Homemade herbal shampoo is a great choice for those looking for a more natural hair care alternative. Choose to make it completely from scratch, or start with a natural base soap for a simpler recipe.
When it comes to hair and skincare I try to keep products to a minimum. I make my own body butter for winter dry skin, as well as herbal lip balms, and salves for cuts and scrapes. Nourishing goats milk soap bars are usually enough for cleansing, and beyond that, I keep an all-natural simple liquid castile soap for everything else. There’s not a whole lot we buy from the beauty care aisle…except for shampoo.
I have friends that rave about giving up shampoo and that love their “no-poo” hair, but with my naturally oily hair, I don’t imagine I’ll ever go that route permanently. I’ve tried it, and several weeks in my hair is still glued down to my head…not a great look.
For the past decade, I’ve used Nature’s Gate Herbal Shampoo and I love it…but it’s pretty expensive. I’ve been searching for quite a while, looking for an alternative to get this last commercial product out of my bathroom and transition to all homemade.
When the Herbal Academy offered to let me review their new Botanical Skin Care Course, I was excited to bring home herbs into my daily skincare routine. Then flipping through the recipe book that accompanies the course, I found a simple recipe for herbal shampoo and I knew what I had to make first!
Their recipe for herbal shampoo is quite simple, and is based on a recipe by Rosemary Gladstar in her 2014 book “Herbs for Natural Beauty.” Many of the recipes in this course are based on tried and true recipes adapted from more than a dozen herbal skin care books, and all brought together in one convenient course.
Within the course itself, there are video tutorials on making basic skincare products from cold creams to infused oils and more. I especially love how the course goes through all the potential ingredients for homemade skincare products and explains how and why you’d choose them. It covers everything from exotic ingredients like mango butter and argan oil, down to everyday kitchen things like dried rosemary and olive oil.
Though I already made many of my own skincare products, I’m now going to be making even more now that I know how to choose the right natural clay for my skin, and I’m going to adjust my body butter recipe as well. I’ve learned so much from this Botanical Skin Care Course, and you’ll get to see the fruits of that over the next few months as I share new skincare recipes with you this coming winter.
For now though, I’ll share this simple herbal shampoo recipe with you… let’s start with the herbs and ingredients.
Ingredients for Herbal Shampoo
The base for this herbal shampoo is a simple liquid castile soap. I always keep a couple of big jugs of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap around, and it has plenty of uses around the house, and I even use it in the garden to treat for aphids. Starting with a liquid castile soap makes this recipe a lot simpler, but if you’re hardcore into all things DIY then you can make your own liquid castile soap with this recipe. Keep in mind you’ll need a special type of lye (Potassium Hydroxide) to make liquid soap, which is different than the lye used for making bar soaps (Sodium Hydroxide).
To that simple soap base, this herbal shampoo recipe adds a herbal tea made from chamomile, rosemary, and calendula. The course gives you the tools to customize this herbal blend and choose herbs that suit your particular skin/hair, but these are great choices for most hair types. Each comes with its own benefits:
- Chamomile ~ A natural herbal treatment for dandruff and scalp issues, chamomile also helps increase hair shine and boost hair growth.
- Calendula ~ A great all-around herb for nourishing the skin, it’s no different for the scalp. It’s added to nourish the skin on your scalp and naturally condition it to prevent dry skin.
- Rosemary ~ Used in natural hair growth formulas, rosemary promotes good blood circulation to the scalp and helps ensure healthy hair follicles. It also adds a delightful scent to this herbal shampoo.
The recipe suggests adding a very small amount of either argan oil or jojoba oil, both of which are perfect for conditioning hair without leaving it oily. My mom adds argan oil to her hair daily, and though it’s not something I keep in the house, she happened to be visiting the week I made this herbal shampoo, so that’s what I used. Small containers of argan oil are pretty inexpensive, and they’re quite rich so it’ll last a very long time.
While I don’t keep argan oil in the house, I do have Jojoba oil on hand as a massage oil. Jojoba isn’t technically an oil in the pure sense of the word, it’s more of liquid wax, which means it won’t stain clothes or leave a greasy feel. When I worked as a massage therapist, this is what I used in my practice because it saved my massage sheets from oil stains and its molecules are actually more absorbable by the skin, since they mimic the skin’s natural lubricants.
Argan oil and jojoba are excellent choices for added conditioning in this soap, but they also serve a second purpose. Adding 1/4 teaspoon might not seem like much, but it’s enough to both conditions your hair and serves as a carrier oil to dilute the optional essential oils in this recipe. Essential oils can cause issues if applied undiluted, and it only takes a small amount of carrier oil to help disperse them in this herbal shampoo recipe.
That said, feel free to skip the addition of essential oils for an unscented shampoo. I’m not an expert on essential oils, and while there are some that are reputed to improve hair condition, I haven’t done much research in that area. The herbal skin care course does cover essential oils, but I haven’t studied that section in detail…yet.
The last ingredient in this herbal shampoo is a natural preservative, which is covered in detail in the herbal skincare course. Anytime you’re adding water to a skincare product, especially along with oil as in a homemade lotion, you introduce the potential for bacterial growth. I’m making this herbal shampoo in small batches since it’s so easy to prepare, so I’m skipping commercial preservatives. If you do choose to add one, there are many available on the market and the botanical skincare course discusses the many options available.
(This recipe for homemade herbal shampoo comes from the Herbal Academy’s botanical skincare course, which they allowed me to take in exchange for my honest review.)
This simple homemade herbal shampoo is easy to make at home with just a few ingredients.
- 3 tbsp Chamomile flower (Matricaria chamomilla)
- 3 tbsp Rosemary aerial parts (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- 3 tbsp Calendula flower (Calendula officinalis)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
- 1/4 tsp argan oil
- (or 1/4 tsp jojoba oil)
- Natural Preservative (such as Leucidal which is derived from radishes ~ Optional)
- Place herbs in a heat-safe glass jar. Pour 1 cup boiling water over the herbs, cover and let steep until the mixture reaches room temperature (about 20 to 30 minutes).
- Strain the tea and compost the herbs.
- Add the castile soap and gently mix the soap and herbal tea.
- Dilute the essential oils (if using) in the jojoba or argan oil and add that mixture to the soap/tea mixture.
- Optional, if using ~ Add the natural preservative according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Transfer to a re-usable soap bottle and use within 1 week (without preservatives) or store for extended use with preservatives.
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