DIY Shampoo Bar Recipe & Guide: Go Natural + DIY Today!
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I’ve used typical, chemical shampoos for most of my life and never really thought about the adverse effects of these products. That is, until I used an herbal shampoo for the first time. The difference was amazing! My hair felt smoother, more moisturized and was full of volume – and I don’t generally even pay that much attention to my hair. I suppose that we need something to compare to in order to make a distinction to determine the difference. Using an herbal shampoo was definitely that moment of comparison for me. It’s what eventually led me to DIY shampoo – and more specifically, DIY shampoo bars.
DIY Shampoo Explained: Dangerous Chemicals
So why did the herbal shampoo make my hair feel the way that it did, and the chemical shampoo the complete opposite? By simply turning my bottle of shampoo around and reading the ingredients contained in the back (something I had simply never thought of doing before), I found the true nature of the nicely packaged, organically themed chemical shampoo that I was using. It shocked me! Just a few ingredients off the cusp of the list were: sodium lauryl sulfate, glycol, polysorbate 20 (or PEG 20), sodium chloride and something called triethanolamine.
I don’t have a doctorate in chemistry, but using the internet to do some research on these ingredients was jaw-dropping. I suppose this is why the ‘no-poo’ movement is really gaining momentum these days. They’re all toxic and can even make you ill if ingested. Obviously we don’t eat shampoo, but would you want something that toxic on your body anyway? Ironically, these chemicals don’t even offer great benefits for your hair.
Chemicals can damage the actual hair follicles, making them weak and speeding up hair loss (for which they have another chemically based treatment on offer!) and will have a negative effect on the balance of your natural oils, which is what leads to dryness.
After realizing all of this, I decided to stop using chemical shampoos and started looking for a suitable herbal shampoo. However, herbal shampoos are costly, as are most natural products, if you don’t source them well. I didn’t want to be spending 3-times as much money just to wash my hair. I considered going the ‘no-poo’ route, but my hair knots and clumps easily and also gets oily, so that option was unfortunately out of the window.
It was then that I decided to look into making my own shampoo, as I figured that herbal hair remedies can’t be that expensive. It was then that I found out about shampoo bars. At first, I thought it was just normal soap, and I suppose that would be true in certain regards as it can be used on your skin as well. But these bars are specifically designed for hair use, with ingredients that won’t damage or dry out your hair like normal soaps do.
I preferred this option as I liked the idea of being able to have an all-in-one soap solution, which would save me even more cash for other natural products! I’ll explain the benefits of using a shampoo bar below, but I’d like to add that make a natural shift is very viable if you do your research properly.
What Is A Shampoo Bar?
The idea of the shampoo bar is not a new one and has been around the before commercial shampoos (as we know them today) existed in the late quarter of the 20th century. So everything shampoo-related before roughly the 1940’s was basically in the form of a soap bar. We’ve even covered Lush’s popular shampoo bars in one of our past Lush features. They are exactly like normal soap bars that you’d use on a daily basis for your skin, except that they’ve been specially formulated for hair use.
This means that they lather easily, won’t dry out or damage your hair and also act as natural conditioners – leaving your hair soft and smooth. The lather can be applied to your hair (this is the shampoo) as well as the rest of body and used as a soap and natural body wash.
What Are The Benefits Of DIY Shampoo?
I think the benefits of DIY shampoo are largely the same as most DIY efforts, products or processes firstly for the sensation of being able to say – you did this with your own hands! To be able to look at a finished product (whether it’s a cake, a treehouse, a shelving unit or some shampoo) and know exactly what went into making it from top to bottom, beginning to end is incredibly rewarding on its own. This applies to our DIY Foundation, DIY Facial Serum and DIY Hair Conditioner as well
Knowing exactly what ingredients are contained in your shampoo is something that I think will help you sleep better at night. You can feel at peace with the knowledge that there aren’t any dangerous and toxic chemicals lingering in your shampoo. It’s nice not having to worry about your hair drying out or falling off with extended use!I think there’s a great peace of mind to be found in that – and being able to embrace a more natural lifestyle. Just because a shampoo on the shelf says ‘natural’ on the front, does not mean that it’s at all natural inside. Sure it might contain a small amount of natural products (citric acid etc.), but the countless other chemicals found in the bottle drown out any holistic benefits that they might provide.
Call me cheap, but one of my favourite benefits of using DIY shampoo (especially shampoo bars) is that they last roughly 4 to 5 times longer than any bottle of normal shampoo – giving that you aren’t buying the normal shampoo in bulk form. This long-term approach to cost-effectiveness means that you can afford to spend a little more on organically sourced and ethical products in order to create a more holistic product because even though it may cost a little more than your average shampoo initially, the long-lasting nature of the shampoo bar means that you’ll be spending less overall and using healthier products at the same time! That’s a win-win in my book.
DIY Shampoo Bar Recipe & Guide With Coconut Oil
Making your own DIY soap couldn’t be easier – however, I recommend that you draw up a shopping list before you begin so that you can be sure you have all the right ingredients and implements you’ll need to make a successful batch. Again, I’d like to stress that although this might cost you a bit more in the interim, you’ll save loads in the future as you’ll never have to buy shampoo (or soap for that matter) again – plus it lasts a lot longer than shelf-bought goods. Also, if you’re a keen baker, you should already have most of these implements in the kitchen. So don’t worry!
Firstly, these are the tools you’ll need for the recipe. If you have spare implements, use those instead. But I don’t advise using the same tools for cooking with after you make the soap – so be sure to keep them separate.
- Stainless steel pot (preferably a large one – avoid aluminium or iron).
- Stainless steel spoon.
