DIY Shampoo Bar, Step-by-Step Instructions


NaturallyHandcrafted | Everyone in my family uses my DIY shampoo bar. Yes, I wash my 3-year-old’s hair using a DIY shampoo bar too. This DIY shampoo bar is made with all natural, palm-free, vegan ingredients. I prefer the DIY shampoo bar over a store-bought liquid shampoo because I want to care for my and my loved ones’ hair with all natural products. I like this shampoo bar so much that I offer it in my etsy shop. It’s one of my popular etsy items.

The problem with many store-bought liquid shampoos is that they use synthetic materials that strip hair of its natural sebum. These shampoos then cover the hair with other artificial ingredients. This process confuses our hair and scalp, and leads to an overproduction of hair sebum. Often, the use of a chemical-filled liquid shampoo can lead to damaged hair and itchy scalp.

Also, many store-bought liquid shampoos are loaded with questionable chemicals that probably do more harm than good to our body.  The Guardian did an interactive report, What’s in Your Shampoo. It was informative, and alarming. Next time you reach for that liquid shampoo in a store, check to see if it has the following harmful ingredients:

  • Paraben includes anything that ends with “-paraben.” It’s a synthetic preservative that can potentially be carcinogenic.
  • Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) is a foaming agent. Because of its processing method, it’s likely contaminated with a carcinogenic byproduct, dioxan.
  • Phthalates is often listed as “fragrance.” These chemicals are endocrine disruptors that have been linked to autism, obesity and breast cancer.
  • Dimethicones & Silicones can cause hair loss and itchy scalp.

Other sources, such as this article and this article, give more information on the bad ingredients in many store-bought shampoos. I’m convinced that if people know what are in these liquid shampoos, they would switch to using an all natural shampoo bar. Some of them might even make their own DIY shampoo bar. What not?! It’s surprisingly easy.

DIY Shampoo Bar

Prep Time: about an hour

Curing/Drying Time: 4 weeks. This is a cold process DIY shampoo bar. You should allow the shampoo bar to cure/dry for at least 4 weeks before use.

Yields: about 5 bars, weighing around 4 oz each

Ingredients Needed to Make DIY Shampoo Bar

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  1. Coconut Oil – 8 oz. I use Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil. You can use any brand of pure coconut oil. I’d choose a brand that offers organic virgin unrefined coconut oil. It’s the best for your skin.
  2. Olive Oil – 3.2 oz. I use Trader Joe’s Imported Olive Oil. You can use any brand of pure olive oil. I like Trader Joe’s Imported Olive Oil, although it’s not extra virgin or organic.
  3. Castor Oil – 2.24 oz. I use Now Solutions Castor Oil.
  4. Sunflower Oil – 1.28 oz. I use Whole Foods 365 Organic Sunflower Oil. Other brands of sunflower oil, like La Tourangelle Organic Sunflower Oil, or Life-Flo Organic Sunflower Oil, work as well.
  5. Cocoa Butter – 1.28 oz. I use Raw Unrefined Cocoa Butter.
  6. Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) – 2.2 oz. I use Food Grade Lye.
  7. Coconut Milk or Distilled Water – 2.6 oz. I use Whole Foods 365 Organic Coconut Milk. I’ve also used Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk. You can find distilled water at your local supermarket.
  8. (optional) Avocado – 1.25 oz. I use organic avocado from Trader Joe’s. You can often find avocado in your local supermarket.
  9. (optional) Rhassoul Clay – 1 tablespoon. I use Now Solutions Moroccan Red Clay.
  10. (optional) Apple Cider Vinegar – 0.5 oz. I use Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
  11. Soap Mold. I use a 6-cavity soap mold.

Ingredients for DIY Shampoo Bar

DIY Shampoo Bar Ingredients Explained

  1. Coconut Oil has great cleaning abilities. Coconut oil also makes a very hard and long-lasting DIY shampoo bar.
  2. Olive Oil is known for its mild and nourishing properties. Olive oil is great for all hair and skin types.
  3. Castor Oil is known to prevent hair loss and encourage hair growth. Castor oil also adds lather and bubbles to the DIY shampoo bar.
  4. Sunflower Oil has similar nourishing properties as olive oil. Sunflower oil is similar to castor oil, because it adds lather to the DIY shampoo bar.
  5. Cocoa Butter is an amazing hair conditioner. Cocoa butter adds moisture to hair naturally.
  6. Lye is needed to make all natural soap from scratch. No lye, no soap. After the DIY shampoo bar goes through the 4-week curing/drying period, no lye remains in the soap. All of the lye is combined with the oil/butter to create an all natural shampoo bar.
  7. Coconut Milk is a natural hair conditioner. Coconut milk is great for all hair types.
  8. (optional) Avocado is a popular hair mask ingredient.  Avocado is loaded with nutrients that hydrates and adds shine to hair.
  9. (optional) Rhassoul Clay, aka, Moroccan Red Clay, is rich in minerals. Rhassoul clay has been used in haircare for centuries. It cleans, moisturizes, and softens hair.  
  10. (optional) Apple Cider Vinegar is often used as an after-wash hair rinse. Apple cider vinegar helps to balance the PH level of the DIY shampoo bar.

How to Make DIY Shampoo Bar

This DIY shampoo bar recipe uses lye. Lye is a caustic and potentially dangerous material that can seriously damage our skin and any living tissue. Be sure no children or pets are around when you are working with lye. Also, make sure you wear the proper protective gear to protect your body, including your eyes, hands, arms, legs, and feet. If you are not familiar with soap making safety precautions, please read more about them here and here.

