In fact, I kinda hate it. If I had to pick between commercial shampoo laden with chemicals and surfactants, and baking soda and water, of course the baking soda would win. But, when I wash with baking soda and water my hair becomes greasy, stringy, dull, and lifeless. So, it has become obvious to me that the no-poo method is not my first choice. Yes. I stuck with the no-poo method for over two months. I allowed my hair to “adjust” and do it’s “hair thing,” but I just couldn’t quite make it work. Same with the herbal shampoo I made. Neither were right for my hair type. Read: THICK, wavy, grows-like-a-weed hair; so I needed to find a better solution, because I wasn’t going back on the chemical-train for nuthin’.
It was around my time of peak frustration when my sweet friend V called me from a farmer’s market in Eugene. She said, “there is a shampoo bar here that I think you will love! What kind do you want?”
Oh, Sweet V! She didn’t even know I was in pursuit of something else to wash my hair with. Life is funny like that, you know? I had her grab me a rosemary and a lavender travel size bars, and when I tested them out, I loved them instantly.
In researching shampoo bar recipes I realized that mine was not a solo fan club. It seems shampoo bars have sort of a cult following, and that I am late to the party… as usual I decided that DH and I could easily make some, but deciding what kind to make first was the challenge!
What we settled on was a variation of this recipe, and made a shampoo bar that is 5% super-fatted, (not too drying, not too oily),that uses high-quality, moisturizing oils and butters, coconut milk and a marshmallow root infusion.
Marshmallow root is great for hair due to it’s mucilaginous nature. It provides some “slip” to the hair making detangling easy. It soothes a dry and itchy scalp, stimulates hair growth, and gives hair a natural shine and softness. Coconut milk has many of the same properties and benefits for hair and compliments the marshmallow root infusion beautifully. Coconut Oil and jojoba oil make a brilliant lather in a soap
I noticed a difference in my hair after just one use!
We use the hot process method for soap making, and if you are new to soap making and would like a bit of help, I highly recommend you check out these books by Susan Cavitch. In the tribe of soap makers, Cavitch is the Guru.
- The Soapmaker’s Companion: A Comprehensive Guide with Recipes, Techniques & Know-How (Natural Body Series – The Natural Way to Enhance Your Life)
You will first need to gather a few tools:
- crock pot
- stick blender
- digital scale
- small glass bowls or mason jars
- plastic spoon with long handle
- rubber spatula
- protective equipment: long-sleeved shirt, plastic/rubber gloves, safety glasses or protective eye gear
- soap mold – A standard sized bread pan is perfect for this batch, cardboard boxes will also work. We used our wooden (DIY) mold which was a bit too big, so we added cardboard to the ends to make it smaller.
- parchment paper for lining the soap mold
*Measure all ingredients on a kitchen scale*
- 4.5 oz. Sweet Almond Oil
- 1 oz. Beeswax
- 5 oz. Castor Oil
- 2 oz. Cocoa Butter
- 9 oz. Coconut Oil (76 degree)
- 3 oz. Jojoba Oil
- 4.5 oz. Olive Oil
- 2 oz. Shea Butter
- 4 oz. Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
Herbs and Essential Oils
- 0.5 oz. dried Marshmallow Root (for the infusion)
- 0.5 oz.–1 oz. essential oil (optional)
To get the right amount of lye, I ran all of my ingredients through my favorite lye calculator on the Bramble Berry website.
1. Add marshmallow root to 4 oz. boiling water and let steep.
2. Measure all oils and butters and beeswax individually on kitchen scale and add to a hot crock pot.
3. Strain and squeeze the marshmallow root infusion and add enough extra water to equal 4 ounces again. (The herb absorbs some of your liquid).
4. In a glass bowl, add coconut milk to the marshmallow root infusion, (you should have a total of 10 ounces of liquid), and out of doors, add your lye to the mixture.
Precaution: Lye is caustic and dangerous. It is the responsibility of every soap maker to be familiar with how to safely handle such chemicals. Do your homework! Especially if this is your first soap-makin’ rodeo.
5. Let the lye mixture cool while stirring (with wood or plastic).
6. Add the lye/liquid mixture to the crock pot and stir
7. Blend in crock pot with stick blender until trace. (It will look like banana pudding).
8. Cook on high in crock pot for approximately 45-1 hour, or until the mixture folds in on itself and looks a little translucent.
To test: Take a pinch from the crock pot and rub in between your fingers. It should feel waxy. You can also put the tip of your tongue to your sample, and if you feel a zing, like that of a 9 volt battery, it’s not finished. When it’s finished, it will taste like soap.
9. Pour it into your greased or parchment paper lined mold and allow to cool. Cut into bars.
You can use your first bar right away, but allow the others good ventilation to continue to harden.
This initial cost of this recipe was steep, but it made 14 bars plus the end pieces, and I figure that I can give a few away and still wash my family’s hair with these shampoo bars for a whole entire year! I love knowing what is in each bar–exactly, and that we created them in our kitchen. I am really pleased with how they make my hair look and feel, and I have got to say that this is my most favorite “soap” that we have ever made!
After washing with this shampoo bar, I use this homemade Conditioning Rinse.
**I personally don’t add essential oils to my soap because I have them in my rinse. The frugal gal in me is horrified at having to give up a half to a whole ounce of her essential oil stash for soap making. So, as of yet, all of my soaps have been unscented
What about you? What does your hair care routine look like?
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