DIY Herbal Shampoo


A good shampoo that suits your hair type is the holy grail of hair care. I have not been that fortunate in finding a shampoo that is perfect for me (till now…I am still tweaking). I have paid my dues though, I tried home remedies, a banana paste therapy which left out bits of banana in my hair for days. I tried the expensive salon style shampoos, that are costlier than your month’s groceries. Then I tried not washing them at all, because I read it somewhere that in the olden days people just did not wash their hair for two weeks in a row, needless to say there were very few people willing to sit next to me and it ITCHED like crazy.

Well, I think it was KARMA for forgetting the INDIAN olden days that had the magical text of Ayurveda (where this recipe borrows from). Even my mother told me that my grandmother made this shampoo for her when she was little, strange how life comes a full circle. (Note to self: when grandma tells you a nuska do not roll your eyes, make a note of it and then write about it in your blog)

Well lets start with the recipe,it is simple enough, the ingredients are just three Indian herbs – SHIKAKAI, AMLA and REETHA (Soapnuts).

*It is completely optional to buy these herbs already powdered, but I would worry about adulteration to no end so I just bought them, as is, for a nominal price at a nondescript local grocery store. You will most likely be disappointed if you go around looking in a supermarket aisle.

Just a visual-aid below to help you identify these herbs at the store (or an excuse to put pictures).







Soapnuts, as you will also see, are super hard with the pits and might damage your grinder blade. So I soaked them for about a day to soften them and the pits came out easily.


I had to re-dehydrate them which took another day and the process became too long, so I think I am going to buy and strongly recommend powdered soapnuts from now on. Save yourself the headache.


Next thing to do is to grind them all to a fine consistency with patience and without damaging your food processor. I did not go too crazy with how fine the powder should be. Do wear a mask or just cover your nose while doing this part, these herbs are strong and pungent. This (below) is what they should look like once you are done with all the grinding.


I have stored the powdered herbs in these lovely mason jars and labeled them, mostly because I can not tell the difference between powdered Amla and Shikakai.


Up till this step is the prep before the “real thing”. The final shampoo making process will require some measuring cups, spoons and a jar for storing your final concoction.


RECIPE for 1 JAR of Shampoo (waist lenght hair)= 1 tablespoon SHIKAKAI + 1 tablespoon ALMA + 3/4 tablespoon REETHA + 1 and 1/2 cup HOT WATER (1 cup = 236 ml)

STEP 1: Put the above mentioned quantities of the herbs in a jar of your choosing and heat up some water, I just heat enough to fill the jar. Pour the hot water over the herbs in the jar.


STEP 2: Stir a lot, all the goodness of the herbs will then infuse in the water and you will also see some lathering on top, that’s mostly the soap nuts.


STEP 3: After leaving the shampoo for a while as it cools down, you will have to sieve it or filter it, I prefer to use an old soaked cotton handkerchief for the job. You will need a spoon to press down the semi-solid filtered herbs and speed the process. Tip: Use a metal sieve first to filter and then use the handkerchief/towel to catch the finer particles and save time. 


STEP 4: Just bottle the goodness and keep it in the fridge or if you are storing it at room temperature, use it up within a day. Needless to say shake well before use. (I prefer labeling the jar to avoid any confusion in the fridge, it is not herbal tea!!!)



1. Go about washing your hair like you normally do, soak the hair wet and then pour this shampoo over your scalp in manageable portions and massage. You do not have to fixate on the ends of the hair a lot, focus on the scalp mostly. There is no lathering with this shampoo, unlike the store bought ones.

* BE VERY VERY CAREFUL about letting this shampoo near or in your eyes, at all times, IT BURNS LIKE CRAZY. 

2. Leave in the shampoo for a few minutes only, the hair will feel a little rope-y and tight with the shampoo in it, do not worry it washes off.

3. The quantity of the ingredients should be varied as per your hair, increase (a little at first, 1/2 tablespoon) the Soapnuts in your shampoo if your hair is still oily after the washes, increase the Amla if you want more volume and increase or use only Shikakai if you need more nourishing.

4. Going for a conditioner after the shampoo is totally your call, whether you want to use a regular one or do an equal parts vinegar and water wash.

5. The shampoo recipe requires your judgment and some tweaking based on what suits your hair after the first wash.

6. The after wash fragrance is very mild and almost non existent after a few hours.

I have tried to make this shampoo many times with the recipes online and I have even made it in bulk by soaking, boiling and then sieving all (half a kg each) the herbs together. There were two problems with that approach first I had to store 2 bottles of the shampoo which grew, what I think was a fungus and went bad. Second, I could not tweak the recipe as per my hair on a particular day. This recipe despite, how long it seems, is actually something I can do on a short notice and I like that it is quiet flexible. Also, there is no expiration date on dried and powdered herbs.

I hope it helps you…..ciao.



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