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 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

How to Make

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 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (soothes scalp and softens hair)
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseeds (conditions and detangles hair)

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

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 Ree-Shi Shampoo remove Oil?

It may or may not. So I would suggest you use homemade egg shampoo and it works great to remove the oil from your hair. 

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

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

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

Fullers Earth/ Multani Mitti

Fullers Earth/ Multani Mitti

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 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 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, 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:

Ruby says

I had tried this a few times but it left my hair v.dry.
Thanks for the tip- adding flax seeds/ methi seeds.
I am going to try it . Will send you the feedback after using it a few times.

    Minaz says

    Hey Ruby, skip amla and add flaxseeds/methi seeds.

Lohit Kumar says

Basically my scalp is very oily, the next day I shampoo it becomes greecy. The commercial shampoos I have used till date couldn’t cure my dandruff problem.
I heard about this shampoo. I have never used it before, but I want to try it.
How frequently to use this shampoo on oily scalp?
Should we let it rest on the head for some time?
How many days does this shampoo sustain without refrigeration?
Please give me a solution. Thank you.

Khyati says

Hi, I wanted to know if we can use the leftover pulp to make another batch of shampoo? If yes, do I need to cook it again or soak it in warm water to activate the pulp? Thank you.

    Minaz says

    No, discard the pulp.

Hina says

A lot of people say that if u store this shampoo in 0pastic bottle it will brust so can i store it in a glass jar??

    Minaz says

    It won’t burst the plastic bottle, but it’s a good idea to use a glass jar or bottle.

Hector says

Hey Minaz,

I have a question about how to use this natural shampoo when it’s already made into ice cubes. Is it mandatory to wait a few hours before you want to use it or can I just take the ice cube(s) and immediately start using it? I’ll highly appropriate a response back. Thank you.

    Minaz says

    You don’t have to wait a few hours. In fact you can heat them in the pot to melt it, do it on a low heat.
    You may also try rubbing the ice cubes directly, see how it goes.

Denise Swan says

Hi Minaz! Thank you for this. I can only find these ingredients in powder form. Is it okay to use the powder and if so, do I treat it much the same as your instructions here?
Kind regards

    Minaz says

    Hi Denise, yes treat them as the whole ones. Also you can tweak to suit your hair’s needs: adding conditioning ingredients etc.

Zakira says

When I applied all three ingredients together viz AAMLA SHIKAKAI, REETHA according to the procedure shown, I felt as if I should scratch my head with full-grown nails, don’t know why? there was so much of itching but I added the henna powder to enhance brown color too .

Holly says

Dear Minaz,
I started to look for ways to enhance my hair because I have a really oily scalp but dry hair and slit ends, and straight hair. I’ve always wanted long healthy hair. at first I didn’t want to put all that time into my hair, but I started out slow using castor oil and coconut oil on my scalp. Then I started using this shampoo and an avocado and egg mask once a week for about 6 months now and my hair in the best shape that it has ever been in. Although I still have split ends they have noticeably gotten better since I’ve trimmed my hair, and I continue to use happy mantras and I think that definitely helps too. In the end my point that your website is what I go to for inspiration with so much useful information and now I love my hair so thank you. 🙂

    Minaz says

    Thanks for you lovely comment Holly. Glad to know you are enjoying natural hair care.

    Mini says

    Hi holly i am in same shoes as you. I have been using ree shi shampoo from one month n still losing hair i was wondering if u can tell me which shampoo do you use to rinse out oil from ur hair as ree shi doesnt clean oil from my hair thnx in advance

Ali says

Hello. I wanted to ask how long does it take till the shampoo spoils if left (1) at room temperature and (2) in the fridge. Just asking to be sure. I’ve only tried this a few times now but it feels good and intend to continue using it.

    Minaz says

    Hello Ali, I have left it at room temperature for 2-3 days, after that it spoils. But in the fridge, it lasts a week.

Terry says

Hello Minaz,

I love your site. I am wondering for the Reeshi shampoo, do you use the whole reetha fruit or the de-seeded shells such as these

Also, where do you find your reetha nuts and shikakai pods? I am not having luck finding them at grocery stores in america like Patel Brothers.

Thank you

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