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:

Geetanjali says

Hi Minaz, thank you for this article. Ever since I’ve moved to london, I’ve been desperately looking for solutions to save my hair and skin. I will definitely try your remedy.

Do you use anything for the skin as well? My skin has become darker and has lost its glow in the cold weather. However, after just one shower in india the glow comes back. I guess the heat and pollution really suits me 🙂

If you have any remedy for skin with natural ingredients, please do share.


    Minaz says

    Hi Geetanjali,
    my fav is almond and tomato face mask. Give it a try. Here’s how to make.

Kate says

Hello Minaz,
I have bought all indgreidiets for this shampoo and I followed your instructions.
I do. oil mask very time before washing my hair for the past month and I decided to try your besoon/yogurt mask before washing my hair with this homemade shampooo. Well, my I don’t know what went wrong but after having my oil mask for three hours I made baseen/yogurt mask for 15 minutes, but I used low fat yogurt, I don’t know if that had any impact on results or not but after rinsing my hair and applying reeshi shampoo, my hair was still oily, and kinda rough from the bottom to the middle length. I am going to wash it tomorrow again but only with reeshi shampoo.
I used shikakai, soap nuts and grapefruit peel, funygreek seeds and marshamellow root. I am going to wash tomorrow with this again but I don’t know what should I do to cleans my hair from oil mask. I don’t see that chickpea mask resolved the issue. I does help but not complietly. If you have any other suggestion I would appreciate the guidens . Thank you for your time and the wonderful website.

    Minaz says

    Hello Kate,

    If ree-shi shampoo is not taking out the oil, use egg (only yolk if your scalp is on dry side). You can follow up with ree-shi shampoo for extra shine and clean feel.
    If you are doing yogurt mask again, go for full fat yogurt.

    Kate says

    Thank you for your quick reply. The egg shampoo did help. I will try to use it once a week and ree-shi shampoo once a week too.
    I have a question regarding ree-shi hampoo. Two times when I used it my husband identified ree-shi shampoo smell as toxic for him, too acidic. He says our bathroom smells for two days and he has allergic reaction to it. It makes me wonder could this be shikakai? When I received shikakai pods I thought to myself they have very strong smell. Should I substitute with something else? If yes, what that be?
    I have soap nuts, marshamellow roots and funygreek seeds what else could I add? Thank you very much!

    Minaz says

    I guess he didn’t like the smell of fenugreek. Use just soap nut and marshmallow and see if that helps. And then add either to eliminate.

Revathi says

The shampoo is amazing .I used it and I m content with it .

Ayesha says

HI Minaz, I have naturally fine thin hair (with oily scalp) and now experiencing hair loss and further thinning due to thyroid. Can I use this shampoo to regain some of my lost crown glory and reverse the damage. Kindly suggest other home remedies to get some hair growth along the bald patches that have started to appear. I am very worried and don’t want to waste time. Thanks .

    Minaz says

    Yes, use this shampoo, it promotes healthy scalp, which in turn will stimulate growth.
    You can do an egg mask once a week.

Swetha Jayachandar says

Hi! Your website is my bible! So much info! Thank you first and foremost for that 🙂 my mom usually makes shikakai powder with the dried ingredients. What’s the effect/role of these powders -green gram, rice, white turmeric (poolaan kilangu), rose petals, nutmeg, tulsi, vettiver, kuruviver (Mexican mint root I think), chaulmoogra and hibiscus flowers and leaves? If they are useful are they effective in the dried powder form?! Sorry for asking too much! Thanks once again!

    Minaz says

    Hi Swetha, It’s wonderful to know your mom still makes the lovely herb mix for hair. I have (almost) talked about every ingredient in detail. If you use the search function, you can learn about them.
    Let me know how this works for you.

Maryam says

I have long and wavy hair of nomral texture,usually I apply olive oil after wash.Earlier I used shikakai,it feels great but my hair have changed colour (from black to brown black)Recently I made your shampoo, my hair feel dry.How many times a week should I wash? Can I apply flaxseed gel after wash?

electra says

how do you measure grams when it comes to these herbs because 10 grams is about 2.5 teaspoons, how does this workout?

