Looking for a good shampoo bar? Conventional shampoo and conditioner can contain dangerous chemicals that disrupt hormones. To make things worse, all that plastic is doing more damage to our environment and ending up in our oceans and landfills. This is why natural DIY shampoo bars have become all the rage. After investigating conventional shampoos and finding so many with toxic and endocrine disrupting ingredients, we decided to share some homemade shampoo bar recipes you can make at home at your convenience containing ingredients that are natural and easy to find online. We’ve included ten natural homemade shampoo bar recipes for DIYers who want beautiful hair. Have you tried making shampoo bars at home yet? Well, we can help! Let’s skip all those dangerous chemicals from storebought shampoo bars and make our own! You’ve trusted Mamavation to cover 10 homemade lotion recipes for DIYers, 10 natural homemade shampoo recipes for DIYers, and which popular deodorant brands are toxic and safe, now join us as we explore safe shampoo bars, how to make it and ingredients that are safe for your family.
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Chemicals in Shampoo that Are Problematic
Surfactants: This is what makes your shampoo lather up with suds. We usually associate soap suds with cleaner hair, but that’s not necessarily the case. Sudsing doesn’t really occur much in nature, so it’s often the result of a chemical reaction or agent of some kind. While these chemicals aren’t necessarily toxic to humans, they can cause serious irritation and can be really harmful to aquatic life. Given the quantity of shampoo going down the drain every time we wash our hair, we’d prefer to avoid irritation and create a safer environment by choosing shampoo with these ingredients.
Preservatives: Ever noticed the expiration date on your shampoo? Nope, neither have we. That’s because shampoos are full of preservatives to keep them shelf-stable. They’ll last for a really long time without separating out or going “off”. These preservatives prevent the growth of yeast, mold, bacteria etc. But because they’re literally designed to kill things, preservatives are tricky and can have a range of toxicity problems for both humans and the environment.
Fragrance: This is definitely something to look out for. The term “fragrance” can act as a backdoor for all kinds of chemicals to sneak into your products. It’s often used as an umbrella term for up to 100 ingredients. Unfortunately, many of these ingredients can be toxic to human health, like phthalates (linked to reproductive and developmental harm), and synthetic musks (linked to hormone disruption and build up in our bodies).
Ingredients to Avoid*:
- Formaldehyde releasing preservatives:
- DMDM hydantoin
- imidazolidinyl urea
- diazolidinyl urea
- polyoxymethylene urea
- sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol)
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
*These ingredients are listed on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Red List, which is part of the MADE SAFE screening process for personal care products.
Basic Ingredients in Homemade Bar Shampoo That Are Safe To Use
Fats and alkali are the two basic ingredients used to make soap. Fats can be the triglycerides found in beef or oils like olive oil, palm oil or coconut oil. Lye is the most common substance used as an alkaline solution and is very harmful on it’s own, but when mixed with the other ingredients it breaks down and dissolves the fat. Please be careful when handling lye. Here are some of the other ingredients used in shampoo bars.
Olive Oil: Olive oil is rich in vitamins A, E and antioxidants. It also helps protect the keratin in your hair and seals in moisture while removing the buildup of sebum that impedes the formation of new hair follicles and hinders hair growth. It can also be used in the treatment of split ends and other things like dandruff. When dealing with dandruff mix with lemon juice. Dandruff is typically caused by dry, flaky skin. The acidic properties in lemon juice helps loosen dandruff while the olive oil moisturizes the newest layer of skin. Mix equal amounts of olive oil, lemon juice and water to treat dandruff, just a few tablespoons of each will work. Massage into a damp scalp, leave for 20 minutes, rinse and shampoo. Don’t use this treatment more than once a week.
Our recommendation for olive oil:
Almond Oil: Almond oil contains a variety of healthy ingredients for hair, including Omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids, vitamin E and magnesium. Using a few drops of pure almond oil in your hair routine nourishes and strengthens your hair, and is optimal for treating hair loss and damaged hair. Be sure to use pure almond oil, and avoid brands that contain fillers.
Our recommendation for almond oil:
Egg yolks: Eggs contain a large amount of protein, fatty acids, and vitamins, which can help boost hair with the added nutrients it needs. Vitamin A in egg yolk helps improve the hair’s ability to produce natural moisture by stimulating sebum production – this helps control dandruff and prevent drying of the scalp. Vitamin E in egg yolk protects from environmental factors such as UV rays, and the vitamin D in egg yolks improves texture and shine. Egg yolks also contain the fatty protein lecithin which helps reduce frizz and prevents breakage and brittleness. Biotin is also found in egg yolks and works to renew hair roots and follicles, improving the hair’s overall health.
