DIY,  Shower Stories

DIY Herbal Shampoo Recipe Your Hair Will Love!

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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What You Will Need:

HERBSEQUIPMENT
100g (7-8 pcs) Dry Whole Shikakai Pods8 or 16 oz Squeeze Bottle or Glass Bottle
100g (7-8 pcs) Dry Whole Seedless Reetha (Soapnuts)Air-Tight Container or Mason Jar
100g Dry Whole Amla Berries (Indian Gooseberry)Mortar & Pestle
1-2 TBSP Whole Fenugreek SeedsSaucepan
1 TBSP Dry Neem Leaves or 1 Stalk Fresh LeavesWater

This is a general guide. You can increase or decrease the quantity based on your hair length. I just recommend equal quantities of amla, reetha, and shikakai for simplicity’s sake.

If you prefer to use the powdered version of the herbs, here is where you can buy them:

Method:

1. Make the Shampoo base mixture with the dry herbs to store in a jar:

Coarse Grind Herbs To Make DIY Herbal Shampoo
  • Coarse grind amla, reetha, and shikakai in a mortar & pestle or you can even use a blender.
  • For convenience, I find it easier to pulse/coarse 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 sauce 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 dry or fresh neem leaves
  • 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 foam 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 cheese 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 cheese 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Leave on hair for a few minutes and then rinse off with cooler lukewarm water.

Ingredient Spotlight

Now that we know how to make this herbal shampoo, let us get into what makes the ingredients so “hair-loving” good!

Amla Promotes Hair GrowthAmla

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.

Reetha Works As A Natural ShampooReetha

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 Works as a Natural Hair ConditionerShikakai

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.

Common FAQs

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.

Store Your DIY Herbal Shampoo in Re-Purposed JarsHow 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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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20 Comments

  • Yvonne

    I loved your site. I do like the idea of making my own shampoo for my hair, however, I haven’t heard of some ingredients you mention: Amla, Reetha, Shikakai. Where would I buy such ingredients?

    • Sasha

      Thanks so much Yvonne! I have included the links to where you would find the ingredients I have mentioned herein. These could be difficult to find, for sure. Best place to look for them would be at Indian Grocery stores but if you don’t have that in your area, you can always use the links I have provided within the post. Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Ivan

    Hey Sasha, thanks for sharing this post. I was looking for some herbal shampoo recipes to share with my girlfriend and your post here is exactly what I was looking for! I like how you have included information about all the ingredients as well as how to use this shampoo and frequently asked questions. I don’t have to look any further because your post here has it all. Great stuff! Thanks again for sharing this recipe and keep up the good work!

    • Sasha

      Hey Ivan! That is great that you found this so useful to share with your girlfriend. I hope that she loves this recipe as much as I do and please tell her to feel free to reach out to me if she has any questions about it! I would be more than happy to help! 🙂

  • Kathy

    I love this article as I’m always looking for natural alternatives. Regular shop bought shampoos contain very harsh ingredients, one of which is used in anti-freeze! I’ve never heard of some the herbs you include in your shampoo but Reetha and Shikakai sound amazing. My hair is a blonde shade so I’d probably need to replace the darkening herbs with Chammomile. I’ve saved this page and will share it with my friends:)

    • Sasha

      Thanks, Kathy- so glad you loved this article! I love using natural ingredients! You are absolutely right about anti-freeze in shampoos we get from the store. And that is just ONE of the many harmful ingredients in our shampoos!!

      Yes, good choice with the Chamomile herb- it will definitely protect your blonde shades. Thank you for sharing with your friends! Let’s make our planet a safer place to live in by using sustainable ingredients and less plastic/toxic waste!

  • Femi

    Hey Sasha,

    Thanks a lot for a well-written and instructive review. I will definitely share this article with my wife.

    She’ll love it not just because it’ll save her the extra bucks from repeatedly buying chemical shampoos that does more than good to her tresses but would also appreciate that what she’s using on her natural hair is planet friendly too!

    Cheers,
    Femi

    • Sasha

      Hi Femi, Thank you for stopping by and sharing this post with your wife! I hope she loves it too! It will take her hair a little bit of getting used to, but as soon as the detox period ends, her hair will love it and so will her wallet!

  • Sylvia

    Wow, Sasha! I love sustainability, and this shampoo is an excellent answer to that. I know Neem oil very well for eczema; it helps a lot. I use it for my ears. However, I had no idea of using it in a self-made shampoo. I also use Amla berries because they have so much Vitamin C, and I live a healthy lifestyle, blending, juicing, eating salads.
    I will try this out and tell you how it is going for my hair. Usually, I buy organic shampoos, but this makes me curious. Thank you very much! 🙂

    • Sasha

      Hey Sylvia- love your healthy attitude & lifestyle! Definitely give this a try and see how your hair feels! It is a better alternative to store-bought organic shampoos, which I find are so expensive but still very good. I would absolutely love your update-so please do return to let me know how the progress is coming along! 🙂

  • Summer

    Hey Sasha, loving this recipe. For sure going to try it out! Have been using your other DIY shampoo, but really want to try this one out! Questions, is there a difference between grinding the pods vs using the powder? Also do you grind the neem leafs or the fenugreek seeds? Would this one also need a Apple cider vinegar rinse? Thanks!!!

