DIY Ayurveda shampoo

shampoo ingredientsI hate buying shampoo and conditioner. Even the organic, SLS free, phthalate/paraben free kinds have a bunch of funky ingredients. Those brands sure aren’t cheap, either. It’s one of the only remaining conventional beauty products that I’ve been purchasing.

I wash my hair a lot. I’m just not one of those people that can go several days without a shampoo. I run and do a lot of sweaty yoga nearly every day. I live on an island with blazing heat and lots of humidity. 2-3 showers a day just to keep cool during the hottest bits of summer. My hair is prone to being oily in a pitta provoking climate like this one.

I’ve mixed teas and coconut milk, coconut oil, olive, jojoba and the like into sorts of shampoos that just leave my thin, light hair looking really greasy. I’ve used castile soap without success. I’ve tried the no ‘poo method. You know, with the baking soda and vinegar (and the greasy hair for 2-4 weeks)? I tried it for about 2 weeks while my husband was away. My hair was gross, but it was just me, and I put it up in a bun while I was in public. Well, my husband got home and more or less (mostly more) told me that my hair didn’t smell pleasant. Yes, I should have stuck it out another week or two since everyone says that it can take that long, but I didn’t want the husband to suffer. He’s put up with a lot of things, like neem oil. Applied before bed. He’s a good sport. So, I washed my hair. Experiment over. I didn’t really enjoy the vinegar smell anyway. It lingered for a tad too long for my liking.

shampoo mixBut, I still wanted a natural product. There had to be a better option, right? Tea rinse decoctions weren’t going to be ideal for me. Planning ahead to boil tea two hours before I wanted to wash my hair? Uh uh. Ain’t got time for that! I know me.

So, I started looking at the bottle of ayurvedic shampoo, left over from India… it’s BLACK. And sandy. But I got used to it, mostly because it was all the ayurvedic clinic had for my 6 week stay. I wouldn’t say I LIKED it, but I did use it, and it was fine. Shampoo only, no conditioner. Back to the shampoo: It’s got some wonderful Ayurvedic herbs in it, but it doesn’t list all the ingredients. Like water. They must have added water. Right? Maybe even questionable preservative ingredients. Who knows.

I decided to use the following ingredients based on what I had at home but I’m sure you could get away with only soapnuts and fenugreek. Experiment! I’d like to add some henna in the future for a little coloring treatment.

  • Hibiscus- 10g Stimulates hair growth, helps prevent early-graying, helps with dandruff
  • Brahmi- 15g Strengthens roots, relieve itchy scalp and helps prevent dandruff
  • Neem- 5g Reduces hair loss and reduces dandruff
  • Soapnut- 70g Prevents hair loss, cleans hair while making it soft
  • Amla- 15g Strength to roots, adds shine, promotes growth and prevents premature graying (could darken hair)
  • Fenugreek- 10g Helps hair look fuller, locks moisture in, adds shine

shampoo spoonsI powdered the brahmi, neem, soapnuts and amla in my blender, and then combined with the powdered hibiscus and fenugreek.  I mixed these together and added to a glass jar with a little scoop.

I took an empty plastic honey bottle and added 1 teaspoon of my hair powder and added about 1 cup of warm water. I let this soak for 30 minutes then showered the first time, but felt like the herbs were still too dry. I then took the bottle, added a scoop of shampoo powder and filled with warm water from the shower and let this sit overnight until I washed my hair the next day. It turned out much better.

When the shampoo mix and water is applied, it’s very.. uh… gritty. While washing, my hair feels coarse and dry. I massage it into my scalp and leave it for 5-10 minutes before washing out. The herbs are very nourishing for your scalp, so let them hang out for a bit.

shampooAfter the first time, I was pretty scared about brushing my hair afterwards. My hair is long, thin and tangles easily. As it turns out, my hair was super soft. The brushing was remarkably easy (easier even than when I use conditioner) and had a faint hibiscus scent for a while. I like that I don’t really have to mess with preparing a shampoo. It’s pretty simple, 1 teaspoon and about a cup of water. Shake, and let sit until your next shower.

I’d say this shampoo would be best for pitta and kapha doshas, as it may not be moisturizing enough for vata’s dry hair. Warm oil treatments are wonderful for vata hair, and should regularly be done for all dosha types. If you tend towards dry hair what natural hair treatments do you use? Have you tried the no ‘poo method with success?

18 comments on “DIY Ayurveda shampoo

  1. rhonda says:

    I’m curious about your shampoo–I don’t much like shampoo either. Are you still using this? What is the shampoo powder you added on the second attempt?

    • naturallydiy says:

      hi rhonda! thanks for asking. i am still using this! i really like it! i’m nearing the end of my first batch. i’ll repeat the same recipe unless i order some henna (then i’ll add that). it stretches out quite a bit. i feel like my hair has gotten stronger and maybe thicker too.
      one thing i should note- when i oil my hair once a week, i do use a regular shampoo to wash it out. otherwise my hair stays too oily. otherwise i use this diy shampoo!

