Defeating Pain

One Person's Battle Against Chronic Pain

Best Shampoo Ever!


Recently I started making my own shampoos and I fell in love with this recipe. It worked great, don’t get me wrong, and it might work for you. But it didn’t for some people, and I didn’t care for it being runny. So I decided to make a hopefully more “universal,” easy to make, and gel-like DIY shampoo. Plus if you throw in some essential oils you can have a multi-function shampoo! I love multi-tasking things!

This recipe also has a longer shelf life than the original recipe I used, because its got citric acid (which if you like the first recipe, add some and it helps to extend the life there too). You could just use lemon juice, but its easier to control the pH variations since the powder is more consistent than lemons fresh squeezed. To find citric acid, locate your local grocery store’s canning supplies there is usually some there. Lemon is good for the hair and it lightens it, so you can add lemon juice or oils to this if you can’t find citric acid, if you want increased lemon smell, or if you are a blonde to brighten your hair or just help bring out highlights if you aren’t. Lemon oils will not preserve as well, so use in combination with lemon juice or citric acid if you go that route.

With this recipe it is super customize-able for your hair type, and you can make your own blend of smells, so do what you like  and feels good for your hair. I like lavender since its a great stress reliever, and lavender is also great for your hair, skin, migraines, and muscle spasms. It soothes irritation, so if you have a dry or itchy scalp this is also a great oil to use or add in a blend. That is 6 things in a one step shampoo! Bam! How you like that efficiency!?

Also, I find that a hot shower at the first twinges of a headache with this definitely helps hold things off a little longer. Not to mention when I use this version, I have less tangles throughout the day, and it definitely uplifts the mood in general.

So on to what you need? Not too much, this is a super easy recipe and all you need is the following:

  • Dr Bronner’s liquid castile soap – you can buy it pre-scented, any style will work. I usually just grab the small bottle since one will do you for a couple months worth of shampoo.
  •  1/4 c Coconut oil – solid, not the kind that is liquid at room temp
  • 1 large Aloe leaf – or about 1 1/2-2 cups aloe gel
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon “nourishing oil” – vitamin E oil, or any other oil like jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, olive oil, or whatever. You can change it up as you get to know what works best in your hair.
  • Food processor, or blender
  • empty bottles for shampoo
  • 5-10 drops of essential oils – again I use lavender, you can add up to 15 of any blend of oils you like more tends to be smell overkill.

For the aloe, if you are lucky enough to have a large aloe plant use a large leaf, one at least 1.5 to 2 ft long. If you aren’t growing them sometimes you can buy a leaf individually at some Latin American markets, or you can buy just the gel in the health food section, that is not the kind you use for sunburns, the sort you can eat.

You want all of its gooey goo!

Gut the aloe, this is messy, so just realize you’re going to work with a slippery thing that’s hard to cut, and use good knife safety. Gloves are a good idea if you have them, but I’m a rebel without a cause, and go bare handed. I find you can sort of shave the top part of the leaf off, with a sharp knife, and scoop/scrape the gooey innards with a spoon into a bowl. Again, be careful of the aloe spines when doing this.

Toss the aloe gel in the food processor or blender, add in the coconut oil. I would start with 1/4 c since a little goes a long way with this, but you can add more if you have dry hair or find it isn’t moisturizing enough. Don’t add more than 1/2 a cup though as I find it gets way too oily. You want to blend this until you have a pretty even emulsion, it will turn sort of milky white, and then you add in the castile soap, citric acid, essential oils and your tablespoon of nourishing oil.

Give it another quick whiz, and bottle. I just reuse old shampoo bottles or even the Dr Bronner’s bottles make great shampoo bottles, and fill using a funnel. You should have a thick gel in the end that should be easy to apply, and provide a rich creamy lather. When you rinse your hair you will notice it feels different than other shampoos or conditioners, it will have a slight oily feel but once dry it shouldn’t be oily. Remember to shake before each use!

This makes for me, and I have long but extremely fine hair, at least 2 months worth of shampoo sometimes more. You don’t have to use a conditioner or anything after unless you want to, it is pretty much wash ‘n go. You can also use this as a great body wash!

ProTip 1: If your hair is lank, clumpy, and oily, you have probably got too much coconut oil in it. So of you add too much coconut oil, you can counter this with additional castile soap. Add it bit by bit until you find that it rinses clean, with no heavy oil residue.

ProTip 2: Citric acid helps to balance the pH of the shampoo, if you notice your hair is too dry you may need to adjust the amount of citric acid. It adds shine but can strip moisture from naturally dry hair, you can counter this with a teaspoon of your nourishing oil or even coconut oil, and adding more if needed based on your results. I wouldn’t recommend more than a tablespoon of citric acid in a batch for oily hair, and a teaspoon at most for dry. Again it is a preservative and will help prolong the shelf life of the shampoo, so even if your hair is dry go ahead and add some.

