Ever since Agree-brand hair products disappeared from the drugstore shelves many, many years ago (Do you remember them? They were wonderful!), I have never found a shampoo and conditioner that I can fall in love with. Then, about five years ago, I discovered Basin, a Lush-like shop that sells natural soaps, and its shampoo bars and I was back in love again. I like the shampoo bars more than the mainstream ones for several reasons. One, because it cuts down the plastic consumption to, well, zero, because the soap comes in a solid form. Also, because it leaves my hair clean but conditioned, even without using a conditioner. And last but not least, they last forever! It is wonderful to travel with it too since you can toss it in your carry-on luggage without having a TSA agent come running after you.
The only downside about the shampoo bars is that they are a little pricey. For a 65 gram bar, it costs $8, plus shipping since I get mine online. It’s much cheaper than other bottle shampoos but still, that’s a lot of money. So, I’ve been looking to formulate my own recipe for the best shampoo bars that I can make at home.
After trying many, many, many recipes – some that I found in books and online, as well as my original concoction – I finally found the one that I absolutely fell in love with. I made a small test batch a few months ago, and I finally took the bar out for a test run last week … and I was amazed at how shiny and healthy my hair really got. I’m not kidding! After using this shampoo bar on my hair every day for the last five days, my hair has never felt or looked better. I think it’s the castor oil and molasses that work so well for my dark mane.
It’s a little embarrassing to plaster my face here, but here’s a picture of my hair. Before this shampoo bar, I had to use gel to control my hair before blow drying it but not any more! I didn’t have to use any hair products and my hair behaved just fine!
Here’s the recipe. Please follow the basic cold-process soap-making instruction before proceeding.
Lavender and Olive’s Original Shampoo Bars (for Dark Hair)
A little disclaimer here. A kind blog reader informed me that she tried this recipe and found that the batch was too soft to remove from the mold, even after a week of curing. I’m not sure what caused this but I’m determined to get to the bottom of this, so I’m making this batch again to troubleshoot what went wrong! Stay tuned! And thanks, Waterlily, for taking the time to bring this up!
This is for 650 gram which is like a size of a regular milk carton. It makes about 7 x 4 oz bars. FYI, Lavender and Olive is my Etsy shop name. 🙂
130 g Castor Oil (20%)
130 g Macadamia Nuts Oil (20%)
65 g Hazelnut Oil (10%)
65 g Avocado Oil (10%)
65 g Olive Oil (10%)
65 g Shea Butter (10%)
65 g Palm Oil (10%)
65 g Coconut Oil (10%)
253 g Distilled water
78 g Lye (85% discount)
Mix them in right before you pour the mixture in to the mold
¼ cup Molasses
30 drops Lavender Essential Oil
30 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
20 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
Just a quick disclaimer here. Please consult with your physician if you have special conditions or are not sure if you have any allergies to any of the listed ingredients here. While the ingredients used are often suitable for babies and young children, I found that it really hurts when the soap gets in the eyes. It is probably best not to use the bar to wash their hair. Also, please feel free to double check the lye content with Lye Calculator.
If you use this recipe to create shampoo bars at home, I would love to hear your feedback. I hope you love them as much I do!
Oh, and I don’t use regular conditioner after I wash my hair with the shampoo bar. I usually rinse my hair with a vinegar and glycerin mixture. I know, you might be thinking … eeeew, vinegar!?$?@? But trust me, with a little dash of your favorite Essential or Fragrance Oils, it doesn’t smell bad at all. More on the hair rinse talk next time.
wow! i want one please 🙂
Sure, I’ll give you one! I’ll bring it on Saturday!
Question: at what temperature did you combine your oils and lye?
Hi Elyse! I combined the oils and lye at 38 – 40 degree Celsius, which would be 100.4 – 104 degree Fahrenheit. Please let me know how the shampoo bars turn out! Let me know if you have any questions!
i really want to try your recipe…but i have blonde hair ….how can i try it?
and thank you so much for sharing your recipe 🙂 its good to find one that works 🙂
Hi Ivana! Thank you for stopping by!
I read that chamomile and honey work very well for lighter-colored hair. You can make chamomile infused water (by boiling water and some dried chamomile to “squeeze” out all the lovely flowery goodness and letting it cool completely) and add that to lye … and maybe add some honey right before you pour the soap into a mold! I’ve never made shampoo bars with chamomile and honey, but I’ve used those same ingredients in regular body soaps and they’re lovely.
Please note that I’m not an herbalist or a soap-making expert (I’m just an aspiring home chemist 🙂 ) so please make sure that you follow all the soap-making directions before proceeding (including checking for allergies).
Please let me know how it goes! Happy soaping!
I am so glad that I found this recipe! It sounds absolutely awesome. I can’t wait to try it out. I do have one question though. When you rinse with the vinegar and glycerin mixture, how much of each do you use in your combination? Also, how much essential oil should be added to this to offset the vinegar smell?….Thank you so much for posting this. I’ll definitely let you know how it works for me once I get around to making it!
Hi April! Thank you for the comment!
The recipe I use for the rinse is 1 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon glycerin (the original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon but I realized that I like to put more), and about 10 drops of essential oil (usually Lavender since it helps with hair growth). I sometime use fragrance oils too to offset the vinegar smell (about 1 teaspoon). You can smell the vinegar at first but once you rinse it well with water, you’re only left with the essential / fragrance oil scent. It’s not bad at all!
