Making Shampoo

Making Shampoo

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A while back, I spoke to a student who mentioned that she makes her own shampoo. “Huh,” I thought to myself, “That’s cool. I hadn’t ever thought about making my own shampoo. I wonder if it’s any good?” Fast forward a couple months, and my mom gave me a shampoo bar made out of the kind of ingredients I mostly could pick up at the grocery store. It turns out that as weird as I find the idea of a “shampoo bar”… I actually really like the stuff.

So I figure it’s about time I look at what exactly goes into making shampoo. Is it a project we could do as a maker event at work? How easy would it be to tie it into some sort of classroom lesson / excuse to partner up with one of the departments on campus?

For the latter question, the American Chemical Society has me covered. They’ve got a tab full of links on the chemistry of shampoo and hair. That kind of thing is always a plus if you have to justify your events to skeptics.

In terms of how complicated it is to actually *make* shampoo–I’m realizing from my research today that there are so many different recipes out there, there’s probably one at everyone’s preferred level of difficulty.

  • If you start searching for how to make shampoo, you’ll probably come across “The No Poo Method.” (Yes, that’s really the name they use.) Leaving aside the myriad opinions of people who did or didn’t have success with this method, mixing together baking soda and water isn’t much of a maker activity. Plus all the blog posts I came across with people doing this are like the one I linked above: They have quite a few different things they use on their hair on different days. Again–not much of a maker activity. It might tie in well with a chemistry lesson, though, if you’re going that route.
  • Honey and water. Again, this doesn’t sound like much of a maker activity, and the blog post I read about it (My Experience using Honey to Shampoo My Hair + 3 Homemade Honey Shampoo Recipes) didn’t recommend it as an everyday shampoo option. The other recipes she lists at the bottom of her post, though, sound like they might be a different case–they add ingredients like castile soap, which other homemade-shampoo enthusiasts seem to like for an everyday option.
  • Recipes that start adding in coconut milk with the honey, like this one. It sounds very straightforward to put together once you’ve accumulated the ingredients. That recipe author recommends using it up in 2-3 weeks, but if you’re doing a one-off maker event, a short shelf life probably doesn’t matter to you. Worth noting: Several sources mentioned that it’s better if you use coconut milk that doesn’t come from a can.
  • Making shampoo bars. This is the most complicated method, because lye is a common ingredient for the saponification process. Lye is not something you want to mess around with! If you have a well ventilated area, though (maybe outside?) and an audience that can be trusted not to screw around with the stuff, making shampoo bars sounds like it could be a cool activity. Here are two different recipes: Homemade Solid Shampoo Bar Recipe, and Learn To Make A Natural Homemade Shampoo Bar. Participants would need to come back the next day to pick up their shampoo bar and then wait a couple of weeks before using it, since apparently it has to cure.


Shampoo is a part of my everyday life that I’ve never really questioned before, so this has been an interesting trail of DIY for me to look into. What about you–have you made your own shampoo before? Is your recipe something that would translate well to a group activity? Tweet @makerbridge, or drop me a comment!






Image Credit: “Soap-making” by Sally is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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