Dr Bronner’s pre-scented soap guide (minus lavender) – you can use these soaps and matching essential oils for specific uses:

  • Peppermint – for headaches, helps with itchy scalp or irritated scalp, or any bacterial infections. Also good for an “invigorating” shower that reduces stress, but helps you feel more awake due to increased circulation. Peppermint oil tends to wash cleaner for a less oily feel.
  • Eucalyptus – good for anti-fungal, and it helps to stimulate circulation. It is good for muscle pains and dandruff, and is supposed to stimulate hair growth.
  • Almond – Almond and Sweet Almond oil are great for hair and it has a lot of vitamins in it that are good for your hair and skin. It helps reduce frizz and increase shine if you have curly or frizzy hair. It is also a good hair strengthener to help hair grow longer and thicker. I find if I add this instead of other oils I have less static in my hair as well.
  • Citrus – We already discussed lemon earlier, orange and lemon oils are good for hair and help it to be shiny and lighter.
  • Rose – Pretty much like lavender, it is good for stress relief, and has some anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. It is also very good for soothing an itchy scalp. Rose oil is rather expensive and I would use this shampoo as a base and possibly add lavender or other oils that complement rose.
  • Tea Tree – best known remedy for dandruff, this is a good oil for treating that. It can be strong and irritate further if you use too much so use the base soap first and add drops of additional tea tree oil to ensure you don’t add too much.

I have been told this shampoo makes my hair nicer than ever by a few people so hope you get some good results too 🙂 Happy showers!

Author: defeatingpain

I am a Texan and in 2008 I was struck by an SUV while riding my bicycle, I have had C5-C6 and L4-S1 fused. While the surgery did a lot, I was left with Failed Back Syndrome and CRPS. I refuse to sit by and not have a hand in my own recovery, so, this blog documents my trials with finding natural solutions for chronic pain.

20 thoughts on “Best Shampoo Ever!

  1. On this recipe, how much liquid castile soap do you use? I wonder what the ph is of this completed recipe? Thanks!


    • I started off with a smaller bottle which I believe is an 8 ounce. The pH differs depending how many bases (soaps and oils) to the acid (citric acid). Depending on your hair type you will want to add more or less citric acid, and it really takes a few trial and error washes I have found to really perfect the amount for each individual. Generally you would want to add more citric acid if you have oily hair and less if you have dry. 🙂


  2. Thank you! I have oily roots, so that’s helpful . What I find is many saying castile based shampoos are way to alkaline and then finishing with the vinegar rinse takes the hAir from open to close in a short period eventually causing damage. Then I hear not to add lemon or vinegar to the castile shampoo itself as it cancels out making the shampoo ineffective. So I am thinking with more research aloe and glycerine helps to lower the ph? Wonder if citric acid works the same as vinegar or differently?


    • Citric acid and vinegar (acetic acid) are both acidic and will lower a solutions pH if it is a base, citric acid has the added benefit of no vinegar smell. Vinegar rinses are an old hair care trick, and vinegar isn’t that bad for some hair types, so if you like the smell you could opt for vinegar.

      Also, yes you can basically de-soap your castile soap if you add too much acid, it will go all liquidy and be pretty much just oils. You can add small amounts of the citric acid to the castile soap (like I listed) to help act as a way to help prevent additional oils sticking, and to help preserve the raw ingredients since the aloe will eventually go bad, or coconut milk if you go that route. The citric acid is a preservative in this, as well as a way to adjust the pH of the shampoo. If you look at a pH scale 1-6 is acid, 7 is neutral and 8-14 is a base. The closer you get to 14 the more caustic the base will be (like lye) and the closer you get to 1 the same is true of acid. The closer the pH is to 7 the closer to neutral it will be, aloe is mildly acidic but not enough to preserve it or alter the pH in a major way, and glycerin is a triglyceride which works differently in this chemical makeup than an acid or a base and really should not effect the pH.

      The main point is, hair is already dead once it leaves your skin line, and the open or closed state of the layers in the strand only causes shine, or no shine. The only way to ensure that you have good, strong healthy hair to start with is to eat right, shampoo is only to remove dirt and excess oils, and impart scent if you want.


  3. Very new to trying to make my own shampoos but want a nice smell (essential oils) and suds:) castile


    • With home-made shampoo it will not lather like a store bought one, since most of that lather is caused by sodium laureth sulfate which causes the high lather you get in commercial products. It is also questionable in how good it is for you, so this is why people opt for castile soap, since you do get some lather just not in the quantity you get with commercial shampoos. On the essential oils you can put it in your shampoo, or just a drop or two on your brush and brush it through your hair. Rosemary is great for this since it is not a heavy oil and smells fantastic, your hair loves it too.