Barthyana says

I have seen these herbs in powder form on sale by Hesh herbal products which I trust. Can you give the equivalent powder amounts for your recipe please? Thanks!

Naina Shinde says

Hi Minaz,

You have explained everything very clearly. i appreciate the effort you would have put it for such clarity.

I am searching for a different home made natural shampoo instead of reetha as i have memories of dry tangled hair on using Reetha given by my grandma to me, when i was a kid. But i am sure my grandma used to give me reetha alone. That mixture did not have Shikakai and Amala.

I have wavy normal hair, it mostly gets oily on the third day after washing so i considered it normal. Can you please suggest a proportion so that my hair does not get super dry and tangled [i never have tangles, if i use a normal shampoo.]

The other thing which bothered me was i did not want to use powder and the concoction cant be saved. your wonderful idea of freezing it, gave me a new hope..
I have shoulder length hair and i am guessing i will need 2 cubes as i oil my hair. How much concoction do u think i can make at once to freeze it or does it not get bad at all when frozen.

Also, i loose hair and my growth has reduced. Does any of the ingredients strengthen the hair or help hair growth?
Thank you very much:)

    Minaz says

    Hi Naina, if you are worried about tangles use less reetha and amla. You can add fenugreek seeds or marshmallow root for their conditioning effects.
    For hair strengthening and growth I like to use egg and olive oil hair mask weekly.
    Best wishes.

Rani says

Mam, i want to make this shampoo for my daughter in hostel. Shall I make one Kg of powder using all these 3 with fenugreek equal to reetha proportion ? Her hair is dry, short and very thin.

    Minaz says

    Hi Rani, if her hair is dry, use less reetha and amla and more shikakai.
    Make small quantity to see if it works for her or not.

Bhoomika says

Wow!! Impressive
Loved it ???❤

Deepa says

have been using this mixture for almost a year but now I have noticed that my hair appears dry and stiff. also feels dirty. initially it was great but now my hair is not free flowing like it should be after a wash. and it is dirty ( comb is black). Please could you advice

    Minaz says

    If it worked well initially, you must have altered the herb proportion. Or have you changed the city?

Val says

I am from Nigeria the ingredients for making the shampoo I can’t be sure to get, can’t you make one for me to buy

    Minaz says

    Hi Val, hopefully soon.

Harini V says

Hello, I am Harini 🙂 I found your article very useful. i have a lot of doubts though and I hope you would hep me.

I have extra wavy hair that borders on looking curly when i wash it. My hair doesnt naturally oil itself so I apply oil and and wash out my hair twice a week. My hair likes this arrangement. while I did not have hair fall as such, my hair never grew either. I love long hair and i really want my hair to grow long. so after quite some research I settled on onion juice and egg white to use on my hair alternatively during hair wash days. like two days once i would wash my hair after applying and leaving in onion juice and then oil my hair and plait it and again two to three days later use egg white. i ve been doing this (not very strictly) for 3 months now………more or less. But I see a drastic increase in hair fall. and i am very worried. like i said, my hair doesnt fall but it doesnt grow either. I dont think I am allergic to onion , coz am south indian and onion is a base to all our dishes. I dont understand why my hair is falling. Have i over done the treatments by using egg and onion? should i have used either one? is this hairfall just usual when u try something new on ur hair? will it go back to not falling and grow faster and better? i also dont excercise much but i dont know if that is causing this sudden hair fall, coz i ve always not excericed

please help me. I dont use any products of chemicals on my hair. I oil and braid and wash it regularly. i never even blow dry it. all i want is normal long thick waist length hair. i am very confused and worried.

    Minaz says

    Hi Harini, the onion juice and egg white is very drying for hair. And you mentioned your hair is already dry. I wouldn’t use any of it.
    I will suggest the miracle hair mask or the egg yolk and olive oil hair mask. Leave them on no more than 20-30 minutes.

Michelle says

Great recipe! Can you use something else instead of the yoghurt for after oiling the hair? Is there a vegan option? Thanks!

    Minaz says

    Yes, you can try coconut milk.

Helen Lincy P says

Thank you for the wonderful shampoo recipe maam. I tried it and i am feeling better. Yet suffering with itchy scalp.
Thanks for your effort.

