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I Attempted to DIY My Own Shampoo Bars—Here’s What Happened

My time in quarantine has pushed me to pursue a more eco-friendly lifestyle. While I am still lightyears away from living an entirely zero-waste life, I’m getting there.

This may come as a surprise, but my initial gateway into the world of zero-waste was with my haircare routine. Early on during the pandemic, I swapped out a ton of my favorite products for more eco-friendly options. And I’ve been keeping it relatively zero-waste ever since.

In learning more about transitioning to a zero-waste lifestyle, a handful of online resources have encouraged making your own products. So, that’s what I decided to do.

Considering how much I enjoy shampoo bars, I decided to start there. Plus, they also seemed like the easiest zero-waste haircare product to make for someone as lazy as myself.

Keep scrolling to learn more about my DIY shampoo bar experience!

DIY Shampoo Bar Recipe

Finding a DIY shampoo bar recipe was more difficult than I had expected. Let me rephrase that: Finding an easy DIY shampoo bar recipe was more difficult than I had expected. Even the “easy” recipes required ingredients that weren’t readily available at Target or CVS and took quite a bit of energy to make. Some DIYs required waiting four to six weeks for the bars to cure before using them. I know we’re in quarantine, but I do not have that much time to wait for a shampoo bar to be usable.

There were also plenty of recipes that used ingredients I’ve been told shouldn’t be used on my hair, so that was slightly alarming. I avoided anything that required olive oil at all costs.

Eventually, I found a recipe that was featured in a DIY shampoo bar roundup on Byrdie. Pharmacist and herbalist Jules of Urbarium created this babassu oil shampoo bar, which is perfect for sensitive scalps.

I personally don’t have a sensitive scalp, it just seemed like the simplest recipe to follow.

Here are the ingredients it required:

  • 30g “soap-free cleansing bar” or mild baby soap
  • 2g babassu oil or coconut oil
  • 15 drops argan oil
  • 10 drops essential oil
  • 1 pinch dried herbs / flowers (optional)
DIY shampoo bar recipe ingredients on a marble countertop
(My lovely bunch of ingredients)

Collecting the ingredients wasn’t too bad, though I ended up using coconut oil over babassu oil, because I already had a jar. For the soap-free cleansing bar, I used a CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar.

I opted out of using dried herbs and flowers, because it was an extra step in the process I didn’t feel like taking. And I didn’t trust myself to incorporate them without ruining everything.

I went with peppermint for the essential oil, as I’ve heard it promotes hair growth and follicle stimulation.

My DIY Shampoo Bar Experience

Next came my least favorite part, which was actually making the bar.

The instructions were as follows:

  1. Cut the soap bar into thirds. Finely grate a portion (approx. 30g) with the kitchen grater. If necessary, finely powder 1 knife tip of dried herbs or flowers in a mortar and then sieve.
  2. Using card sheets, mix the sifted powder and the grated soap. Then add oils.
  3. Put on protective gloves and knead: The waxes will melt in your hands and a malleable “dough” will form from the initial crumbs. Now press this mass firmly together and bring it into the desired shape with the palms of your hands or press it into a flexible muffin tin (or something similar).
  4. The solid shampoo should mature for a few hours. It will harden and can be stored in a bowl in the bathroom.

Grating the cleanser bar was actually quite fun, though it was pretty messy. I also wasn’t sure how much 30g was, so I did a bit of research to discover it was about 1/4 cup. It might even be less, the verdict is still out on that one.

Grated CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar on a marble countertop next to a measuring cup and grater
(Doesn’t that look grate?)

Once that was done, I went right into mixing the ingredients, because I didn’t opt for the flowers. Similarly with measuring the soap bar, I had to guesstimate how much 2g of coconut oil was. A quick Google search led to me believing it was roughly 1/2 tsp. Again, these were all best guesses and I do not know for certain if I measured as precisely as possible.

Adding in the argan oil and essential oil was incredibly easy, because they were measured in drops. I didn’t need a math degree for that bit.

DIY shampoo bar ingredients in an orange bowl waiting to be mixed together to form the bar
(All it needs is a little mix)

Mixing the soap and oils together was an interesting experience to say the least. I wasn’t entirely sure it would ever form a bar. Eventually, it did. I squished it into the closest thing to a circle I could make with the gloves on my hands.

DIY shampoo bar sitting in an orange bowl with leftover powder around it
(Trying to fit this into a circle was no life)

The instructions noted to wait a few hours before using the bar, but I didn’t trust my creation. So, I let what I had made sit for 24 hours to get the authentic DIY shampoo bar experience.

Honestly, it looked exactly the same as when I first clumped it together. But the real test was actually using it.

I was immediately impressed with how well it lathered. Most shampoo bars take a little extra elbow grease to get soapy, but not this one. Sadly, this is where the positives begin and end.

I think I put in a few too many drops of essential oil, because the bar had quite a potent aroma. Though it was peppermint, it was a little overwhelming.

Scrubbing the bar on my scalp didn’t really do much for me. It wasn’t powerful enough to sop up the oil on my head and didn’t leave me feeling as if I had really washed my hair.

My strands felt a bit dry after using it, too.

The Bottom Line

I’m glad I had the experience of making my own shampoo bar, because now I know I will never be doing that again.

It was quite a bit of work for something that didn’t work out too well. There were far more cons than pros happening here.

Even though I only tried followed one recipe, the others out there seemed far less accessible. I don’t see myself trying to make my own bars ever again.

If there weren’t so many shampoo bars readily available, I think I would’ve stuck to making them myself. But because it isn’t as difficult to purchase them, I’ll be ordering mine instead.

Making your own shampoo bars clearly isn’t for everyone. If you’d prefer to buy yours, HERE are the best shampoo bars for oily strands.

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