How about giving your hair a break from all the chemicals it is usually exposed to? When you wash your hair, the minerals in water combine with the sulfates from your shampoo and leave a sticky residue behind on hair even after you have fully rinsed away the shampoo! This can lead to an exhaustive list of hair problems like dry, dull, tangled, brittle, lifeless hair etc.
Switching to a chemical free, all-natural or herbal shampoo can save you from a lot of these problems. What’s even better is that you can make this kind of shampoo with ingredients/ herbs your hair will love.
DIY Herbal Shampoo Recipe
There are endless ways of making a herbal shampoo with so many different types of herbs to choose from. Not one way is better than the other. It all comes down to what your personal preference is and what herbs or method works best for you. Today, I will tell you the recipe that has worked wonders for me because it is a tried and tested recipe from my mom’s side of the family and yes, they all had extremely beautiful, long, thick, and strong hair. They never used any other kind of shampoo. Go figure….!
And then, there is me…struggling to keep whatever hair is left still on her head! (That is a story for another day!)
Moving on to the recipe, folks!
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1. Make the Shampoo base mixture with the dry herbs to store in a jar:
Coarse grind amla, reetha, and shikakai in a mortar & pestle or you can even use a blender.
For convenience, I find it easier to grind each individually before I add them together. For shikakai, you will have to break into smaller pieces before you coarse grind. For reetha, make sure you remove the seeds.
Store this mixture into an airtight container. I repurpose my glass pasta jars.
2. Make the liquid shampoo on the stove from the herb mixture:
Add 1 cup of water to a saucepan
Add 2 tbsp of the shampoo base mixture (from Step 1)
Add 2 tbsp of fenugreek seeds
Add 1 stalk of neem leaves (broken from the stalk)
Allow this to come to a boil, while stirring the mixture to avoid sticking to the pan
When you start to see bubbles/foam appearing, lower the flame to medium /low and cook for additional 7-8 minutes
Turn the heat down to low and simmer for another 6-8 minutes
Keep stirring and enjoy watching the mixture foaming up (thanks to reetha!)
Turn off flame, cover and let the mixture sit overnight to completely cool off and allow for all the goodness from the herbs to be well extracted
3. Get your shampoo ready to use:
Next day: rub the mixture with your hands to extract all the juices from the herbs (wear gloves if you would like as this process can stain your hands temporarily; color easily washes away with soap, by the way)
Using a muslin cloth, squeeze all the liquid out in a big bowl (don’t leave a single drop, squeeze as much as you can!)
Transfer the liquid to a squeeze bottle for easy application (You can also use a jar or a bottle. Whatever works for you. I find that the squeeze bottle is the best way to apply to hair)
This is optional: I use the leftover, strained out herbs from the muslin cloth and run it again in another batch of water on the stove. I find that it still has a whole lot of nutrients to make me another batch of shampoo/rinse. You don’t have to do this but I just hate to throw away all that goodness from just one use!
How To Use On Hair:
Apply to either dry or wet hair while you are in the shower. Start with your scalp first and massage it in for a few minutes, then work your way lower, down the length of your hair.
Keep in mind: this will not lather as much as your regular shampoo and neither will it be as thick. This shampoo will have more of a runny, rinse-like consistency.
Leave on hair for a few minutes and then rinse off with cooler lukewarm water.
Now that we know how to make this herbal shampoo, let us get into what makes the ingredients so “hair-loving” good!
Amla is a complete superfood for hair! It is loaded with Vitamins C, E, and antioxidants that improve scalp circulation and cellular regeneration that leads to healthy hair growth. The Vitamin C content in amla produces collagen protein, which repairs the dead cells of each hair follicle, strengthening hair from root to tip. One single amla contains 81.2% moisture, which means that it nourishes and conditions dry and brittle hair. Vitamin E adds shine and smoothness to hair. The antioxidants in amla protect hair cuticles from damages caused by dust, pollution, hair styling tools, and even hard water minerals. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities prevent accumulation of dandruff and scalp itchiness, by reducing sebum production and creating a healthy scalp environment. Lastly, amla improves hair’s natural pigmentation and reduces greying of hair.