I use about 3 tablespoons of the mixture every time. I don’t measure. I just pour a little in the palm of my hand and massage it to my hair and scalp.
I hope this helps! Let me know how it turns out!
This looks awesome I am def gonna give this one a whirl!! Do you think I could substitute honey for the molasses? I was also thinking about using coconut milk in place of distilled water…thanks for te recipe!!
Thanks for the comment! You can definitely substitute honey for the molasses! I think it’ll make a lovely shampoo soap. I read that honey is good for a lighter-colored hair and molasses works best for the darker hue.
Coconut milk soap — that sounds delicious!
Let me know how they turn out!
Hi there, thanks for sharing your recipe, I was just wondering – do you let these bars cure for 4-6 weeks like you do with any other CP soap bars? Cheers!
Thanks for the comment! Yes, the curing time should be 4-6 weeks for these shampoo barr. I like to leave them cured a little longer so I typically lean more toward 6 weeks, just to make sure. I find that these soaps get better with age!
Happy soaping! So happy that you visited this blog!
Thanks Hirono! Added it to Pinterest the other day so I could find you again easily… making a batch right now! Only I don’t have bergamot EO so using Sandalwood instead 🙂 By the way, in case anyone’s interested, I’ve rinsed my hair with vinegar before (apple cider) and it only smells when you’re using it, once your hair is dry the smell disappears! Will report back in 4-6 weeks… 🙂
48 hours later and it’s still quite soft, can’t get it out of the moulds… uh-oh, hope I didn’t do anything wrong, it did look pretty good when I was pouring it, nice, even consistency. Used honey as didn’t have any molasses, and only about 1/2 cup. Any thoughts? Am I just being impatient? 🙂
I don’t think you did anything wrong — it does take a while for the soap to harden in a mold, even after a good trace. I sometime leave it in the mold, inside large box wrapped in blanket, for about 4-6 days before drying (I know, it’s a long time especially when you’re so excited to get the soap out)! I think castor oil take more time to harden than other oils so give it few more days and you should be good! 🙂
Aaaaah right I just need to be patient then, not easy as you say haha. I used 1/4 cup honey, not 1/2 cup as I said before, typo! Mine looks greener than yours, but could be because my avocado oil is REALLY green! 😀 Thanks for your help!
8 days later and I still can’t get it out of the moulds, it’s way too soft 😦 Not sure what to do, but tempted to try rebatching it… I can’t see it curing properly if it can’t breathe? I can’t get it out without totally squishing it, which is what happened when I forced one of the smaller bars out of its mould (pic here if you’re curious: http://bit.ly/17x3lxb). I even tried putting the other small one in the freezer so I could get it out! But the bigger bars in the green mould look like thick fruit spread. Any ideas?
I did some research and people don’t recommend using more than 5-10% castor oil in recipes as it makes a very soft soap, so totally curious to know how you managed to get it out of your moulds after 4-6 days with such a high percentage… I’m gutted, I was so looking forward to using this, but not sure it can be saved 😥
My goodness, I’m so sorry to hear that. I saw the picture. It definitely look too soft to get it out. I’m not sure how that happened, as my batch came out solid enough to take it out of the mold to let it cure …
Let me attempt to make the batch myself and see if I can troubleshoot. In the meantime, I’ll put a little disclaimer on the recipe until we can pinpoint the issue here!
Again, I’m so sorry about this — I know you were looking forward. I’ll be back shortly once I re-attempt the batch!
In the meantime, I’d love to send you this shampoo bar that I made, as well as other soaps! Please send me your mailing address to Lavenderandolive@yahoo.com when you have a chance!
Oh you’re too sweet, please don’t go to such lengths for me (unless you reeeally want a new batch, lol), I was just wondering whether you could think of a way I could try and save it yet! I’m just so baffled because I followed the instructions carefully, weighed everything twice, kept checking the temperatures, etc. All my ingredients are fresh (bought in the last couple of months) too. All I can think of is that I used too much honey, perhaps? Even though I used about half the amount of what you listed for molasses… but maybe that was enough to turn it into a gooey mess.
Hmm… I’m not experienced enough to work this out on my own… I have a crockpot that I used to successfully save a batch that had too much water and hardened with lye pockets in it, that worked beautifully, but not sure what to do about this one. If you have any thoughts I’m prepared to try anything! lol. Thanks for you help… I’m starting to feel embarrassed about taking over your comment section!
PS. I forgot! Please don’t worry about sending me anything, it’s really nice of you, but I am in New Zealand so it wouldn’t be cheap to post. I’m very grateful that you shared your recipe for nothing and are being so sweet and helpful, that’s more than enough 🙂 I’m happy experimenting and learning! Thank you!!
PS2!! In case this helps… I just entered the recipe into http://www.soapcalc.net/ and it returns a hardness value of 26, below their recommended range of 29-54, and this is without taking into account the additives (honey). Wonder if that’s got something to do with it?
Dear Hirono, I am so excited to tell you that your recipe is fantastic and I just washed my hair for the first time with the bar. Thank you so much! It’s beautiful and my hair feels terrific. I may have bought my last bottle of shampoo ever!
Hi Barbara! Thank you so much for trying out the recipe! I’m so delighted to hear that you liked it — you totally made my day (actually, you made my year!). 🙂