Homemade Herbal Shampoo

Homemade herbal shampoo recipe, works great!! No-poo!!

Hey there friends!

How are you all today? I just have to tell you about my newest creation – a homemade herbal shampoo that I absolutely love. I quit commercial hair products back in September of 2014 and I’ve really worked hard, and had a lot of fun (and frustration, lol) getting my hair to where I love it, and this shampoo emerged in the process.

Who on earth would be weird enough to make their own shampoo?

[raises hand] Me. If you’re weird like this too, then you might think about giving this a try. Although this shampoo (you could even think of it as a hair “tea”) will not have the consistency of commercial shampoo, the herbs in this shampoo are well-known for helping cleanse, moisturize, and volumize hair in a natural, healthy way. I really think you’ll like it. 🙂

If you’re very familiar with the no-poo way of washing hair, then you’ll most likely have heard of these herbs. I’ve worked on this for months and months, perfecting to where I’m happy with it and what it does for my hair. I’ll tell you a little more about the key players, we’ll talk about how it can work for you, and I’ll show you how I make it.



Shikakai means “fruit for hair” and is a staple of ayurvedic herbal hair care. It’s an excellent cleanser that doesn’t strip your natural oils from your hair, and respects the ph balance of your hair. Shikakai pods contain naturally-occurring saponins which help clean off excess sebum and dirt from the scalp. I buy this powder, because it is very finely ground, and it has worked great for me.


Amla is an Indian herb known to help nourish the hair and scalp and prevent premature graying of hair. Amla (Indian Gooseberry) comes from an edible fruit that has also been used in traditional Indian hair and skin care for thousands of years. Amla adds a somewhat unusual consistency to this shampoo, and will add volume. I purchased this amla and it has worked well. P.S. Amla has been known to darken hair. I am a brunette and so this is not an issue, but be careful if you have very light hair! You might want to try another recipe.


Reetha Powder (also known as Soapnut!) is another all-natural herb that works great with hair. Reetha (Sapindus mukorossi) is a valuable natural cleanser. It is gentle on skin and hair, and doesn’t strip hair of its natural oils. It makes hair silky and shiny, without chemicals! Here’s the one I bought.


Known in India as “The Divine Tree” , its bark, leaves, fruits, seed have been used in India for several thousand of years for their medicinal quality. The antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties of Neem effectively heal any scalp related problems, which is why I chose to add it. It reduces scalp itchiness, enhances the growth of the hair, prevents dandruff and lice. You can find neem here.


Here’s one you’ve heard of for sure! I add cinnamon because I love the scent, but cinnamon stimulates the scalp and increases blood circulation. It has anti fungal and antibacterial properties, so it can benefit the scalp. It has also been used to combat hair loss. Cinnamon has the potential to lighten your hair, although for such a small amount that’s in this recipe, I don’t think it would really lighten much. I use ceylon cinnamon, because I believe it’s healthier and more potent.

You will basically be brewing a “tea” out of these powdered ingredients, and using it to wash your hair. Here are the measurements, equipment, and instructions. Be sure to read the notes before you make it! 🙂



  • medium sized pot
  • mesh strainer (like this)
  • clean washcloth, tea towel, or even cheesecloth for straining further
  • 32 ounce container – I bought some stainless steel tumblers from Amazon and I LOVE them for using in the shower when I wash my hair, but I can’t find them on Amazon anymore! Any quart sized container will work, but be careful in the shower if you are using glass!


I’ll show you the steps in pictures, but really this is very easy.

Homemade herbal shampoo - volumizing and no-poo!

1. Combine the herbs (and rosemary, if using) in a small pot. Add 2 cups of water (stir with a small whisk or fork) and bring to a simmer.

Homemade herbal shampoo recipe! Volumizing and no-poo!

You’ll notice the ingredients start to foam! That’s good. But you need to keep an eye on it, let it simmer but watch it to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Homemade herbal shampoo recipe - volumizing and no-poo!

