Homemade Vegan Shampoo and Conditioner

March 20, 2011By 35 Comments

Please enjoy this guest post by Maria Rainier.

Although I once loved Trader Joe’s for supplying me with cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner for bottom dollar prices, I was pretty bummed when I saw, far down on the ingredients list, two types of parabens.

Although the jury is still out, many in the scientific and green community have nick-named this common preservative a “gender bender.” Propylparaben has shown in some studies to adversely affect male reproductive functions, and according to a 2002 study published by S. Oishi even decreased sperm production when taken at levels deemed acceptable under EC law. Meanwhile, parabens have been found in human breast tissue, although the link between it and breast cancer has yet to be solidly established.

My point is this: why take the risk when you can make your own vegan and paraben-free shampoo on the cheap?

DIY Shampoo

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup liquid castile soap
  • 2 tsp jojoba or grapeseed oil (optional, see below)
  • 1/8 cup aloe vera gel (optional)
  • 5 drops of essential oil of your choice (optional)

Combine all ingredients and put into an old shampoo bottle (you can see my old Trader Joe’s bottle in the picture).  Shake before use and apply directly to your scalp, since it tends to be watery.  Don’t let its consistency fool you, though—it lathers very well and doubles as shaving cream.

Admittedly, the initial price plunge is steep, but keep in mind that there’s enough in each bottle of each ingredient to make multiple batches of your shampoo. For the liquid castile soap, I love using Dr. Bronner’s because it’s fairly traded, vegan, and economical.

Bonus: it already comes with jojoba oil, so that’s one price tag you can scratch off the list!

If your hair is curly or otherwise drier than most types, you can add some aloe vera gel for added moisture.  If your hair tends to be oily, try adding a few drops of lavender or tea tree oil as both are antiseptics and add a little jump to your morning shower.

DIY Conditioner

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar isn’t just for facial toners; it’s great for your hair, too.  It has mild exfoliating properties which removes product and shampoo buildup as well as dandruff.  It’s also an effective detangler, which is great for someone with hair like mine (I’m positive there’s a monster that lives under my bed and spends his evenings tying knots into my curls and splitting the ends).

Combine in a bottle and shake before use, applying directly to scalp.  Run your fingers through your hair a few times while the mixture does its cleaning and conditioning, and then rinse out.  The smell won’t leave the shower, I promise.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education and online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

About Sunny ()

Longtime vegan, hardcore compassionate beauty junkie, serious cake aficionado, and lover of all things floofy and sparkly! If there's something in particular you'd like me to review, drop me a line at Sunny@VeganBeautyReview.com. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Google +.

Filed in: DIY vegan beauty productsvegan hair care Tags:

Comments (35)

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  1. Daneel says:

    Got to try this, Thank you

  2. Masha says:

    I haven’t tried them yet but I will. I’m only twelve and when I saw what happens to those cute little animals I tot gave up on dove shampoos and cons. I am trying really hard to be cruelty free and it will work thanks to you! Thank you!!!!

  3. Valeria Rodriguez says:

    Hi! Can i replace the castile soap with something else?

  4. em says:

    Hi 🙂
    What’s the shelf life of this recipe?

  5. Laura says:

    Hi! I was thinking of trying out your recipe and I was wondering if you could just combine the shampoo and conditioner and put the apple cider vinegar in the shampoo?

  6. Janet Minor says:

    I have been trying to find a shampoo recipe for years and have tried them all, with no success. This one is fabulous! I absolutely love it!? Thank you!

  7. Kayla says:

    You have save me!!!
    I have all the ingredient for this and I was out of shampoo and broke so I had to keep using other people’s non-vegan shampoo in order to stay clean. I thought I was going to have to try baking soda in order to keep vegan! Thank you thank you thank you!!! 😀

  8. Natasha says:

    I was wondering if there is something besides vinegar to use for conditioner since I can’t get a comb through my hair……

    • Sara Lily says:

      Hey there, I recommend to part your hair with your hands into four sections then before taking out the water and vinegar mix use a hairbrush instead of a comb for detangling your hair, trust me it will save you time and it makes the detangling easy.

      let me know if this works out for you too! 🙂

  9. Grace says:

    Hi there –
    I recently mixed my own batch of the shampoo with castile soap, peppermint and lavender oil, and water. My castile soap suggests mixing less than 1 oz. of soap with 2 gallons of water! I tried only a little of the soap in the water and oil mix and it does not lather and leaves my hair greasy. I tried adding another squirt of soap to my bottle and shampooed again – still no lather, and my scalp still looks and feels greasy. Should I really be using a 1:1 ratio of castile to water? Seems like a lot (compared to the soap’s recommended use)…?
    Other than that, I have very harshly treated/coloured hair, and it works like magic! The ends of my hair feel healthy and silky, and the soap even removed some of my brassy colour.

    • Sunny says:

      Hm, yeah, I would play around with the ratio until you find something that works well for you. I personally like a nice lather, too. 🙂

  10. Victoria says:

    Lye is used in making soap…..but during the process it is changed chemically so there is not lye in the finished product. This is true of the castille shampoo, also. Many commercial products are not really soap but are detergents. The ratio of oil to lye is what makes it gentle or harsh. That is why many homemade soaps are so gentle…..soapmakers can add extra skin friendly oils during the process….it is called superfatting. Homemade shampoo bars are used by many people.

