How to Make Your Own Organic Shampoo

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If you’re concerned about the ingredients in the commercial shampoo you use daily, you’re not alone. The no shampoo movement has gained traction, with more and more people shampooing less (both for the health of their hair and the environment) as well as ditching shampoos that contain harsh detergents such as sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate and cocamide DEA.

(Want to know if your shampoo brand contains toxic ingredients? Visit the Skin Deep cosmetics database.)

This isn’t just something trendy to do. After all, daily shampooing is a relatively recent concept. Tracing back to the late 1800s, most people shampooed just once a month, and the first commercial shampoo was only developed a few decades later.

So what’s the best way to keep your hair healthy now that most of us shampoo far more often than we did way back when? For starters, Janice Cox, author of "Natural Beauty at Home," recommends you take a very close look at your shampoo label.

“The first ingredient in a shampoo should be water since that’s what accounts for between 50 and 80 percent of the total weight,” she says. “Look for other natural ingredients, including olive oil, coconut oil, sucrose and menthol. You may also need to do a bit of research when reading labels as many companies use the Latin or chemical names for their ingredients.”

Or, consider making your own shampoo.

“Homemade shampoo contains fewer ingredients and won’t have the same foaming action you may be used to,” she says. “But it cleans your hair and scalp just as effectively. Plus, a homemade option is more cost-effective.”

Turns out, commercially created bubbles come at a price.

“That lather is something we’ve come to expect from commercial products, and we equate that with them doing a good job,” Cox says. “However, the other ingredients added to products for added body, manageability and scent are ultimately not as good for your overall health.”

Reach instead for more natural oils and ingredients. “Your hair will tend to foam less but the results will be the same,” she adds. “And think about it this way: The health benefits of using a homemade shampoo will far outweigh a hair full of lather.”

Here, Cox shares her two favorite DIY shampoos:

Basic Shampoo

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1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mild liquid soap (Castile-style vegetable soap works well)

1/2 teaspoon light vegetable or canola oil


Gently stir all of the ingredients together, being careful not to beat the mixture, as this will cause it to foam up. Pour the shampoo into a clean plastic container. To use, shampoo as you normally would, then rinse well with cool water.

Yield: 8 ounces

TIP: If your hair is oily, omit the vegetable oil. (Include it if your hair is dry or damaged.)

Olive Oil Shampoo

Olive oil dripping from a spoon into a glass bowl on wood table surrounded by olives.

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1/2 cup water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup liquid soap (Castile-style vegetable soap works well)


Stir together all ingredients and pour in a clean bottle with a tight-fitting lid. To use, shampoo as you would normally and rinse well with cool water. You may need to shake this shampoo before using to remix the ingredients.

Yield: 12 ounces

TIP: Consider adding your favorite essential oils to this recipe and practice a bit of aromatherapy as you cleanse your hair. If your hair is oily, cut back on the amount of olive oil.