I’ve been making my own soap for some time. Just home use soap; nothing fancy or pretty or swirled… just good old lye soap. I just like it better. I’ve never had a rash or anything bad happen like can happen due to the chemicals and additives in commercial bar soap. So one day, as I’m using my homemade bar soap, and making laundry bar soap for my homemade laundry detergent, it occurred to me: why don’t I make homemade shampoo? So here is my reasoning and recipe for DIY homemade shampoo bars.
Why Make Shampoo Bars?
Well, we’ve all heard of the “No-Poo” movement, and I tried it. My hair was highly annoyed with me that entire 2 weeks. Unfortunately, I have thin hair anyhow, so the baking soda just seemed to strip out every single solitary bit for even the natural oil on my hair. Even after applying the vinegar rinse, my hair was dry and brittle feeling, and it never looked healthy.
So my mission began- to find and make my own homemade shampoo.
Before I begin, I want to make sure that you are not a total novice at soap making. I use lye on a regular basis; having grown up around it being used all the time. I just know the standard precautions as far as adding water to the lye (not the other way around) and how hot it gets, oh, and definitely how caustic it is to bare skin. I’ve never done it to myself (knock on wood), but I have heard horror stories of those who have gotten lye burns. It sounds super painful.
Before making any soap recipe you find online, please take a few minutes to enter in the amounts of oil into a lye calculator in order to verify the amounts.
Shampoo Bar Recipe
*Please note, all amounts are per weight. You will need to use a kitchen scale for these measurements.
-4 ounces water (Please use only distilled or other bottled pure water; not treated city.)
-6 ounces coconut milk*
-4 ounces lye
*You can use only water, an herbal infusion, or any other type of milk. I’ve infused all kinds of herbs into water or oils, and I’m a big fan of using home-grown herbs in infusions.
Optional Essential Oils
-Rosemary and peppermint for dark hair
-Lavender and lemon for blonde hair
-Lime and coconut for all types
*I recommend approx. 1 ounce of essential oils for this recipe.
Note: I use only Certified Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils available from doTerra.
- Place the water and coconut milk into a large glass measuring cup.
- Measure out the lye by weight into a 1 cup measuring glass or mason jar. I have a specific quart mason jar that I use specifically to mix my lye in for every batch of soap I make.
- Carefully add the lye to the liquid and stir to combine. (Adding the liquid to the lye could cause an eruption.) Be careful, the liquid is caustic and not to be touched in any way. The outside of the bowl will be extremely hot as well. Please Note: Take the necessary lye precautions with this step.
- Allow the lye mixture to stay under a vent and cool down while you prepare the oils. I actually like to mix my lye on the front patio or in the garage, just for the sake of ventilation and because I have pets in my home that I do not want to inadvertently harm due to the fumes.
- Measure all oils, by using a kitchen scale, and pour into a pot.
- Warm oils and beeswax on low heat until all are melted
- Pour melted oils into a crock pot. Be sure the crock pot is on the lowest setting.
Note: Do not allow the oils to get too hot.
- Add the lye/liquid mixture to the oils in the crock pot and stir. Note: Any equipment the lye touches needs to be neutralized in a mixture of vinegar, soap, and water. Vinegar will neutralize the lye. To err on the side of caution, have a specific set of tools set aside that are ONLY used in making soap.
- After a brief stir, grab your stick blender and get to work! Blend the oils, lye, and liquid in the crock pot for at least 3-5 minutes. We are working toward “trace.”
Word of advice: do not use the immersion blender continuously. I go in spurts of 30 seconds followed by a rest of 10 seconds until I reach trace. Continuous use will only burn up the motor of the blender, and frustrate the dickens out of you.
- Blend until the mixture becomes a thick, pudding-like consistency.
Once the mixture is pudding-like, cover the crock pot and “cook” the soap for approximately 1 hour.
- By the end, the mixture should have folded in on itself and it should be completely transparent. Turn off the crockpot.
- Time to prepare the molds! I just use silicone loaf pans greased with a little coconut or olive oil, whatever is close by at the time, and I have never had any issues with removing the soap from the pan.
- Now is the time to add the essential oils (if using).
- Spoon soap mixture into molds.
- Allow soap to cool and harden for 24 hours.
- Remove from the mold on to cutting board and cut into 1 inch thick bars.
- Place bars on a tray with good airflow so that they can harden further, but go ahead and use your first bar!!!
How To Use Homemade Shampoo Bars
When showering, finish off your hair with a 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts water conditioning hair rinse. I like to put this in a spray bottle, and spray my hair with it just prior to leaving the shower. I do not rinse it out (more conditioning that way). The smell of vinegar dissipates once the hair dries.
As with any switch from a commercial, shampoo, you will have a transition period and have to adapt to the new product. Give it at least two weeks for your scalp and hair to adjust to the new, healthier way to clean it. Your hair is used to you stripping it of all it’s natural oils, and depending on how long you have been using commercial products, it may take some time to adapt.
No matter why you choose to make your own soap, this is a fun recipe to make. You could switch strictly to these bars, pack these bars for convenience when camping or traveling, or give them as gifts to family and friends. The possibilities are endless.
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