Line your mesh strainer with a washcloth or whatever filter you are using, over your quart sized container. (You could use a coffee filter in a pinch, but it will take FOREVER to drain.) TIP: Soak the towel in water and wring out first  – that way the towel will not soak up all your precious shampoo! 😉

Homemade herbal shampoo recipe! Volumizing and no-poo!

When your mixture has simmered long enough, pour into the wet cloth and let it strain into your quart sized container. You should end up with a cup of shampoo, more or less. (The amount is not really important – you’ll be reconstituting it.)

Homemade herbal shampoo recipe - volumizing and no-poo!

At this point your herbal shampoo/hair tea will still be quite hot. You can add a few drops of any essential oils you might be using into your container now. Add three cups of water (filtered or spring water is great! I have the best success with filtered water.) to fill the rest of your container. This cools the tea so it doesn’t burn you or your hair! Now, you have your shampoo ready – time to wash!

This is a no-poo wash, and is best for hair which is not coated in styling products. Although, I use this pure and natural Morocco Method gel after every wash, and it still washes out great.

I have used this homemade shampoo to wash my hair at its oiliest, and it has worked very well.

Washing Instructions

  1. For best success, do NOT wet your hair first. Slowly pour HALF of your mixture onto your dry hair, and gently massage your scalp. It will make your hair feel like straw – and that is normal for this setup. If you’re used to foaming shampoo, it will feel really, really weird. Gross, even. Just know that your gentle massaging is doing the trick. You can massage the length of your hair, but keep the focus on your scalp.
  2. After you’ve massaged your scalp well, rinse your hair.
  3. Then wash again with the second half of your mixture, always concentrating on the scalp. Why wash twice? I have found it to work best with all types of washing, whether homemade or commercial. The first wash stirs up skin cells, oil, and dirt, and the second wash cleans them away.
  4. Rinse well.
  5. You can follow up with a gentle acidic rinse, especially if you have really hard water, but it is not required. A gentle acidic rinse might be something like a tablespoon of white vinegar to a cup of water.
  6. Then do whatever you do after washing. Comb with a wide-toothed comb, and you might even want to add some argan oil or my homemade heat protectant to the tips of your hair. I also add a dime sized amount of the gel I mentioned earlier in the post. I try not to use heat on my hair, and just allow it to air dry.

Homemade herbal shampoo recipe - volumizing and no-poo!

You did it! You made your own homemade shampoo!

My Notes:

  • Okay, as I mentioned, this shampoo will feel weird on your hair. The herb Amla is probably most to blame for this weird feeling. Some people say it makes their hair feel like plastic barbie hair. I tend to agree – but actually, that’s why I love it! That’s the volumizing part for you. Your hair will feel thicker because of it.
  • Not everyone uses these herbs to make a hair tea, and that is totally fine! Some people just make a paste out of the powdered herbs and apply to their hair like a mask. I tried that and it was a huge disaster for me. The powder would not.wash.out. I was brushing powdery brown gunk out of my hair for the next several days. As in, bigtime fail. That’s why I decided to make the brew I just described above. I tried it first without straining it like I do above, and it also was a disaster. It didn’t rinse out again. Thus, the straining. It works much better for my hair. But you make sure and find out what works best with your hair.
  • I’ll say it again: experiment and find out what works best with your hair. This is what works for me after much trial and error. It took months to perfect. I share it with you in hopes it will help you, but feel free to tweak away! Everyone’s hair is different. You can change the amount of herbs to suit you.
  • This wash can be used every four days or longer. The goal of no-poo is to stretch your washes to at least a four day space between them. Honestly, I use this shampoo anywhere from once a week to once a month! Most of the time I am doing acid-only rinses once a week. But I LOVE the volume this shampoo gets me. If I want my hair to look super great for something, this is the wash I use.
  • It does take a few minutes of preparation with the boiling and straining, but the good part is what I just mentioned: you don’t do this everyday. Once a week/month is fine with me, and I find it so fun to do. (I’m weird though.) Do it as rarely as you feel like it. Or as often, as long as you’re waiting 4 days between washes. You can start it boiling and then work on something else in the kitchen while it’s going.
  • As long as you keep the ratios the same, you can make up a big mixture of the powders, and be sure to use 3 1/2 tablespoons powder per use just like the original recipe. A sample mixture might be this: 1 cup shikakai, 1 cup reetha, 3/4 cup amla, 1/2 cup neem, and 1/4 cup cinnamon. Be sure that this ratio works well for you hair before you make a big mixture, though. 🙂

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Homemade herbal shampoo recipe - volumizing and safe for no-poo!!