  11. Sharon Belk says:

    HI! Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, As I am new to this whole organic thing? But 1st a question “Is there a difference in Vegan products & Organic products??
    OK if the answer is NO! Castile soap is not an Organic product. Castile soap has Sodium hydroxide in it. Sodium hydroxide is also known as caustic soda, or lye, is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula NaOH. Please I welcome any comments.

    • Sunny says:

      Yep, those two things are not related. Vegan refers no animal products or by-products. Oftentimes, vegan items are organic but they don’t have to be. Hope this helps. 🙂

    • Katy says:

      Sharon: I know this post is old but I will comment anyway. Castile soap can be “called” organic if the olive oil used was organic. I am a soap maker and the NaOH is no longer present once it meets the oils. That reaction is called saponification thus yielding a soap molecule and a glycerin by product.

  12. Kim44 says:

    I color my hair often – and my hair is also really dry and damaged from the coloring sometimes. I’ve tried so many different shampoos-color, moisturizing, damage repair, curly, and they all pale in comparison to the Shielo Hydrating Shampoo. The Shielo Shampoo really brought out my hair color and made my hair not just shiny but shimmery! After using when you dry your hair, it still smelled so fresh and clean, like I just walked out of the salon.

  13. Lauren Simpson says:

    I am so excited to make my own shampoo! Instead of conditioning, I put coconut oil in my hair overnight every 6 days or so, and then shampoo it out (it’s like a hair mask, you can’t leave it in or your hair will be very wet-looking). It’s super cheap, and smells nice 🙂 my hair’s the nicest it’s ever been, even after all the yucky things I’ve done to it in the past.

  14. Miia says:

    What kinder of aloe Vera you use? Drinkable kind? Or the One that is meant for skin?

  15. Margaret Roy says:

    Believe it or not, the DIY conditioner is exactly what I used as a teenager in the 1950s before “Tame Cream Rinse” came on the market. Of course if you were a blond you used lemon juice instead of vinegar. Can’t wait to get the ingredients for your shampoo and give it a try.

    • Kammy says:

      Margret Roy, That’s so funny you say that, I too used this as a child growing up in the 60’s. I had completely forgot “Tame” until you mentioned it, but growing up in a family of 9 we never had store bought conditioner, we used apple cider vinegar mixed with water too. It is ironic a lot of “beauty products” I grew up using and have been old fall backs are now the “in” thing again.

  16. If you aren’t too keen on making your own stuff, check out jennydaisyblue.com While we do not have a specific shampoo several items work –the baby wash, the bohemian body wash, the face wash, and Rosemary Mint Shampoo bar all work great as shampoo –all our products are paraben free… as well as free from ALL toxins and artificial ingredients, AND GLUTEN FREE!!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I found the BEST shampoo & conditioner at costco. Its called Kirklands Professional salon formula Moisture shampoo & conditioner. Its vegan, Color safe with UV protectants, sulfate free, gluten free, paraben free and NOT tested on amimals. I have bleached platinum blonde hair this product leaves my extremely damaged hair soft manageable and brings it back to healty. Amazing product. The best part its CHEAP! 🙂 $10 bucks for two huge 33.8 oz bottle. Last forever to. MY HG vegan shampoo & conditioner and I tried them ALL.

  18. Mom says:

    my son uses the baking soda and I got to be honest his hair looks bad never looks clean since he stopped using shampoo

    • keeper says:

      He should mix the baking soda with vitamin e, apple cider vinegar and(optional)an emulsifier such as corn starch to actually clean his hair. =D raw baking soda will eventually dry out the hair and if you don’t get it all out it can look like you have dandruff ^^

    • Kammy says:

      Mom, I too had issues with the baking soda shampoo’s the it isn’t pH balanced and strips your hair. I am wondering if this recipe will do the same because I have washed my hair with Dr. Bronner’s castil soap and it made my hair a dried out frizzy rats nest.

      • Melissa says:

        Kammy: castile soap is similar to baking soda in that they are both very alkaline (9-10 pH). Something you can do to bring the pH down is add a substance with a low pH like honey, which is about 3.9, to balance it out and make it scalp friendly (thereby stopping the over-production of oil). You could add other things with a lower pH too–but don’t add apple cider vinegar as castile and acv don’t mix.

  19. Christen says:

    Hey! Love this site and the amazing info and tips! I recently started my own homemade beauty recipe blog — check it out if you want and give it some love! http://beautysparecipes.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for keeping me inspired and learning new beauty tips!

  20. Sara says:

    I just use baking soda and water mixed in a bottle and squirted into my hair roots first, rub it in, give it a minute, and then rinse followed by the apple cider vinegar conditioner listed above. Works great and I think my color lasts longer with this hair washing technique than when using shampoo. A little baking soda and water makes a nice exfoliating facial wash too!

  21. Anadrol says:

    I’ve never done this at home, but I think I’ll try now after reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.


  22. Baking Soda Paste also works well as a Shampoo.


  23. Sherry T. says:

    Are these safe for color-treated hair? 🙂

  24. Evie says:

    That’s really interesting, I’ll have to give it a try!

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