    Minaz says

    Hi Helen, add fenugreek seeds to it. It will reduce the flakiness. And use less reetha and amla.

Cheryl says


Thank you for this recipe. I mean to try this out. But can you tell me if there are any other combinations/ingredients I can use instead of Shikakai and Amla for a homemade shampoo?

    Minaz says

    Hi Cheryl,

    You can add herbs like marshmallow root, licorice root, horsetail grass, nettle, chamomile.

Mamta Naudiyal says

Thanks for ur homemade shampoo. I agree with u that natural ingredients are always better then packed shampoo. I will definitely give it a try. I have recently shifted to a new house where water seems to be hard(aprox 375), due to which I m facing hair fall.wil this ree- shi shampoo is enough or any add on wull help.what would u suggest in case…plz tell me cure for scin dryness too…

    Riki says

    Hello… I love the information you share on hair care and thank you! I want to ask if you know of any pre-made natural shampoos that consist of all the ingredients (shikakai pods, reetha berry, amla pieces, besan, etc.) listed for making the natural shampoo that are available for purchase. I will attempt to make the homemade shampoo in the near future but if there are versions of this type of natural shampoo, I would like to buy a few. Thanks.

    Kelly says

    Hi Mamta! I don’t know if you still need help, but generally with hard water you’ll simply want to follow whatever shampoo you’re using with an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse or a Lemon Rinse. Another option is to buy a shower head with a hard water filter. I hope this helped!

Priya says

Hi mam,
This is Priya…before few months I have got an gud result with ur tips for dandruff mam…like amla and fenugreek rinse…it really works out for me I m losing severe hair-loss mam..during oil massage I m losing nearly 250 hairs mam…other days also I m having 60 hairs falling mam..this is an sudden hairloss for me mam..I don’t know y mam…..2months completely I m losing lot of hairs mam. I don’t know wt is the exact reason for this mam. I m having weekly twice oil massage for my hair mam. Like rosemary, almond, olive,coconut, sesame,castor oil and 2 capsule vitaminE mam…daily having amla juice intake mam, doin regular exercise mam…using Tresemme shampoo and conditioner mam…aftr tht amla and fenugreek rinse as a final rinse aftr hairwash mam….I don’t know wt is the reason for hairfall mam…I need my hairs back mam…the only thing is I m working in IT field mam….using system for 8hrs mam..I dont know even this will cause hair-loss?? Please tel me some solution mam….please mam…I m totally upset due to this mam….even I don’t even wish to go to doctor’s mam..coz u already cleared my dandruff completely mam…I.m. hoping u lot for my hair-loss also mam…please reply me and tel me some permanent solution for this mam…:(

    Amber says

    Hello Priya,

    It can be a sensitivity to one of the oils your using?
    I tried coconut oil treatments because many people online recommend it but
    I have a feeling my hair and scalp not always agree with some of the oils in my hair.
    I also read story’s from people online that used coconut oil for years and they had problems with their hair and when they stopped using it, their hair was coming back.
    I have to say that coconut oil is the only one I could find this information about, so I don’t know about the other ones.

    I hope you get the answer/solution very soon.


    kate w says

    i hope she answers your question!! has anything in your life changed? are you strssed at your job? i would make the shampoo she gives the recipe for and throw away the tresemme! good luck!!!

Rebecca Bligh says

Hi Minaz!

What would you recommend for “combination” greasy and dry hair? I have long, thick hair – the bottom two-thirds is very dry, coarse, brittle, frizzy, and damaged. But my roots are greasy. There’s literally a visible division between the two types of hair: thick, weighed down and greasy on top; poofy and frizzy on bottom. I made your Reeshi shampoo, and I loved it at first. But by the third wash, the bottom was more dry and straw-like than normal and the top was greasier than normal. What do you suggest?

Thank you so much for your help!

    Minaz @hairbuddha says

    Hi Rebecca,
    Before you wash your hair, apply some almond or olive oil to the bottom two-third of your hair. If your roots stay greasy, add 1-2 reethas when making the shampoo. You can also use a clay paste on the roots and rinse your hair with ree-shi shampoo.

    Rebecca Bligh says

    Ok. Thank you for your response, Minaz!

    ali says

    Rebecca Bligh i want to see ur hair pics. what is ur i.d

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