Make Your Own Natural Shampoo: Get Soft and Shiny Hair at Home - hair buddha
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Make Your Own Natural Shampoo: Get Soft and Shiny Hair at Home

natural homemade shampoo


For centuries people in India have mostly used various fruits, barks, stem, seeds and leaves to make their own homemade shampoo. Although, now many people are opting for more convenient options -market bought shampoos; is it good or bad is a big question.

Since I was little, I have seen my mother make her own natural shampoo using shikakai, reetha (soap nut) and orange or lemon peel. I had never tried it until recently when my favourite shampoo had its ingredients changed, and my hair refused to like the new ones. Luckily my mother was paying us a visit. And I decided to use her expertise of making this all-natural homemade shampoo.

Before we go on how to make homemade shampoo, let me tell you a little about my quest for the natural shampoo.

I have suffered from an itchy scalp for many many years. And I have had uncountable bad hair days. Besides when I moved to London the hard water made things even worse. I tried using filtered water to wash my hair, this did help, but only a little. I then started trying various shampoos.

I finally found the shampoo which claimed to contain all natural ingredients. My hair & scalp absolutely loved it; I used this for a couple of years. But just recently the shampoo producers changed many of its ingredients, and my hair was left ‘cuticle broken’ and my scalp was itchy again. So I finally decided to give my mom’s homemade shampoo a try.

My mom’s homemade shampoo — let’s call the shampoo Ree-Shi for its main ingredients reetha and shikakai — made my hair amazingly soft and shiny.

And my scalp felt better, and the itch has gone away. Moreover, my hair is doing pretty fine without the need for filtered water. I so much like happy endings!

I was a bit annoyed with myself to have waited all these years to find the right shampoo for my hair. I totally overlooked my mom’s homemade concoction for all these years and never ever thought of using it on my hair. Anyways it’s never too late…blah blah.. I hope you won’t delay any bit…

Here are the ingredients and how to use them:



1. Shikakai: Shikakai or Acacia concinna is a climbing shrub native to central and south India. Shikakai literally means “fruit for hair. It has been used as a hair cleanser in the Indian sub-continent since ancient times.

With its slightly acidic pH, shikakai gently cleans the hair without stripping it of its natural oils. It’s also a great conditioner, and helps to reduce scalp dryness and makes hair soft and bouncy.

Shikakai is rich in vitamin C and many essential phytonutrients that nourish the hair follicles and promote hair growth.

Soap Nut/ Reetha

2. Soap nuts or Reetha: Reetha contains natural surfactants called saponins, which makes it a great natural cleanser. Surfactants are foaming agents that help remove dirt and grease from your hair/skin. Most commercial shampoos contain chemical surfactants which may not be skin or environment-friendly.

Reetha is an excellent alternative for people who are allergic to sulfates and parabens in the commercial shampoo. The natural saponins in reetha not only cleans hair, they add shine and body and make hair look thicker and smoother. 

Dried Amla

Dried Amla

3. Amla or Indian gooseberry: In traditional Indian cultures, amla is considered a valuable hair tonic and forms a regular part of hair care ritual.

The antioxidant and anti-microbial properties help to maintain a healthy scalp. Amla is known to strengthen hair roots, encourage hair growth, and address premature greying.

Shampoo Ingredients: Shikakai, Reetha, and Amla

Shampoo Ingredients: Shikakai, Reetha, and Amla

How to make?

You will need:

  • 10 grams  shikakai pods
  • 10 grams reetha berry 
  • 5 gram amla pieces

This is the basic ratio, you can adjust the ingredients as desired. You can substitute amla for orange peel or lemon peel. Use any one of the three- amla, orange peel and lemon peel- if you use all, it will dry out your hair.

2. Take all ingredients in a pan, add 750 ml of water and let them soak for about 8 hours. Or you can skip this step and straight away make the shampoo.

3. Heat the mix till it starts to boil, reduce the flame slightly and let it boil for 5-15 minutes. The longer you cook the more concentrated it will become. (add more water if you wish)

4. Remove from the heat, cover and let it cool. When it comes to the room temperature, crush the reetha, shikakai, and amla/peels with your hand.

