedding,
    breakage and lost moisture. Having a well hydrated body is a sure way of having your energy levels high at all times.
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  10. do you know the pH of this shampoo?

    • Hi, Unfortunately, I don’t and I’m trialling the no poo method at the moment so don’t have any on hand to check. Because of the soap it’ll be pretty alkaline.
      If it helps, you can purchase pH testing kits from some online soap making stores. Cosmetic chemists add citric acid (that can be found with the baking goods at the supermarket) to pH balance alkaline products. I hope this helps.

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