All-purpose Shampoo

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The ingredients in this recipe are known to treat and prevent dandruff, thinning hair, hair fall, premature greying and dry hair; and even if these aren’t a problem for you, at least you know you’ll have stronger hair follicles on top of clean hair. If you’re looking for a shampoo to treat the conditions mentioned above, please keep in mind that results may only show after long-term, regular use (although, results for dandruff should be noticeable after only a few washes).

Shampoo is a tricky one in natural DIY circles, as everyone seems to have a different experience with certain methods and ingredients. This recipe is what I’ve found to work best for me (using liquid soap as a base), but you might have a disaster of an experience. Hence, your natural shampoo journey might take a little bit of trial and error, as did mine. Hopefully this shampoo does work as well for you as it does for me.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

Liquid soap:

The best natural soap to buy or make is a liquid soap made from coconut oil. It is the best cleanser, and has the best lather. Here is my recipe for a coconut oil liquid soap. Alternatively you can use Castile liquid soap which is made from olive oil, but it doesn’t bubble and clean as well.

Essential oils:

I’ve included six essential oils in this recipe, all of which are beneficial for hair growth and strength. However, if your budget limits the number of essential oils you can afford, then I recommend the best oil to buy for this purpose would be Rosemary. Just increase the quantity to 50 drops if this is the only essential oil you will be using.


You can use any vinegar for this recipe, it doesn’t have to be raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. I prefer raw apple cider vinegar, simply because it has vitamins and minerals that may have benefits for hair. However, the main purpose of the vinegar is to lower the pH of the liquid soap and any vinegar will do that. If you don’t have vinegar, another way that you can lower the pH is by disolving 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) of citric acid with a tablespoon (15ml) of distilled water. Then add one teaspoon of that diluted solution to the liquid soap.

Cost & Shelf Life

Cost price: R29.73 for 250ml
Lasted me about:
1 month (using every third day)
Estimated shelf life: 3 months

*Costs accurate at time of writing, and based on the best retail prices I’ve found.


Not for everyone. Using soap as a base for natural shampoo can work wonders for some people, but can be disastrous for others. I’ve heard some people complain it makes their hair frizzy, and others say it gets even more greasy. You’ve just got to give it a try to see for yourself.

Cherry on Top

No longer have to wash my hair everyday, as I used to with chemical, store-bought shampoos. Good natural shampoos don’t strip your hair of it’s natural oils, therefore your hair is more balanced and you will find that you won’t get greasy hair or dandruff as often. It’s almost as if the chemical stuff actually promotes greasy hair and dandruff if you stop using the product, perhaps that’s how they keep you buying it, and using it everyday.

Ingredient Benefits

  • Raw honey: Strengthens hair follicles by retaining moisture and conditioning the hair, which prevents hair loss. Keeps hair clean and bacteria free. Treats dandruff and itchiness. (buy here)
  • Natural liquid soap: Biodegradable soap. The best natural soap to buy or make is a liquid soap made from coconut oil. It is the best cleanser, and has the most bubbles. Here is my recipe for the coconut oil liquid soap that I use. (buy coconut-based soap here)
  • Jojoba oil: Removes build up on the scalp known to inhibit hair growth. Strengthens hair fibers from the inside. Adds shine, elasticity & softness. Helps to repair hair damaged by heat & styling (buy here).
  • Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV): As an acid, vinegar will lower the pH of soap to be closer to the natural pH of your hair. Apple cider vinegar is specifically claimed by some people to have benefits for the hair, particularly dandruff. Here’s my recipe to make your own. Raw ACV also contains vitamins and minerals. (buy here)
  • Rosemary essential oil: Stimulates hair follicles, which helps hair grow stronger. Eliminates microbial activity which is often a cause of hair loss. Slows down premature hair loss and graying. Removes dandruff (buy here).
  • Lavender essential oil: Increases blood circulation, which encourages healthy hair growth. Treats stress which is often linked to hair loss (buy here).
  • Tea tree essential oil: Reduces dandruff and itchiness (buy here).
  • Peppermint essential oil: Relieves the scalp of irritation and dry skin and stimulates hair growth (buy here).
  • Cinnamon essential oil: Reduces UV damage, stimulates hair follicles, treats dry and brittle hair (buy here).
  • Lemon essential oil:  Vitamin C encourages strong, healthy and shiny hair. Treats dandruff (buy here).

