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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 synthetic 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. 

Shampoo Ingredients: Shikakai, Reetha, and Amla
Shampoo Ingredients: Shikakai, Reetha, and Amla

Ingredients you will need

*10 grams (about 5-6) Shikakai Pods 

*10 grams (about 2) Reetha Berries

Optional add-ins

*5 gram (about 5-6) amla pieces (strengthens and nourishes hair)

*1 tablespoon chamomile flowers (soothes scalp and softens hair)

*1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (conditions and detangles hair)

Making the shampoo:

1. This is the basic ratio, you can adjust the ingredients as desired. 

2. Take reetha and shikakai 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, cover and let it simmer 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. Add the rest of the herbs if using: amla, fenugreek or chamomile. Cover and let it cool. When it comes to room temperature, crush the herbs with your hand.

5. Strain and your homemade shampoo is done.

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) a couple of hours before you want to wash your hair.

Reetha Shampoo frozen into cubes
Reetha Shampoo frozen into cubes

How to use? Use as normal shampoo. Wet hair, then massage the Ree-Shi shampoo on the scalp, and length 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.

Common FAQs Before Using the Ree-Shi Shampoo

1. If I have Oiled my Hair, will Ree-Shi Shampoo remove Oil?

It will, if you oil lightly. Also try adding some clay or besan to the shampoo and that should remove the grease.

But if your hair is very greasy or oily I would suggest you use homemade egg shampoo – it works great to remove the oil from your hair. 

Fullers Earth/ Multani Mitti
Fullers Earth/ Multani Mitti

2. What if My Hair/Scalp is on Dry Side?

You can add one or more of the following herbs when making this shampoo:

  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon lavender flowers
  • 1 tablespoon chamomile flowers

All of them are moisturising and conditioning for hair, and will leave it soft, shiny and smooth.

3. Do 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 olive 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 may 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 lavender, chamomile or your favorite hair herb.

5. Where can I Buy the Shampoo Ingredients?

Reetha and shikakai 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. 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.

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

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