- A spatula, preferably plastic.
- Zip-lock plastic bag.
- Measuring bowls (3-4).
- Plastic container specifically for lye.
- Baking thermometer.
- Mold to pour the soap into.
- Wax paper.
- Towels to help the soap incubate in the mold.
- 10 oz. Coconut Oil.
- 10 oz. Avocado Oil.
- 8 oz. Olive Oil.
- 8 oz. Castor Oil.
- 2 oz. Natural Cocoa powder.
- 12 oz. Distilled water.
- 5 oz. Lye (sodium hydroxide).
- Roughly 4 oz. of essential oils (which you can blend together). I recommend lemon essential oil, orange essential oil, almond essential oil and rosemary essential oil for this recipe – but feel free to mix and blend as you wish.
DIY Shampoo Bar Recipe: How To Make It
It’s important that you follow the steps of the recipe very carefully as failure to do so could result in a bad batch which is just a waste of time and money. So rather take it slow and steady and read over it a few times before you start and while you’re actually making the soap as a reference guide.
- Step 1: Pour the oils (coconut, avocado, olive and castor) into a mixing bowl or directly into the pot for heating. Make sure you’re amounts match that of the recipe exactly! Now, heat the oils to 100F degrees (95-100) and let them simmer. You can do this on a stove top. While they’re heating up, you can move onto the next step.
- Step 2: Now you have to mix the Lye with the water. IMPORTANT – I recommend doing this outside as the lye can stain and can be dangerous if it gets into your eyes. Also, the fumes of the lye in its powdered form can make you cough, so mix it outside just to be safe. I recommend using cleaning cloves for this part. Pour the lye powder into the ziplock bag. Pour the distilled water into a plastic container. It’s IMPORTANT to note that you should not mix the water with the lye, but rather add the lye powder to the water. Once you’ve poured the water into the plastic container, slowly sprinkle the lye from the ziplock bag into the water. Stir the water continuously – it should take roughly a minute or so for the lye to settle and dissolve. Once the lye has dissolved into the water the fumes should dissipate. Now heat the water containing the lye mixture in the oven to 100F degrees as well. The oils and the water/lye mixture should be at roughly the same temperature in order to blend correctly. Pour the lye water into the heated oil blend and stir continuously.
- Step 3: While you’re blending the lye mixture with the oils, add in the cocoa powder. Stir continuously so that it mixes into the new blend. Now let the blended mixture sit for a short while. The mixture needs to harden but must not become TOO HARD. The prime texture you should be looking for is something close to a pudding-like texture. However, note that when the soap reaches this level, you need to pour it into your mold quickly as it’s busy setting and you don’t want to let it set in the bowl. However, just before pouring, you can add your essential oils to the mixture. Be sure to pour the oils in softly and spread them evenly across the soap so that they cover a wider area.
- Step 4: Line your mold with the wax paper. Now pour the mixture into the mold slowly and steadily. You don’t want to spill as it’s a waste! Once you’ve poured the mixture into your mold, make sure that it’s on an even surface. Now wrap the soap with the towels and allow it to set for 24 hours – allowing the heat to remain locked in. Once the 24 hour mark has been reached, check to see if the soap is hard yet. If t does feel hardened – great! You’ve mixed the ingredients correctly and follow the instructions perfectly. Now, wrap the soap with a blanket or two and allow it to settle for another 24 hours to enable a truly solid bar that you can cut and store easily.
- Step 5: Once the soap has settled for 48 hours, you can either remove it from the mold (depending on the shape they’re in) or cut them in whichever shapes or sizes you desire. Now, it’s important for me to state that YOU CANNOT USE YOUR SOAP IMMEDIATELY! I don’t want anyone washing themselves after just two days and getting burns or irritated skin. The lye in the soap has to cure for roughly 4 – 6 weeks before you can use it on your bodies. This makes it safe for skin and hair use on any skin or hair types.
I recommend letting the soap cure in a cool, dry place and placing them in an airtight plastic container. Once a week, open the container for 2-3 minutes so that the soap can ‘breathe’ a bit. Otherwise, keep it locked away for the time being. The longer you let it cure, the more mild it becomes – which makes it more suitable for general skin and hair application and also nullifies the lye, making it safe.
Voila! You now have your own, handmade soap collection. You can add whichever essential oils you want to the mixture and even go as far as melting beeswax into the soap for added skin and hair benefits. However, this is quite a tricky process as you have keep the wax at a constant temperature of around 170F degrees or it’ll set. Definitely do some research before attempting that.
— Lush Bury (@LushBury) November 25, 2014
Although it might seem like a bit of challenge at first, no DIY project would be truly DIY if it didn’t require some modicum of patience, a bit of practice and some skill. If you take your time, you can get it right on the first try – and from then on it’ll be a lot easier and even give you room to experiment with your recipes more.
I think the added benefit is that you’ll know exactly what you’ve put into your new hair care product and know that it’s far healthier than any of the store bought products you’ll find on the shelves. Some might be thinking “lye isn’t natural” – and I agree, it isn’t. But it looses it’s dangerous qualities over the curing process and essentially mixes with the fats in the oils – becoming the soap.
As a general rule of thumb, I recommend that natural products have +/- around 10 ingredients max in order to still be considered a raw, natural product. Minus the lye, every ingredient in the homemade shampoo is purely natural and after curing – they all become non-toxic. So it’s safe, healthy, holistic and much cheaper in the long run. If you’ve ever wanted to start living a life that’s less dependent on chemicals – or even if you’re interested in a new hobby, or to create a product for yourself, I recommend DIY shampoo. DIY shampoo bars are a great way to start.