I've had quite a few requests for a shampoo bar, so I’ve been going through my notes to find an easy recipe for you guys.
Isn't a shampoo bar the same as a body bar, you ask?
Not exactly. This is what I've learned over the years: A great shampoo bar makes a good body bar, but a great body bar does NOT make a good shampoo bar.
That's why I had little luck in the beginning using handmade soap on my hair. I would use whatever soap I had in the shower to wash my hair and it wasn’t pretty - believe me. I have thick longish hair, so the first obstacle I faced was getting the suds to spread evenly- it took quite some effort. Then, after washing, my hair would look as if I had just combed a stick of butter through it (I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture). And, it was pretty much unmanageable, since I skipped the acidic rinse after washing as well.
Usually what we’re after in a body bar is skin loving goodies that stay on our skin after we’re done washing. But the purpose of a shampoo bar is to gently clean our hair without leaving much residue behind. With that in mind, I tried to keep as little extra oils in this soap as possible so that it won't weigh down your hair.
What is Cold Process Oven Process (CPOP)
I'm using a technique with this project which is referred to as CPOP. It involves putting your soap in the oven once it's poured and leaving it there for a while. This ensures that the soap goes through "gel" - a stage of the saponification process. It can also be achieved by putting a heavy towel around your mold, but with single cavity molds the oven works best. I like to gel almost all my soaps - they release easier from the mold, harden faster and have brighter colors that way.
Why is it a good idea to do an acidic rinse?
Handmade soap has a ph of 9/10 – slightly alkaline with 7 being neutral. Rinsing your hair with vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid will balance the ph of your hair. If you have hard water in your house this is even more important since vinegar will remove metals and soap residue from your hair. And lastly doing an acidic rinse will smooth down your hair cuticles and make your hair shiny, soft and manageable.
Remember this is a rinse - it’s supposed to be rinsed out after applying. Vinegar is a strong acid that can eat holes in metal - you don’t want that to be sitting on your hair.
Here’s the thing with hair though - everyone’s different. This recipe might work for you or it might not. Maybe your hair is not a good fit for shampoo bars all together and that’s ok too. There are lots of surfactant based shampoos out there that are not laden with chemicals.
This recipe is loosely based on Liz Ardlady’s Shampoo Bar. She has done extensive testing with different recipes- you can read her full article here.
If you give this recipe a go, let me know how it worked for you.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Let’s get started:
If this is the first time that your making cold process soap, make sure you check out my beginner tutorial, lye safety tips and list of equipment you'll need.
Cold Process Shampoo Bar Recipe:
- Coconut oil (33%): 4.3 oz/ 122g
- Canola oil (25%): 3.25 oz/ 92g
- Pomace (olive oil) (25%): 3.25 oz/ 92g
- Cocoa Butter (7%): 0.9 oz/ 26g
- Castor oil (10%): 1.3 oz/ 37g
- Sodium Lactate (optional): 1 teaspoon – it’s a great humectant (draws moisture to your hair) without being greasy
- Essential Oil (EO) of your choice – I’m using Tea Tree (7g) and Lemongrass EO (7g)
- Distilled water: 3.5 oz/ 99g
- Lye: 1.9 oz/ 53g
- Follow standard lye safety procedures
- Place your single cavity mold on a wooden cutting board
- Preheat your oven to 170° F
- Prepare your lye solution and let cool
- Melt and warm your oils/butter
- Add EO to your oils
- Add Sodium Lactate to lye solution when it's below 130° F
- When Oils and Lye are at around 110° F combine both
- Stick blend until medium trace is achieved (soap batter traces on the surface but sinks in after a few seconds)
- Carefully fill each cavity of the mold almost to the brim
- Gently tap your mold and cutting board down to release airbubbles
- Place mold and cutting board in oven and leave on for 45 min
- Turn oven off and leave soap in there to cool overnight
- The soaps are ready to be released after 24 hours
- Cure for 4 weeks
How to make and use a simple Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse:
- Combine 2 oz of water and 2 oz of vinegar
- Fill into a spray bottle
- Shake well
- After shampooing spray rinse into your hair and massage it in
- Let it sit for a few minutes
- Rinse out completely
Until next time. Happy Tinkering!
I have naturally curly but colored hair. Would this have any affect on the coloring?
I have been making soap for a couple of years and will never go back to store bought cleansing bars. I would love to find something I could make for my hair.
I haven't had an issue using shampoo bars for my colored hair and many soapmakers don't seem to have any problems either.
Shampoo bars are not for everyone though. There's definitely an adjustment period where the hair and scalp sort of "detoxes" from conventional shampoos. I never seem to make it past that point...
Would it work with Avocado Oil instead of Canola oil, since that is soy and soy disrupts your hormone system? What would happen if I left out the lye?
I have those molds and love them!
Avocado oil would work too, but you have to run the entire recipe through a lye calculator when you switch out an oil for another. I use soapcalc.com to calculate the accurate amount of lye.
YOu can't make this kind of soap without lye you would end up with a bucket of oil not soap. You could by glycerin soap if you want to avoid handling lye.
Happy Tinkering, Celine
You may want to improve your research. Canola oil is NOT soy. Canola is its own plant, a derivative of rapeseed. If you were to look at the plant or the seed, they do not look alike in the slightest.
Hi thanks for sharing your knowledge can we replace cocco butter with Shea butter also want to ask why the soap turn gel while doing my ordinary soap sometimes I want to avoid.
Hi Nhad, yes you can use shea butter instead. Make sure you run the recipe through a lye calculator though, since the amount of lye will probably change. To prevent gel you can place your soap in freezer right after pouring. Happy Tinkering!
Thanks for rapid response
You’re most welcome 🙂
The recipe looks so similar to regular soap bars. what is the difference for shampoo bars..
this is a very basic cold process shampoo bar,the main difference is the low superfat 3 % and high amount of castor oil for extra suds. feel free to add ingredients beneficial to your hair type. Happy Tinkering!
Dr Tabassum Maniyarnamole
Thanks for sharing your knowledge....... could this be done in a microwave or on gas stove..... please guide me
You can melt the oils on a stove or microwave. Lye solution should NEVER be heated!
Dr Tabassum Maniyarnamole
Thanks for sharing.could this be done on gas stove please guide me