herbal shampoo

If you’ve been around here very long you’ve probably heard me say that I haven’t used commercial shampoo on my hair in years and years. Which begs the question, “What DO I use to wash my hair?”


I put up a Fouch-o-matic video on this subject this morning, with some discussion of shampoos and a quick demo of my very easy shampoo recipe. This blog post is for the non-video types out there, and also to supplement the video with more detailed information.




1. My herbal shampoo is gray water compatible and I know exactly what’s in it because I put it there.

In my current living situation, it’s important that the products I use to bathe are plant-friendly. That’s because I have no plumbing and I’m basically pouring things out right on the ground. Now, I know not very many of you are plumbing-free, but…once you realize that the hair care products you’re using are not safe for plants, you might also wonder…? Is this stuff really all that good for me?


2. Using herbal shampoo, I don’t have to wash my hair as frequently. 

I wash my hair once a week. I know that freaks some people out. But I assure you my hair is clean and cute (at least a reasonable lot of the time) and my scalp is comfortable. I went through a commercial-shampoo detox several years ago, when Stella was just a baby, and discovered that I had a pretty unhealthy relationship with my commercial shampoo. I was having to wash my hair every day because it was greasy every day, but that grease was actually being generated as a response to (over)washing my hair every day! I have a lot of hair (thick hair, I mean) and I have a lot of other things to do with my time. So I got rid of that bad relationship. Plus, fewer showers means saving water.


3. Herbal shampoo is completely customizable to my hair type, personality and mood.

There are a ton of different herbs and herb combinations to try. Different things do different things, and people react to things differently. The options are limitless. That’s lame if you’re looking for a box to check, but it’s awesome if you’re looking for a creative, interactive self care experience. This recipe makes small batches, so you can try a couple of things without breaking the bank. Scroll down into the recipe to see a list of herbs you might be interested in trying.





1 cup water
1 cup loose, dried herbs of your choice
1/3 cup castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s, usually)
1/4 tsp jojoba oil
20-25 drops essential oil of your choice

Bring 1 cup water to boil and add dried herbs. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes. Strain out the liquid and cool completely. To cooled liquid, add castile soap, jojoba oil and essential oil. Pour into your storage container and shake before use.


Now, about the herbs and essential oils.

In my video demo I used equal parts red clover flower and leaf, chamomile, and marshmallow root. The marshmallow root is a slippery herb that works for us kind of like a conditioner. The red clover is good for red highlights. Chamomile is nourishing for dry hair and good for blondes like my little Shirley Temple look-a-like. I also like to use nettle, which is recommended for scalp problems as well as curly hair, though I didn’t use nettle in my demo recipe.



Some more ideas: 

For dry hair, you might try: Burdock root, Calendula, Chamomile, Lavender, Marshmallow root, Nettle

For oily hair, you might try: Bay leaf, Burdock root, Calendula, Horsetail, Lemon Balm, Nettle, Rosemary, Yarrow

For scalp problems you might try: Burdock root, Eucalyptus, Horsetail, Lavender, Marshmallow root, Nettle, Peppermint, Rosemary

For gold highlights you might try: Calendula, Chamomile, Sunflower petals

For red highlights you might try: Red Clover flowers, Red Rose petals

For dark highlights you might try: Rosemary, Sage

Essential oils for your hair: Carrot seed (dry or normal hair), Chamomile (any hair, plus scalp conditions), Lavender (recommended for basically everything), Peppermint (oily hair)

Some people don’t use any essential oil at all. But for our family the lavender essential oil in the shampoo is probably my girls’ favorite thing about bath time. Instant giggles.

Added note: As many of you already know, I get my herbs from Katie Carey at A Home For Healing Arts: www.tinyurl.com/ahhaherbs. She’s a friend of mine and likes to give you a lot of information with her herbs, teas, herbal beauty products and tinctures, so that’s a win for me. But these herbs are readily available many places, some of them in your own garden!




Just in case warnings:

I haven’t had any of these problems myself personally, or maybe I wouldn’t be writing this post at all, but…

I’ve heard that castile-soap based shampoo isn’t good for color-treated hair.

I’ve heard it doesn’t work if you have made your castile by shaving down castile bar soap. Start with the liquid.

I’ve heard the castile-soap based shampoo is more of a hit on people with thick hair (that’s me!) than people with fine hair. (Is that true? Any thoughts? Is this a thick-hair people thing?)

And folks, remember. I’m a very, very simple girl, when it comes to beauty. I am wild like my mountain is wild and I don’t do much to my hair but this and an occasional diluted apple cider vinegar rinse. AND I also will quietly use only castile soap plus a little oil or a little milk to make it foam up and it turns out the beauty experts don’t think that’s a good idea at all. So sue me. It worked fine for me in my back woods. 🙂




If you are a video kind of person after all, here’s the video. Wishing you all happy, healthy chemical-free hair, however you can get there.

With love,

the Homestead Wife

video headshot