Transitioning from chemical-laden products to natural-based ones can help improve the look and feel of your hair. The all natural shampoo movement includes traditional liquid shampoos, the no-poo method—not using any shampoo—and eco-friendly shampoo bars. Natural shampoo bars also help protect the environment since their ingredients are 100 percent biodegradable. This article will introduce you to shampoo bars and show you how you can make your own blends at home. You’ll get gorgeous, lustrous hair with our shampoo bar recipe made from all natural ingredients. It’s as easy as making homemade soap, but with all the sudsy goodness of a traditional shampoo.
What is A Shampoo Bar?
A shampoo bar is a eco-friendly alternative to liquid shampoos. These sudsy bars are biodegradable and made with all natural ingredients that protect hair from damaging chemicals. They typically contain a mixture of essential oils and nourishing ingredients including avocado, cocoa butter, and shea butter.
Shampoo bars are typically sulfate free and have a pH hovering around 7—similar to the pH of cold process soaps. Many shampoo bar users recommend rinsing with an acidic rinse to balance pH a few times per week when using a shampoo bar. Rinsing with apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the most popular choices. You can also add citric acid to a bar recipe can lower the pH and make the product gentler. This is particularly useful when formulating shampoo bars for fine or damaged hair.
Shampoo bars are often vegan-friendly and produced animal-cruelty free. Many are certified organic and only use materials that are grown and produced with sustainable methods. The beauty of shampoo bars is that they are based on simple, all natural ingredients you can find just about anywhere. You can make your own shampoo bar right at home using your favorite ingredients. Read on to find out how.
How to Make A Shampoo Bar
The process of making shampoo bars is very similar to the process used to make soap bars. If you’re not familiar with soap making, there are generally two methods. The first is known as cold processing and the second is hot processing. In general hot process soap bars are faster and easier to make than cold process.
Soap is made when lye—also known as sodium hydroxide—is mixed with water and various natural oils. The lye undergoes a chemical reaction resulting in the saponification of the oils.
When done in proper amounts, no lye will remain in the mixture after the chemical reaction. Different oils require a unique ratio of lye for the full chemical reaction to occur. You can use a soap calculator or lye calculator to find the right ratio of lye to your chosen natural oil.
Selecting Natural Oil Ingredients
When it comes to choosing natural oils, there are hundreds of options. The right oil will largely depend on what your hair type needs. Start by identifying what type of hair you have and any specific hair needs such as increased moisture, less oil, or color protection.
Coconut oil results in harder soap bars than olive oil, but olive oil tends to be more nourishing making it ideal for dry hair or damaged hair. Sweet almond oil is great for color-treated hair thanks to its natural color-staying properties.
Avocado oil helps tame flyaways and is particularly suited for curly hair. Jojoba oil is known to mimic the production of sebum. Using this oil in your homemade shampoo bar can help minimize oil production for people who have oily hair.
Most shampoo bars also incorporate castor oil because it helps increase lather. Since this oil can cause sticky build-up, it’s best to keep the concentration to below 10 percent of your total ingredients.
Tallow oil, or the vegan-friendly alternative of palm oil, both have a long shelf life that makes them suitable for soap and shampoo bars. These oils help prevent decomposition and preserve the integrity of your shampoo bar so you can use it longer than alternatives. For our shampoo bar recipe, we’ll use a combination of these natural oils.
Many shampoo bar recipes also include essential oils in addition to the nourishing natural oils. Essential oils are used to add natural fragrance and can also improve the look and feel of your hair. Try out citrus scents including bergamot essential oil and lemon oil or go floral with lilac essential oil or lavender essential oil.
Rosemary oil can help prevent hair loss and even increase hair growth in some individuals. Tea tree is another popular favorite that adds a refreshing, clean finish to the shampoo bar. Your imagination is your only limitation when it comes to dreaming up essential oils blends for shampoo bar soap.
Best Homemade Shampoo Bar Recipe
What You’ll Need
- Glass bowl for creating lye mixture
- Nonreactive pot to heat oils (stainless steel)
- Silicone mold for regular soap bar (this recipe makes 10-12 bars)
- Stick blender also known as an immersion blender
- Protective gear including gloves, eyewear, and white vinegar in case of lye spills
- 5 oz lye
- 8 oz castor oil
- 9 oz coconut oil
- 9 oz palm oil
- 10 oz distilled water
- 1 oz lavender essential oil
- 1 oz tea tree oil
1. Put on your protective gear and gather tools and ingredients in a well-ventilated area. Pour the distilled water into the glass bowl and then add the lye. Make sure to put the water in first and not the lye, otherwise the chemical reaction will not occur properly. Also make sure to use distilled water and not tap water—the hard water in tap varieties can also alter the chemical reaction. Stir the mixture. As the chemical reaction occurs, the mixture will heat dramatically.
2. Mix the natural oils (NOT the essential oils) in a stainless steel saucepan and heat to between 100 and 120 F. You ideally want the temperature to be similar to that of the lye mixture so match them as closely as possible.
3. Once the two mixtures are at a similar temperature, add the lye mixture to the natural oils. Use the immersion blender to mix well. The mixture is done when you can remove the blender and the soap mixture sits on the surface for a few seconds before blending back into the mixture.
4. Add any essential oils to the water mixture and pour the entire contents into the silicone soap molds. Cover the molds with a towel and let sit for 24 hours.
5. Keep your gloves on when cleaning remaining materials to prevent skin contact with lye.
6. Remove the bars from the molds after 24 hours and enjoy your all natural shampoo!
Get Creative With Natural Shampoo
You don’t need a fancy soap maker to make your own homemade shampoo bar. All you need are a few staple ingredients such as natural oils and sodium hydroxide along with tools you already have in your kitchen.
Meet your specific hair care needs by adding essential oils and natural oils that nourish, heal, and protect hair strands. The beauty of this soap recipe is that you can mix it up to suit your preferences.
Use your homemade shampoo bar to rid hair of dirt and grime and follow with a vinegar rinse a few times per week to keep hair looking its best. You may even be able to skip the conditioner thanks to the nourishing oils in this shampoo bar recipe.