Mint & Rosemary Shampoo

Wash your tresses with this all-natural shampoo that not only cleans, but also contains active ingredients to nourish your hair and scalp. Peppermint and rosemary lend a fresh fragrance and a botanical solution for many hair care woes. While plant proteins and pro-vitamin B5 ensure that each strand is strengthened and conditioned.

Recipe Variations & Substitutions


I really don’t recommend substituting the surfactants in this recipe. Nevertheless, if you must substitute then the best 1:1 replacement for SCI will be Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa). For the decyl glucoside, the best 1:1 substitute is coco glucoside . I wouldn’t use lauryl glucoside in this recipe, because the shampoo will be way too thick.

Trust me when I say that I have tried many different natural surfactant blends, and this is the best. It’s taken three months of development and dozens of sample formulations to get here. Of course, you can go down the same road and use any blend of surfactants to find what works for you.

Rosemary Hydrosol:

If you’d like to be more cost-effective, then you can replace the hydrosol with plain distilled water or deionised water. You can also substitute with any other botanical hydrosol or floral water instead (like rose water).

Active ingredients:

You can replace the hydrolysed wheat protein with any other hydrolysed protein (eg. rice, quinoa, keratin protein etc.). You can replace the d-panthenol gel with dl-panthenol powder, which is easier to work with, but synthetically produced. You can use any essential oil blend. You could also exclude the active ingredients and replace with more hydrosol / water instead.

Xanthan gum:

You can use another thickener, like guar gum or carrageenan. Just bear in mind that each thickener has different properties in terms of how much it will thicken the product (more or less than my recipe) and what it will bring to the product texture, clarity and scent. If you want to add some conditioning properties to your shampoo, you could use a cationic gum.

Geogard Ultra (Preservative):

You can use any water-soluble, broad spectrum preservative which is compatible in an acidic pH range. Just remember to adjust my recipe according to the manufacturer’s instructions and usage rates, and to test and correct the pH accordingly.

Cost & Shelf Life

Cost price: R68 per 200g if you use distilled water instead of rosemary hydrosol, and R158 per 200g with rosemary hydrosol. (Costs accurate at time of writing in 2023)
Lasted me about:
1 month in a household of two people, with each of us using about a tablespoon of shampoo 1-2 times per week.
Estimated shelf life: 3 months if stored in a sterilised container, and out of direct sunlight.


  • Working with SCI requires more effort than other surfactants, but it’s gentleness, excellent foam and palm-free status more than make-up for it.
  • Cost of using rosemary hydrosol doubles the price of this shampoo. To save money, rather use distilled water instead.

Cherry on Top

  • Sulfate Free
  • Silicone Free
  • Curly Girl approved ingredients
  • Multipurpose: This doubles-up as a pH balanced body/hand wash.
  • Vegan Friendly (but check the source of your SCI, decyl glucoside & d-panthenol with your supplier)
  • Palm Free: The surfactants are typically derived from coconut sources (but please do check with your supplier).
  • Contains no cocamidopropyl betaine: which is a common ingredient that many people have an allergy / irritation to (including myself).
  • Aromatherapy benefits from essential oils. Rosemary and peppermint are particularly known for improving alertness and focus – perfect for a morning shower!


  • Rosemary Hydrosol: is the distilled by-product of making rosemary essential oil. Hydrosols have similar therapeutic properties to their essential oil equivalent, but in a milder and water-based form. (buy here)
  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate: or SCI is a mild, natural surfactant derived from coconuts. It is the primary cleanser in this recipe which provides dense and stable foam without stripping the hair. It is also responsible for the white colour and thickness of the shampoo. (buy here)
  • Decyl glucoside: is a natural surfactant that is derived from plant sources. Depending on the supplier, it can be derived from corn, coconut or palm oil. This non-ionic surfactant supports the SCI in the recipe and boosts lather (buy here).
  • Vegetable glycerine: is a natural humectant that will help the hair retain some moisture, thereby making it more manageable after being cleansed. It is also necessary to hydrate the xanthan gum. (buy here)
  • Hydrolysed wheat protein: is also known as phytokeratin. Protein gives your strands their strength, flexibility and elasticity since hair is primarily made of protein. (buy here)
  • D-Panthenol Gel: is the naturally derived version of pro-vitamin B5. It conditions and improves hair shine, softness and strength. It restores the lustre of dry, damaged and frizzy hair. As an anti-inflammatory, it also helps to condition the scalp and treat dry and itchy scalp. Fun fact: Pro-vitamin B5 is the same key ingredient in Pantene Pro-V shampoo, as it’s name suggests. (buy here)
  • Xanthan gum: stabilises the texture of the product by gelling the available water in the shampoo (buy here).
  • Peppermint EO: Relieves the scalp of irritation, stimulates hair growth and helps control excess oil. (buy here)
  • Rosemary EO: stimulates blood supply to the hair follicles, which promotes healthy hair growth. It helps eliminate microbial activity which is often a cause of hair problems. Its anti-fungal properties help treat/prevent dandruff. (buy here)
  • Geogard Ultra: is a broad-spectrum preservative which is approved for use in certified organic products. It is approved by COSMOS/ECOCERT, NATRUE and SOIL association. It is composed of sodium benzoate and gluconolactone. (buy here)

Safety Precaution

Please be very careful not to inhale SCI or any other solid surfactant! Even when you’re measuring SCI flakes, tiny particles always become airborne that will irritate your lungs. Always wear a well-fitted mask. I even hold my breath while measuring SCI, and then step outside to breathe while the SCI settles down again. Leave your mask on until the SCI has been melted down into a liquid/ paste form.

How has this shampoo recipe worked for your hair type? Please share in the comments section below.

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.

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