Raw Honey: Raw honey has been used for thousands of years as a medicine. The Egyptians used raw honey quite frequently. Honey has high levels of monosaccharides, fructose and glucose and also includes minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chloride, potassium, magnesium. Honey also possesses antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which make it very useful as a medicine in wound care & as a cough suppressant. Honey is slightly acidic with a pH level between 3.2 and 4.5. This is what helps prevent the growth of bacteria, while its antioxidant constituents cleans up free radicals. The physical properties of honey vary based on what flora the bees were around, as well as the water content.
Our recommendation for honey:
- Heavenly Organics is organic and “glyphosate-residue free” certified. Organic honey can still be contaminated with glyphosate because the farmer can’t control where the bees go, which is problematic and not discussed as much as it should be. This brand allows a third party to lab test and certify that there is no glyphosate residue in the honey. We like that!
Jojoba Oil: Jojoba Oil is extracted from the seeds of jojoba trees. The resulting product is actually not an oil, but rather a Wax Ester. Wax Esters are very similar to our own oil produced by our bodies. Because of this, using Jojoba Oil can help with balancing the production of oil, because the body recognizes it as its own. Jojoba Oil is rich in essential nutrients, vitamins E and B, and important minerals like silicon, copper and zinc.
Our recommendation for jojoba oil:
Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar’s antibacterial and anti-fungal properties help to get rid of dandruff, and the acidity of the apple cider vinegar rinse can help maintain the pH balance of your hair to create a hostile environment for fungus, bacteria, or yeast that cause dandruff to keep coming back. A regular ACV rinse can also help keep hair tangle-free.
Our recommendations for apple cider vinegar:
Castor Oil: Castor oil has been widely used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years – with research finding castor beans in medicinal text as far back as 1500 b.c.. The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti fungal properties of castor oil can help reduce the effects of auto-immune diseases such as alopecia as well as help to treat follliculitus, dandruff and scalp infections. Ricinoleic acid found in castor oil can help balance scalp pH, and the antioxidants in castor oil support keratin production in hair and help make hair stronger, smoother and less frizzy.
Our recommendation for castor oil:
Coconut Oil: Coconut is the best source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a special type of fatty acid with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It’s also very high in lauric acid, which is also naturally occurring in breastmilk. Coconut oil can penetrate the hair in ways that other oils can not with amazing results provided it’s used correctly. When used on the right type of hair, it improves scalp health, fights infections and fungus and supports hair growth. People with fine to medium shiny hair see the best results, but those with coarse and dry hair may not have the best results.
Our recommendation for coconut oil:
Coconut Milk: Coconut Milk is full of love for your hair. It’s loaded with vitamins like niacin and folate which can improve the circulation of blood in your scalp. Coconut milk also contains vitamin E, a natural preservative, and fats that fight damage and deeply condition your hair. Making fresh coconut milk is actually very easy. All you need to do is grade a fresh coconut and squeeze the milk out with a cheesecloth. Then let it simmer in a pot for about five minutes and cool and freeze in the freezer. The following day it will be ready to use after thawed. When using coconut milk as a hair treatment, it penetrates your scalp and cuticles to nourish and condition your follicles and hair shaft. The extra moisture boosts the productivity of your follicles and can improve your hair texture and health.
Our recommendation for coconut milk:
Avocado Oil: Avocado oil has amazing health benefits for your hair. It has a high quantity of monounsaturated fats and lubricates the hair, thus making it shiny and stronger. Monounsaturated fat, when applied directly in a hair mask, nourish and strengthen hair strands. Avocado oil is also rich in Vitamin E and B, allowing it to work deep into the epidermis and strengthen the hair. Vitamin B also supports hair growth, while Vitamin E works on repairing hair damage.
Our recommendation for avocado oil:
Lye (Sodium Hydroxide): Sodium hydroxide is used to break down fats inside the formulation. Lye is extremely dangerous on it’s own and you need to be very careful when handling it. But when it’s inside a soap, it’s not harmful at all.
Our recommendation for lye:
- Red Crown Lye
10 DIY Shampoo Bar Recipes
There are several homemade shampoo bar recipes you can make to minimize your toxic load while being more conscious of the environment. Most of these recipes come from simple ingredients. Below are our favorites from some of our favorite blogs that focus on natural DIY projects.
- Wellness Mama–DIY Solid Shampoo Bar Recipe
- DIY Natural–Learn to Make a Natural Shampoo Bar
- Naturally Handcrafted–DIY Shampoo Bar, Step by Step Instructions
- Don’t Waste the Crumbs–DIY Herbal Shampoo Bar
- Maple Holistics–DIY Shampoo Bar Recipe and Guide
- Frugally Sustainable–Shampoo Bar Soap Recipe
- Ela Vegan–Homemade Shampoo Bar
- Mama Instincts–DIY Moisturizing Shampoo Bars
- It Takes Time–DIY Shampoo Bars
- Overthrow Martha–DIY Shampoo Bars
Bonus–Natural Conditioner Bars