5. Strain before use.

Shampoo in Process

Shampoo in Process

This is a not a long process, it just needs some planning. Yet to do this every time, before you wash your hair, can put many off. And you cannot make a large batch and store the liquid in the fridge, as it will turn bad.

The good news is, you can freeze the mixture into ice trays, and use it as and when required. Take out 2 to 3 cubes (more or less depending on the length of your hair) few hours before you want to use it.

Reetha Shampoo frozen into cubes

Reetha Shampoo frozen into cubes

How to use? Use as normal shampoo. Wet hair, then massage the Ree-Shi (Reetha & shikakai)  shampoo on the scalp, and move towards the ends of your hair. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and then rinse.  This mix hardly lathers. But it cleans your hair well.

This Shampoo Suits All Hair Types: This shampoo is suitable for all hair types and will not strip the natural oils from your hair. This traditional product is probably the original pH balanced shampoo.

Some Common FAQs Before Using the Ree-Shi Shampoo

1. If I have Oiled my Hair, Will the Ree-Shi Shampoo Remove the Oil?

It may or may not. So there are few things you can do:

  • Shampoo on dry hair. So don’t wet your hair before shampoo, pour the ree-shi liquid on dry hair and massage your scalp and hair. This will make the shampoo more effective and help to remove the oil.
  • You can also, add 1-2 tablespoons clay such as bentonite or fuller earth to the shampoo. This will help to remove excess oil.
  • And if your hair is too long, you can shampoo the length of your hair with a normal shampoo and use the ree-shi shampoo for your scalp. Here’s how to so.

2. What if My Hair is on Dry Side?

Add a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds or marshmallow root when making this shampoo. Both fenugreek and marshmallow are very moisturising and conditioning for hair and will leave it soft, shiny and smooth.

Fullers Earth/ Multani Mitti

Fullers Earth/ Multani Mitti

3. Will I have to Use Conditioner after Shampoo?

No need.

If your hair is frizzy and dry, after shampooing pat dry your hair, then take a pea-sized amount of coconut oil or almond oil and rub through the lower third of your hair, avoiding the scalp, and leave-in. The result is soft, shiny and manageable hair. 

4. Can I Use Ree-Shi Shampoo If I have Blond Hair?

Shikakai and amla can darken your hair over time. If you do not wish to alter your hair colour, skip these two. So use just reetha and along with it you can add one or more of the below-listed herbs (1 to 2 teaspoon each), and follow the same directions to make the shampoo.

marshamallow root – conditions and softens hair

horsetail herb – makes hair strong and shiny

chamomile flower: adds highlights to blond hair; conditions and softens hair.

fenugreek seeds – softens hair and useful in scalp conditions such as dandruff and eczema

nettle leaves – add body and get rids of excess oil, good for oily hair

5. Where can I Buy the Shampoo Ingredients?

Reetha, shikakai and amla are available in most of the Indian grocery stores, or you can also purchase them online.

6. Can I Buy Herb Powders for Making the Shampoo?

 I generally prefer to use whole herbs than their powder forms, because powder can be easily adulterated.

Always buy powdered herbs from a reputed seller, so you know what you are getting is pure herbal powder.

To Sum Up: Why Use Shikakai – Reetha Shampoo?

This shampoo is a great natural cleanser. It is free from not so good ingredients like Sulfate, parabens, and other additives, and moreover packaging – no more plastic bottles. It is mild, having naturally low pH and will not strip the natural oils from your hair. Usually, no conditioner is needed, as shikakai is a natural softer and detangler.

Note: If you have never used these herbs before, do a patch test to see if you are allergic to any ingredient.

Also, before buying any store-shampoo or any cosmetic products train yourself to read the labels. If you are unsure of any ingredient, then dig up info on it.

If you have used this, please share your experience. I would love to hear from you…


How to make natural shampoo at home

Leave a Comment:

Lee says

I plan on making just the reetha version with fenugreek as I don’t want to change my hair color over time. Can I add essential oils to this without negative effects? If so, with I need a carrier oil, such as jojoba?

    Minaz says

    Yes you can certainly add essential oil to the shampoo, you don’t need a carrier oil.
    Alternatively, you can add herbs like lavender or rosemary.

swapna says

Hi Minaz

thank you so much for such informative blog. i tried the above recipe. had tried egg shampoo too. loved both of them. these two became my weekly routine. the above one i am using for my daughter also. she is complaining about the strong smell but i am sure she will get used to it.thanks again

    Minaz says

    Hi Swapna. Glad to know it’s working for both you and your daughter. For smell, you can add 3-4 drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil.