    • Sasha

      Hey Summer! You will love this recipe and so will your hair. To answer your questions:
      1. Coarse (emphasis added) Grinding the pods in the recipe allows for easy and longer storage of the dried herbs. The powder version is best for one time use and ideal for oily hair.
      2. You do not need to grind the neem leaves or the fenugreek seeds. You add both to the saucepan as is, while it infuses with the herb mixture.
      3. No need for ACV rinse either- Shikakai acts as a natural conditioner and also balances the pH of hair!
      Hope these answers help! Do let me know if you have any more questions and how you like the recipe when you try it!:)

      • Summer

        Hey Sasha, Thanks for the reply! Recently used the shampoo too early to tell how it works, but so far I am happy with it! Will give an update as I continue to use it. Questions,
        1. Say if I do a oil treatment for my hair will the shampoo wash it out? Have you tried it?
        2. Also do you have any tips for Low porosity hair? What are your thoughts on it?

        • Sasha

          Hey Summer, glad to hear you are happy with the herbal shampoo. Allow time for your hair to detox-stay consistent and i assure you your hair will love it!

          To answer your questions:
          1. if you use a light oil treatment (like argan or jojoba oil), this shampoo will help to wash it off. However, depending on your hair density and hair type, you may need something stronger. In that case, I would suggest you use my homemade natural shampoo recipe (with liquid castile soap) to thoroughly wash out the oils. That is what works for me ). Otherwise, you could also use Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Shampoo.

          2. There is so much I can tell you about low porosity hair but I’ll try to stick to some main tips. Low porosity hair basically is hair that is difficult to absorb moisture as the cuticles are laid down tight, making it difficult for moisture to get in… or out. Wearing a showercap during oil treatments really allows for oil to seep into the hair shaft. Heavier oils such as castor & olive oil must be avoided as well as products with too much protein. It is also easy for product buildup to form on hair so a great clarifying shampoo is ideal to incorporate in your haircare regimen once every couple of weeks to get rid of excess buildup (you do not need this if your use of store-bought products is minimal. The use of aloe vera gel or juice can really help to seal in moisture in the hair as well. Lastly, I would suggest covering your hair with a satin headscarf when you go to bed so that cotton bedsheets or pillowcases don’t soak up your hair’s moisture! A satin pillowcase is also a great idea for your hair health.

          Hope all these tips help! I have included links where applicable for your convenience. If you have any other questions, please do feel free to ask away 🙂

          • Summer

            Thanks as always! This info was super helpful.
            Update, I did this shampoo with coconut milk and also your castile soap shamppo also, it made my hair very oily looking. I went back to the castile soap and added agarn oil instead of the coconut milk. Does coconut milk usually make your hair look oily? Wondering if I should remake this shampoo with oit the coconut milk.

          • Sasha

            Hey Summer! I wouldn’t recommend adding coconut milk to the herbal shampoo recipe as it may make your hair oily as you rightly mentioned. Here is what I would suggest: use this DIY Herbal shampoo as is and then go in once a week with the castile soap shampoo to ensure you have removed leftover buildup. If you would like to use coconut milk, you could perhaps add 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1/4 cup water to the castile soap shampoo recipe, instead of replacing it completely with water. Basically, play around with the quantity of ingredients according to your hair’s needs. If less coconut milk is still making your hair greasy, maybe omit it completely. Hope that makes sense 🙂

  • Summer

    Another question, I been looking into doing the LOC hair method. Due to having Low porosity hair, have you heard of this before? Thinking Aloe vera would be great for the liquid due to your recommendation, Unless that is not hydrating enough and only seals in moisture. For the Creams, do you know of any that would be good for low porosity hair? Is shea butter too heavy? Thanks!

    • Sasha

      Aloe vera could work very well for low porosity hair. You could dilute it in water, add a few drops of argan oil and make a spritz out of it as your “LO” portion (Apply this on wet/damp hair). For the cream, I would highly suggest Shea Moisture’s Leave-in Conditioner. Depending on how low in porosity your hair is though, a little could go a long way…so start applying sparingly and see how your hair reacts. You could need more; you may even need less, or maybe none! It could take you a few trials until you find a formula that works best for your hair. Typically for low porosity, LC or LO works better than the LOC/LCO method. The explanation behind this is that both the oil and the cream can result in too much buildup. Hope this helps too- Good luck!

      • Summer

        Thanks you so much, you are so helpful! Thanks for the tips. Will definitely try these out. I am thinking of starting the LOC method, so really helps to know I might not need all the steps. I have a water base leave in conditioner coming (tgin Rose Water Smoothing Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair) and have argan oil or sweet almond! I am worried that this might lead to build up though, I imagine the DIY Herbal shampoo or castile soap shampoo aren’t clarifying. Or would those be enough? I have heard about using bentonite clay then using a deep conditioner, for the clarifying. Is this too much in your opinion? Due to the detoxing that I did for the natural shampoos, I am worried to use Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Shampoo, just to get more chemicals. Is this bad thinking? And if it is safe, do I just going in with apple cider vinegar for the conditioner or something else?

        You are awesome Sasha! <3
        Also thanks for introducing me to bamboo tea. I am in love!

        • Sasha

          Personally, I believe in the “keeping it simple” formula. The less products you use, the better it is for your hair. You only need to clarify if & when your scalp has excessive buildup. Once your scalp and hair get used to the DIY shampoos, you wont need to wash your hair as often as you used to. The Cantu cleansing shampoo is sulfate-free and doesn’t contain all the other harmful chemicals as the regular shampoos. You can finish with the ACV rinse for conditioner. Alternatively, you can even make a hair rinse out of your left over bamboo tea bag and use that as a final rinse/conditioner after the Cantu shampoo!

          P.S. I absolutely love bamboo tea! So glad my tips are helping you 🙂 Lots of love to you AND your hair! <3

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