Tuesday, March 10, 2009


What do we want in a shampoo? Everyone's hair type is different, so making a shampoo can be trial and error until you find the product you really love. This is where knowing your ingredients becomes vital, as you have to be able to figure out exactly what your hair loves or hates.

Please refer to the post on surfactants if the following seems like nonsense to you!

Oily hair: Goal - mild cleansing, degreasing
I usually choose Bioterge 804 and LSB (or DLS Mild) as good cleansers and mild degreasing. I always add a bit of Amphosol CG for more mildness.

Dry hair: Goal - mild cleansing, moisturizing
I'd choose BSB or LSB for mildness, and Amphosol CG to add even more mildness (and it's a humectant, and dry hair can always benefit from some moisture!)

Normal hair: Goal - mild cleansing
How I envy you normal haired people. I'd suggest Amphosol CG for mildness, SLeS for gentle cleansing, and BSB or LSB for mild cleansing.

But like a facial cleanser, the surfactants aren't the end all and be all of the product. We need some good hair loving things in there to make our scalps and tresses feel great! I always add the following

Hydrolyzed protein: You can choose from a number of different hydrolyzed proteins - silk, corn, wheat, soy, oats, and so on. For my coarse, oily hair, I prefer Cromoist, hydrolyzed oat protein. I have found people with dry hair like the silk proteins. Normal people can use whatever they like, but Phytokeratin with soy, wheat, and corn proteins is a lovely choice for almost anyone! Use at 2%. (As this is anecdotal information, try any hydrolyzed protein you like!)

Panthenol: It helps build strong hair and adds Vitamin B5. So we'll want this at 2%. (There is some debate about whether or not this is valuable in a shampoo as it is rinsed off. I figure 2% isn't breaking the bank, so I include it. Feel free to leave it out if you wish.)

Glycerin: It gives us bubbles and is a humectant, so I like to add this at 3 to 5%.

Conditioning agents: 2 in 1 shampoos contain dimethicone, a silicone, as a conditioner. This is a good choice for non-2 in 1 shampoos at 2%. Or you could include something like Condition-eze 7, polyquat 7, at 2 to 3%. This will give you hair a conditioned feel. (We can't use cationics like BTMS or CR well in a shampoo, that's why we're turning to the cationic polymers like the polyquats or silicones, like dimethicone. More about these products in the conditioner post coming up later this week.)

Extracts: You could include something like rosemary extract in your hair. It's supposed to be good for building strong hair.

Essential oils: I love using essential oils in shampoo. For my oily hair, I like to 2% of an oily hair blend (equal parts lemon, rosemary, sage, and cedarwood). For dry hair, 2% equal amounts of geranium, ylang ylang, and lavender can be a good thing. For dandruff-y hair, you might consider using peppermint and tea tree at 1% each (for a total of 2%) in your mixture. And normal haired people can choose whatever they want, including various fragrance oils.

Crothix: For thickening and increasing mildness

There are many different ways to make a shampoo, but I like a 40 to 50% surfactant mix. Again, you can go with 30% or less, but I like my shampoos to be concentrated, so I use more surfactants.

15% Bioterge 804
15% DLS Mild or LSB

30% BSB

15% SLeS
15% BSB or LSB

46% water
10% Amphosol CG (for all hair types)
3% glycerin
2% hydrolyzed oat protein
2% panthenol
2% dimethicone or condition-eze 7
2% essential oils
(optional) 0.5% extract
up to 2% Crothix
0.5% Germall Plus or 1.0% Germaben II
Colour, if desired

Mix the surfactants together and blend well. Add the water and glycerin and mix well, avoiding bubbles as best you can. Then add all the other ingredients, except the Crothix and extract.

If you wish to add a powdered extract, add it a bit of hot water and stir until dissolved, then add to your mixture.

Add the Crothix after letting the mixture settle and come to room temperature. Start with 1% Crothix, mix well and see if you like the consistency. If you do, let it sit for an hour or so at room temperature to see if it maintains it. If you don't, then add up to 0.5% more, then 0.5% again if you aren't happy with it.

Bottle, name, and enjoy!

A NOTE ON CLARIFYING SHAMPOO: If you are looking for a clarifying shampoo, make up the basic shampoo recipe but leave out the dimethicone or condition-eze 7 as clarifying shampoos DO NOT use any conditioning agents or silicones. I like to use these once in a while. If you want more information on what makes a clarifying shampoo clarifying, check out the post on the beautybrains.com "How Do Clarifying Shampoos Work?" (I love this site! Bookmark it now!)


Jessie said...

So if I wanted to make a clarifying shampoo, would this be a good recipe?

40% Surfactants
3% glycerin
2% panthenol
0.5% Germall Plus

Water q.s.

My understanding is that clarifying shampoos don't deposit anything on the hair (hence the clarifying), and the surfactant acts to cleanse the hair without proteins and silicones to coat the hair shaft.

Please let me know if I'm wrong. Your blog is just a treasure chest of information!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Clarifying shampoo usually means it doesn't have a conditioning agent, like a cationic polymer or dimethicone - so your shampoo fits that description! Which surfactants are you considering for this recipe?

I didn't know you weren't supposed to use proteins in clarifying shampoo! I would die without my Cromoist in a shampoo (okay, not literally, of course) and I do use it in my clarifying shampoo...I'm sure that's cheating, but my frizzy hair just loves it!

Let us know how the recipe works out for you!

Meg and Kris said...

I'm completely lost. Well, not really...I've been working on a cost effective gel shampoo for over 6 months. I want it to be as natural as possible. I would like to use the surfactant coco glucoside- heard amazing things about it- however, it isn't cheap. I was think of using this recipe and thought I would ask someone that knows about shampoos before wasting more ingredients:
Moisturizing Shampoo:
Glycerine 1 oz
water 12 oz
cocoglucoside 2 oz
collidal oatmeal 1 tsp
optiphen .5%
Crothix 1 tsp
Panthenol 1 tsp
I haven't yet tried anything with crothix. Do you have any suggestions as a better recipe for a natural moisturizing shampoo? Should I be using more water?
PLEASE help. Thank you,

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Meg and Keis. I have many many shampoo recipes on this blog you could try. Could you please convert your recipe into weighted percentages so we can get a better idea of what you are trying to make. Have you actually made this recipe. In general, we don't use one surfactant alone, especially one with such a high pH.

Cynthia Scott said...


I tried using your search function plus I went to lotioncrafters.com, wholesalesupplyplus.com and newdirectionsaromatics.com and at all those places my searches came up empty for

Amphosol CG

what are these? It's probably something totally obvious and I'm being dense but I just cannot figure it out! I read through - thoroughly - all the surfectants and I don't see them there. I do believe I was looking into shampoos but maybe I accidentally searched a weird topic or something. I skimmed the blog and comments before looking them up and I just am totally perplexed!



Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Cynthia. If you search for those surfactants on the blog, you'll find all you want to know!

Marie-Elaine Guay said...

Hi Susan,

Could I possibly use ONLY amphosol CG at 30-40% if it's the only surfactant I have available for my batch?
I have some decyl glucocide aswell...

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Marie-Elaine. You can, but it may not clean very well. You could use decyl glucoside. Do a search on the blog for recipes using this ingredient. Let us know how it turns out!

Marie-Elaine Guay said...

Do you mean: use both surfactants (amphosol and decyl) at let's say 15% each? would that be cleansing enough?
thanks a lot for your response :)