This herb can be used as a natural shampoo because of its excellent cleansing capabilities. It effectively removes excess oils from the scalp without stripping it of its natural sebum. The antibacterial and antifungal properties in reetha keep the scalp clean and fresh. Reetha is well-known to soothe any active scalp inflammations. It is packed with iron that helps to improve hair health, makes hair soft and supple, and reduces hair fall significantly. The natural surfactant called saponins in reetha can easily and effectively remove all kinds of scalp buildup (dirt, grime, product and mineral buildup, etc). Lastly, reetha protects hair color and prevents the greying of hair, promoting healthy, shiny hair growth!
Shikakai, meaning “fruit for hair”, can be used as a natural conditioner as it nourishes hair from roots to ends, preventing split ends and removing frizz. The saponins in this herb create a good cleansing foam (much like that of your store-bought shampoo) that is effective in cleaning out excess debris from the scalp, reducing itchiness, inflammation, and dandruff. It restores the scalp to its natural health. Shikakai naturally lowers the pH levels of hair, preventing tangles and knots from hair and restoring its shine and luster. The antioxidants in shikakai help fight off free radicals, making hair long, strong, and fast-growing! The healthful nutrients contained in Shikakai prevent the deterioration of hair quality and revive hair so that it is full of life and bounce!
Fenugreek Seeds & Neem Leaves
Fenugreek seeds, rich in protein and iron, are essential for stimulating hair growth. They contain flavonoids and saponins that promote a healthy scalp that is free of inflammation, fungal growth, dryness and itchiness. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help the body fight off everyday toxins. The potassium content in fenugreek seeds prevents premature greying and helps hair stay strong and shiny.
Neem leaves are notoriously famous for their ability to promote healthy hair growth due to the high levels of antioxidants it contains. They hydrate the hair making strands shinier, healthier, and voluminous. Neem leaves also help to protect the scalp from free radicals and reduce stress-induced hair thinning.
I am sure you have some questions and guess what? I am HAIR to answer them!!
Will It Work For My Hair?
Yes. This shampoo works for all hair types. However, you will have to allow your hair to adjust to the herbs in this shampoo (about 4-6 weeks detox period). You can read the “Before You Switch” section in my All-Natural Homemade Shampoo post to learn more.
Tips: For oily hair use the powder form of the herbs as they work great in absorbing excess oils. For super dry hair, you can add coconut milk to the final shampoo to add better moisture and conditioning qualities.
How Do I Store It?
You can store the dry herb mixture in an airtight container for up to 2 months! For the liquid shampoo, if you have leftovers, you can store it in the fridge for up to 7 days but it may go rancid earlier; just be sure to keep an eye on it. I would suggest making small batches for single use.
Tips: For bigger batches, you can pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze for future use. Use 2-3 cubes depending on your hair length as needed. Allow the cubes to liquify before you use (but that of course, is a no-brainer!)
Will It Change The Color Of My Hair?
Yes. Shikakai and reetha are both pigment enhancers and so they will darken your tresses with regular use. If you have blonde hair and you do not want this shampoo to change your color, you can replace shikakai and reetha with any 2 of your choice of herbs from these options: nettle leaves, chamomile flowers, marshmallow root, or horsetail herb.
Are There Any Side Effects?
No. These herbs have been used as a natural cleanser for generations. Generally, the herbs that make up this shampoo are safe to use with no known side effects. However, I strongly suggest (as always) to do a patch test if you are using any of the herbs listed for the first time just to ensure you do not have any allergies to it.
Do I Need A Conditioner Afterwards?
No. Shikakai works exactly as a conditioner, naturally softening and detangling the strands into easily manageable hair. If you still feel like your hair feels dry afterwards, you can apply a little bit of argan or jojoba oil to the ends of your hair to ensure proper hydration. Both oils are lightweight and non-greasy.
Give this herbal shampoo recipe a try and see how, with regular use, your hair begins to shine and show signs of good health. I personally love DIYs and find immense pleasure in seeing results that I get from something I created right at the comfort of my home. There is a certain level of happiness that comes from knowing I am using ingredients that are low-waste/ planet friendly and have great overall health benefits, if not just for hair.
What did you think about the recipe?
Have you tried a variation of this herbal shampoo? If so, I would love to hear all about which herbs you chose and how it helped your hair!
As always, I love hearing from you so be sure to please leave your comments below!