your natural self

How To Make Homemade Shampoo (bar, liquid, & dry) + Conditioner The Easy Way

Published on October 11, 2023

By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

If you’re considering making homemade shampoo and conditioner but worry it will be too difficult, this article is for you.

In this beginners’ guide, you’ll learn how to make easy DIY homemade shampoo and conditioner using only natural & non-toxic ingredients.

Topics covered include:

  • The benefits of homemade shampoos and conditioners
  • The best herbs and other natural ingredients to add to various hair types
  • How to make a homemade liquid shampoo with just three ingredients
  • How to make a lye-free DIY shampoo bar (it’s easier than you think!)
  • Recipes for dry shampoo based on your hair color
  • Homemade conditioner recipes—rinses, leave-in, and traditional cream-based
  • And much more

These recipes are super easy to make, solet’s get started exploring the world of homemade shampoo and conditioner for beginners.

Why Make Homemade Own Shampoo and Conditioner?

Homemade shampoos and conditioners are becoming popular for three main reasons:

1: They do Not Contain Harsh Chemicals

This might include ingredients such as synthetic surfactants, preservatives, dyes, and fragrances, typically found in conventional hair care products.

Many of these chemicals, such as sulfates, strip your hair of precious oils and are no bueno for the environment—in their manufacturing (many are made of petroleum) or going down the drain.

Plus, several ingredients used in hair care products have been linked to ill health effects. 

For example, phthalates in fragrance are known hormone disruptors,REF#2991 and formaldehyde, used as a preservative in shampoos and conditioners, is a known carcinogen.REF#2992

These are just two examples of hundreds of chemicals used in synthetic hair care products, many of which have not been tested for safety.

2: Natural and Organic Shampoos and Conditioners are Expensive

High-quality hair care products are usually costly, as are their organic and natural versions.

If you’re lucky enough to have naturally fabulous hair regardless of the products you use, you can probably get away with buying the best options as they go on sale.

Simple homemade shampoos and conditioners can be a real money (and hair) saver for the rest of us.

3: DIY Homemade Shampoos and Conditioners are Easy to Make 

Flashy packaging and advertising would have us believe you need a chemist, a hair styling expert, millions of dollars, lots of fancy equipment, and FDA approval to make your own shampoo.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

All you need to make homemade shampoo are a few simple ingredients and equipment you probably already have on-hand or can easily purchase from DIY stores.

Feeling inspired? Then, let’s start gathering what you’ll need to make DIY shampoos and conditioners.

Equipment & Storage Vessels Required to Make Homemade Shampoo

For homemade shampoo, all you’ll need equipment-wise are a few things you probably already have at home, plus the appropriate storage container (yes, bar shampoos also benefit from specific storage vessels).

The Best Herbs to Add to Homemade Shampoo and Conditioner Based on Hair Type

Different herbs can impart specific benefits to hair and add a beautiful natural scent to your shampoo or conditioner.

Here are a few to consider adding to your homemade hair care products based on hair type:

Normal Hair

  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Peppermint

Oily Hair

  • Bay leaf
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tea Tree
  • Calendula
  • Oregano or Oil of Oregano
  • Peppermint

Dry/Damaged Hair

  • Calendula
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Sea Buckthorn
  • Alfalfa
  • Aloe Vera
  • Neem

Fine or Thinning Hair

  • Ashwagandha
  • Cedarwood essential oil
  • Clary sage essential oil
  • Gotu Kola
  • Horsetail
  • Nettle
  • Aloe Vera
  • Oregano Oil
  • Saw Palmetto
  • Neem

Sensitive Scalp

  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Lavender
  • Aloe Vera

Dry/Itching Scalp

These herbs can be added fresh, dried, powdered, or, in some cases, as essential oils.

Fresh herbs tend to contain more moisture and therefore may cause the shampoo or conditioner to go bad faster than dried herbs. This can be avoided by keeping them whole and removing them after a day or two of infusion.

Dried herbs are recommended for longer shelf life, but pieces can get stuck in your hair.