Not sure where to find these, or other ingredients? My shopping guide may help you. Are you new to essential oils? Please read how to use them safely.


If this shampoo recipe is just not your cup of tea, then another DIY option for you to try is the bicarbonate of soda method (also known as the “no poo” method – strange name, I know). Here’s how it works.


If DIY isn’t your thing, I have two personal recommendations that I have tried and approved:

Hemporium’s Shampoo:

This is the best bought option I’ve tried, with the simplest ingredients, and it’s worked for everyone I’ve recommended to so far. However, it is watery, so it’s best to pour it straight onto your scalp (not in your hand first, you’ll just waste). This shampoo doesn’t lather as well as Earthsap’s, but the product is working, and using about 5-8 “pumps” (for long hair) will do the trick (even if you don’t feel the bubbly action). The downside to this product is that it seems to finish quicker than other shampoos, and is not as affordable as Earthsap’s shampoo range, but the cost is at least not as pricey as some other natural/ organic shampoos out there. Their shampoo uses a liquid soap made with coconut oil and hemp seed oil as a base. The hemp seed oil makes this a milder and more nourishing shampoo. I often feel like I don’t need to condition afterwards. (Buy Here)

Earth Sap’s Shampoo:

This is as close to the shampoo that you’re used to. It is bubbly and has a more gel-like texture (as opposed to Hemporium’s liquid texture). It is the most affordable natural shampoo and may last longer, due to the little amount required for each use. Earthsap’s shampoo uses liquid soap made with coconut oil as a base, which is why it probably lathers better than Hemporium’s shampoo. However, my hair does sometimes feel stripped dry and in need of conditioner afterwards. (Buy Here)

What natural shampoo works best for your hair type? Please share in the comments section below.

6 thoughts on “All-purpose Shampoo”

  1. My preference is the GKhair anti-dandruff shampoo because it is totally sulfate free and very good at keeping the hair dandruff at bay. Truly a game changer. I can say that it is a very good fit for the hair dandruff. I’d highly recommend this very shampoo to say good bye to the dandruff forever and ever . 🙂 <3

    • Thanks for your feedback Mary. If GK Hair Shampoo works for you, that’s great. Unfortunately, I am put off by the unnatural ingredients, some of which are toxic. Here’s the list of ingredients:

      Pyrithione Zinc (active ingredient), Aqua, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Acrylates Copolymer, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide MEA, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyquaternium-7, Fragrance, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Methylisothiazolinone, Benzyl Salycilate, Coumarin, Eugenol, Gamma Methyl Ionone, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamic Aldehyde, Linalool, FD&C Blue #1.

      Many shampoos that claim to be sulfate free use Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate (AOS) as the main cleanser. AOS has been classified as having traces of Benzene, a carcinogen or reproductive toxin and also is created using petrochemicals. It also is not readily biodegradable.

      There are only three natural ingredients in this shampoo – aqua, citric acid and coumarin – which is why I personally wouldn’t purchase it. Generally, if I can’t read, pronounce or understand exactly what the ingredients are – I avoid it.

  2. Hi.
    I have most of the ingredients listed, but not rosemary eo (and don’t have access to any for a few months), but it’s obviously a key ingredient.
    Any suggestions as to what I could do?

    BTW… I’ve just discovered your blog and absolutely love! Thanks a million for all your efforts (and logical presentation!) x

    • Hi. Thank you for your comment, and for your encouraging compliment. I’m happy that my logical presentation is noticed AND appreciated 🙂 Thank you! To answer your question, rosemary is not essential. Yes, it is a great essential oil for hair care, but it is not necessary. Do you have other EOs on hand? Tea tree, lavender, peppermint, lemon, sandalwood, carrot will all work well for dry hair & scalp. But even if you exclude essential oils completely, that is fine. They just add benefits and fragrance, but the raw honey will provide enough nourishment. Are you using this shampoo specifically for dandruff – or just general use? If dandruff, then adding a teaspoon of aloe vera gel will also provide extra nourishment and relief to a dry scalp. I hope that helps.

    • Hello Janel,

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, cinnamon spice won’t blend well in this recipe. But you don’t need to use cinnamon oil. You can use another essential oil that is good for your hair and scalp. Rosemary is excellent and is my first choice, but peppermint, tea tree and lavender are also great essential oils for hair.



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