Still working on the perfect liquid shampoo…

So about a month ago I made myself shampoo bars especially formulated for MY hair, with extra cleansing power and less moisturizing oils since my hair gets so oily so fast. I even added bentonite clay and scented them so that J would love them with patchouli and cinnamon. They smell awesome even if they are ugly, but they need about two more weeks to cure completely.

 In the interim, I’m back to trying to create the perfect liquid shampoo out of my liquid soap paste. I could use a different shampoo bar; we have several around the house, but I hate to start one when mine will be done in such a short time. I think making a small bottle of liquid shampoo to last two weeks makes more sense. 
As always, because this is real soap, I’ll be following my washes with an acidic rinse of either 25% apple cider vinegar and water, 5% citric acid (about a tsp in 8 oz of water), or 50% lemon juice and water. I believe you can actually go down to 25% Lemon juice but I’ve never tried it, I’m just repeating recommendations other soap users have given. I’ve tried the ACV and citric acid and can tell you for sure not to get it too strong; you’ll dry out your hair and make it brittle. You can make the water part out of anything, so feel free to brew up a great tea of whatever you like. I use bamboo, horsetail, and marshmallow root to have natural silica and other goodies that impart strength and shine to your hair. I have vinegar infusing with these herbs so I can just use that, but it won’t be ready for at least a month. So sad and depressing. I think for now I’ll use a herbal tea with citric acid and some great essential oils- whatever I put in the shampoo, I’ll put in the rinse. For fragrance lately, I’ve been relying on a sample bottle of “Green Smoothie” that Brambleberry sent me. It smells like fresh cut grass and other green things and is light and refreshing. I really like it and wish I could make it into a soap, but it’s labeled to behave badly in cold process soap so I’ll just keep using it as a hair rinse until my shampoo bars are cured.  I have some leave in conditioner I need to use up so I’ll be using that if I need anything to detangle and smooth my hair. Probably not, since it’s so short now but you never know. The detangler also has bamboo extract and keratin in it, and silk proteins, so it’s great for adding healthy stuff back into your hair. I’ll post the recipe for that soon. 

 As for liquid soap, 
here is what I’ve come up with: 

100g liquid soap paste.    For now, I’m using the lovely babassu oil soap paste I made recently but any liquid soap paste would work. If you dilute your soap out all at once, you’ll need between 175-200g of liquid soap, total, and skip the step about “softening” the soap paste (obviously). For the record, you could totally sub in a good liquid soap like Dr. Bronners here if you wanted, and leave the essential oils out later (or use unscented and have fun dressing it up). Just please don’t try using liquid “hand soap” from the grocery store. That’s not soap, it’s mostly detergent, and it’s really bad for your skin and especially your hair.

1 tsp silk powder (other types of silk will work!)

1 tsp hydrolyzed oat protein (or wheat, etc)

5 g glycerine 

5 g grapeseed oil or coconut oil-grapeseed oil is awesome and light but coconut oil actually penetrates your hair shaft so decide what you need for your hair

1/2 tsp aloe Vera powder

2 tbsp aloe vera liquid

2 tsp bamboo (I use tea bags) but you can also use 5g bamboo extract (Making Cosmetics) 

2 tsp horsetail (also called shave grass)

2 tsp marshmallow root 

0.5% Liquid Germall Plus (I can’t give you exact amounts because I don’t know how much shampoo you’re going to end up with. Just multiply it out then add the preservative! There are too many botanicals in here not to be safe and have a touch of preservative!)

Start by soaking the soap paste until it’s the right consistency. I’ve found that pouring very hot or boiling water over it and then leaving it for a day or two usually takes care of things; you come back and you’ve got liquid soap. Start with about 70-100g hot or boiling water over the soap paste in a container that can take the heat- I use a canning jar. Cap it off and leave it. If you come back and it’s too thick, add about 30g boiling water, stir (mash) gently and leave it for another 48 hours. Yes, this is time consuming, but it’s down time so get other projects done! If you don’t have add powdered aloe vera, you can sub liquid aloe vera for half the water to soften the soap. Yes, heat up the aloe too! You can find big jugs of aloe vera juice in the aisle with the laxatives at Walmart and Target. Remember to store it in the fridge after it’s opened. 