Powdered dried herbs are an excellent option for shampoo bars and dry shampoo, as you’ll get the benefits of the herbs without the debris.

Essential oils are also excellent as they disperse, smell lovely, and leave no residue or debris.

How To Make Homemade Liquid Shampoo

The easiest way to make a homemade liquid shampoo is by using pure and natural liquid castile soap as the base.

If you want a pre-scented shampoo, look for castile soaps scented with only pure essential oils.

Opt for a fragrance-free soap if you want to add your own essential oils and herbs. 

Here, we provide a basic recipe that can be customized for all hair types using the herbs listed above or other natural ingredients.

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • Measuring cups
  • A shampoo bottle
    • The shampoo bottle acts as a mixing and storage vessel.
    • You can reuse an old shampoo bottle or look for various reusable options online.
  • 1 1/2 cup water (filtered or distilled recommended)
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap 
  • 1-3 teaspoons olive oil, almond oil, argan, castor, or avocado oil (coconut oil is also lovely, but it will solidify if not kept warm)
    • Add more oil for dry hair, and less for oily hair
  • Optional ingredients:
  • 1-3 teaspoons baking soda or natural clay (for oily hair or for a clarifying-style shampoo)
    • 2-3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (for added shine and volume)

    How to Make:

    1. Mix everything in a shampoo bottle or container of choice.
    2. Add essential oils or herbs if desired.
    3. Shake before using.

      How to Use:

      • Use like regular shampoo as often as you need it.

        Lye-Free DIY Shampoo Bar

        DIY shampoo bars require making a solid soap and therefore require extra effort, ingredients, and knowledge. 

        But once you dial it in, you can make enough bars to last several months or even a year.

        Many DIY shampoo recipes call for lye, a traditional alkaline solidifying component used in soap making.

        If you know what you're doing, there is nothing wrong with using a lye-based recipe.

        However, lye is highly caustic and can cause severe burns, skin damage, eye damage, etc., if not handled properly.

        For these reasons, this recipe uses a premade liquid soap base instead of lye.

        Ingredients and Equipment:

          • Measuring cups and spoons
          • A double-boiler (a heat-proof bowl set atop a pot of simmering water)
          • A silicone mold (muffin tins sprayed with non-stick spray work, too, but silicone is easier to un-mold)
          • A soap or shampoo bar storage container (optional). 
        • Note: You can find various soap or shampoo bar containers online in different materials. The point is to keep your shampoo bar as dry as possible in the bath or shower between uses. Keeping it dry will help your homemade shampoo bar last longer.
        • 1 pound all-natural, non-toxic, sulfate-free liquid soap base such as organic goat’s milk, shea butter, or cocoa butter 
          • These can be found on large e-commerce sites
        • 2 teaspoons castor oil, almond oil, avocado oil, olive oil, argan oil, or coconut oil
        • 1 teaspoon Shea butter (vegan) or tallow
        • Optional essential oils, dried herbs, or powdered herbs

          How to Make:

          1. Cut up the soap base (or omit cutting if it comes flaked) and add to a double-boiler. Melt over low heat until liquified.
          2. Remove from heat and stir in oil of choice, Shea butter or tallow, and optional essential oils or herbs.
          3. Carefully pour into a silicone mold or muffin tin sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
          4. Let cool for several hours until solid to the touch.
          5. Gently unmold and let cure for 2-3 days.
          • Curing is optional and involves leaving the soap out, preferably on a cooling rack or other vented surface. The benefit of curing is it allows the soap to dry out and will help it last longer.

            How to Use:

            • Rub the shampoo bar over your scalp a few times.
            • Massage to work up a lather and work that lather through the tips of your hair.
            • Rinse and follow with conditioner of choice.
            • Store in soap or shampoo bar container to extend life.

              DIY Dry Shampoo

              Making your own dry shampoo is so easy you’ll wonder why you ever paid for pre-made. It also makes a great gift for new moms.