      Making shampoo is a lot of trial and error until you find your happy balance for your own hair type. 🙂 good luck!


  4. Thank you so much for all your time and explanations, really helped me out! I will try your recipe but the coconut oil scares me with me and my preteen kids with a lot of oil…May just do 1/8 cup of it? I am excited to try this- I have everything but will stop by health food store for pure l
    Aloe. One thing I have found is that dr bronners has an ingredient tocopherol which is a hazard… I found that Vermont soaps organics does not and ordered a giant incensed one from them to ass essential oils to it…just FYI I sure appreciate your wonderful educated responses! Thank you so much!


    • Happy to help with this, with all the information out there it can be quite daunting, especially since you almost need a degree in Chemistry to understand some of it. On the amount of oil, you can start with a tablespoon or two and increase it, you can use other oils too I just like coconut. Jojoba, Vitamin E, Sweet Almond and even Olive Oil can be used.

      Tocopherol is not actually a hazard, it sounds scary but it is the main component in Vitamin E. It is actually a vital component in a healthy immune system. Any vitamin though in excess if ingested can cause some major issues, but then again same with water.

      Oils and preteens should not be an issue if used topically, the only real hazard would be possibly greasy hair if too much is used, or if they decide to eat it, soap will give you some pretty bad intestinal distress. There is a Dr Bronner’s baby formula, but any castile soap should be safe and gentle, and I am sure the brand you mentioned will have a baby version too. I would say, go with whatever is cheaper there. The original recipe I started with (linked at the top of the article) was made for children so castile soap with vitamin E is definitely safe for topical use with children. Also, if you are unable to find a large aloe leaf, you can use bottled aloe, and it works just as well. Don’t use the stuff for sunburns though or the ones that are “aloe drinks” you want aloe gel. 🙂

      Here are some good links to read on Tocopherol – &


  5. Wow, sorry for all the typos…should say uncented castile soap.


  6. Ok great ill start with little coconut oil and go from there…I love coconut oil too! Thanks again, reading some of your other blogs now and learning a lot about your condition. Great for you being so motivated to find other alternatives for pain. Sorry to heart this. My husband crushed some vertebrates in his back in a pickup wreck several years ago and he has two steel rods on both sides of his spine. The took out bone from his hip to place where the vertebrates were…he has a lot of back pain but more issues in his lower back from a motorcycle wreck when he was 10 and nothing was done for it. I will read more about your story.


  7. Also thank you for your info on tocopherol! I will look at the link! I did read it was derived from vit E but wasn’t sure why skin deep showed it as a possible cancer hazard


    • My pleasure! It is always nice to see someone who is as interested in the details as I am!

      There are a lot of things that show up in media as “possible cancer hazards” and then disappear a few weeks later. At this time there isn’t a study that shows that using it makes you any more prone to cancer than you would be normally, the chemical make-up is similar enough that is treated in the same way (just like caffeine works by imitating a chemical that makes you feel more awake). So it should be perfectly safe as putting straight vitamin E in your hair, or on scars (it works great for that).

      I am so sorry to hear about your husband, back pain is pretty hard, and it sounds like he has experienced a lot of hardships with his surgeries. I sometimes wonder if it is harder for my poor husband to watch unable to do anything, you may want to look into some of my stress relief recipes to treat yourself to some care-giver relaxation time. Everything on here I have tried out on myself, and I hope that he finds something that helps him 🙂 Just having a positive attitude will help with pain and healing, and that is something anyone can get for free!

      Please feel free to email me directly if you want to discuss anything privately, I know not everything can be said in a blog comment. I would love to share any information I can that would help ease his pain and make both of your lives easier! 😀


  8. Im laughing no because I’ve only made one homemade shampoo and it was the one you have above from wellness mama:). Look forward to. Trying yours!


  9. Ok thanks again! I will keep in touch:)


  10. sorry for one last question, but I forgot to ask if this is color safe? Thanks again!


    • ^_^ no worries at all! Shampoos that are “color safe” generally don’t contain suflates (like the sodium laureth sulfate I mentioned earlier), alcohol, and often have an extra moisturizing element for the additional luster aspect. Dying your hair puts your scalp in contact with a lot of strong chemicals, which means that the place where your hair is made suffers most. If you are looking for more natural dye methods you should start with henna since it is the easiest to locate, or try this its a good start-

      If you are absolutely going to dye your hair, this would be a very color safe way to care for it, and it will hopefully also help to nourish the scalp so that the roots come out strong and therefore able to hold up better to the dyes. 🙂


  11. Great and appreciate the explanation! You know so much:) I will check out that link too!


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