Thanks for stopping by! Do you love making your own beauty products too?

Much herbal hair love,


75 thoughts on “Homemade Herbal Shampoo”

  1. This sounds wonderful.

    Question – Does it make your hair oily? I have that problem a great deal when I make my no-poos.
    But I keep trying. But I do keep using no-poos – just have to wash more often.

    (I will have to admit that about 3 weeks ago I decided to wash my hair in the kitchen sink – got my hair wet when I realized I hadn’t brought my no-poo. – so I used the Dawn Dish Liquid shampoo.
    Would you believe since then, I’ve washed my hair several times but my hair only got oily yesterday. I guess all that I’ve read about Dawn is true – it removes “oil” – on humans also….. – but I don’t plan to use it again.)

    • It took grease out of your way, didn’t it. 😉 This shampoo doesn’t seem to make my hair oily. My hair starts to get oily by the 4th day, but I am still trying to stretch washes. I want my scalp to get the hint! I do think, though, that an acid rinse afterward might make it tend toward more oily, so you could probably skip that. Let me know if you try it, Bets!

      • Thanks for your info. I’ll first have to buy the ‘stuff’ – and I’ll try not rinsing my hair with ACV – or = Oh Wait —– Just dawned on me. I’ve mostly been using ACV/water to rinse my hair & leaving it on. But I recently Rinsed it off – & my hair is only slightly beginning to get oily….

        Of course my HM no-poos have also had oil – which together have simply made my hair more oily. So I look forward to trying this shampoo out.

        (& yes the Dawn did get rid of that grease…. their ad is true – even though I’m not a bird…)

        • When I rinsed with ACV, my hair would be super oily and heavy. It was just too moisturizing for me. I had to move to DWV (white vinegar) and sometimes I use citric acid (no smell). I can’t rinse with ACV at all. Let me know how it goes for you!

  2. i am a blonde but would love to try this recipe. Do you have any suggestions on what to substitute so it doesn’t darken my hair or another recipe?

    • Hi Natasha! Do you mean a dry mixture, or the boiled? The wet mixture I would only keep for a day or so and then use. (Some people let the herbs sit overnight, and that works well.) If you mean the dry mixture, then as long as you keep it in an airtight container, it should keep indefinitely.

    • This is fine for kids, but if you use it in the bath your tub will probably get pretty brown. (I’ve never bathed with it.) I’m not sure about the dr. bronzer one, you mean their castile soap?

  3. For these measurements…
    •3/4 tablespoon powdered amla, you will just have to eyeball it (where to find)
    •1/2 tablespoon neem powder (where to find)
    •1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon (where to find)
    did you mean 3/4 teaspoons, 1/2 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoons? Because on the measuring table its listed as teaspoons not tablespoons. Thank you I would greatly appreciated if you clarified.

  4. I also do water-only washing (WOW) with acid rinses (I add a little essential oil for scent). My hair towels get a mildew smell to them even after using them once and I’m constantly having to soak them in 1:1 vinegar:water for hours to remove the smell, but it comes right back with the next use. Do you have a remedy to this problem? I Googled and found that the mildew smell on towels is due to bacteria not being thoroughly washed off the body before using the towel. I have noticed an increase in dandruff since starting WOW but I figured maybe I just didn’t realize I had it before since I’d always wash it off (it’s pretty mild). Am I doing something wrong here? I’m thinking of making your herbal shampoo, as this recipe is what I was searching for before I jumped on WOW. Is it a neutral pH? Do you just keep the batch in the fridge between uses? How much do you use each time?