              Ingredients and Equipment:

              • Measuring cups and spoons
              • A mason jar or bowl
              • A whisk (optional)
              • An empty powder container or any sealable container in which to dip a dusting brush.
              • 1/2 cup of non-GMO cornstarch or arrowroot for blonde or light brown hair
              • OR 1/2 cup arrowroot or non-GMO cornstarch + 1/4 cup cocoa powder for dark brown hair
              • OR 1/2 cup arrowroot or non-GMO cornstarch + 1-2 teaspoons activated charcoal for black hair + 1/4 cup cocoa powder for dark brown hair
              • OR 1/2 cup arrowroot or non-GMO cornstarch + 1/4 cup cinnamon for red hair or brown hair with reddish hues
                • Note: Cinnamon can cause a contact allergy or sensitivity in some people, so test a small amount on your skin before using it in this recipe. If you experience redness or itching, opt for the cocoa powder + a few tablespoons of an alternate non-spicy reddish herb such as Amla powder or Paprika
              • Optional essential oils (5 drops) or herbs (a few teaspoons of powdered herbs recommended)

                How to Make:

                1. Mix everything in a bowl using a fork or whisk.
                2. Add 3-5 drops of optional essential oils or a couple of teaspoons of powdered herbs if desired.
                3. Store in a powder bottle, mason jar, or other cosmetic container.

                  How To Use: 

                  Apply by shaking it directly onto hair, then massaging gently into the scalp, or dust it on using a makeup brush.

                  3-Ingredient Conditioning Rinse

                  Apple cider vinegar has long been touted for its hair benefits, including enhancing shine, reducing frizz, detangling, supporting hair growth, creating volume, acting as a clarifying agent, and helping with scalp problems.

                  Here, apple cider vinegar is combined with water and a touch of nourishing oil for a simple yet effective conditioning rinse.

                  This homemade conditioning rinse can be used in various ways including:

                  • In place of traditional conditioner
                  • In place of shampoo to extend the amount of time between shampooing
                  • In addition to classic conditioners for added shine, volume, and reduce build-up

                    Ingredients and Equipment:

                    • Measuring cups and spoons
                    • A squeeze or spray bottle 
                    • 1 1/2 cups water
                    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
                    • Optional: 1 teaspoon olive oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or argan oil
                      • The purpose of the oil is to add moisture to the hair. Omit the oil if using as a clarifying rinse or shampoo alternative.

                      How to Make:

                      • Mix everything in a squirt or spray bottle.

                        How To Use:

                        Apply a good amount to hair and scalp and massage it in. Leave on for 3-5 minutes, rinse.

                        Herbal-Infused Conditioning Rinse

                        This cousin of the basic apple cider vinegar hair rinse is infused with herbs that support hair strength, growth, and luster.

                        Here’s how to make it.

                        Ingredients (any combination of these herbs will benefit the hair) and Equipment:

                        • Measuring cups and spoons
                        • A spray bottle
                        • 1/4 cup Nettles
                        • 1/4 cup Alfalfa or Horsetail
                        • 3 tablespoons Lavender
                        • 3 tablespoons Aloe Vera
                        • 3 tablespoon Rosemary
                        • 5-10 drops Oil of Oregano
                        • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
                        • 2-3 cups water (start with less water and see how your hair and scalp respond, if this concentration seems to harsh, dilute with another cup of water)

                          How to Make:

                          1. If using dried herbs, smash them slightly to release their aroma and oils.
                          2. Combine everything in a large bottle and shake vigorously.
                          3. Let infuse for 2-3 weeks, shaking a few times a week.
                          4. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs using a strainer.
                          5. Add the water and store in a squeeze bottle or spray bottle.

                            To Use:

                            • Apply a generous amount to your hair and massage into the scalp, either after shampooing or as a shampoo substitute.
                            • Leave for 3-5 minutes and rinse.

                              DIY Herbal Leave-In Conditioner Recipe

                              Leave-in conditioners are great options for those with thick hair, dry hair, coarse hair, or anyone who needs extra detangling and moisturizing.