Sophie says

Thanks for the fantastic article. Just wandering what recipe to follow if i am using powdered amla, reetha and shikakai? I have thick, curly hair if that’s relevant. Thanks 🙂

    Minaz says

    You can add more shikakai and half the quantity of reetha and amla.

Jacqueline says

can I use this other shampoo bought from saloons when rinsing my hair after the onion and egg hair mask?

    Minaz says

    Yes you can. But make sure it suits your hair and the only way you know it is by using it. So if possible get a sample so you don’t waste the whole bottle.

crys says

Hi Minaz…Is it safe to use this shampoo everyday?

    Minaz says

    Hi crys, yes you can, but I would recommend washing hair every second or third day.

Kahbini Raj says

Hi. I couldn’t get soap nuts, is there any substitute?

    Minaz says

    Hello, simply use shikakai and amla.

Christina says

Can I make this shampoo from the powder of this plants? None of Indian stores in my city doesn’t have it as a plant, but only powder

srinithimahesh says

hello there,
i am suffering from PCOD and hence experiencing tremendous hair fall. i have also started to loose my front hairline. so i have started applying onion juice since last week. what else should i add in the ree – shi shampoo to get better results. also please give me suggestions as to how to remove the smell of the onion juice. Should i add besan before freezing or after defreezing because i generall oil my hair before washing it.

PS: i just came across your blog in search of home made shampoos. It was brilliant. i am going to start trying the ree shi shampoo. Keep up the good work.

    Lekshmi says

    Hi my friend ,

    The following tips might help
    1) use the shampoo mentioned in this post
    2) use onion juice atleast 20 min before u wash ur hair
    3) use a humidifier running if u live in a home where air conditioning equipment is running everyday .. be it a cooler or a heater both takes away moisture from air
    4) drink lots of water
    5) do abs exercises to reduce fat around your tummy . This is important. This can help with PCOD as well

Caroline says

I only have shikakai and alma powder, what would be ration for my diy shampoo? I love your website

    Minaz says

    Use 2:1 ratio. Thanks.

Rose says

Hello Minaz, I have course, curly hair which is now relaxed but I struggle to maintain shine and moisture. I have been searching the internet for solutions when I came across your website and became excited as I am convinced that using natural products is the way to go.
I look forward to using your suggestions but could you tell me whether these will work with all hair types ?

    Minaz says

    Hi Rose, this shampoo will work for all hair types. And since you struggle to maintain shine and moisture, add a tablespoon of any one of the moisturizing agent: marshmallow root/slippery elm/flax seeds.

subhadra says

i made this shampoo today finally, after preparing for it yesterday. it does not lather almost. and, 750ml water is too much. i made shampoo enough for a month. i used it on unoiled hair. i have a nornal-dry scalp and dry hair. so i was worried about conditioning. i tried it without conditioner and it was just fine. what i loved about the shampoo was it was water soluble and natural and didnot cause any itchiness or buildup. it cleansed my scalp and hair pretty well but i guesssed right. it would be better with some conditioner like aloe vera after wash.i have pretty short hair so i didnt use coconut oil afterwards since its hot and i tend to over oil.Thanks for the amazing recipe Minaz. and till when can i use the stored shampoo¿

    Minaz says

    Hi Subhadra,
    So happy to know you liked the shampoo. It will stay in fridge for a week. Or you can freeze in ice cube tray for longer (see above).

Tori says

If I make a homemade shampoo can/should I still do an herbal rinse? I am new to natural hair help as my hair started falling out after stopping birth control 🙁

    Minaz says

    If you use the above shampoo, you don’t need to do a herbal rinse. But if you washing your hair with an egg, I would do an herbal rinse. And the same applies if you are washing with clay and flours.

meera says

Hi Minhaz… can the powders (if they ar from a good source) be used as a mask and then washed off? Do tell…. your post assures me I am in good hands 🙂

    Minaz says

    Hello Meera,
    Yes you can use powders. Let us know how it works for you.

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