As a person who aims to lead a sustainable lifestyle, I often find myself reflecting on the areas of my life where I can make sustainable swaps for common single-use items. While assessing my self-care routines, I noticed that my shower was the place that I had the most single-use plastic bottles. I also realized that I had the infamous “graveyard” of haircare products that I had tried but which, for one reason or another, hadn’t worked for me. Long story short, it was way more plastic than I was comfortable with having in my otherwise green household. As I was dreaming up ways to change out those plastic bottles in my shower, I kept seeing more mentions of sustainable shampoo bars. With a whole lot of doubt, I gave them a try on a camping trip. It was a great way for me to test its efficacy without the risk of an awkward hair situation, and I was excited about how supremely portable it was for my summer adventure.
I have not bought a bottle of shampoo since. While the bar that I purchased was wonderful, I was confident that I could create something similar. I regularly make bars of body soap, so I did a little research before coming up with my herb-infused version.
When we wash our hair, we are generally trying to rid our hair of oils. Shampoo bars tend to have slightly more astringent ingredients and oils, such as coconut oil. Whereas with body soap, we are trying to moisturize our skin and typically include more rich and hydrating ingredients like shea butter or things containing high levels of fat.
After a few attempts, I came up with this hair-loving recipe that is great for beginners.
DIY Shampoo Bar Recipe with NettlesMakes 14 ounces (about 5 standard-sized bars.)
- Cheesecloth or strainer
- Tempered glass measuring cups
- Stainless steel pot
- Gloves and goggles
- Kitchen whisk
- White vinegar for lye spills
- Kitchen scale
- Soap mold of your choice
- 2 tsp. organic nettle leaf
- 5 oz. purified water, room temperature or cold
- 2 oz. lye
- 5 oz. organic unrefined coconut oil
- 3 oz. organic babassu oil
- 3 oz. organic olive oil
- 2 oz. organic jojoba oil
- 1 oz. organic castor oil
- 5 drops organic lavender essential oil
- 10 drops organic rosemary essential oil
- The night prior, add nettle leaf to water and infuse overnight.
- The next day, set up a work area in a well-ventilated space.
- Strain 4 ounces of nettle infusion into a tempered glass measuring cup.
- While wearing safety goggles and gloves, add lye to infusion and stir well (always add lye into the liquid, not the other way around).
- A natural thermal reaction will occur after mixing these ingredients. Set aside and allow to cool to 100° F - 125° F.
- Meanwhile, combine oils in a stainless-steel pot and heat gently.
- Once oils are melted, allow temperature to drop to 100° F - 125° F.
- Combine lye solution and melted oils, being careful not to splash.
- Whisk the mixture until it starts to turn into a pudding-like texture and stir marks remain in the mixture for several seconds (also referred to as “tracing”).
- Typically, this will take no more than 15 minutes. If it hasn’t reached desired consistency, take a break for 15 minutes and then try stirring again for another 5.
- Add essential oils and stir until combined.
- Pour raw soap into molds, according to mold manufacturer instructions.
- Check hardness after 3 days and continue checking daily until they are hard.
- Once hard, remove from mold and cut the soap into bars while wearing gloves.
- Place bars on a cooling rack or another surface that will allow them to breathe.
- Rotate every few days to allow for even curing.
- Cure for at least 4 weeks before using.
- Always make lye-based soap in a well-ventilated area.
- Pets and children should not be within reach of lye at any time.
- Lye is the ingredient that makes soap intimidating to many. I have found this lye calculator to be incredibly helpful for increasing the confidence of those just starting out with soap making. I still use it after years of soap making.
- If you’re new to soap making and don’t want to invest in molds yet, you can use clean recycled “milk” cartons as your form.
- For other soap making tips, tricks, and safety information, please see the pro tips in our herbal soap making blog.
Want to explore more dry shampoo options?
You may also be interested in:
- 6 Ways to Use Jojoba Oil for Skin & Hair
- DIY Leave-in Conditioner with Jojoba & Argan Oils
- Rosemary Mint Homemade Salt Spray for Hair