                              • 1 cup green tea or herbal tea of your choice (nettles, alfalfa, and horsetail are great for strengthening hair)
                              • 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
                              • 1 tablespoon jojoba, argan, almond, or avocado oil (for added moisture)
                              • Optional: 10-20 drops essential oils of your choice

                                How to Make:

                                • Combine everything in a spray bottle, shake well, and you’re done.

                                  How to Use:

                                  • Spray on your hair after shampooing and comb through.

                                    Super Simple Homemade Creamy Conditioner Recipe

                                    This recipe mimics the classic luxurious creamy conditioners we’re all used to, and it’s easy to make.

                                    Ingredients and Equipment:

                                    • Measuring cups and spoons
                                    • A double-boiler
                                    • A fridge or freezer
                                    • A mixer, hand beaters, or immersion blender
                                    • A conditioner bottle
                                    • 3/4 cup of Shea butter
                                    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or tallow
                                    • 1 tablespoon raw honey
                                    • 2 tablespoons nourishing oil such as argan, vitamin E, jojoba, or olive oil
                                    • Optional: 1 tablespoon collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen (ideal for thin, fine, damaged, or weak hair)
                                    • Optional: A few teaspoons of herbs or 10-20 drops essential oils

                                      How to Make:

                                      • Melt the Shea butter over a double-boiler until it liquifies.
                                      • Mix in remaining ingredients.
                                      • Refrigerate until semi-solid or solid (this helps with the whipping).
                                      • Whip, using a mixer, hand beaters, or an immersion blender, to creamy consistency.
                                        • Note, if your mixture isn’t firming up to the consistency you’d like (which will vary depending on the temperature in your home), put it back into the fridge or freezer for an additional 20 minutes, then whip again. You can repeat this until desired consistency.
                                      • Pour into a conditioner bottle.

                                        How to Use:

                                        • A little goes a long way with this homemade conditioner, so start with just a dab and add more depending on your hair.

                                          Homemade Shampoo and Conditioner FAQs

                                          Q: Will homemade shampoo and conditioner work as well as store-bought?

                                          Yes, homemade shampoo and conditioner can work as well, or even better, as store-bought brands.

                                          These homemade recipes do not contain harsh cleansers, surfactants, wetting agents, or other chemicals that can damage and weaken hair over time.

                                          However, since everyone’s hair is different, it may take some experimenting to find your ideal formula.

                                          See the information on additional ingredients for tips on making a shampoo or conditioner more clarifying, moisturizing, volumizing, or better for oily hair.

                                          Q: What about DIY conditioner bars?

                                          A: We love conditioner bars and think they’re awesome for hair and reducing waste.

                                          However, as mentioned in the introduction, they take some skill and special ingredients to make. 

                                          We recommend starting with these simpler versions, then doing some research and tutorials on DIY conditioner bars once you’ve got some practice.

                                          Q: What if I’m allergic to coconut oil?

                                          A: Substitute 100% shea butter or tallow (if you’re not vegan).

                                          Q: Will my hair smell like vinegar if I try the apple cider vinegar rinse?

                                          Surprisingly no! As long as you rinse it out, your hair will not smell like vinegar.

                                          Q: My homemade shampoo seems to be weighing down my hair and reducing volume. Any tips?

                                          Firstly, it can take a few weeks to transition your hair and scalp off chemical shampoos and conditioners.

                                          Due to the lack of harsh cleansers and surfactants in these DIY recipes may cause your scalp to produce more oil.

                                          This is typically a temporary issue that will resolve on its own.

                                          However, adding apple cider vinegar can help with volume, while adding baking soda or bentonite clay can help absorb extra oil. 

                                          You may also wish to consider doing a hot oil treatment (heat up your favorite hair-nourishing oil like coconut, argan, or jojoba with or without some of your favorite herbs, apply to hair, cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap, and let sit 20-30 minutes), to help balance out oil production.

                                          Want More Natural DIY Beauty Care Recipes?

                                          If you’re ready to start DIYing more personal care and beauty care products, check out the following articles:


                                          • 1. , "Phthalates and Their Impacts on Human Health", Healthcare (Basel). .
                                          • 2. , "Completed RoC Evaluations", US Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program. .