  2. AJ says:

    Hi there,
    This looks very interesting and I would love to try it.
    I live in the US and not sure where I can get these items? Does it need to be shipped from India?
    Any suggestion will be helpful

    Also, did u use Dr. bonner’s soapnut? I see the bottle next to your honey bottle.
    Is it better to use this?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback

    • naturallydiy says:

      Hi AJ,

      Thanks for the questions! I purchased all of my ingredients in the US and brought them here during our move. I purchase bulk herbs from They have different amounts that you can purchase herbs in. It’s a great company.

      The soapnuts were purchased from green virgin products. You can get them from amazon or another company too. As far as I know, Dr. Bronner’s does not carry soapnuts, just castille soap (which is what is in the picture and not in the recipe at all). When you purchase the soapnuts, they will need to be ground into a powder for this recipe. You can purchase whole soapnuts or broken pieces. Either one is fine, and you may find that the broken ones are cheaper.

      Let me know if you try this! =)

  3. jenny says:

    Does the shampoo need to be refrigerated? If not, does is go bad after a certain period of time?

    • naturallydiy says:

      Hi Jenny,

      You’re only going to use enough to make 1 shampoo application at a time. You do not need to store this in the refrigerator overnight.

      It will begin to smell bad after 3+ days once mixed with water.

  4. Anna says:

    Hello, thank you for this post, I really appreciate the experimenting you have done. I have had similar discouraging results from no-poo, olive soap/tea, etc, and I was excited to stumble upon your blog! I have used this recipe once with much success, but I didn’t realize that you oiled your hair once a week and I have noticed that mine is getting dry and waxy. What is your method, if you don’t mind sharing?

    • naturallydiy says:


      Thank you for your comment. I’ve been planning to make an updated version of this recipe since I added henna. In my experimentation with the new recipe, I did notice my hair getting a waxy build up after 1 month (I was not doing hair oiling at the time). When I oil my hair, I have to use a regular organic shampoo to remove all the oil from my fine hair. I think doing that will prevent a waxy build up.

  5. Jaclyn says:

    Wow great post. I’m trying to create a natural powdered shampoo I can sell at the farmers market where all people have to do is add water. Good tip on the extra soaking. Also I’ve looked into shikakai powder, have you heard of this? It might have a similar effect as the neem does. I’m looking forward to experimenting:)

    • naturallydiy says:

      Hi Jaclyn,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I’ve heard very good things from shikakai powder. I’ve meant to try it, but haven’t quite gotten around to it. Have fun experimenting! Good luck to you!

  6. Liz M says:

    I will definitely have to try this!!! I’ve ruined my hair over the course of a year trying to use natural solutions. I did the ‘no-poo for 6 weeks and wound up having to stop. While my scalp LOVED it, it left my hair unmanageable and I couldn’t get a brush or comb through it, it left my ends severely damaged. I moved on to an attempt at using coconut milk/aloe, something else with marshmallow root (doesn’t detangle my super fine hair and I cannot abide the smell of marshmallow root anyway). Coconut and eggs have far too much protein for my hair, I determined as they left it oily for over a week 😦
    I moved on to terressentials and it -nearly works. But I have a balance issue between my scalp and my hair. I find I need to scrub my scalp every day or it gets a buildup that causes painful breakouts. For my scalp I need something drying but my hair needs moisturizing from the daily washing. Overly moisturizing shampoo clogs my scalp further…and overly drying shampoo makes my hair brittle and uncombable. Although I don’t apply shampoo to the length of my hair daily, obviously rinsing it from my scalp causes it to run through my hair. Currently I’m using TheraNeem Scalp Therape shampoo which has been fairly good but it doesn’t have the greatest ingredients- and my scalp is on the cusp of rejecting it. (Meaning no matter how hard I scrub it breaks out anyway)

    • naturallydiy says:

      Shazam! I hope it works out. I know the frustration of trying the no-poo method and others. I’ve been playing around with a new recipe and hope to post an update soon. Let me know if you try this and how it works for your hair and scalp!

  7. Good post but I was wanting to know if you
    could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you could
    elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!

  8. Zev says:

    Hi I use olive leaf powder because my hair is too puffy and it adds a lot of moisture. I don’t use anything that adds volume or dryness. I used burdock rootpowdwr(until I found out it added volume), yucca root powder, & olive leaf powder. They were all gritty but olive leaf powder is fine powder & easiest to use. I’m going to find out if it dissolves into a paste. Otherwise I dump the powder in my hair and wash it off(it’s like sand).

    Powder is too hard to shampoo with(if I can’t make a paste) so I use a shampoo bar for now but they’re hard to find.

  9. Wizmo says:

    Excellent post shared. thanks for sharing these tips

  10. Deanna Amodeo says:

    This is amazing! I live on the big island, and Ayurveda has become a way of life for my boyfriend and I. I have been being haunted by using “healthy” shampoos for a long time now, looking at the ingredients on the back of the bottle never sat right with me! I was just wondering how you measure out the grams I don’t have a little scale, is there another way to do it?

    Thank you!

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