While you are waiting on your soap to soften, blitz the herbs in a spice or coffee bean grinder- preferably one you only use for DIY stuff- until it’s turned into a fine powder. Sift that through a sieve to catch any big bit and reserve the powder. 

In a small container, mix everything else except essential oils and preservative, and mix well. You may need to use a fork and a slim rubber spatula to break up lumps and incorporate them into the small amount of liquid that will be present. If necessary, add 1-2 tbsp more water. Let this sit overnight so the herbs can soak up moisture and release silica and other goodies. 
Once your shampoo is ready, add the contents of the small container and whatever essential oils you are using, and stir gently until completely incorporated. Tada! You have shampoo! Almost! 

 Weigh your shampoo, deducting the weight of your container, and add the appropriate amount of preservative that you’ve chosen.

I’ve been using Liquid Germall Plus (Lotioncrafters) for just about everything. I’ve only occasionally felt like I need Optiphen ND for items that are almost pure water (think hair spray, bug spray, etc.) and I am really pleased with the Liquid Germall Plus. It’s a fool proof preservative, works well in lotions and has a broad pH which is why I’m able to use it in this shampoo.

Once everything is blended, decent into the bottle of your choice. Not glass! We don’t take glass into the shower! A pump bottle would work well here, but I’m going to use a repurposed pop top bottle that used to hold a children’s drink (think bug juice). It holds exactly the right amount when all is said and done. I’ll use more of them for travel; I have one with citric acid solution, one with a similar liquid shampoo, and one we use for “baby” liquid soap (liquid soap with jojoba oil in it) already in my travel bag. I guess it’s a good thing my granddaughter really likes bug juice when we go on road trips! 

Because of all the botanical material in this shampoo you DO have to use the preservative that will stand up to that pH. Please don’t assume the very basic pH of liquid soap will keep you safe the way bars of soap are safe. This recipe added WATER to the soap concentrate and then PLANT MATTER which is notorious for spoiling. You MUST use a preservative. I didn’t one time and had to toss half the bottle because it turned into a foamy fermented mess. Don’t do what I did; it was pretty gross. 

Besides using the Brambleberry fragrance, here are some Essential Oil Ideas:

Tea tree 10 drops

Lavender 10 drops 

Rosemary 5 drops

Peppermint 5 drops

All of these essential oils have been touted as being good for your hair and they smell great together. 


Fir Balsam 



I like this combination because the bergamot is just citrus like enough to brighten it but the cedar is a little dark and smokey. The fir balsam rounds it all out. I would start with 7 drops Fir balsam, 4 drops cedar, and 5 drops bergamot then adjust according to your nose one drop at a time. 


Orange 10 drops 

Allspice 5 drops 

Juniper  5 drops

You could also use Frankincense instead of juniper. If you want it to have a decidedly masculine feel, try adding spruce or vetiver but just a drop at a time. 


Lemon 5 drops

Grapefruit 5 drops

Orange 5 drops 

Lime 5 drops

Rosemary 3 drops

Bergamot 3 drops

This is my favorite citrus blend. The Bergamot and Rosemary really accentuate all the citrus


Litsea Cubeba 10 drops

Clove 10 drops 

You can also use just lemon or grapefruit instead of litsea Cubeba 


If you like florals, try michelia alba, honeysuckle, jasmine, neroli, or maybe either geranium or rose geranium. You can also check out something like the company Piping Rock and their fragrance oils which I’ve found to be high quality. 


Author: scseery

Soap, bath and beauty, jams and jellies, and unique upcycled gifts. That's what I make and talk about here. A lot.

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