Excellent ways to prepare a chemical-free shampoo.

I came across this post on my friend, Shalini Baisiwala’s blog in September. The home-made hair cleanser had been a part of my haircare routine for years together before I discovered the more glamorous–and easy to use alternative–store-boughtΒ shampoos!

On reading her post, I remembered how my mother has been diligently following the old ritual of preparing the hair-wash using shikakai ( Acacia Concinna) and Reetha (Soapnuts) and has had beautiful, problem-free hair for all these years.

I decided to turn a leaf and bid goodbye to the chemical-containing shampoos and welcome the home-made shampoos that packed a lot more in them than harmful chemicals.

So, last month, I finally disposed of my shampoo and hair-conditioner bottles and prepared my own shampoo after more than 2 decades.

Suffice to say, I am glad I made the switch, for, in just a couple of washes, I noticed a marked change in the quality of my hair.

The recipe I am going to share is slightly different from Shalini’s, for I use just the shikakai and soapnuts–the way my mother does.

You can try both these recipes and pick the one that you like. But, either way, I can vouch for the fact–as well as Shalini–that you will only benefit from this change. It is after all a hair cleanser that isn’t prepared in a chemistry lab!




Chemical-free shampoo



Dried Shikakai – 5 to 6

Soapnuts (Reetha) – 1


In a cup of water soak the shikakai and reetha overnight in a bowl.

Next morning, place the bowl in a pressure cooker and cook for 2 whistles, or for 15 minutes.

Once cooked, allow it to cool.

Then, mash it all very well with the hand.Soapnuts give a lot of lather, which is why I have used just one

.Once you have mashed it thoroughly, use either a strainer to filter the pulp.Collect the pulp in a bowl and add some more water to the mashed shikakai and soapnut.Mash it all again and add this to the bowl. Keep adding water (a bowl at a time) to the cooked shikakai+soapnut and mash it as many times as you can.The above quantity of shikakai and soapnut will give you a liter of shampoo.Chemical-free shampooStore it all in a plastic bottle and refrigerate it.


Every time you want to wash your hair, take some of the shikakai shampoo in a vessel and heat it.

You may add the juice of half a lemon to it if you think your hair is too oily.

Once you heat it, add a little cold water to dilute it.

Wet your hair. Cup your palm and take in some of the shampoo, pour it on your scalp and rub gently.

You will have to do this twice or thrice so that the scalp and the hair get cleaned thoroughly.

Wash off with cold water to clean the hair.

Towel-dry your hair gently.

And, once the hair is almost dry, apply just 2 to 3 drops of coconut oil before detangling and combing your hair.

READ Hair oil for itchy scalp and hair fall.



Scrub, but very gently, when you wash your hair.

Use your fingers to rinse the hair.

Detangle the hair when it dries. Wet hair tends to break.

Be gentle when detangling, too.

Apply just a couple of drops of coconut oil before detangling, after the hair has dried completely.

Then, comb your hair well and tie it in a bun for a while. Leave it loose after sometime, (if you like leaving your hair loose) and see how silky it feels!



Shikakai is a natural cleanser that cleans the hair and the scalp gently. The lack of any chemicals in it ensures your hair does not get robbed of its natural oils.

It softens the hair, gives it a shine and removes any traces of residue from the scalp.

Shikakai does not dry the hair. It gives you smooth and silky hair that’s easy to detangle, too.It also fights dandruff and hair fall.

REETHA (Soapnuts):

Reetha acts like a soap that cleans the hair, removes excess oil and grime from the scalp and hair and gives you silky hair.

Because it gives a lot of lather, I use just one soapnut in my shampoo preparation as I have slightly dry hair. You may use more than one soapnut if you have excessively oily hair but stick to one if you have dry to normal hair.

Reetha also improves the quality of the hair and helps in hair growth.


Lemon, with its anti-fungal properties, keeps the scalp healthy.

It unclogs the hair follicles and keeps dandruff at bay. It is dandruff that increases our hair problems.

So, if the scalp is clear of dandruff, you can rest assured your hair will be in good health! You may add the juice of a whole lemon to the one-liter shampoo.

The shampoo will last you for more than 3 washes, depending on the length of your hair.

Sometimes, you might feel your hair a little bit oily even after the hair wash. But, don’t worry, it will take you some time to understand how much shampoo you will need to wash off all the excess oil.