    • I’m not sure about the towel smell, is it happening with all your laundry? Or just the hair towels? Maybe try disinfecting the washer. Let me know if you figure out a solution! I noticed more flakes when going acid only – I had more success when I would faithfully clean/brush my hair with a boar bristle brush. A good one, like this one (don’t waste your money buying the cheap ones like I did, this one made all the difference in the world for cleaning my hair and redistributing oils).

      This shampoo is a safe pH for hair, and is made of traditionally used herbs known for hair care. You do need to use the whole batch in one use, though! <3

  5. You talk about 2 cups first, then adding 3 cups…..so for your recipe it’s 5 cups all together? My problem so far with the recipe I have for soap nuts is, it weighs my hair down. Makes my hair not soft. More like coarse, greasy, and weighed down.

    • Yes, you will add 2 cups to boil it, and then after boiling it will be boiled down to 1 cup. Then you just add three more cups to make a quart. I hope this works for you – if it doesn’t, try playing around with the ratios and see if you can find your perfect blend!

  6. Hello, I made the poo but it didn’t foam in the pan, I didn’t then strain the sludge to see what it did to my hair after washing it. I did come out easily but I didn’t wash twice, concentrated on the roots instead. My hair is still greasy with flyaway ends frown emoticon

  7. This is a great recipe. The one I have been using for the past year is similar but I use the whole herbs instead of ground. It makes straining very easy and less messy. Your hair may feel like doll hair at first but so soft when dry. Especially with the vinegar rinse. Good luck to everyone who tries it!!

  8. I’ve used this kind of hair wash tea and its absolutely great.The only other thing I added was dried yellow orange coloured marigold flowers and dried neem leaves.Its super !!!

  9. Once you make the mixture and keep it in a jar , do you put the mixture in the fridge , freezer, or just leave it outside ? And also if you just leave it outside , wouldn’t the shampoo get bad after a while ?

    • Hi there! I must not have been very clear in my post, but you will be using the whole mixture for one shampoo session. If you have very short hair, you can make a half recipe.

      • Hi, perhaps you could edit your original post so that’s clear and then people won’t keep asking. Also I’m interested in what herb to substitute for Amla if you don’t want to darken your hair? Thank you.

    • You’ll be using the whole recipe to wash your hair, so there will not be any left over afterwards. I do not think this will store long in the fridge, maybe a day or so if you make it beforehand. I hope that helps you!

  10. Hi, can you pls tell me the shelf life of this shampoo? I am planning to make this in a huge quantity..
    Also, pls let me know for like how many time can we use this shampoo in a week/month?

    • This recipe is a one-use recipe. Use half to wash one time, and then use the other half to wash again, directly after the first wash, for best results. I like to use this once a week, and I do water rinses (or acid rinses) in my hair the rest of the time. I only wash my hair 2-3 times a week though.

  11. Thanks so much for the recipe. So I made a batch and when I poured it on my hair it ran all over the place. How do you keep it in your hair? There wasn’t much left in my hair for me to massage in to my scalp.

  12. This is perfect, thank you! I’m new to using ayurvedic shampoo and I really didn’t want to go the paste route. I plan to put the tea into a plastic squeeze bottle (ketchup style) for better application control. =)

  13. I have a question. Does this shampoo also helps against greying of hair? I have lot of grey hair and worried about them. Appreciate your response.

      • I love my natural brown hair and silver tinsel strands! I found that the cinnamon stained my tinsel but shikakai, amla and aritha/reetha haven’t (I now leave out the cinnamon) and there’s a lovely hue developing in my brown locks. My hair had become dull with regular shampoo & conditioner, I’m rather pleased with the colour that’s developing. I’m also really pleased that your tea uses so little of the powder compared to so many other recipes.

  14. Hi Danielle
    I would like to buy products from you apart from shampoo such as face wash, body wash, hand wash etc, do you make these as well? How do i get in touch with you? are you based in India?

    Please share your email id or whatsapp number.

  15. Pingback: Beauty Tips | Hope
  16. Are herbal shampoos to be refrigerated or is it fine to keep it outside at the normal room temperature..coz I don’t store the herbal shampoos in the fridge..the shampoo doesn’t spoil ?


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