(1) Make your lye solution.

I use coconut milk to make my lye solution. You can also use distilled water. If you use coconut milk, make sure to freeze the coconut milk overnight. You need the coconut milk to be rock hard before adding lye. Otherwise, the lye will burn the coconut milk. You will end up with some pretty nasty smelling and looking lye solution. Read more about how to make lye solution with milk.

In a well-ventilated place, slowly add lye to coconut milk or distilled water. (NEVER do the reverse. Don’t add coconut milk/distilled water to lye.) Stir your lye solution using a plastic or silicone whisk or silicone spatula. Don’t breathe in the fume. Set the lye solution aside.

(2) Melt your coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, sunflower oil, and cocoa butter. I put all the oil and butter in a glass measuring cup, then place the glass measuring cup in a pot that has about 2 to 3 inches of water. I’m creating a double boiler to melt the ingredients.

(3) (optional) Use a stick blender to mix the avocado (less the pit, please) and apple cider vinegar. I usually also add about half a cup of the melted oil and butter. Adding melted oil and butter makes it easier to blend and mix the avocado and apple cider vinegar. You have to make sure you DON’T have chunks of avocado. You want the avocado and apple cider vinegar to be mixed very well. I look for a smooth milkshake consistency. Set the avocado mixture aside.

Avocado and Apple Cider Vinegar to DIY Shampoo Bar

(4) Add lye solution to melted oil and butter.

Add Lye Solution to DIY Shampoo Bar

(5) Slowly hand mix the mixture with a plastic or silicone whisk or silicone spatula. Then use a stick blender to mix.

Stick Blend DIY Shampoo Bar

(6) When the lye solution and melted oil/butter thickens, add the avocado mixture, and rhassoul clay. Use the stick blender to mix. Because of the avocado and rhassoul clay, you probably need to mix for 1 to 2 seconds. Seriously, SECONDS. The DIY shampoo bar mixture thickens VERY QUICKLY after adding the avocado mixture and rhassoul clay. If the mixture is too thick, it will be difficult to get it into a mold.

Add Rhassoul Clay to DIY Shampoo Bar

Mix All Ingredients for DIY Shampoo Bar

(7) Pour or scoop the DIY shampoo bar mixture into a soap mold. I use a 6-cavity soap mold so I don’t have to cut the shampoo bar. As you see below, this DIY shampoo bar recipe will yield 5 regular size bars and 1 smaller tester bar. Be sure to give the mold a few good bangs after getting the soap in it. You want to bang all the air bubbles out.

This DIY shampoo bar tends to get very hot during the first 12 hours. If you use a loaf mold, you will likely get partial or full gel. I don’t like how partial gel looks. But if you don’t mind, feel free to use a loaf mold.

Scoop DIY Shampoo Bar into Mold

(8) Place the DIY shampoo bar in the freezer for at least 3 hours. Once, I left the shampoo bar unrefrigerated. The heat that the shampoo bar generated turned the bar into a weird green and brown color. The shampoo bar eventually mellowed out, but its color was still a bit strange.

(9) Unmold the DIY shampoo bar from the soap mold after 3 hours in the freezer.

(10) Allow your DIY shampoo bar to cure/dry for at least 4 weeks before use.

How to Use DIY Shampoo Bar

(1) Wet your hair.

(2) Rub the DIY shampoo bar on your hair. The all natural shampoo bar will create an amazing lather. You can also rub the shampoo bar in your hands to create lather, then use the lather on your hair.

(3) Gently massage your hair.

(4) Rinse your hair.

(5) Towel dry your hair.

(6) (Optional) Spray apple cider vinegar or lemon after-wash hair rinse. You can make an all natural hair rinse by mixing 1 part of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with 3 parts of water. I don’t use a hair rinse, because I find that the DIY shampoo bar leaves my hair soft and moisturized without the need of a hair rinse.

(7) Comb your hair with a large tooth comb.

Before switching to this DIY shampoo bar I had to wash my hair everyday. Otherwise, my hair looked greasy and gross, and my scalp itched like crazy. After switching, I shampoo and use this DIY shampoo bar once every 3 days or so. My hair now stays clean, and my scalp stays calm  between washes.

You might need to use the DIY shampoo bar for about 2 weeks before seeing its full benefits. I went through a 2-week transition period.  But my hubby and little one didn’t. During my transition period, my hair was greasy and oily. I think it was because my hair didn’t know that my shampoo was no longer striping my hair of its natural sebum. This probably led to an overproduction of hair sebum. Also during this transition period, my hair was detoxing the chemicals left behind by store-bought liquid shampoos. Everything was fine after about 2 weeks. Be patient. You will have soft and moisturized hair after this transition period.

That’s it! That’s how you make your own DIY shampoo bar. You don’t need a store-bought liquid shampoo that’s loaded with hard to pronounce, and potentially harmful chemicals. Treat your hair right. Use a DIY shampoo bar. It’s super easy to make. The toughest part is waiting 4 weeks for the DIY shampoo bar to dry/cure. Will you be giving this DIY shampoo bar recipe a try? I’d love to know how you like it. If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy this shampoo bar at my etsy store. Happy soaping!

DIY Shampoo Bar 2 Bars

Can’t get enough of DIY shampoo bar recipes? Here is one more recipe that shows you how to make a Hot Process Banana and Coconut Milk Shampoo Bar.