The only downside while using this shampoo is that it stings the eyes and can be rather annoying sometimes.

But, believe me, the burning goes off in a couple of minutes, so if the shikakai water enters the eyes, wash off the eyes with cold water a few times. Rub the eyes very very gently and wash again. The burning will stop soon.

And, no, the eyes don’t turn red, nor does the burning stay for hours after you have washed your eyes.

I hope you benefit from this home-made hair cleanser. The fewer chemicals we use, the better it will be for our hair and scalp.

*You will find both – the shikakai and the soapnuts – on Amazon, or your local grocery store (in India).

Do try it out and share with me your experience.


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Published by shilpagupte

Do you know the secret to living a happy life? Eat. Pray. Love. Or, watch what you eat, wish well for all and fill your heart with love! That's precisely what I try to do through my blogs: 'Metanoia', the wellness blogazine, and 'Fictionista', my blog for fiction and non-fiction. Welcome to my virtual homes!

24 thoughts on “Excellent ways to prepare a chemical-free shampoo.

    1. My mother used to do it, too. But, then I reached college and became rebellious (and an idiot) and switched to shampoos and ruined my hair. Thank god for small mercies I realized my mistake and changed my ways. πŸ˜›


  1. Thanks for the mention and I love your recipe- never though to use lesser reetha to cull the drying effect.And that addition of lemon is brilliant. Will add it to my mix too when I next take it out for a hair wash.

    Just one point-to remove excess oil like when you have oiled your hair, apply this mix on dry hair and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then lather and rinse it off and repeat- It takes me twice to remove the oil and its the same as when I used to use a store bought shampoo.

    Amla that I have used in the mix, makes the hair black and add a lot of nutrients to the hair that it requires for nourishment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am going to buy the ingredients straight away. Does it lather when you rub it in hair? Will I need a conditioner after the wash? I have been meaning to do this for a while but thinking the process is hard, I didn’t even give it a try. But the process looks simple enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It doesn’t lather when you apply into the hair. In fact, it feels like you are washing your hair with water, but the hair gets cleaned.
      No, you won’t need a conditioner. Make sure to oil your hair 2 hours before your hair wash. This and the shikakai solution is enough to condition the hair.
      It is really not tough. All you need is some practice πŸ˜€ And soon you will wonder why you didn’t you this earlier! I did! πŸ˜‰
      Do let me know how you find it.
      Thanks for reading Raj!


  3. As someone who is obsessed with her hair, I doubt if I’ll try something new on it. But, this looks so easy and the results seems to be wowing! So, yeah, let me give this a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand, Soumya. Making a change is tough, but I am glad I did it. All the chemicals I was using versus all the natural ingredients I use now, shows me the difference I needed to see to believe in the change! πŸ™‚


  4. I have used reetha a shikakai when I was a teenager .My mom made the shampoo.Will definitely use your recipe for getting my hair to its natural glory once again.I like how simple it is to get started with sinple choices which are pocket friendly and healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My hair is regaining its natural glory now, after all these years. I really feel the difference and wonder why I didn’t do it earlier when my mum would suggest it!
      Thanks for reading, Amrita! I hope this helps you.


  5. I have never tried this. My hair is getting a bit too dry these days. I might give this a try. The only problem is that I wash my hair daily and I might need a really large quantity. Do these last for long periods of time? I am too lazy to keep making this every week! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You just need to increase the quantity of shikakai and reetha and you will have as much as you want.
      Do you oil your hair before washing? Washing daily could be the reason why your hair is drying. Washing twice a week is enough to keep your hair clean.
      Thank you for reading, Jyothi! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How interesting, Shilpa! I am struggling with frizzy hair lately and have tried so many different shampoos – I’ve found the sulphate-free shampoos definitely work better but it’s difficult to one that’s inexpensive and feels good to use. I never thought of making my own shampoo. Definitely keen to give it a try. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shampoos contain chemicals, even those that claim to be free of some or the other chemicals, parabens, sulphates, etc. i realised it pretty late in life that anything that contains chemicals is going to harm the skin and the hair in the long run. I am glad I switched to shikakai. I hope you find it useful, too.
      Thank you for reading, Lauren! πŸ™‚


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